Life is a sincere teacher. It is always ready to teach us lessons, even if we are not interested or do not want to learn them. The relationships we entered, stayed in, or even ended teach us a lot. The irony is that most of the time, the writing is on the wall, but we prefer to look away finding it too harsh to accept. Too late in life I learnt many lessons which I would like to share with my readers. Looking back at my life as I have reached the threshold of old age, there are times when I wonder….. there are so many ifs and buts concerned! What would life have been if I had learnt my lessons on time? Maybe the face of my life would have been totally different (though I can not say better) today.
Too late in life I learnt to take a stand. Often when I found myself in a confronting situation, I preferred to retreat instead of holding my grounds and fighting for what was right in my opinion. The coward inside me, feared the disapproval of the people I loved, and I gave in to demands which at times seemed to me unjust or selfish. I just lacked the courage to defend my rights, until eventually one day I found myself against the wall. In a do or die situation, I learnt to retaliate but it was too late, as all the people around me were habituated to my meekness and expected me to keep on moving back! I learnt very late that what opinion other people had about me was not as important as my self esteem and what I thought about myself!
Too late in life, I learnt to make my own decisions. Born, bred up and married in a strongly patriarchal society, I was accustomed to have my decisions influenced by my father, brother, husband or son. There were many times when I differed with their opinion and that too strongly, I lacked the courage to express my views. However reluctantly, I kept on going with their decisions. And when the day finally came when I mustered the courage to say, ‘enough is enough’ and took my life and its decisions in my own hands, things changed dramatically. I do not boast that I have never been wrong, but at least I now have the satisfaction that if I make a mistake, I am paying the price for my own error and not for someone else’s!
Too late in life, I realized that I myself was in charge of my happiness. For a long period I kept on lamenting for what I did not have and so could not enjoy the bounties that I possessed! I learnt that I could have all the world’s best and still could be unhappy or I could be happy at simple things. The first ray of sunlight at dawn, the innocent smile of a child, a butterfly fluttering over flowers or a rainbow in a clear blue sky after rainfall had the power to make me happy but only if I wanted to be so. I learnt that we have to teach ourselves to be happy, to be content with what we have, instead of mooning for what can not be ours.
Too late in life I conquered the fear of making mistakes. I wanted to experiment, to try out new ideas but I was afraid of failure. I learnt very late that failures often open the gateway to success, and that experience and wisdom is gained at the cost of mistakes. To have tried and failed is better than not having tried at all.
Too late in life I learnt to say ‘No’! There were times when I just didn’t want to do something, go somewhere, entertain some people or take a responsibility which was not mine. But I was scared to say no, scared I would lose my place in the good books of people I loved, scared that they would call me selfish and un-cooperative. The desire to please everyone I loved kept me so busy that I had hardly anytime for myself, to pursue what I enjoyed in life. I finally learnt that I must give myself time and that would be possible only when I did not comply with family and friend’s wrongful demands. Any additional responsibility which made me happy was worth taking, but if something made me angry or frustrated, I should not feel guilty to say ‘No’!
Too late in life I realized that for a marriage to be successful, respect for your spouse is far more important than love for him/her. There are situations when love may not be able to pass the test of difficulties and may fizzle out at some stage in life, but if you have respect for your spouse, your marriage has a better chance to survive the rocks. And I also realized that the best gift we can give to our children is due respect to their father/mother!
Life is habituated at springing surprises at us. Too late in life I refused to be surprised by these unexpected turns, to take the challenges of change with a straight face. Finally I have learnt that I will only live once, so I should make compromises and be content with things I can not change! I also realized that to improve the quality of my life, I should make the most of these lessons. I may have learnt them late, but as they say, “Better late than never”. I wish better luck to my readers!