All my life, I’ve done what was expected as a woman. Now as an older woman, I’m going to do what I have always wanted, and never could!
All step back; I’m ‘bout to Dance!
When the dust settles, you are surprised. You always had the feeling there is time; there will be time for everything. Then one-day superannuation happens. You realize the time is gone and you haven’t experienced so many things that you thought you will get to experience.
You have officially turned old – a senior citizen. You look at things and feel ‘this-has-nothing-to-do-with me-now’. You don’t need the stuff on body language, makeup, fashion, current affairs, one-upmanship, latest tips on how to handle workplace politics. You are no more competing, afraid of being left out, of lagging behind.
The futility of every act is visible to you. New dresses? With receding hairline and thinning hair, what the heck, I’m going to look the same! Jewellery – nay, think of my wrinkled skin and the danger of being looted – why waste money? Wining and dining – no, go easy on the tummy and stay away from digestion problems. New furniture – who will dust it? Anyway, everything loses its novelty value and becomes a part of the backdrop. Travel? – Too many arrangements, what if a medical emergency arises? Better sit at home.
Most of our stress comes from the way we respond, not the way life is. Then you turn three-sixty degree and realize that you never realized that life could be so cool, so peaceful, so agreeable, without push-push, reach-reach. One is allowed time for thinking leisurely – just lying down, staring into nothing, or at the white ceiling and letting one’s mind take its own time and speed for pursuing this or that fleeting idea. You are still being selective – earlier it was ‘what not to do’ to save time. Now it is ‘what all to do’ to spend time with a great hurray to yourself for having the greatest gift – good health.
I’m surprised that there is not a single stage of my life which I want back. I’m nostalgic about nothing. Anything wrong with me? Did I not find the different stages enjoyable? Or, am I too detached? Must have always been detached because I always felt the presence of a critical-self standing outside me (neurotic, am I?) and assessing things.
People have so many anecdotes to relate. I have none, at least none that I think would be worthy. The reason is I have never given myself that much importance. I think talking about myself is an imposition on others – I am too ordinary. Whereas I find others hell bent on narrating small insignificant happenings of their daily lives as if they are the details of a grand Odyssey. Am I low on self-esteem? Nope. I am analytical and have lots of common sense and enjoy observing people, their quirks and farts, and how they think they are very important and they seriously matter in this world, and, therefore, take themselves very seriously.
You cannot change the world. You know it cannot be changed; it will go on as it has always been going on. One can only change oneself. And that’s what I’m going to change. I hereby declare to myself that I’ll no more be a nice doormat, helpmate. I’ll be SELFISH, SELF-CENTERED. Capitals were needed to convey the vehemence of my decision. Now I’m going to walk over things I used to trip over. I’m going to shed some of my scruples and do what I think I really enjoy.
The first on the list is dance. Hence my clarion call ‘All step back…’ I’m going to get all the instrumental tunes, songs I’ve enjoyed and dance to them unabashedly. Very early, even before my age reached two digits, it was instilled in me that dancing is vulgar; drawing attention makes you a bad girl. “Shaking boobs and bums is not for good girls!” and I missed out on so much pleasure easily gained from letting yourself go with the beats of music. Here pelvic thrusts and titties’ jerks are absolutely not included. Of course, my creaking joints will protest – let them!
Being urban I missed out on swimming because it was not a qualification required in the matrimonial market. Water, another element, which can give so much pleasure, has always remained a source of fear to me. Learning swimming is on the cards.
I brought up my kids. Bringing up their kids is not on my agenda even if it is on theirs. ‘No comment only compliments’ is going to be my policy as far as my gen next is concerned. I’m going to mind my own business while they perform in their arenas. I’m not going for a joint family; I love my independence too much. The idea of Old Age Home is beginning to appeal to me. He too has to understand that increase in my free time will not translate into more devotion to his creature comforts.
Actually, I am claiming the space and time for myself which I never got. Not only restructuring the idea of family is on the agenda, the same applies to the crowd I am surrounded with – my relatives, so-called friends, and acquaintances etc. FOMO is nothing to me, I’m all for DOMO – the desire of missing out. I do not need approval from others to function. All the fakeness and superficiality governing the social scene prompts me to strike off many people of my helloing list, especially the ones who use proper kind words while being full of cunning impatience. All the door slammers, voice raisers are being derecognized. It was hard for me when they misinterpreted what I did or said or when they criticized me for something I did not do – my husband’s older sibling tops the list. I thrived on being sensitive to others’ needs because it made me well liked but now I’m going to attend my needs only.
No feeling of guilt will badger me if I watch Netflix uninterrupted for hours together. I’ll take flights of fancy. Am I going to be a part of a cluster of Sensates? No, I’ll like to be the member of a clone club like Orphan Black! Or, I’m going to think of how I would’ve handled the themes differently.
I’m giving up all limiting beliefs. I’m going to grow plants, draw, paint, sing and not be a glorified nanny to my grandkids. No, I love them. I want to enjoy them. I want to be a fun figure for them. Whenever I’ve time, I’ll lovingly tend them (flesh of my flesh!) but not on regular nine to five basis while their parents are out working. I too have worked for thirty-six years. Now I’m going to be a real Dobbin.
Since I’ve decided to edit my life ruthlessly, I’ll be truthful. I never believed in formal organized religion or the conventional idea of God though I went through the motions of all the poojas and paaths as expected by my gender role. Here the editing part consists of the request for holding no chowtha, no hullaballoo after I die. Cremate me and from the next day resume your normal life. No rites are needed because death is the final rite of life and I believe I would cease to exist.
The cricket commentators have popularized the phrase ‘fag end’ (say as of season, or career etc.) and people have adopted it unthinkingly. This is not the fag end – ‘poor in quality’ – this, rather is the celebratory end. Without harming anyone, I am going to live for myself and that is spiritual enough for me. I am done with all the social constructs and thinking traps. I am going to be impulsive, instinctive. I am going to appreciate what I’ve right now. I know there is no permanent, unflappable happiness. It’s not that I want to feel happy all the time. It’s just I am trying to achieve greater mastery over how I respond in my remaining time.
Since my teens, I have struggled with existential anxiety. Each person has limited time – the winged chariot of time has made me realize anew. Perhaps this led to the assessment of my day-to-day compromises and the desire to opt for this assertive ‘Step back…’ or I’ll never be able to dance. Is looming mortality threatening me? Am I following Terror Management Theory or simply seeking Pleasure Principle? I may be disappointing others. I may be laughed at and called senile, a welcome comment if after making it they will let me be.
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