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Middle Age – Embracing the Gray

Middle Age – Embracing the Gray

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Middle Age

As middle age arrives it transforms our life in unexpected ways. Once synonymous with history, it now signifies reading glasses, hot flushes, and the loss of youthful agility.

Middle age. That’s what has befallen me. I am struck by how much life has changed for me. If you asked me a decade back, l would say ‘middle age(s )’ was an era in the history of mankind! Not anymore.

Middle age is what has happened to you when your reading glasses come in the way of your reading and the only glow that comes on your face is from hot flushes! The agility that you once took for granted is suddenly priceless, the spring in your step is replaced by a more careful contemplation of where and how to take the next one, the heedless exuberance of youth ebbing to give way to the calmer, more mindful tread of middle age.

Was l prepared for this? No way! As l struggle to befriend my progressive glasses, l bemoan the loss of sharpness of vision which l never spared a thought for before. Now it is a regular war between my failing ‘accommodation’ and the continued need to ‘accomodate’ the world! Who knew things would come to such a pass?!

And just when l think l have ‘seen’ through a minor battle or two, my hot flushes threaten to burn me to ashes! Woe begone, middle age has indeed befallen me!

Comparing notes with my contemporaries, l find most of us are in the throes of these ‘growing pains’, gender notwithstanding. The men are waging their own wars against alarmingly receding hairlines with skewed ratios of salt and pepper in whatever is left! A large number of them have newly signed up for gyms and yoga classes in a bid to rein in bellies precariously perched on the trouser waistband, threatening to fall over to the other side all the time!

There’s no short cut to success,they say. There’s definitely no short cut to holding on to the last few years of a fast disappearing youthfulness! One has to sweat and stumble one’s way through!!

Dwindling hormones affect not only our bodies, but our minds too. The way our bodies feel and look are reason enough to unsettle our mental equilibrium. Along with dipping estrogens and testosterone, comes the realisation that a sizeable chunk of our lifespan has become ‘past tense’ . Normal conversation goes like ” when we were in college thirty years back….” or ” in the last 25 years of married life…” etc etc. The sheer numbers are unpleasant reality checks!

Creaky knees and hollow bones add to all the fun! And every little ‘symptom’ that seemed innocuous enough and were pooh-poohed more often than not in our youth, suddenly seems sinister. A headache feels like a cerebral apoplexy, while any discomfort in the chest must be the oncoming of a ‘heart attack’ and an erstwhile ordinary ‘at-choo'(!a sneeze,yes) takes on the colours of some deadly respiratory ailment! The paranoia is such that hospitals are besieged with panic stricken ‘middle-aged’ people.

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And yet, in spite of the heightened awareness of one’s mortality riding piggyback on psychosomatic troubles of middle age, it is not all gloomy, my friends. How, you ask?

Well, it is like this. By the time we reach middle age, most of us would have attained a modicum of stability in our lives, professional and personal. With stability comes resolution of the uncertainty, and the restlessness of youth is replaced by a steady calm. Middle age is also that time of our lives that brings with it a certain recognition and greater appreciation of the intangible assets of our lives. For women, it signals freedom from certain encumbrances and often a time to assert themselves and chase after their true interests, as their families are less dependant and demanding by this time. For men too, it is often a time of self realisation and soul searching, leading to greater calm within and without.

Just like any and everything in this material world, ‘middle age’ is just another shade of grey.

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