Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Decades

How must it feel to turn 50; to complete another decade in one’s life? Does it carry the same sense of completion as when the world completes a decade?

I think not.

We look at our lives in terms of years and events, even when we take a backseat big-picture view of it. So, I was 8 when we moved to Coimbatore, 16 when I finished school, 21 when I was married, 26 when I had my first child, 35 when I bought my first house and so on and so forth. We have specific years that are important to us because of some event that happened in that year, and we look at it that way. When we complete a decade and turn, let’s say, 50, then we tend to start subtracting to find out how many years ago that important event happened in our lives, and with mock (and sometimes real) astonishment, exclaim that it happened 12 or 17 or 31 years ago.

However, when the world looks at its life, it does so in decades and events, and the world almost always takes a backseat big-picture view of it. So, Elvis gyrated in the fifties, the hippie movement made free love in the sixties, the eighties had really bad taste in fashion and so on. Surprisingly enough, we don’t perform mathematical calculations to find out how many years ago it was as much as we do in our lives. We never wake up in the morning (or go to sleep at night) and say, “My goodness, Beatlemania happened 47 years ago.”

However, I have, in the last 5 months or so, had a niggling addition to make in my subtractions. I can no longer simply subtract from 100 and arrive that the sixties happened 40 years ago. I now have to subtract from 110 and that adds an annoying extra decade to my arrivals. The eighties (the decade I was born in) now happened 30 years ago; that means that I will turn 30 this decade. The seventies existed 40 years ago and the sixties 50 years ago. The nineties themselves, which seemed to have only just passed – wasn’t it just some time ago that we were following Nirvana on a daily basis and Bill Clinton was in office with the Monica Lewinsky scandal breaking out and Ayrton Senna died – are now 20 years ago. 20 years! There was a time when it used to be just a few years ago.

Time is flying like The Silver Surfer with little wings on his feet and his helmet and his wrist-cuffs and with rocket boosters under his surfboard; time is galloping like Seabiscuit on the home stretch straining every muscle; the clock on Big Ben (and everywhere else around the world) ticks ahead at the frenetic pace of one second every second. What are you doing to keep up?

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