On the weak side of 40
Confucius has written that ‘men are established at 30, free from illusion at 40, learned of the Fate at 50, easy of people’s sayings at 60 and able to do as his heart desires at 70.’ During my latest travel which straddled my 40th birthday, I was asking what freedom from illusion meant and what it meant to me. My beloved song title Don’t Dream It’s Over and book title Lost Illusions sprang up. What are the illusions that have beset me and that have lost or are quickly losing their spell upon me? There are many indeed. To love and be loved. To make friends. To fulfill my parents' hopes. To be free without fearing freedom. To be alone without feeling lonely. To pride myself on being quiant. To go against the fashion unapologetically. Growing up is no longer true to me. Growing down, if there can be such a phrase, is the going-on. Like the Happy Prince letting go his ornamental gem stones, the passage of my time is marked by shedding dreams. Dreams in the teenage years. Be a football star, be a band frontman, be a philosopher, be a president. Then quickly, like the exponential decay curve, dreams gravitated to become ambitions, to become famous, to become rich, to become respected in a creative and uncompromising manner. By mid-30s ambitions gave way and settle down to realistic objectives: a home, a love life, a successful career, a family --- well, quite many guys around have got there, I'd better catch up and over take them and shine. How would I know even these should be out of my reach? Like sand in my hands slipping through the gaps and I try to close the gaps but my fingers defy my will as if they were someone else’s fingers. The horror is growing with time. If it had been a nightmare, at some point the fear itself would wake me up. But when the torment is the wake up to reality itself, it has no end. It is my misfortune that while I am going down in this quicksand I by chance picked up Saul Bellow’s Homboldt’s Gift, a story about the fall from grace and decency of a man of letters. There are not many books which left me craving for more pages, more words and more sentiments from the story-teller, after a good 480 odd pages. Self-pity eats me up. I want to act the victim and I want to act the rogue. But truth be told I am neither. All my life has been a tale of cowardice. The dirty old man seems to be surging in me fast and furious. All of a sudden everything I had been clinging to snapped. For every reason to fight and survive, there are three reasons to let go. I have never thought I would get this low. And I have never imagined that I would placidly concede that I am getting lower, faster and faster. If it ain't broke then break it, all the damage done (Love Somebody, by Robbie Williams).