Fortitude at forty


This was the week I turned forty. The oldest I’ve ever been and the youngest I will ever be. But then again it’s true for any age. Us mere mortals are so confined in the little boxes of the calendar or in between the hands of the clock that we place so much expectation on mere numbers. “I’m 18, “ we scream, “flirty 30” we tease, “23.23 – make a wish,” “Friday 13, beware!” And of course, “40 and fab”, “40 is the new 30”…

If indeed life begins at 40, perhaps it means life really does begin because you finally feel you’ve arrived armed with a bag full of life lesson – hopefully way smarter than you were at 20. And if not, oh boy the journey ahead will be rough as potentially, at 40, you’re at your peak, it’s those lessons you’ve learned to date that will make the rest a walk in the park.

What have I learned? What can I tell my 20 year old self?
Don’t fret, I’d say. Don’t fret, frown or fear. Trust your destiny. For whatever’s meant to be will be. It is happening already! Take it in your stride and have faith. Whether you believe in Jehovah or Allah or Buddha, or the universe you are here right in this moment because this is exactly where you are meant to be. Your steps are guided, the right doors wide open the wrong ones nailed shut even if you may not realise now one day with hindsight it will all make sense. Have faith in the plan – the route that was set for you, the paths you’ve chosen to take and fellow sojourners you’ve met along the way. All the things that have shaped you into the person you are today.

All you encounter on the way is for a reason, or just a season, or a lifetime. People will come and go, some will leave footprints that wash away at the first tide, some will build their houses in your heart. Some will walk all over your fields of gold. some will let you down, some will set you up, but so does life. Forgive those who trespass. Don’t let bitterness eat away at the corners of your heart. Cultivate peace.

Nurture wisdom to know what and who is here to serve a purpose, or for a while or for keeps.
Hold on to all that matters but not too tight. Remember you’re not the owner of the things you think you possess, but just a trustee. With that in mind, keep your hold light and know when to let go.

Don’t dwell on the mistakes you’ve made yesterday – they too have shaped you. Accept them for what they are, forgive yourself and look ahead. Keep your load light and your steps blithe.

It may sound a cliché, but seize the moment – every moment. Those painful moments that aid your growth and those joyful moments that you are wise enough to let go once they have come to their natural end.

Don’t take the short cuts when it comes to you. Build yourself up on the rocks as arduous as it may be to excavate and build on a rock so when the storm hits, as it surely will, you can weather the storm and crumble down like those on the sandy ground. Practise grit to weather the storm and grace to enjoy the sun – for nothing is promised, nothing is forever.

Do not rush; we all have our own path and we walk at our own pace. In the end it’s not a race and it’s not to the swift. Take the scenic route and enjoy the scenery. After all, it’s true what they say: happiness was the journey all along and never the destination.

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