This autumn that we all know.
Floating with the wind, disentangled from my tree
Withered and orange, I once was green
Where I will blow I shall never know…
The breeze has become my destiny
Peaks and valleys and mountains of snow
Wildflowers and butterflies and even a rainbow
A world beyond my tree that I didn’t know…
I float with the breeze to my destiny
My work on it was done, so I was told
I had served my purpose well but now I was old
It was time for the tree to let me go…
The breeze was to be my destiny
To detach myself I was pained and afraid
But now I see my reflection as I drift over the lake
Not a care in the world weighs down on my soul
I’ve allowed the breeze to be my destiny
I think not of my friends back home
Wherever the wind blows I am free to roam
The autumn of my life was meant for me…
The breeze has shown me my destiny!
Dreams, plans, milestones…. from the moment we are born we are taught to set them for ourselves with everything right from our first cry being documented.
We live in a performance driven world where we are programmed to rush through life achieving one goal after another. Short-term, long-term, five-year plan, deadlines—words like these dominate our being. Our childhood is flooded with those, and our youth burdened!
Then comes an age that we believe was on the other side of a horizon, a time we misled ourselves into thinking is the distant future. Days, we imagine are so gloomy and dismal that we don’t prepare for them, choosing rather, to live in denial.
This “autumn of our life,” is that phase when all that we ever knew, the people that we had become over the years, were now being rudely awakened from a blissful, youthful slumber into an unfamiliar vacuum.
It could be the loss of a spouse, or the moving out of children who had over the years consumed our every waking moment. Or maybe it was time for the next generation to take over the reigns at work, rendering our position null and void. And we find ourselves left behind….suddenly alone and for the first time, without direction.
This autumn that we all know, is inevitable, yet we forget to plan for it. Wishful thinking perhaps. Maybe if we don’t prepare for it, it will not come? But patience isn’t a virtue of time! It moves along steadily as always, it isn’t like we were not warned.
And just like that, we fade into the background of our own lives, believing that the quota of our accomplishments is exhausted and we are resigned to spend the rest of our days in silent introspection.
Or is it?
In which manual does it say that only the young should have all the fun?
Good health permitting, who says you have to put a cap on our adventure?
It’s never too soon to start setting milestones for the last quarter. And no, I do not mean a bucket list because that indicates time is running out. I mean milestones! Things that need to be done and done, post a certain age only, because there never was any time before. Autumn is after all, though a prelude to the frosty winter, still a reward for surviving the harsh heat of summer.
And the greatest part about it is: nobody’s watching. Post a certain age, the world doesn’t have too many demands from you anymore. It is suddenly acceptable and respectable to be a stay-at-home mom or a retired man. You’ve earned it, of course, since you fulfilled many obligations through all your younger days.
So now you have decades of “me time” granted to you from your life…by life itself!
You are officially responsibility-free! How can making it to the next level be a bad thing? So give yourself something to look forward to because at the end of the day you really are your own best friend! Make sure you’re a fun one and fasten your seatbelt…. or not (for once there’s no pressure) so long as you say “I do” to you.
My to-do list to myself, for the days when there’s nothing else left to-do:
>>> First, cheer up! However hard it may be, lift yourself up and out!
>>> One word: cruise! Then repeat.
>>> Roam the streets of the world (which is quite different from traveling).
>>> Learn to play a musical instrument—it’s been on your to-do list since you were five.
>>> Paint, or at least try
>>> Volunteer to teach. It’s the one thing you know. Share it!!
>>> Shop! (Nothing should ever come between you and this one.)
>>> Get in touch with long lost friends (then wonder why you were ever friends).
>>> Join an Internet chat group of people in your situation (whatever that may be). There’s always comfort in knowing you aren’t alone
>>> Keep up with the latest trends.
>>> Don’t hesitate to start a new career if you’re inclined to. It’s never too late!
>>> Read, write, pray, dance (even if you have to do it sitting down).
>>> Get that tattoo, eat that chocolate, go blonde, purple or green….what have you got to lose?
>>> Adapt! If you’re told to wear diapers, or see a shrink… do it! There’s no shame. It’s all part of growing up.
>>> Make others laugh! (Why stop now?!)
Things not to-do when there’s nothing else to do:
>>> Don’t watch every single soap on TV and their reruns.
>>> Don’t Join a cult, no matter how much the peer pressure. (Remember you said no to drugs. Don’t let them break you now!)
>>> Don’t give too much advice or start stories with “when I was young”…you still are!
Author: Nitya Satyani
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photos: Jenny Downing/Flickr