Ex­pect the un­ex­pected

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

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - LIVING - BY RA­BIA ABU BAKAR

IHAD 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.

© mcT

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