Friday, November 15, 2013

Forty.

This week, I turned 40.  Forty.  Cuarenta.  Kwarenta.  Apat na pu.

As is true for every decade of life completed, there is much expected of a 40th birthday.  And I can only guess that it becomes an even bigger deal the older one gets.  I don't remember people fussing much when I turned 20, other than that it also coincides, for most Filipinos at least, with graduating from college and of course trying to get employed.  

However, when I turned 30, I must admit the level of angst that I had to deal with skyrocketed! It almost felt like a death sentence to some degree, ESPECIALLY since I was still single at the time.  It was as if all of a sudden, a bunch of deadlines decided to present themselves to me without giving me proper warning or preparation.  And that is most unfair, don't you think?  All of a sudden, every single thing had a ticking sound to them.  Reproductive system. Love life.  Career.  It was simply insane.  Everything had to be done now, achieved NOW...or else.  Well, I never really understood the 'or else' part but I'm willing to bet there's really nothing to it.  Sadly, society has not learnt as of yet, how to be kind to women reaching their 30s.  I actually feel it was such a fun time but there were just too many party poopers either outside of me or in my head that just spoiled it for me.

Anyhow, life went on and now I'm here and so is 40.  Our paths have finally collided and I refuse to make it as dramatic as some would make it out to be.  And what do people say about turning 40?

Well, I've heard that 40 is the new 20.  Give me a break!  I was a mess in my 20s, with a sh*tload of insecurities that didn't make sense so remind me again why I'd want to go back to that?

Some have also said that life begins at 40.  That's kind of sad to believe isn't it?  Especially when most of my adventures happened in my late 20s to early 30s.

And then there's this viral image or meme that I feel so uncomfortable about because I don't think I can adopt it for myself....


Yes, I'm forty.  But I personally can't find the audacity to define myself as fierce, let alone fabulous.  The dictionary defines 'fierce' as 'violent in force; furiously eager or intense; menacingly wild; savage.'  I may be cerebrally and emotionally intense but other than that, I would never define myself as fierce, nor would you if you met me.  I'm generally not assertive, certainly not confrontational, introverted and too uptight to be 'wild or savage' when relating to others.

A number of people sent me birthday greetings where they used the word 'fabulous' on me, and though I sincerely appreciate that, I also wonder if I have any right to this word.  I'm flattered some people consider me fabulous but honestly, I know I'm not there yet.  'Fabulous' is defined as 'incredible; exceptionally good; almost impossible to believe; breathtaking; first-class'. Am I really just being too hard on myself for believing that I'm far from being fab, or is my self-assessment pretty accurate?  More importantly, which one should matter more?  My perception of myself, or others'?

Since I only scored one out of three in that 'fierce, fabulous and forty' trinity, I think I'm better off being honest to myself and the world.  In this spirit of honesty, I created this photo and offer it as an alternative...  




I may not look all glammed up and would never be runway-worthy, and my joints may be achy, eyes needing some help.  But I'm forty and I made it this far!  I celebrate my life the way it is right now and can only really feel grateful for experiencing so much love from so many remarkable souls around me!  No I don't have much money.  Am currently not working outside the home and some people might think I'm wasting my life or my brainpower by not pursuing a career.  But if there is one gift the 40s brings, it's probably an increased sense of self or self-assurance.  It might still be fragile but it's certainly stronger this time around.  

And perhaps that 'fierce and fabulous' claim is not meant to be a pronouncement of one's state at 40.  Perhaps it's a declaration of what we can become now that we've crossed another threshold.  

I am not sure.  At 40, I've also found the humility to admit I am not sure about a lot of things and that life is constantly in flux.  And that it's okay to live in uncertainty, failure, fear and weakness, or that my truth may not be acceptable to someone else.  All I know and am certainly sure of, is that the most important thing for me, the only thing I consider worth working hard for is Love.  Don't ask me about what career I was meant to do, or what job will fulfill me.  All I know for sure is that I was meant to give love, be 'in' love, feel love, write about it, breathe it, be intense about it.  That is what I know at 40, with farsightedness, achy joints, stretch marks, flabs and all.  


Thank you for being part of my (real AND virtual) life!  
I am happy to be 40!







Friday, November 8, 2013

Left



I never cared much for this word.  It evokes either some degree of pain and sadness, or plain indifference.


As the past tense of 'leave', it could potentially become a sad word.  Very few of us enjoy being left. You missed your ride and got left behind.  A loved one dies and you're left behind.  Your spouse or lover left you for another.  Or maybe you got left at the altar.  Left.  Crappy, isn't it?

And Left is not Right.  And when you're not right, you're wrong.  Right?

And I'm right...right-handed, that is.  So for most of my life, I've never paid much attention, not given much importance to my Left.  Until in recent years, when my Left started making sure I noticed it and cared more for it.  If you've been following this blog, you know that it's not a secret that my left side is messed up.  Bad left knee, weak left shoulder, and signs of osteoarthritis on my left hand / fingers.  More specifically, it's my left pinky finger for about three or four years now, and frankly, it doesn't bother me all that much. Other than the occasional pain and weakness during cold mornings, and some difficulty reaching certain keys when I type, it's been manageable for me.  

However, recently, someone wanted more attention.  My left thumb.  It's actually not the thumb itself but the joint. If I'm not mistaken (and yes, I'm self diagnosing myself here), it's my carpometacarpal joint and again, it's most likely due to my osteoarthritis.  It feels tender, like I tore a ligament or something and it's definitely frustrating me at the moment.  It's a constant reminder that I'm aging, and possibly at a much accelerated rate than what I had expected.

I never appreciated the value of my thumb before all this happened.  It's gotten to a point where I am having a hard time extending it when I need to grab something, especially one that has some weight to it.  It's annoying to realize that holding just a full glass of water takes some effort now and could be painful at times. Even more so when I try to squeeze something like maybe a bottle of shower gel. Sure there are better days, and worse days, but still, I know that there is now a new normal set for me.  

Everyday and night, I'm reminded of all the days from the past decades when I took my thumb, and all my other strong, young and normal body parts for granted. Everyday now, I feel as if Left is staring back at me, pointing its fingers at me as it giggles mockingly.  I know now that the arrogance of my Right has been toned down.  Yes, it's still my dominant side but it now knows it simply can't go it alone.  

I know I'm far from defining myself as disabled, and that I'm still in a far better place than others out there who are dealing with real physical challenges.  But if anything, these physical changes have made me realize that part of aging is letting go of one's (false) sense of invincibility.  Youth tends to 'gift' us with a veneer of immortality, which of course is only possible because at the same time, youth comes with innocence and a myopic view of life and the world.  However as we age and we find that our bodies do break down after all whether we like it or not, we are confronted with the inevitable truth;  that we are mortals, we have weaknesses, and that no body part is too insignificant to be taken for granted, mocked, abused or ignored.  

Enjoy what you have.  Know that there is no such thing as an insignificant part of your anatomy.  Love it.  Care for it.  Celebrate it!  Right and Left, I see now that there is such symphonic beauty to your symmetry.  I hope I'm not yet too late.