This morning, as I propelled my ample thighs and butt up a killer slope on my morning run, searching the beat of the current track on the i-pod for distraction from the agony, it dawned on me that today, I was now 1 month into my 40th year in this life.
Random revelations, ranging from the obvious to the esoteric, are the order of the day on my runs, but rarely do they have a physical effect on me. I figure my musings realize it’s not really a sensible move to divert my physiological efforts from the task at hand – that of huffing and puffing, sweating and grunting to the finish line. However, today’s dawning was different and did mess with my physical being.
It suddenly felt as if my inner self was being gently lifted by a near overwhelming sense of happiness, in fact almost childish joy, such that I felt I was cruising up the last part of the slope with little effort and uncharacteristic speed. Even though I know people twice my age can run faster and for longer than I, I really marveled that My Creator had allowed me to still be able to jig my jugs 28 years after I remember doing my first long distance run.
On the day I actually turned 40, contrary to what I had thought, I was not as emotional or as reflective as I presumed I would be, though I did have a few ‘lump in the throat’ moments after seeing some particularly soul-thrilling messages from a couple of dear friends and my sister. My sort of detachment was partly related to deaths and illness in the family at the time. But now looking back, I also perhaps did not know how to digest the fact that I had reached this milestone – it was after all the first time I had turned 40…
As I cruised towards the end of my run, I remembered 2 things. The first were the words of a good friend from university days who said to me last year that it was just like me to be excited about turning 40. And yes it was true, I never really had any fear about the day approaching at all. In fact, bring on 50 and 60 and more, if it is my destiny to be around that long!
For some time, becoming 40 had symbolized for me, the time to just take it all up another level with no excuses or apologies, fear or explanation; just unbridled passion and joy with a faith and certainty in the knowledge that I am where My Creator has intended me to be. If God has put me here, (currently on my sofa, under my blanket with Mr MacPro on my lap), it can only mean I am in a darn good place even if I had much more to do to fully realize, manifest and share my purpose. Of course there were periods when I faltered, had doubts and flipped my mentality to the ‘glass half empty’ side but God kept right by me always giving me reasons why really that attitude was not going to get either of us very far with our plans!
Death defines life…and brings gratitude
The 2nd thing I recall, was a scene that has come back to me from time to time over the past few years. About 10 years ago, on a trip back to Zimbabwe, my parents, sister and I went with my now deceased mainini (in the shona language means ‘small mother’: aunt) to visit the grave of my ‘sister’ (her daughter: my cousin). She had died of AIDs at the tender age of 24 if I remember correctly. This on itself was traumatic as the memory of lying in bed with her the previous year when she was just developing overt signs of the syndrome, chatting about everything and anything, was still fresh in my mind and heart. However, even more agonizing, was the sight of rows and rows and rows of seemingly fresh graves, their headstones inscribed with dates of birth ranging from mine, 1973, to hers 1980 – most of the ‘inhabitants’ had also died of AIDs, others of largely curable illnesses, and road traffic accidents. Then there were the rows and rows of those born just a few years before mine and quite a few years after hers… you could not imagine the near apocalyptic scene…
Now at the end of my morning body blasting, slowing my pace to a walk, I knew that it was on this day, in this cemetery, all those not so many years ago, that my gratitude switch flicked to ‘on’, even though it took some years for the light to start shining. My sister-cousin and all those amongst whom I stood upright and alive were just like me. However, superficially different our life experiences and exposures, we were still the same including the fact that we expected to get to that milestone where what we have seen, felt and done started to make sense and we had the chance to take it all to another level. Being the same also meant we could easily have been in each other’s shoes – I under a mound of earth, they standing upright and alive. My heart literally broke that day. But as it healed, that heart, fuelled by The Holy Trinity of The Almighty, Family and Friends frog marched me onwards to today. Today at age 40 years and 1 month, with sore but duly pedicured runners’ feet, I feel nothing but immense thankfulness for each and every day I have. I continue to plan the celebratory itinerary for the year. But no matter how much the world tries to convince me that it’s through my own efforts, talent and cleverness that I am here today, it is only via God’s grace, that I may be here in another month to reflect and share a little bit more!