Expect the unexpected

  • Living
  • Saturday, 28 Dec 2013

As she approaches 40, the writer vows to unwrap life’s surprising packages – with anticipation and joy.

I HAD grandiose dreams of being a reporter who is unafraid to traipse around the world and report news from dangerous parts of the globe. I imagined myself dodging bullets, being in the thick of danger and reporting news of people’s plight in war-torn countries. Although people who know me well will be surprised at this dream of mine since I am not known for taking risks.

The wish list continues. I thought I would be a PhD holder by now or at least have a master’s. I thought I would have a secure job and own a modest flat. Even though I am a terrible flyer, I thought by now my travel journal would be brimming with colourful stories to tell. I also had a vision of making a real difference. However, the dreams of grandeur I have had faded into oblivion. Life doesn’t pan out the way you plan it.

Although it is an accepted truism that life is what happens while you are busy making other plans, I am left wondering where all the years have gone. It seems surreal. I keep asking myself: “Has it been that long?” Life rushes by like a bullet train. I am left on the platform with a bubbling mixture of feelings that threatens to overwhelm me. Feelings of awe, dismay, disbelief and anticipation course through me as I tentatively peek through the peephole to take a glimpse of my visitor. Four-zero is just at my doorstep, ready to charge in and I am still pondering how to receive this guest.

For some of us, crossing the threshold into our 40s is pretty uneventful. It is just another year as we zoom around taking care of the myriad of things that needs to be ticked off our mental list of to-dos. For others, it is a grand event that is life-affirming and has been planned to a tee. Where do I fit in?

I know that I am not going to be on top of Mount Everest or Kilimanjaro on that day. Would it not be exciting to do a bungee jump to mark this watershed in my life? On second thoughts, I don’t think that will be happening anytime soon. I guess it is going to come and pass like any other day. Horror of horrors – I can imagine sitting alone at home on a couch that has seen better days, mulling the last decade over what I should have done and could have done. That sounds utterly pathetic, doesn’t it?

So guess what? I am not going to beat myself up until there is nothing left to beat. I am going to make a brand new start. I am going to celebrate life. Simplistic as it may sound, not many of us get to do that. Many of us are going through life on automatic pilot without reflecting on it.

In retrospect, the last decade was not what I expected. There have been ups and downs. To be honest, more lows than highs and when I say lows, I mean the kind that leaves you paralysed with no inkling of what to do next. However, with every fibre of my being, I refuse to have regrets. I want to move forward into a new chapter. I know we all have these epiphanies at some point in our lives. I don’t want to call mine an epiphany, but a realisation, or awareness.

The next decade might turn out to be lousy. Touch wood! Or it could be the greatest?

It could also be a bit of both – good and bad. Whatever happens, I want to be grateful to God that I am here now. Life is full of limitless opportunities, joy and disappointments. My future remains a blank slate because I don’t know how the next 10 years are going to turn out. I don’t even know whether I will live to see my 50s and that is all right with me.

All I know is that I am going to try to make the best of my 40s. I have decided that my 40s is going to be a box crammed full of unwrapped presents. Each year, I plan to unwrap my gift with anticipation and joy. Even if it is not what I expect, I will keep putting one foot in front of the other. I will make more of an effort to step out of my comfort zone. I will continue to grow. When I fall, I will pick myself up, dust myself down and move on. I will work on the process of being comfortable being me. I will try not to whine when I reach those bumps in life that are hard to avoid. I will be grateful and acknowledge my blessings.

Surprisingly, I am looking forward to my 40s. I can’t admit to being fearless, but I am open to change. I am ready to unwrap my presents, accept them with gratitude and enjoy them to the full. The beauty of each gift is that I will never know what to expect.

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Expect the unexpected


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