Turning 32

Diving on my birthday


Couple weeks ago I turned 32 which marked 11.688 days of my walking on this beautiful earth. To think of this, it was the first time since the last time I felt neither afraid nor ashamed of getting old. The accumulation of days gone through by my physical shell and mental maturity has buzzed me to accept this decaying nature of life as nothing but temporary.


In the past I had been struggling with so many things and made lots of terrible mistakes. Sometimes I was lost in my own thoughts and could not navigate where my emotions should be discharged. It ended up being kept in my mind and enveloping me in a repulsive eagerness to fathom things I did not comprehend for the sake of satisfying my curiosity. I did not realize I was selfish, judgmental, sad, and angry. 

I was selfish because I thought this world was made solely for survival. I thought I deserved happiness even though it costed people’s happiness because people did that too. I was judgmental because I thought it helped me control things I could not control. I thought being judgmental kept my decision good and sheltered me from the harsh world. I was sad because I thought a few good things happened to me could last forever. Nothing lasts forever, even good things must end. I was angry because I thought life was simply unfair to me. I was in a raging silence that tore me apart from the inside. I was not proud of those moments when I was subjugated by my own emotions. 

I was all that, but mostly I was brokenhearted.

My struggle with my surrounding over the years had slowly transformed into a self-discovery journey to peel off the layers that blanketed me thick. Previously I had grown thorns in my eyes that led me to desperation and haplessness. It also grew a strong exasperation and self-loathing. The funniest part is that I was so blind that I always tried to repudiate the fact that I was overwhelmed and swindled by my own emotional conviction. It took me many meandering detours of ups and downs to change my focus from the outside to the inside. I was in inflicting pain, but I had no idea what this pain was, let alone find out how to overcome it.

During a spiritual retreat I attended three years ago, the facilitator stated that we all ultimately are going to die. The question he delivered was what do we want those final years to feel like?

That question lingered vividly and followed me home. It fueled up other questions in my mind. When I got home, I started looking at myself on the mirror and incessantly throwing similar questions:

Do I really want to carry these thorns with me wherever and whenever I go? Do I really want to let my wound and grief of the past define how I live? Is it possible to adjust the damage of separation to minimum? what do temporariness and mortality salience mean for me? Am I afraid of loneliness that I despise death so much? Has it transformed me better or worse?  What is it I am afraid of?

Answering such questions take a lifetime. Perhaps more than it. As time went by, I realized I was privileged enough to gradually learn my emotions as part of me without being overwhelmed by it. Life is kind enough to offers me the opportunity to learn and unlearn. If I get lucky, probably I will have the answers of one or two questions.

However, in my journey, the syllabus of my life seems to focus of learning to accept rather to ask. I, too, unlearn constructing the emotions I thought plastered eternally onto me and start learning to cultivate the sense of self-acceptance. Rather than questioning ‘Why is death inevitable?’ I started to accept that death is indeed inevitable, and I can choose how I react towards it. Rather than bursting out whys, I started to accept the way they are. Of course, the process to absorb all that was still painful and taking so much energy and time. But not as much as before. I am still learning to distinguish what domain in my life that I can still have control (or perhaps to learn that nothing is in my control). I still need to cultivate my inner peace and strengthen my resilience. I still need to comprehend how my body, mind, and soul harmonize in the sense of perceiving the universe. 

See, I have endless homework to do where I must befriend the patience along the process. I have told you many times now, patience is not my strongest virtue. Nevertheless, that is the thing about the process: you let yourself swim in the river of life and try going to the end of the stream gracefully. If you swim against the current, you will exhaust yourself. If you swim hastily to the end, you will run out of your breath before reaching it.

By accepting the on-going aging, the experience and time spent makes me closer to who I am and what I am doing in this life. I started doing minor changes essential for me. I reset my sleeping and exercise patterns, I motivated myself to be a supportive person, I opened up to people around me, I built boundaries, I conveyed the emotions I needed to channel to certain people, I filtered uncomfortable emotions and discharged it accordingly, and  I grew a liking to spend time with myself in the nature.

The latter is another blessing in disguise in my aging journey, that being 32 has made me self-aware about the importance of nature and solitude. They both played significant roles in providing me a safe room where I can comfortably observe the silence and rage within me and mend the wound of my past. When I was in solitude, my consciousness was amassed in retracing back the source of my emotional wounds which dominantly were rooted vehemently on grief and loss. I have been entangled with the simultaneous events of people coming and going. Jaded and faded. Changed and transformed. We are born and we all die. By accepting this, the suffocation and the agony from living life has slowly subsided. 

I am learning to let go.

So, today I realized that desperation I once felt had become a silver lining that guided me to rediscover many things I did not know existed. The exasperation that once blinded me had opened my eyes to feel simple kindness around me.

I cherish all togetherness in life. Sometimes we stay and collide to go on a journey altogether. But when it is time you must go, I will not get ahold of you. When it is time for me to go, I will still remember all the time we have had. After all we are currently in this river of life taking different flows to finally meet up again someday later.

They say experience is the best teacher, a bitter one, yet virtuous. And I am embracing this experience of aging with gratitude.

I welcome wrinkles, gray hair, and soggy skin with open arms.

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