Happy Birthday to Me

 

Today is my birthday….happy or not. Considering that , effectively,  one is just inching closer to the inevitable end, whether one should celebrate one’s birthday or not, has been the subject of much intellectual debate. Many of these debates I too have been a part of. In fact, in the good old days of youth, some inexplicable existential angst used to grip me around my birthday. Those were the days when I was quite sure that I had life all figured out and had consequently come to the conclusion that the only logical thoughts on one’s birthday had to be an existential urgency. I remember scribbling one such thought from Bridget Jones on the title page of that very book on my 27th birthday – “Fear of dying alone and being found 3 weeks later , half eaten by an Alsatian”. That Bridget herself is by no means anywhere near sane should be enough of a comment on my mental state at 27.Now that I’m quite certain of just the opposite , that no matter what, life cannot be figured out, I have taken a bathetic plunge from morose contemplation to chaotic revelry.

happy-birthday-to-me-wallpapers-9.jpgSo here I am,  on my 42nd birthday, with my self bought gifts and cake and flowers , ready to celebrate , happily having bid adieu to the angst that plagued me in my 20s. Is life more sorted out now ? Am I no longer scared of being found half eaten by an Alsatian because I’m married ? Not quite. On the contrary life is as chaotic as it gets and if I’m not worried about not being half eaten by an Alsatian it’s simply because I’d trust my pet not to eat me up ! The fear on the contrary is of being left half buried by my better- bitter half šŸ˜‰

On a more serious note if there is one thing that I’ve realised about life it’s  simply that life is for the living. Pretty obvious one would think but very often such apparent truths are lost on us. Rather than moan on our birthdays about getting old,  let us acknowledge that growing old is a privilege denied to many and be grateful for whatever time we have, especially with our health and other such things that we take for granted ,  intact.  Moreover, why do we wait for others to celebrate our birthday or make special efforts for our special day? Buying gifts, flowers, cake for oneself is generally looked down upon, as signs of  being so lonely and alone that no one will get you these. For a long time I have myself fallen prey to such self defeating thoughts, waiting for others to make my day special. And now I wonder why? I am blessed with lovely friends and family but if I don’t want to celebrate my life myself, why do I expect others to? My birthday for me is today nothing short of an exclusive national holiday that I celebrate fully. It’s a week, if not more, of fun and revelry in the most basic ways…shopping, cooking, movies…anything that I enjoy..with sonny dear and whoever, if anyone, is around at that point of time. But celebrate I must and celebrate I will.

I have often spoken of lack of self love that we, especially, women exhibit. Everything in life is overrated, except love of the self and an affirmation of life as we know it. Can there be a better day to celebrate one’s life than one’s birthday? So here’s to many more such days…such birthdays and a life of loving and living. Let’s not take life too seriously..no one gets out alive. Let’s rock it while we can…Happy Birthday to Me!!

City of Love

 

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Did I ever mention how I fell in love with Paris, the City of Lightsā€¦The City of Love? Yeah it’s called all this but names are just nomenclature until they mean something to you personally. And strangely Paris meant all this and a lot more to me. The moment I stepped out of the hotel room IĀ fell in love with the city. Sitting at a little cafe outside the hotel, sipping a hot cappuccino, all I could feel was …well not just love but joy, peace and, well, freedom! Why? I really don’t know.

That very evening, after a cruise on River Seine as we went to the Eiffel Tower, I told my BFF rather matter of factly – “I love you. I love being here with you. But someday I’d like to come here with my soul mate.” That she didn’t fling me down the Eiffel Tower is to her credit. Instead she just rolled her eyes and gave me one of her exasperated yet cocky looks- “The only soul/sole mate you have is me…like it or lump it!”

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Ever since that trip almost a year ago, I’ve been wondering once again about this entire construct of a “soul mate” that we all, especially the women, yearn for. Is there anything remotely like that? If yes, is it only for a lucky, chosen few? And if there isn’t anything like a soul mate, do we in fact waste our lives hankering after a mirage?

My wise teacher, who regularly surfaces to give me a fresh perspective on life, had said long ago – Love is over rated, fidelity more so. Freshly reeling under the magic of DDLJ, she had sounded like a Prophet of Doom and the voice of cynicism rather than of sanity. Strangely it was her words that rang in my ears on that cool night on Eiffel Tower as we looked at the beautiful city of Paris spread out like a map below. It was at this uber romantic place that Tom Cruise had proposed to his lady love Katie Holmes I believe. For the rich and the famous, proposals at the Eiffel Tower are pretty much a clichĆ©! And so are divorces – How that fairy tale ended we all know.

And that once again brings me back to my ā€œsoul mateā€ question. Is there really another soul out there, our other half that you are meant to be with? And while it takes you a few lifetimes to find that particular one, you blunder along the way with othersā€¦is that how it is? Or is this yet another ā€œconstructā€ of the human mind? Another attempt to put the onus of oneā€™s happiness on someone else? While the desire for companionship is perfectly understandable, what I fail to understand is why we end up handing the key to our lives, as it were, to someone else. Why do we become a de facto puppet in someone elseā€™s hands? Before this is written off as some kind of a feminist rant, my question is addressed to all the men as well who pine away for their lady loveā€™s approval. Why do we homosapiens, the most intelligent of all species, do this to ourselves?

After being shocked by ā€œLove and fidelity are overratedā€ at the age of 20, today at 40 Iā€™m finally convinced of it. In fact Iā€™d say everything in life is overratedā€¦everything except self-love. Self-love not of the narcissistic, egotistical selfish kind but a love and respect for oneā€™s own life and self. The attention we shower on another, often bordering on the stifling, what if we were to show the same love, respect and concern for ourselves? Wouldnā€™t we make better lovers, companions, and in fact better human beings if we could show such kindness and consideration to ourselves? Instead of being so very critical of yourselves, your bodies, your roles in family and society, your achievements and failures, how about just loving yourself as you are? No doubt you arenā€™t perfect, but you are YOUā€¦and that is something no one else can be. And well, if you canā€™t love yourself, no one else can.

So it is, that after almost a year of my love affair with Paris, the joie de vivre I experienced there, is beginning to make sense. After a life time of fighting with myself, rejecting myself, being over critical of myself and my failures, deprecating myself, I had finally started falling in love with myself, with my life. Am I perfect? Am I sorted in the head so to speak? Far from it. But I am me. And I am my soul mate- something no one else can be. Yes the promise to go back to a magical evening on Eiffel Tower with my soul mate stays, only that the soul mate is much nearer than I could ever think and the love affair has just begun!

self love