“Fine lines radiate out from the outer edges of the eyes that had long lost its gleam. His skin seemed dull and lifeless. Permanent creases line the forehead. What once was a full head of hair is thinning out with obvious hints of grey. He tried hard to bring to mind another face he was very familiar with that had such worn features. It has been slightly more than one year. The impression of that face he had seen a million times before has become vague. The mirror began to reflect back some of those blurred features as he gazed into it.”
How I have aged. It felt like only a while ago when my face was bursting with youthful vibrancy. What the visage does not divulge, the body confirms – aching joints, failing eyesight, decreased stamina and the list goes on. My right knee can tell when rain is imminent more accurately than the weatherman. This is the perk of suffering from osteoarthritis. I will never be caught dead in a rainstorm again. That knee was injured in my early teens and again after the paralysis when I underwent intense physical therapy.
What I miss most is the ability to read minuscule texts without a pair of glasses. Reading the Reader?s Digest from cover to cover in one sitting is one feat I can no longer perform. My eyes now struggle to focus on each blurred line with great effort. This could also be caused by the long hours I spent looking at the monitor since the time when processor speed was a measly 4.7Mhz. I do not read as much as I used to or like to anymore. The John Grisham and Ernest Hemingway that Wuan gave me are stacked up nicely and gathering dust.
Youth came and went without my realising it. When I was young, those formative years felt like they would last forever. At twenty, thirty sounded like it was still so far away in the future. When it arrived and wheezed past, I did not give it much thought. Life began at thirty, so they said. My fortieth milestone is coming up. Life truly begins at forty, I was told. Then I read that life begins at fifty, sixty seventy and every decade thereafter until life decides to give up on us.
Thinking back about the age-worn face that looked back at me from inside the mirror, I am given the realisation that life begins the moment I wake up and try to live another day. Life begins anew everyday. This finite cycle is one we cannot evade. Why wait for thirty? Why expect that something exciting will begin at forty? Much time had been wasted waiting. When I was in my early twenties, I waited for the day that I could walk again. In my early thirties, when the hopes of ever walking again vanished, I waited to have a family to call my own. That did not work out either.
Unfortunately, looking at the big picture, I still do not know what I want to do at forty. While I attempt to fully utilize my daily waking hours in the best ways possible, it will be nice to be able to do my part in contributing to the greater good of humanity. All my life, I have been at the receiving end of acts of kindness. It is about time I pass on that generosity to those who are in need.
Mirrors do tell a story indeed. I gazed into one and it unwittingly triggered my subconscious to unleash untold stories of my past. Perhaps if I look into one long enough I can steal a peek into the future too and discover my true calling. I have wasted enough time waiting for that to come.
“God, I do not want to be doing at forty what I had been doing when I was twenty and thirty. Please do not let me grow old and rot away without You making use of me as an instrument to spread Your goodness. I pray that You will grant me the insight to recognise the calling that You have designed for me. Give me the perception to comprehend Your purpose for me and the courage and resolve to carry them out to completion. Amen.”