Incident 1: I turned thirty years old, and I remember talking to my dad who is a realist in all sense. I told him, “Can you believe it I am thirty years old?” And his response was, “Yes, and in another ten years you will be forty and another ten you will be fifty.”
Incident 2: I was serving at Vipassana and had a conversation with one of the other younger servers. She asked, “Who is your favorite Bollywood actor. I answered, “Aamir Khan.” Her response was, “He is good, but he is old.”
Incident 3: We had a get-together at my place, and the conversation turned to boyfriends, crushes, etc. One of the girls was narrating how she loved somebody, and he lacked the courage to bring it up to his family. A few others chimed in with their experiences. And during that conversation, I realized that how long ago since I had one of such experiences – it was a long time ago.
I am sure you have got the gist of the topic by now – growing old. It happens to all of us, and it is inevitable. But we still live life like it is never going to happen to us until it happens. When you are young, it is understandable – now when somebody looks at my photos and comments – “Boy, you look so young here.” I suppress the urge to say, “It will happen to you in the next few years.” They don’t know because they haven’t crossed that stage yet.
But once the realization hits you, there is no reason not to accept it and live life fully because you have the experience. The question, “What would your younger-self advise older self ten years from now?” is relevant here. What are the things you did before that you can change now because you know it’s not worth it or it doesn’t matter or make sure you cherish it as it does matter?
Living life entirely does put things in perspective. All the heartbreaks, the anxiety of getting an interview, getting into school was a tiny blip compared to the lessons I learned, memories I made in that process. In London Business School, a few of us got a lot of rejections for various companies. What I remember about that is the overnight conversations on the run-down couch with cups of chai in our St. Johnswood flat. The case studies were a real mystery to me but what I remember is the pasta dish my friend used to make when we were supposed to studying. I also remember the pangs of loneliness when my relationships did not work out, but it taught me some of the hardest lessons in life – patience, things happen when the time is right, something are just not meant to be. There are a lot more nuggets that my conscious mind remembers, and I am 200% sure that there are a lot more than my subconscious mind knows.
We do have the advantage of hindsight in some fashion – but the key is to be aware of now. If you are not fully aware of now, then you will not be able to take advantage of it and reap the benefits later on.