Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Birthday advice to myself

A prolific diary writer since the age of seven, I used to mark birthdays with solemn entries, self advice and promises to myself for the year ahead. I would also set some goals. I was quite a good kid.

I was also quite surprised that I did not feel any different on each new birthday.

For my 35th birthday, a mile stone to say the least, a half way mark to the dreaded "40," I will try to give myself some good advice and think about growing older. 

I just finished thanking everyone individually for their birthday messages - 68 and counting - on Facebook.

Let's see, what do I want to accomplish in the next five years? I have been thinking about this for some time. This is going to be easy:

1) Get published: I desperately want to write a book about having lived and worked in Liberia for ten years
2) Make a fantastic success of my IT company
3) Make a little baby sister or brother for Kavita
4) Make a permanent family home for Haresh, Kavita and I outside of Liberia
5) Make a deeper and wider network of friends in Pakistan 
6) Share more of my money with a cause
7) Identify that one cause, one issue 
8) Go back to school to get an MBA or read more politics/history
9) See Deosai Plains, Moenjodaro, Machu Pichu, Taj Mahal, Petra, Bagan temples, Angkor Wat temples, Timbaktu, Cape Town, Zanzibar, Cape Verde, Quito, Mexcio, Tokyo, San Francisco, New York, Seattle, Havana, Ulaan Battar, Samarkand, Buenos Aires, and Bokhara.
10)  Write a movie script
11)  Read, understand and practice feminism
11) Get, force and threaten (in that ascending order) more people to read my blog

As for growing older, I've been practicing it by going for the salt and pepper look. Since I turned 30, shocks of white hair have cropped up all over my head and, I had to start dyeing my hair. Since a few months now, I experimented with just letting it hang without any dye

Dyeing hair is a beauty regimen. By hiding one's greys, one practices a key dogma of the beauty religion: getting older is not beautiful; young is beautiful; and, beauty is literally only outward. 

I stopped dyeing my hair since February this year. I had mistakenly dyed it in jet black and wanted to get my brown colour back. It took quite a while for my original colour to start coming back (although I think my hair is permanently some new weird colour) and in the process, I realised I had way more white hair than I thought. 

During this time, I realised that it actually doesn't make any difference whether I sport a salt and pepper look or not. I feel the same. I still enjoy dressing up every day. I think I look fine in my selfies. I don't have to waste so much energy and time dyeing my hair every few weeks.  I feel cool because I don't care about covering up  my greys. 

But today, on my birthday, I also feel proud of my white hair. I feel they reflect all the experiences, knowledge and wisdom I have have picked up on the way. 

I may go back to dyeing my hair just for the sake of variety but not because I want to pretend I am not growing older. 

Having said that, growing up should not mean becoming an insufferable bore. 

And, while I grow older and try to reach all my goals, I will inspire my days by this wonderful quote by Annie Dillard: "How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives."

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