Storm and heavy rainfall ushered in 2023 and, under a lingering cold, Bill
entered a new decade of his life. When he was young, there were things to look
forward to, plans to carry out, and goals to meet. Fast paced scenes played
through his 20s and 30s, leaving no time to ponder on what had truly transpired.
In his 40s, however, what the world cheered on began to pale. He had a Yahoo!
email account and shopped at Amazon. But most novelties, e.g., iPhones, Facebook,
Crypto currency, Tesla, self-driving cars, the stars, gourmet eateries, traveling,
etc., for him, faded into vapid show biz. What was touted as the next big thing
often reminded him of the Matrix scene where Neo makes bullets freeze and fall
just by staring at them. A middle-aged computer programmer painfully aware of his
lack of success in almost every aspect in life, he had avoided talking about age.
The clock did not stop ticking as a result, he knew. But 50. Really!?
He used to make wishes around the New Year. This time, however, for a couple of
days, he was at a loss and didn't know what to think. While he was watching a
vlog, the opening sentence of the song playing in the background, "Still remember
the dreams when you were young?", brought tears into his eyes. The rest of the
lyrics was BS but that first verse was enough.
They call it maturity and he recognizes it, wears it like a coat, and everyone
seems to see. He used to try to appear mature and now there is no need. He could
see things much more clearly, Bill felt, and he becomes more sure of himself, even
in his adopted land.
In him, the big pictures, fictions planted early on, e.g., money, love, success, pride in the tribe, the great motherland, etc., have not survived the test of
time. They were either heavily modified or completely uprooted and re-defined.
Self-educated in a few subjects, Bill has fashioned his own ideas on how to
live, i.e., ideas about diet, exercise, writing, history, investing, computer
programming, etc. Talking about any of these subjects, he might not be right,
but he could present models and argue better his points. More importantly, he
seems to have been getting better at practicing what he believes.
At work and at home, he has become much less emotional. He couldn't stand snobs
and used to snub leaders that he perceived to be arrogant and often made no
effort to hide his contempt. These days, however, he can leave the director's
queries for his work status hang in the air for two days as if they were for
someone else, and afterwards calmly answer on the Slack channel with details and
brevity as if solving a math problem. New Year's Eve, when his 16-year-old
retorted "Why?" to dad's demand of cleaning up his room, Bill surprised himself
by feeling no offense whatsoever. "The theory is that a clean and organized room
leads to a clean and organized mind. It's for your own good." he stated it as a
matter of fact, as if conveying some Zen insight to an audience of students.
Overall, he seemed to have made peace with God.
Often, he reminds himself of taking a deep breath, exhale first and then inhale,
before reacting to anything, a pointed question from the manager, a negative
thought, taking a cold shower, engaging a sparring partner, etc. In the holiday
break, for example, he was able to pause and tell himself that a few dark
thoughts had partly been brought on by his recent flu. It did not heal him of
the flu but did lessen the strength of self-loathing and despair.
No wisdom gained through age, however, has made Bill happy. How could anything,
come to think of it? The unrelenting years have broken the very definition of
his happiness by taking away, one by one, its key parts. Maybe happiness indeed
is, as some say, a delusion. Maybe that's what wisdom can make one see. But if
that is true, what is left to pursue? Maybe that is the question he should try to
answer from now on.
Thank you for liking the post.
Suffering we all do but I've given up on the idea of a designation. I mean we
are here to survive and reproduce. That's it and hankering after anything else
is asking for trouble.
I tried once but failed to convert to vegetarian because my son was a carnivore.
These days, I flavor some dishes with pork, eat fish weekly, and even feast on
steak on occasions.
Once Bill has recovered from the flu, 50 doesn't feel particularly bad anymore.
Congratulations to Bill on his entering a new decade. I once said that life start anew at 50s. Hope that will prove true to Bill.
Happy New Year, my friend!