Knotty Forty: On Turning 40

Posted: August 28, 2015

Being 40 has its own perks. On turning 40, a woman has a life review with her head and heart, and this is what she finds. 

I used to believe that reaching the age of 40 is a milestone of sorts, and a certain imaginary, ‘Halo’ will sparkle and shine above my head bestowing me with the label of ‘Finally Arrived.’ At 40 my wisdom will overpower the state of confusion and I will confidently say with a lot more precision “been there done that.” Approaching 40, let me tell you, I am nowhere close to that feeling of euphoria, in fact I am as ambivalent (if not more) as I was in my 20’s and 30’s. Until a few years back, I thought, “Finally Arrived” means traveled that path before, been there done that with a certain degree of accomplishment. Now I say, “are you kidding me, you mean to say that at 40 there is nothing new under the sun?” Blame it on my antagonistic genes, but I feel it’s a rather boring and complacent way to look at 40.

40 has its own charm and am sure the ones on the other side of the fence will vehemently agree with me. Call me biased, of course, but being naturally middle-aged seems to me the best of both worlds. I sense some kind of accomplishment for crafting my life the way it has turned out to be so far ; a little bit of fine-tuning, some ambiguity, lots of explorations and a few hiccups here and there but overall an amazing journey. Close to four decades and a partially uneventful existence on this sphere, on one hand, while I have developed some unbreakable bonds with amazing people, on the other hand, I tussle with the difficult affiliations with the same amount of discomfort.

Even though I astound myself every now and then; somehow the devious and nasty side to me doesn’t overpower as much as I would like it to.

Even though I astound myself every now and then; somehow the devious and nasty side to me doesn’t overpower as much as I would like it to. That to me is a serious concern, certainly not the only one though; there is a long drawn list of alterations from that of my 20s and 30s that raise my eyebrow. For instance, I am still confused as to why and since when have I started choosing humor over cynicism, happiness over success, naiveté over skepticism, ignorance over prudence, learning over perfecting, admittance over denial, collectedness over anxiety, imperfections over excellences, authenticity over protocol, humility over smugness, compassion over animosity, patience over intolerance and the list seem to be never ending.

I thought to myself, not a good sign, lets do the one on one talking; just like the stereotypical corporate supervisor and the subordinate during their performance review; lot of facts blended with a pinch of drama; some below the belt, some on the face, few detours, an individual development plan, some delegation, a summary report and a plate full of expectations amidst a few reservations.This one on one session will be an intimate one between my mind and my heart. They share a very cordial relationship but don’t necessarily meet that often, unless there is a business contingency; as in this case where the sheer existence is questioned.

I get cautioned as they start their performance review meeting; I eagerly waited for them to share the next financial, oops! biological year target and execution plan.

I get cautioned as they start their performance review meeting; I eagerly waited for them to share the next financial, oops! biological year target and execution plan. This year ought to be special, it’s ‘the coveted 40’ not just any other conventional year. After hours of the long drawn meeting, a few cups of vending machine’s tasteless tea, some calorie loaded cookies, scribbles on the notepad and exchanging personal notes on their laptop; my mind and my heart came out of the boardroom looking visibly exhausted. I felt tiny winy bit anxious in anticipation of the outcome of their meeting and eagerly waited for my turn to be briefed. They finally called me to their territory and in their rather coordinated and authoritative voice said, “ Come come, please have a seat and make yourself comfortable, just give us a minute while we try to pull out the last 39 years of your performance report”

What! I murmured to myself, they are really going to dig down and scrutinise last 39 years of my life events? However I didn’t let that show on my face, instead maintained a stoic silence.

I took a seat, the room felt chilly with the AC on full blast, the white board never looked so daunting before with red marker scribbles on it like cautionary signs. I tried to smile and be at ease while they started flipping through their copious notes and looked at their laptop screen with crumpled foreheads. After whispering something to each other, they cleared their throats and started “While you had an eventful 39 years of association with us and have performed satisfactorily to your ability and capability, we feel it’s time to shift gear and move on to the next level. After reviewing your past year’s performances, we have mutually come to an agreement that we will keep it very aspirational and wishful this year. The targets may initially look steep, the process can get unnerving but we are confident that you will surprise yourself with the outcome.

“Before we read it out to you, do you have any questions?” they asked. A panicky me tried to portray a calm and composed demeanor said, “Not really, eager to know what you have in store for me at 40.” Mind and heart looked visibly relieved with no initial resistance or problematic questions from me.

With an agreeable smile, they said “While some get naughty at forty, some chose to be hottie at forty; a few fearless at forty and some fabulous at forty; we decided that you should stay away from the humdrum and not take the easy way out, instead be the ‘Knotty Forty.’ Baffled, I asked “Knotty Forty,’ What’s that?”

Mind and heart with their sparkling smiles on the faces went on to literally lighting up the room.

Mind and heart with their sparkling smiles on the faces went on to literally lighting up the room. They continued, “Well in simple terms it means that this year you have to make unbreakable knots with the positrons in your life; the good health, the happiness, the peace, the contentment, the goodness, the shine, the sparkle, the brightness, the creativity,the explorations, the learnings, the sharing, the giving, the warmth, the love, the laughter, the endorphins with a much higher degree and intensity than the previous years. The tighter these knots get, the easier it will be to gradually unknot the chaos, the clutter, the unwanted, the complicated, the complications, the unmanageable, the unpleasant, the distressing, the regressive, the regression, the calculative, the calculations, the vices, the vicious, the malice, the malicious, the despondent, the despondencies, and the insecurities from your life.

“Stop stop, please stop, the list looks exhaustive and it’s already creating ruffles; I thought it will be an easy life target for 40.”Mind and heart broke into laughter ripples almost like a chorus that echoed inside the walls of the partially glass room. They said, “Who said it will be easy? Nothing worth cherishing comes easy and that’s why we had mentioned earlier that the process may be unnerving and agonizing, but the outcome will pleasantly surprise you.” They took a pause while I stayed mum failing to respond or react. They came closer, slightly patted my back with a reassurance and continued, “During the course of the next one-year, we are confident that you will get ample opportunities to play by your strengths and tie the knots showcasing your nutty self.” I felt a lot easier and confident, gestured them with a reciprocating smile; I wanted them to know that I will not let them down. They said, “We wish you greater success in the years to come and may the 40s give you bounteous reasons to smile, laugh, giggle, chuckle while knotting the life’s purposeful knots.”

Those few minutes of discussions with my heart and mind seemed like endless hours of strenuous exercise. I stood still for a moment trying to gather and summarize what transpired in the room. Post the insightful discussion, while I gear up to form several unbreakable life knots with renewed energy and vigor; I wear my infamous wicked smile and have a twinkle in my eyes. My heart and mind both seem to be in perfect harmony getting over the initial animosity of their power play. While I embrace 40, my heart and mind are raising a toast for the 40th year displaying a board that reads as, ‘Cheers! Woman at Work, Project Knotty Forty!’

Cover Image via Shutterstock

 

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