A Mid-lifer’s Reflection in the Middle East

life is a journey

Life is a journey, as they say.  It can either be a great adventure or a sorry mishap.  There is no way of finding out if the road up ahead is a long and winding trail or if it ends up on a cliff.  I just back up and go find the detour sign so I can continue with my road trip no matter what.

It’s the same as aging.   Every year that is added to my age marks as a milestone in my journey through life.  It can be a high-five or a thumbs down. It can be a party or a bleh moment.  Either  it’s about  winning or losing.  But still life goes on.

WE ARE HERE TO LEARN LESSONS AND THE WORLD IS OUR TEACHER – Andrew Matthews

So, as I travel down the road, I meet different people along the way. I love them. I hate them.  I trust them. I argue with them.  Each meeting has a purpose. Perhaps, the reason is to show how to love and care, or help me get through life with ease. And that’s fine.  But what if they exist to give me challenges – or better yet, to teach me a lesson or two?   Ah, this one is a big discomfort .  But as the book Follow Your Heart says, ” The universe has no favorites .”   So, whatever that is, I still have to walk through life without a scratch and hopefully alive.

True, challenges and trials like, maybe – what the great gurus say – are just lessons in disguise.   It can be so scary and daunting at first glance, but when I come to think of it, I realized that problems are not really thrown my way just to make my life difficult. Problems are there because I need to find out the reasons why things happen and try my best to make a sense out of it.

These everyday experiences also apply to all the people in our lives – parents, children, spouses, friends, girlfriends, acquaintances,  relatives and colleagues at work.  In one way or another, differences spice up our lives.  Well, let’s face it – we all have different backgrounds, hobbies, likes, ideas, cultures and norms.   So, misunderstandings and disagreements are inevitable. In fact, they are as natural as breathing and sweating. That’s what being social  is all about. It’s either I fit or not.  Or, I can go for the high road which is to simply adapt and make a compromise.

LIFE IS NOT MEANT TO BE SIMPLE
In retrospect, reasons for my behavior can be anything – the desert heat ,  food allergies, migraine, too much work, sleepless nights, jerks in the workplace, family issues , time zone blues, mercury retrograde , insecurity, foul mood, someone’s pushing my buttons or miscommunication.   Maybe I just need to vent and you happen to be nearby. Or maybe out of boredom I want to do it for a change and it seems like a good idea.

It can also be because I am still hanging on to the nasty parts of my past . Or maybe,  I  have a gift for blurting out zingers.   And so like all human beings , I rant, get mad , scream , cry and lose my wits too.  At times, I don’t have any idea that my words hurt somebody . When it comes to other people’s behavior, maybe they are trying to do their best too.

But one thing I have learned a great deal about growing older is that I can accept other people’s  criticisms with an open mind and open heart. Because they have a better view of me and the situation which – whether I admit it or not – sometimes is being blinded by pride and cynicism.

Other people can see something that I do not see because in the heat of the moment I am irrational and incoherent.  I become defensive because there is a part within me that I need to fight for.  There is a part that bleeds to the core. It feels like being blown to smithereens.  And the sad part of it is, when people never hear your side of the story – and they don’t even bother to find out. So, whatever reasons they have , I respect that.   But blaming other people or midlife crisis is not a mature way of dealing with life. I really need to OWN it.

DETACHMENT
Whenever I fall flat on my face and hit rock bottom, sometimes, the only option is to go away from it all. Either leave a relationship, friends, job , house, parents or even a country. It doesn’t really mean giving up on something good, losing hope nor surrendering my ideals. It is not even a good way to escape reality. Oftentimes, one simply disappears because it is the right thing to do. By taking a few steps back , I can take a deep breath, analyze the situation and view life objectively.  And once the decision is made, it is for the good of all.

Detachment gives me the needed time to think, regroup and weigh my options. Through the guidance of the Higher Being,  I can see the light and find the answers. Because I can’t think right if my mind is in absolute chaos.  One can only find peace in silence, meditation and prayer.

NO EFFORT IS WASTED
What do I do when I really get lonely or scared?  I shout. I sing. I run. I meditate. I clean the house. I watch comedy movies. I write on my journal. I pray. I sleep a lot. I do a heart-pouring sobs  and do it for a day or so, then I get over with it. I believe resistance to the feelings is unhealthy to the mind and the spirit.   I just have  to go with the ebb and flow of everything. Let nature takes its course. Because I simply can’t  force things to happen my way.

Then the big  ” aha moment, ” comes and I tell myself, ” okay now, stop the drama and all these self-righteousness mantras and just get back on track.” I think of an imaginary big circle around me that serves as a force field and protects me from being hurt emotionally . It quiets down the shitstorms in my mind.

As we grow older, if we focus on our strengths instead of our weaknesses, our mind-set will see the brighter side of things instead.  Age is not about the number of years I live, but how well I can face austerity with greater wisdom and strength.  I realized that , midlife should not be about a period of stress, fear and anxiety, as people commonly think.  But, instead a moment of self acceptance and letting go of things that I cannot change. It is a period of learning from the mistakes of my youth, so  I can bring and share this knowledge to my daughters and future grandkids, and to equip myself  better  for the second half of my lifetime .

HAPPINESS IS A CHOICE , NOT AN AUTO-RESPONSE- Anonymous

It doesn’t really matter if the people in my life is right or wrong, or if it’s their fault or mine. I would rather be happy than right. Middle age makes me look at life with a different perspective and understanding. This is my way of reaching out to all the people I have caused pain and in the same way, I am releasing the anger and hurt feeling which holds me down. I choose forgiveness. I choose happiness. Period.

Being a fortyish woman , I know I am still a work in progress but I want to rise above it all. This time, things are handled better and I hope, wiser. I don’t want to let my age define me as a person like a curse or something. I am embracing each year that is being added to my life because I am leading not the path of perfection but for greater knowledge and wisdom that every failure or mistake  will simply bring out the best in me.

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