What is 23 1/2 anyway?

When I was a baby, I was a late bloomer in many ways. Before I could speak, I knew how to walk. Until I was 4 I couldn’t speak properly and had a hard time letting my words out. However, there were skills I developed very early on. I was crossing the street by myself by the time I was 1 ½. One of my most distinct memories is a home video of me crossing the road by myself as a toddler. As I crossed the street, I looked back at my dad once, who was recording from behind the screen door of our home.

My dad used to tell me that I would walk down the street by myself to my aunt and uncle’s home. It was a safe neighborhood, so I would make it there okay and my parents would know when my aunt or uncle gave them a call.

I was potty trained for some reason when I was under 1.  Like a proud father, my dad tells me that I didn’t know how to speak, but that didn’t stop me from conveying my needs. He would tell me that other babies he saw usually cried when they were hungry or when they pooped in their diaper. I was a little more creative. I made grunting sounds if I had to poop, so my parents knew to take me to the toilet. I would signal I was hungry by putting my hands up to my mouth. If I saw my sister putting her little toy lipstick on, I would signal from my crib that I wanted it by making a motion with my fingers across my lips.

Besides these wants and needs, I was a pretty easy baby they would tell me. I minded my own business. When my sisters knocked me down or took something away I was playing with, I would silently try to get it back or I would walk away. I didn’t talk or cry once. I sort of did what I needed to do as a baby and got on with it.

So that was me 23 years ago. What about now? It feels flipped. I’m more sensitive than I ever was as a baby. I went through extreme stages as a kid and also now sort of into “adulthood”. From the moment, I could speak, I defied systems. The first system I defied was school. School didn’t seem normal and it didn’t feel right being away from mom and dad so much. I wanted to learn with them rather than away from them.

In my preteens I was timid, but sometimes angry at things I couldn’t explain. Yet, I felt a heartfelt yearning for something greater that was only brought to words when I came to India when I was 11.

Maybe lives have lived in me more times than I can count. Maybe even before I came onto this earth, if you believe in that sort of thing. So, what is this number that I need to fill out on forms? What is this number thing that trips us up and tells us where we need to be and what we need to be doing at a certain age?

Oh wait, it doesn’t tell us any of that. It’s only our own conditioning that tells us that. It’s a good metric to keep us on track, but doesn’t tell us anything about the inner work that needs to be done.

So, depending on how wise I feel on my “24th” birthday this July 27th, I may be celebrating my 67th birthday or my 5th birthday. :)

Rina PatelComment