I’ve been in a race against time for most of my life. Since I was a kid, I had this prevailing feeling that if I happened to be in the right place, it was always at the wrong time. I was late.
I was a weird kid, one caught in an invisible world that made sense to me but seemed alien to those around me. It took me long to understand that my surroundings didn’t see what I saw and disagree before-hand with “its contents.”
I rarely entertained or exchanged with people my age, there were always much older or younger, and as I grew up the age gap became wider.
My life choices hit the same wall. The cracks grew wider with every decision along the way. I found myself exercising my “first steps” in a career calling when others were ready to leave behind many years of intense preparation, or pioneering the infamous “this has never happened” in the family arena. For the former, I felt old, for the later, too young.
I know the above sounds a bit cryptic, and there’s a reason. Nowadays, the time-age gap is still my companion; nevertheless, my experience and the calendar have decided to make a truce and move hand by hand. I am into rewriting my story and being very careful about what I consider relevant regarding such gap and what I allow myself to be reminded of.
Unlike all other prejudices, ageism is relevant to every person fortunate enough to make it beyond the sixth decade of life. An episode of Star Trek Next Gen comes to mind: “Half a Life (S4-22).” Here, the Enterprise takes aboard Dr. Timicin of Kaelon II who is to conduct an experiment with a decaying star, which he hopes will save his threatened home planet, as its sun is also in a state of near-collapse.
Sadly, the experiment has short-lived results and the star finally explodes. The analysis of the failed test has turned up some promising options; nevertheless, Timicin is crushed. We learn later that even though no one has the experience and knowledge to carry on and save his world, he won’t be able to keep going about his work. It happens to be that Timicin is turning 60, and on Kaelon II, everyone who reaches that age performs the “Resolution”- a ritual act of voluntary euthanasia.
Exposed to other perspectives -most particularly Deanna Troi’ eccentric mother Lwaxana -Timicin requests asylum on the Enterprise so that he can renounce the Resolution and continue his research. The outraged reaction of the Science Minister, two warships and his daughter’s shame; makes him realize that he is not the man to forge a cultural revolution and he agrees to return to Kaelon II to die.
Imagine that! I am not sure if the time conflict syndrome moves in both directions – too old /too young – or if I felt/feel more affected by it than others. I can say that the world’s desperate anti-aging tendencies plunged its unmerciful gable in my path when trying to enter a conservatory at age 17 as a beginner. I was too old to study music!
Although this didn’t deter me from my goal, the notion stayed with me for many years. I tirelessly strive to reach the level of expertise other student’s my age had achieved. The problem? I was late by 10 years.
It might be that I got accustomed to struggling, which coupled with my responsible attitude and dutiful actions, made every one of my achievements, one that “came late.” In other words, it didn’t matter how much heart and soul, how much intention or work I put forward, or even if I’ve attained my goal on the “prescribed time-lapse.” Every success became just a check-in my “to-do list.”
It is not that I don’t acknowledge my achievements and the lessons gained, part of me does and it’s grateful. It is that now I am aware of how being so concerned about time and following prescribed “rules” had stripped my journey of pleasure.
Joy can’t coexist with worry ad anxiety; at least not one deeply felt and free of guilt.
In “The Power of Now,” Eckart Tolle tells us that every minute we spend worrying about the future or regretting the past is a minute lost. I made this “being late” a fuel to move towards my goals but also an automated disempowering self-generated thought in my mind, going for ages without supervision.
The 24/7 stream of consciousness and thoughts have kept me preoccupied with 2 things: the past and the future, meaning resisting things I cannot change or control.
Life is just a series of present moments, happening now, and now I am doing well. I have a bunch of ripe crops, old and new seeds growing and fertile soil to plant more. The biggest lesson here is that this “existential being late,” might have been the “right time” for the Universe and that the only thing that can make me really “LATE” is not taking advantage of my “NOWS.” Because accumulating wasted NOWS is what breed regrets
I can’t do anything to change the person I was in the past, not do I know who I will be tomorrow. At this moment, I am aware of many things and I have a better understanding of the place of responsibility and accountability in life. I believe that joy is the ultimate purpose of existence and that life provides us with many magic and beautiful ways to experience it when we are open to them.
I do better when: a) I feel inspired and take notice of the wonders around me and face challenges with a curious mind and a faithful heart. b) When I acknowledge the pleasure my gifts and treasures bring me and the unlimited resilience and courage they have taught me. It might take me longer than my “shoulds” to get somewhere. The clue here is to identify which “star” is serving as a compass and which voice is speaking louder.
Those moments when fear strikes and doubts squeeze, I tell myself; “follow the joy.” Joy and contentment are hard to define, but something in us knows when they show up. Sometimes joy is subtle, even imperceptible. Others, it threatens with exploiting uncontrollably. It can be as short as a spontaneous smile, or as long as a strike of the muse, keeping us absorbed for hours doing something we love. It’s personal, and yet contagious. And if we become committed observers, will see joy everywhere! A kind of invisible essence that speaks of life.
I might be late, but Joy never is. My bet is on that which allows me to lose myself in an intensely focused idea with blurry edges and multiples possibilities with a tendency to remain “obscure” until their time has come. That which never fails to leave me “engaged or interested” and sprinkle my days and nights with sparks of something close to fulfillment.
Image Credit: Photo by Jordan Benton from Pexels