The Age/Wisdom Trade-Off
Yesterday was my Fortieth birthday. It was a quiet day, no big celebrations (the Copenhagen trip was really a birthday thing anyway), just plenty of family activity – helping C with homework, helping L prepare for a women in business seminar; that sort of thing. I’ve had a few emails from friends asking if “feel […]
Yesterday was my Fortieth birthday. It was a quiet day, no big celebrations (the Copenhagen trip was really a birthday thing anyway), just plenty of family activity – helping C with homework, helping L prepare for a women in business seminar; that sort of thing.
I’ve had a few emails from friends asking if “feel different,” or “what’s it like to be a grown up?” My replies have been fun and polite, not stating the obvious (like – “what sort of an asinine question is that?). In a lot of ways my outlook on life changed dramatically 3-4 years ago, during my years in India and while it will no doubt shift again in the future, I’m still working through that experience and the things it taught me.
However, when I look back to my 30th birthday, things have changed dramatically. My circle of friends feels smaller, because I have far fewer personal interactions on a day to day basis. But, in some ways it is much bigger (and far more globally diverse!). Back then I expected that my 40th year would probably see me working in a theological college or university, quite possibly still involved in church work and (hopefully) the recipient of a PhD. None of those visions eventuated. I imagined myself still playing live music (which hasn’t happened in years), but not dedicating most of my time to recording and writing, (which I currently do). I certainly did not expect to be living in Asia, as I have done for the past five and a half years.
Whilst the fickleness of fate is a lesson we constantly re-learn, there are a few things I’ve grasped in the past year. I’ve learnt that time is less important than will. I’ve learnt how to really make bread. I’ve come to realise that all my friends, even those who love their country (home or adopted), hold a critical distance from the place where they live and where they grew up. I’ve learnt that when children lie it is often because they have seen their parents do it. I’ve realised that the greatest thing that holds me back from achieving more is not laziness, incompetence or lack of preparation – it is fear of rejection. I’ve seen, up close, that a bread knife can cut through human fingernails with surprising ease. And, I’ve been reminded that my parents are the greatest source of inspiration in my life.
It’s been a tough year, in a way they all are now. It’s something I’m starting to see in my daughter’s eyes, even though she is only seven. The realisation that sometimes it just takes work, application, repetition, to get somewhere (she already understands that she works harder than some of her friends). Life just doesn’t get easier and in a way, I wouldn’t want it to.
But, sometimes, it would be nice if it didn’t always hurt as much.