“Hey, what happened? You look like Santa Claus,” she blurted out as she ran into an old friend (pun unintended) at the school parent-teacher meeting. Suddenly conscious about her coloured hair, she bit her lip and hoped she hadn’t offended him in jest. They were meeting after over a decade and this was not how she would have wanted to greet a pal. Fortunately for them, his wife saved the day. “It’s not easy keeping up with me for life?” she joked before the three got chatting about how life had treated them.
Yes, meeting college friends after two, or for that matter four, decades can be quite confusing.
Everyone, well almost everyone, has put on weight and grayed. Life’s pulls and pressures, or is it time, have taken their toll. Success and prosperity take a backseat as they catch up on the memories of those carefree days. As they part after pulling each other’s leg and exchanging mobile numbers with a promise to stay in touch, they can’t but look back at the years that have rolled by leaving them looking older but feeling just as young.
Why should time decide when we feel old? When we are young in mind and spirit, how can a number label our existence? We have no control over time and therefore our age. Just like the colour of our eyes and the family we are born into, our age is only a circumstantial detail. Why then attach so much importance to age? What we do have control over is how we think and what we choose to do.
Our circumstances and choices define us. So if we’re willing to stay relevant by reinventing ourselves, there’s no reason why age should be a factor that holds us back. A high-flying career or healthy bank balance, a plot of land or an apartment in the sky, well-settled children or intelligent grandchildren are all mistaken as the measure of our achievement. We are mistaken too because they seldom keep us content for long. What does, however, give us lasting happiness at any milestone of life is having a purpose. It’s never too old to learn what interests us. What others say or think about us is their business.
But to be able to reinvent ourselves, it’s important to stay focused, inspired, positive and healthy. Taking interest in the way we look, keeping ourselves abreast with the latest developments, whether in politics, economy or technology, participating in events, socialising and pursuing our passion can add life to our years. Letting go of regrets and failures and standing by decisions and their outcomes help achieve mental peace. After making peace with the past, it’s best to be open to change and, more importantly, having an open heart without prejudice.
They say it’s best to work backwards while setting goals and priorities. So start by writing your own obituary — it’ll tell you how you want to be remembered. It’s a reliable GPS on life’s journey.
Confront change with courage and adapt when there’s time. And it doesn’t matter what age you are or what the colour of your hair is. You may just become an inspiration for others.