I never feared change. Not then when the health department sent dad to different locations and I checked into different neighborhoods and schools in every two years. Not now when I feel kind of out of place in a strange generation of a better world.
“Happens to all 80’s kids” I was told.
I don’t like the “fitting in” process that change gifts us. I remember the first period of History class in a new school; that vivid memory of not knowing history much [to this Science lover, history always was in “dislike” list] and teacher completely ignoring this new student who knew Greek invasion or post Indus valley civilizations better than any of her old students.
It’s always a struggle when you’re different from the rest. First they don’t accept you, then they don’t accept your courage, knowledge or struggle. You wait endlessly for a correct time to stand out. That’s the success mantra of everyone who didn’t want to fit in. But the wait for that correct time is very long. At the end of the tunnel there’s light hopefully, and many people too waiting for you to know how you achieved what they couldn’t dream.
Couple of days and many amicable moments ago I had my birthday; a day that people in my world love because they love me.
Once someone [a wise, music-loving Portuguese co-worker] told me that he hates celebrating his birthday – Why do we celebrate birthdays? On that day we’re just one year closer to death.
What a sadist approach to life!– I said that day, even though I love hearing different perspectives, but life is anything but a transition to death. You live every second, that’s how and why you’re alive. You don’t live because you’re not dead.
During teen-age, birthdays were all about restaurants, sharing the cake with friends, movies, new clothes and gifts. Still I valued the books my mom gifted me; she says, she knew nothing could change my love for new books. Moms are wizards of future. They know everything that you hardly noticed.
Then change hit me again. In last couple of years I spent my birthdays by doings things that mattered the most outside my 9 to 5 schedule; talking to street children and their homeless expectant mothers to feeding them all alone to helping another needy soul. The joy of giving was the best gift I could give myself. I fell out of love with social networking birthday reminders, cards written with unreal wishes, bigger cakes bought by smaller hearts. I fell in love with organic memories of people who remembered my birthday without any reminder. I felt more loved and could value purity more. I fell in love with the ocean waves that crushed and continued healing me. I fell in love with that process of seeing the world through our big camera lens. I fell in love with words, good words, more than ever. The birthday cake lost its charm. Every year I kept missing my mom’s special rituals on my birthday, homemade “Kheer” (Indian Rice Pudding) made with love and her “aarti” with an oil lamp, wishing me better life. During pre-teen and teen-age that seemed so old-fashioned. It’s just that, now I know, true love never goes out of fashion!
In thirties, life looks more different. I feel older than my biological age; my inner world does not match with my petite frame anymore; the “To do” list gets bigger than the “Done” list; I feel wiser than the surroundings yet I feel 21 when I am inside Forever21 store [Pun not intended].
“Who will say your girlhood ended if you look like this with that hair-style, wearing your shorts, always giggling?” – A friend recently told me.
That made me realize when you’re changing constantly and becoming different than you used to be, age and numbers hardly matter. It’s how comfortable you are at playing yourself, it’s all about self-acceptance! Experiences will keep growing on you, haunting you or building you. Life will show different shades of seasons until you stop being colorblind. Internally though one change will always be constant: how you’re standing out from the crowd, how different your footprint looks -no matter which age group you belong, and as long as you are not becoming someone you yourself never liked!