I am 44 years old, and I feel fine and dandy
I am 43 years, 11 months, 4 weeks, and 2 days old, as I write this. How does it feel being at this age, as a man, a husband, a father, a friend, a colleague, a teacher, a buddy?
I still listen to the same music that I have discovered more than 20 years ago. I still collect books and buy my Wired magazine if the cover catches my fancy. I also sleep more these days than I should. I’d rather stay home on weekends and catch up on my readings — and my students’ assignments. I love a quiet time, coffee on hand in my favorite shop.
Road trips make me excited, and I love long drives. I want to travel to Europe, Japan, and some exotic places in Asia with my family. I want them to see the Great Wall of China or experience the rides at the Sentosa in Singapore, or walk the streets of Seoul at night and bask at the neon lights that make this city alive. I want to visit museums or art centers in my own country, and meet poets, artists and writers whom I respect so much.
I want to learn the new solo from my old-time favorite rock ballads, and if I get the chance, finally write that song for my wife, which she has been begging me to do ever since we met. For unknown reasons, I have trouble writing THAT song, yet I can play a tune on my aging Fender Stratocaster. Mind you, I could play the guitar well — at least for some of my friends’ standards. I love Blues, Rock (Hard Rock), and the standard Jazz music — and okay some 70s and 80s classic rock.
My taste for food is simple. I love them sweet and sour. I also love them roasted and skewered. But due to my recent health predisposition, I have to avoid eating food that turns into sugar, which apparently my body cannot take too much (yeah, my body is insulin resistant). My doctor and my dietician are both telling me that I have to watch what I eat. At this age, I have to force myself to eat my veggies more.
I have been active since I was a kid. I played a lot (and slept so little). I was a ball of energy, my mom and friends would say. I was always seen running around; could not keep still. I was dubbed the little “Dennis the Menace” since my energy was always cranked up to 10 that I ended up getting in trouble. Meeting me now would make people wonder where did that energetic kid go. What changed? I believe it was me becoming a pensive (read: introverted) teenager who would rather stay with the crowd and would rather melt whenever his name got called by the teacher.
From wanting attention to hating it, the change happened before I hit puberty. I gravitated to fewer friends — at least 1 or 2 really close friends. I got bullied too because I was a small, brown-skinned skinny fellow who only ate hotdog for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
I grew up being the only child until I was about 10. Just imagine the attention I was getting from my parents. I owned it all. Then, my brother popped out of my mom. I was sort of jealous. But since my mom had to go back to school to finish her College education, I was forced to grow up and take care of my younger brother. (Thanks to my aunts, however, who were there to help out — I owe them my childhood and my wonder years of learning how to put on a diaper on a baby and how to properly prepare a warm milk for my younger brothers).
I also had a loyal pet dog. His name was Black Tail because he had a black tail. He was a mixed kind of breed — not exactly the dog you would find in pet stores today. He had no pedigree. For me, however, he was my friend and my companion when I was left alone at home. I would let him sleep inside the house (which angered my mom), and I would also do the same in his little dog house (which further frustrated my mom). I smelled like my dog — most of the time. I didn’t care. I just missed having someone stay with me until my mom came back from school.
I also had a dog. His name was Black Tail because he had a black tail. He was mixed breed — not exactly the dog you would find in pet stores today. He had no pedigree. For me, however, he was my friend and my companion when I was left alone at home.
I have often wondered how I would write my own story when I’m older. Would it be as exciting and intriguing as the stories of Stephen King, Ray Bradbury or Isaac Asimov whom I idolized since one of my college buddies introduced them to me. As I turn another leaf in my life, I could only think of a few words to describe it: steady and comfortable. My life does not even have its ending yet — or neither do I have a clear vision of how life would be in the next 10 years. I’m taking it one day at a time. I am more engrossed with my daughters who are growing so fast, I could no longer keep up with their changing interests. I also have been married for 17 years now. And I must say it has never been this good. Me and wife are happy together, and I still can manage to make her laugh.
I’m also in a job that have turned out to be an interesting journey into self-discovery. Having navigated different organizations and having met with interesting people along the way (including the most difficult persons to deal with), I am friends with a handful of them — some have become mentors who have my back, some confidants who would always remind me not to lose sight of the very purpose of our work — and it has always been about our families.
Talk about friends — I have kept a handful so far in my 44 years. I am still in contact with my close friends from as far back as high school. I also have brothers and sisters from another father or mother who have kept me in line — they would often wake me up from my stupor. I love them as my real brothers.
To end, I am imparting some life observations (lessons) which I wish to share, as I conclude this long read:
- Never lose sight of your purpose in life. Whatever that is, take that with you wherever you are, whatever you’re doing.
- A job is just that, a job. Don’t let it define you.
- Don’t be afraid to try out new things even when you are at my age. Old dogs can still learn new tricks.
- Don’t stop learning (and if you can, teaching).
- Keep at whatever you love doing. It reminds you that life is not just about working from 9am to 7pm, and going home, and repeat. Take up a hobby; commit to it.
- Real friends will always tell you things you don’t want to hear. Listen to them.
- Family first. Love and take care of them, no matter what.
- Life is short. Always thank God for every day that he gives. And I’m going to borrow this line from Steve Jobs: Don’t waste your life by living someone else’s life.
- Give yourself time to travel and discover the world (with your family if you can).
- Always say thank you, and please. Be patient and be kind even to people you hate. Love them back. (My Sunday school taught me that).