Haven’t you noticed how most of your perceptions about stages of life are proved wrong? When you come to that stage, you realize, it isn’t that bad. So, relax and stop worrying about the future, and make the most of your now. We know this ‘now’ will slip into the past soon. So, why not enjoy it to the brim? Use this present like the gift that it is; very joyfully.
Here I’m tapping away on my laptop cuddled up with my kitten, Misty under my quilt. My Duchess curled up on top of the quilt near my feet. I look out of the window, seeing the soft rain falling. A hearty organic breakfast in my tummy. Staff, is busy doing the chores I’ve asked them to do. Love these winter feels in Islamabad. I’m loving my life in the mid-sixties, (yes, I’m finding it hard to believe it too.) Suddenly, I realized how important it is for me to love this time, value all the joys of these days, because these too will pass. You have no regrets if you’ve made the most of your time.
In my heart I’m thirty-two years old. (Even though, I’ve got two daughters older than that, who often ask me to ‘grow up!’)
Alhamdulillah, I’ve had a damn good life. Yes, a few twists and turns, here and there. Some quite dramatic ones. But. All ended fine. I’ve learnt to welcome each of life’s bash ups, because it always gave me more than what it took from me.
Candle of life:
Of course, we know, candle of life can be put off anytime. But that is how it is, its this knowledge which makes life more valuable. It makes us work harder, so can complete everything we wanted to do in this lifetime. The fact is that as long as you are alive, there is lots to do, at every stage of life.
How do I feel now?
Lovely! You don’t believe me? You are right too. What’s happened is, that between my recent illness and my age, it is hard to tell, which one is causing these aches and pains in my body! Probably, one or the other. So what? I take a Panadol and get on with my beautiful life. I’ve found that starting one’s day with yoga does away with aches and pains too. Generally, I feel so happy. 😊 It must be all the prayers that are said for me by my darling followers. I really love you all.
Life’s Challenges Remain the Same.
I Just watch each phase of life and realize, that the types of hardship change but overall, it amounts to the same throughout. The point to note is that it is equal to what you can bear.
Every phase has its’ own challenges, benefits, defenses and handicaps. Life, is all about how you balance these.
Let me walk you through each decade or stage of life…. you see at what point you are right now, then make your own decisions about how you want to live it.
Childhood to Teens:
You see a baby. He looks so cute, but actually, how helpless! How hard it must be, to be so dependent. Somehow, you are gifted with your defenses too. The helplessness is its own security. As soon as the baby cries, his needs are met. But the handicap is that all through your childhood and teens, your parents have the last word in everything.
Thank God I’ve had amazing parents, so that helped, but you cannot make any independent decision at all. Even choice of life partner is with their consultation, (at least in our region.) But Baby, that is because they foot all the bills too! If you want your independence on all your decisions, go ahead and pay for all the fees and bills, then you can.
During these beautiful years you feel at your peak. Just completing studies, and in my case MSc in Related Arts by twenty-one years. You complete your education. Get a job. (My father didn’t let me take a job.) Then the choice of a life partner does keep one busy, and once decided, it is one hurdle less to climb over.
‘Its not the decision so much, as what you do with that decision that makes all the difference.’ said Ahmad Bilal, my eldest son-in-law who worked many years in Microsoft, and is now in Google. Wise men.
Life in the forces began in the air force, which I just loved. Then the children, the travel abroad, the fun time the thrill of freedom and life together. All has its own beauty. Twenties can be just amazing. At that time, you feel you’ll always be that way. You dread turning thirty.
That’s when I became an author, by accident. When I was around thirty-three years. As a wife and mother of two growing kids, it was a constant struggle to manage the meager finances. One worked day and night, (I was a teacher,) and then I was moonlighting with writing and painting.
So, at that time one has youth, beauty and opportunities, yet you have so many responsibilities. On top of it, no control over anything.
My husband’s job meant that any day we can get posted out. So, moving house meant, change of job, children’s’ school, staff and everything, even friends. Physically one was fit, but one had that much more to do.
