When I was a little girl, I wanted to become a teacher so badly. Every day after school I used to come home, wear my mom’s high heel shoes, arrange my dolls on my bed and pretend I was their teacher. My teachers were the world to me and I never thought about them as being old people. Old to me were my grandparents. In fact when I think about it now I am almost as old as my grandmother was when I was born, but I am not old. When I imagined myself to be an old woman I got goosebumps. I was so frightened of old age, of hospitals, of the dead. Toni Morrison wrote;
“What difference do it make if the thing you scared of is real or not?”
I still have strong and mixed feelings about the old but perhaps it’s not fear anymore as much as it is pity for them. I get teary eyed when I meet old people who rely on others to take care of them. It’s a sad phenomenon for me, and I don’t know how to deal with it.
It’s surprising though how one’s perspective changes with time and age. When I was teaching in Dubai, and my children were still in elementary, I noticed how they referred to their teachers as being old. And when I asked how old they thought the teacher was, ‘old maybe thirty’ they would say. And when I asked if they thought I was old, they would say ‘but you’re a mom’. So whenever my students asked me how old I was I always answered ‘old enough to be your mother’ and I don’t really know why I said that or what they thought of me at the time.
Of all the four seasons I feel at this time and stage in my life I love autumn the most. It is my favorite season of the year. The colors so red and blue and purple and orange and yellow and green and velvety. It is like all the emotions, feelings and thoughts stored inside of me. I am not in the prime of my life anymore. I have had my share of the bad, the good, the beautiful, the ugly, the sad, the happy. I feel that I have lived in a constant battle of ideas, dreams, sorrows, disappointments, promises, heartaches, pain and bliss. I feel like the heroine of a suspense novel, especially since I have lived most of my life in the Middle East, the land of continuous turmoil and unrest. I have come to terms with my life. The knowledge that my life will never be the same again, not in the same way ever, is what makes it so sweet. Perhaps the best way to explain it is in Henry James’ words:
“Life is, in fact, a battle. Evil is insolent and strong; beauty enchanting, but rare; goodness very apt to be weak; folly very apt to be defiant; wickedness to carry the day; imbeciles to be in great places, people of sense in small, and mankind generally unhappy. But the world as it stands is no narrow illusion, no phantasm, no evil dream of the night; we wake up to it, forever and ever; and we can neither forget it nor deny it nor dispense with it.”