Suddenly I am middle aged
By Joel B. Belinan
All throughout my life I was considered one of the younger guys. Of late, however, I realized that almost everyone has been regarding me as their senior or something like an elder. This sort of knocked me on the head. Did I really arrive at this age? I won’t tell you my exact age here but indeed I am now considered middle aged by definition based on the number of years since my birth.
When I first traveled abroad in 1990 I was barely out of my teens, hence, every time I showed my passport to an immigration officer in any country we passed through, they always said, “you’re so young, yet you are travelling all over.”
When I was a missionary of our Ananda Marga Yoga Organization we used to travel to several countries as if these were just as near as Baguio to La Trinidad. At times, I was flying to India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and even Nepal three times a week from our base in Singapore. Such frequency caught the attention of immigration officers due to my young age.
Even within our organization (Ananda Marga) whenever I committed some foolishness, our senior monks would say, ”never mind he will grow up, he is still very young.” Indeed it’s been years that I was considered young because the people around me then were a lot more older than me. While there were many advantages, there were also disadvantages.
Fast forward to the present. Suddenly most of the people around me now treat me as their manong or senior. In our martial arts group, in our Ananda Marga group, and, yes, even in our big family, many now call me lolo and not anymore the usual uncle or manong. Yes many are calling me lolo (grand pa) by those from both my maternal and paternal sides and even by those from the family of my wife. Of course, not yet my own kids as my first son Miko is just 15 years old and my Jared is just 11 years old.
Those kids who could call me lolo are the children of my nieces and nephews from my older cousins and those of my brothers and sisters. In fact, I once met one of my nieces, a daughter of one of my eldest cousin on my father’s side who said, uncle umayka a ta apan mo met pasyaren diay ap-pom ti tomeng nga ka-iyan anak idi kalman ken diay anak ko (Uncle come and see your great-grandchild who was just born yesterday by my daughter). While I was happy to hear such news, I retorted that even if indeed those kids should call me lolo or grand lolo, my niece should tell them to just call me uncle.
Time really flew so fast that it is so difficult to accept the reality.
It does not help that I happen to have inherited the white hair of my old man. I remember that my father’s hair was completely white when he turned 40. While my hair turned gray much later, it seems that people use hair color as a measuring rod of people’s age. Many times, people regard me as a senior citizen like when riding a public transport, or when in a queue for something. I usually reply that I am not yet qualified to be a dual citizen, or as a Filipino and senior citizen.
But, senior or not, we should make the best out of our lives. **