Today is my 58th birthday, I was born on 29th Nov 1962. Because of the lockdown, sadly I will not be able to spend the day with my children and grand children like I usually do. However, they will popping around but we can only meet on the door step and I will not be able to hug them!
One of the few good things about the COVID-19 lockdown is that I have had a lot of time to reflect on life and the world. This has been a very worrisome year for me with Brexit, Trump, COVID-19 and the Punjab farmers crisis. There is enough here to keep us all depressed, but I really feel it is important, now more than ever, to remain positive about the future.
Back to my birthday, I have been thinking a lot about what ageing means to me. When people approach older age they often begin to get worried about their appearance. Some people dread getting older and might even be embarrassed to say how old they are.
I don’t know if this was always the case, but it seems like because we live in such a visual culture, where we are bombarded by photoshopped images on social media, we are constantly thinking about our appearance. There is a lot of pressure on us all to remain young, fit and healthy. It seems like society is suffering from an obsession with youth!
But I think this is the wrong way to think about ageing. When I think about getting older, I don’t think about losing something, but rather, as each month and year goes by, along with greying, I feel I am growing and gaining. I see my life like a tree which begins as an acorn but then grows into a sapling and then into a large tree providing protection, shelter, energy, fruit, housing and may other things.
Like the tree, as I age I feel I am able to grow and spread, to be more connected and to be able to see further like the branches and deeper like the roots. And for me this also reflects a more profound sense of beauty, which is not just about the colour or texture of your skin, but how you feel inside.
Some people become isolated as they enter older age, but I feel the opposite; I feel like I want to reach out and connect with more people. So I see so as I reflect on my life today, I look forward to the future, not with dread, but optimism. I look forward to continue to mature and develop, and yes one day, like all living things, I will leave this world.
In reality our lives are but a tiny moment in the history of the world; we are just like a wave in the ocean or a blast of wind, or a grain of sand, we come and we go in an instant. So it’s not how long you live that really matters, but what you achieve in the precious moments that you have on the Earth.
I have come to realise our aim is not to become rich and famous, but to leave a positive mark, however insignificant that might seem. So it could be as simple as to become a good listener, to produce great art or music, to write amazing stories, to give care and love, or just to make somebody smile.
So on this birthday I ask not for gifts or accolades, I simply ask for a commitment from my friends to make somebody smile, somebody loved, somebody feel wanted. And if enough of us can do this, together we can make the world a happier and more peaceful place.
Dealing with loss, separation during Covid-19 crisis (Asia Samachar, 13 May 2020)
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