Birth by Navina Anand

The birth of a child. The birth of an idea. The birth of a revolution. The birth of a concept. Birth brings with it a flurry of excitement. A flurry of activity. A feeling of hope. Joy. Fear?Anxiety? whatever it is one cannot deny that ‘Birth’ results in action. And activity is central to human existence and gives us a purpose.

For the first few decades of one’s life we typically move, almost unconscious of the action around us. Much of those opportunities are created by life’s classic trajectory. First time you talked, first time you walked, first day of school, first day of college, first day of job, first day of marriage, first time you got fired etc., etc. etc. We move through them unmindful of the amazing impact of those moments like enthusiasm, emotional upheaval, unadulterated joy, feeling of hope etc. And then as you get into middle age and you are “settled”, there is a lesser number of ‘births’ happening to you. It may be happening to the people you know, but your life is largely moving on a set groove. That is when people typically want to disrupt the status quo and try out different things which typically get labelled as ‘mid-life crisis’-The mild sense of urgency about the realization that life is too short and the number of ways you can re-birth and reinvent yourself are dwindling.

As we look at the people around us, the interesting “old” people (who are not bitter) are the ones who keep the enthusiasm alive in their lives by birthing new ideas, carving opportunities, seeking experiences, learning new hobbies from YouTube, trying new activities, socializing and constantly on the path of re-birthing. The only way it seems, to keep one’s joie-de-vivre as one walks towards the twilight of one’s life is to avoid the rut of monotony.

In the book ‘ The new long life’ by Scott & Gratton, the author talks about how with the average lifespan being extended tremendously due to progress in healthcare and technology, the concept of retirement at 60 is rapidly becoming unviable for many financially. But even if not financially, the idea of spending a whole two decades without a purpose can be physically and mentally challenging. Without  kids and a job to distract us, will we be more enthusiastic? Or forced to deal with our own ‘boringness’?.  Unlike yesterday when our parents went to work at a single place of work for decades, we have switched jobs a lot more frequently. The next step in this evolution is changing careers. Some out of necessity and some out of breaking out of the drudgery. And finally , post 60, we need to figure out a way to keep ourselves meaningfully engaged or maybe even financially productive- learn a skill, tutor someone , be a consultant- birth a new version of ourselves so that we are not a bored dead mind inside a healthy body.

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