Today, I turned 25. To some, this may not seem like an amazing feat, but for me, this is a great accomplishment. Why, you ask? Because this is the oldest I’ve ever been! It’s an amazing feeling!
But more than amazing, it’s humbling. It’s humbling because while on the outset, I’m this young kid who’s got his whole life ahead of himself, inside, I am well aware that I have about 25 years of experience which, though most of it has been forgotten, dictates who I am as a person.
I’ve been thinking of what life means to me. Not in the traditional philosophical sense, but in the sense of how life is supposed to be. I’ve created the thought that life consists of four distinct segments, each separated by a multiple of 25.
The first twenty-five years are formative, you are created, you explore the world around you, you learn, you win, you fail, you get hurt and you hurt others. You see the world through the rosy glasses of education and believe that everything is going to be perfect. Towards the end of this stage, you lose some, you get tired, you come to terms with the fact that the world isn’t a perfect place. The first phase of your education is complete.
The next twenty-five years are those of settlement. You settle down in a place, you start a family, you learn some more but soon you begin to teach others. You claim you’ve got enough knowledge to educate others but know for a fact that no human is complete. You’ve seen ups and downs and you face loss and gain with equal tension. I do not know exactly what this and the coming stages hold for me, but this is the way I think it’ll be.
The twenty-five years after that, you’ve created a world around yourself. Your children are or have already learnt. You have given them wings and taught them how to fly, only to hope they have enough sense to know how to use those tools. You calm down in life and you look at the ups and downs as part of what life is – a roller coaster on which you can only remain straddled if you’re serene all the time. I expect this phase to be tough, but not tougher than the previous one.
Finally, the last twenty-five years come by. These are a gift. You either live long enough or you die quickly, but you know for a fact that just like life was your friend and foe in all the previous stages, death is in this one. You await it like you await an old friend, who is coming from afar to give you some news. My grandparents lived to their 90s and hopefully, my parents and then I will follow this pattern too.
I am not ready for the stages that are coming. God knows if I ever will be. But I will give it my best shot. I will see all those ups and downs and I will react like a saint or a fool, based on the situation. But that’s life isn’t it? I’m willing to give myself a chance.
I will leave you with a story – A long time ago, in an English textbook, I read the story of the rhinoceros. It said that the rhinoceros is a creature of habit, it follows a fixed path all its life to go from its resting to its eating place. This makes it very easy for poachers to observe its path, set a trap by digging a hole in the ground and covering it with grass. When the rhino comes by the next time, it falls into the hole and the poachers tie it up, cut out it’s horn and leave it to bleed to death. Recently, the route I take to get to my office every day got obstructed by a construction crew for the next three months. The first day I observed it, I followed the detour they had created for people like me. The next day, instead of finding a new and more efficient route, I followed the exact same path I always take, came to a halt near the blockade and again took the same detour, which I’ve been taking since. I am the rhinoceros. I don’t want to be.