Surprisingly, the forties are amazing too. The biggest surprise comes when you realize you still feel the same! Also, have that feeling of ‘it is now or never.’ (As if everything within you and your life will collapse after the forties.) It isn’t actually like that at all. All that hard work and moonlighting; Yours, and hubby’s career struggles, the challenges at the higher rungs of the ladder of success. These take a toll on the relationships. That’s because you both no longer invest time or attention on one another. Most marriages have started falling apart during these years, because of this.
If you are smart, this is the time to pay more attention to your spouse. It is a time of mid-life crises for both. Celebrate your togetherness, before it is too late. Many marriages end up ‘solving’ this issue with having separate bedrooms. Which is the worst ‘solution,’ from my point of view.
Life Begins at Fifty:
When I heard it from my uncle Nawaz, that life begins at fifty, (I thought he was going nuts!) but when I became fifty, I realized, it is 100% true. You see, in the early years, you are all the time, pleasing your parents, then your husband, then your children. For the first time in life, now at fifty, you have time for yourself. Wow. Imagine! If you’ve been smart, and Allah has been kind, you’ll have the funds to spend on yourself.
Now you can just go for a drive at get eleven pm with your friend. What’s to stop you? Break all the rules you made while kids were at home. (These were mostly for them, anyway.) Now, a new life awaits you. You can now make and break your rules anytime! (Who is to check?)
Sadly, some of us lose our life partners at this phase, which is an earth-shaking experience. Some smart ones quickly find another soulmate and start a new life. Other smart ones don’t get remarried, and enjoy the single life.
Some health issues may occur too.
It is time to upgrade and update your knowledge too. Just stop bragging about your outdated degree of thirty years ago. Get a new degree now. I did my EMBA in Human Resource Management and tried to convert it into a regular MBA. You, go ahead and do some online courses, or get a degree in anything you like. If nothing else, watch YouTube videos on different topics. Increase your knowledge by learning new things. Join classes and attend workshops. Hire someone to teach you about whatever you want to learn. Once in Sargodha I went to the Presentation Convent, and found an eighty-year-old nun learning the computer from a young man, in the school.
For God’s sake get out of the rut of the past, and get current with current affairs and current life. This world is ours as much as the young people’s.
Now, you are retired from the jobs, and the children’s responsibilities. You have time-tested friends. It is also a time when your own children have become your best friends too.
One must stay in touch with the current trends in fashion, music, films and technology. Whether you follow them or not, but you must be aware of them.
This is also the best time to be traveling. You can do it alone or with friends. Just join a group who is going to your favorite destination.
Imran Khan, Donald Trump and Joe Biden are all in their seventies. How can you say, seventies could be bad? In fact I read somewhere once, that you are your happiest at seventy. Wow. Whatever the case, you can rule the roost! If not that, you can certainly rule your own life.
My father was driving around in his early eighties. You can be as active as you like. I watch my mother who is mentally alert and active in her late eighties, even though she cannot walk. My mentor and friend Shahida Apa was in her late eighties when she passed away. Honestly, I had a hard time trying to keep up with her. She was always busy running her Mashal school, holding meetings, and fundraising functions. She would invite me to her dinners and tea parties, and I loved being with her. You can know more about her here. Naturally, I was very upset when she left this world. But she showed me how life can and should be lived.
Mumtaz Mufti wrote is book ‘Talash’ in his late eighties. It is one of my most favorite books.
My Dad had a thumping 91st birthday party, and we were planning his 92nd, when he left our world suddenly, just a week before. He had many friends, and would stay in touch with the young army officers also. A few days ago, I’ve heard that Nasira Javed (Daughter-in-law of Allama Iqbal, and wife of Javed Iqbal) has joined PhD classes now at ninety. I love that. These are our torch bearers. YouTube is full of people pushing the scales higher. Napolean Hill wrote his ‘Grow Rich with Peach of Mind’ (another favorite book of mine,) in his nineties.
So, by the time we get to those ages, life can be even better than it is now. Look how much improvements have already been made. So, take a chill pill and enjoy these beautiful moments of life, at whatever stage of life you are.
Stay blessed, my dear Reader. Enjoy every moment of this priceless gift of life. 😊