Forty

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It gets a bit like this sometimes doesn’t it. I’m 40 years old on Wednesday, the 27th February. I’m a Pisces, born on pancake day, and every 11 years, my birthday lands on Shrove Tuesday. When I was little I was called Benjamin Pancake. I do like pancakes, preferably with Lyle’s Golden Syrup poured liberally all over them. Nowadays that little treat makes my teeth hurt, which detracts from the pleasure somewhat.

I think I’ve been 40 for a while now. I’ve got plenty of grey hairs to prove it and I have to look after my knees, or they get grumpy. I’ve always felt like an older soul, charged with carrying something, searching for meaning, seeking truth. I’m willing to go into my darkness, deep into it, to find these things and I often discover light down there, precious nuggets of insight and learning, moments of freedom, but it’s hard-earned.

I’ve chosen to father four children. The last one, another son, is on his way next month, if he chooses to complete his journey. I hope he does. I really want to meet him and welcome him into our loving family.

I’ve also chosen to work my passion, to harness yoga and all of the soul seeking I do, bending and shaping it, refining and defining it, to bring it to others in classes, workshops and other gatherings. I expect this to make me enough money to provide for a family of (nearly) six. That’s a big ask. It’s not always easy and I wonder whether it might not be easier to get a steady 9 till 5. Do it that way. I’ve tried that before. It didn’t work.

I have so many beautiful things in my life and I am blessed to be in connection with so many supportive, loving, open-hearted people. I count those blessings, every day. Yet often my joy is out of reach, my tears stifled and my body tight and armoured. Every one of those grey hairs on my head (mostly on the sides which is why I cut the sides short) is another strand of wisdom, often harvested in the container of pain and suffering, and also discovered in the surrendering, the softness, the letting go.

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Clearly I still have much to learn. That bright, blue-eyed, baby boy, who landed in 1979, with the big, radiant smile, the one who holds all my sadness, my love, my joy, is still in there somewhere and he needs more space, more tenderness and more gentle holding. That’s a tricky balance to strike, what with all the responsibility and doing that is also necessary in my life. It gets like this sometimes doesn’t it.

Ben ParkesComment