An Unbearable Lightness of Turning 50

I’m writing these lines at my dinner table in my home in Barcelona, where I spent about 80 days in quarantine. And probably, you’ll be reading these lines while I’ll be flying from Barcelona to Istanbul, on 1 July 2020, provided that everything goes well…


Today is 24 June 2020… Wednesday… Exactly 50 years ago today, at 7:32 p.m., I opened my eyes to the world, took my first breath, probably not crying, and started to cry once the doctor slapped my bottom, unconsciously and instinctively experienced my first moments. It’s weird but true… 50!


50, an interesting number… Both numerically and being 50 is interesting… Why? Let me put it this way… Biologically, yes, I’m 50 years old. But how old do I feel, how old do I look? I don’t feel nor look 50. Sometimes I feel in my 20s, sometimes in my 30s, and sometimes in my 40s… I probably don’t feel 50, because I got to know my 20s-30s-40s and haven’t yet experienced the 50s… Well, what does it mean to feel 50 years old anyway?! It’s “God’s gift” that I don’t look 50… In fact, it would be more accurate to say that it’s the gift of my dear father’s genes. Even though he is in his early 80s, he looks like he is in his 70s. Well, only up until 10 years ago, he had a trace amount of white hair, which should be valid indicator. No? After all, it’s true that I look like I’m in my 40s. With a little playfulness, high energy, and slim body, I may naturally look as in my 40s.


Now, I’m coming to the real funny perspective… To the unbearable lightness of being 50… Lightness not from weight, appearance or feeling… But in terms of awareness and consciousness.  When I analyse my age in that perspective, quite a different picture emerges. 5-6 years ago, I discovered the importance of having a lifestyle with awareness, mindfulness, consciousness, and attention; I then adapted these philosophies into my life and advocated myself to live by them at every opportunity. I now see myself as someone living with awareness and making the best of every moment of life; that is outstandingly liberating, peaceful and pleasing… I look at the years I have lived freely, peacefully, happily, with absolute awareness and auto-control… Honestly, from the awareness perspective, I’d say I am somewhat around 20 years old… In other words, I can say that for the last 20 years at most, I’ve been living my life to the fullest. I refer to the 20 years I spent being sure of my choices, decisions, desires, and passions, and choosing to live life for myself… All in all, 20 years!


Why so? Well… I barely remember the first 10 years of my life. I can say that I have a notion based on what was passed down to me in parts… I seem to have erased that part of my memory… It was exactly 40 years ago today -June 24th 1980, the day we moved to Israel, at the age of 10. So, a decade is gone! Ha-ha…  Considering a teenager’s complicated life, until my 20s, life was difficult to understand, I spent my time with discovery, allocated excessive effort and struggle to find my path, which was totally without awareness and consciousness, but with complete dominance of hormones… So, I would say I lived my life only 50% fully… In my 20s, still in search of exploration side-by-side letting go the craze and madness, I somewhat was under the pressure of social norms and requirements; hence these were not easy years either…


As a result, in terms of awareness, I admit that I did not fully enjoy and live my twenties… That leaves me with the last 20 years, starting from my early 30s… Here, the last 20 years were the years of my life! Even though I didn’t meet the concept just yet, in practice I adapted conscious awareness into my life, as a philosophy of life. I lived life to the fullest; choosing for myself, whatever was right in my own way, and of course, minding the good for the whole… Till today, to this very moment of typing these lines, I’ve been living my life with all that it brings; in every way one may imagine… Sometimes with pleasure, sometimes with pain, and with its ups and downs…. For sure, freely, peacefully, and happily… There are so many resources that allow me to do so… First, is me! Second is the amazing people whom I am surrounded with! These are the people who love me for who I am, who accept me as I am, and who care about me no matter what. Just as the way I love myself for who I am, the way I accept myself as I am, and value myself for my worth.


Besides living with awareness, looking back at all that I’ve done in the past 10 years, the incidents I’ve gone through, the challenges I’ve overcome, I’d say that I had real breakthroughs… If I had kept a diary narrating the past 10 years, there’d have been a lot of to tell… In very short, I managed to incapsulate so much into these 10 years: I started my PhD at the age of 41, six years later I got my doctorate degree; at the age of 47 I moved to Barcelona, opening a completely new chapter by starting off in a new country, learning new language and working in a totally foreign culture. As if that wasn’t enough, I then took further steps to settle down by moving out of my house in Istanbul and into a different one in Barcelona… All these had passed (like the wind) within the last 10 special years of my life… I would say that these special years coronated me, in the sense that they rewarded and empowered me with its challenges and achievements. Furthermore, this past year, throughout its 365 days, starting on June 24th, 2019, with another tough challenge of moving, has taken me to journey of a rebirth, to an awakening and to a great emotional and spiritual transformation. I must admit that, with its deep experiences, to which I named as “The Big Bang of My Little Life”, together with the quarantine period of the Covid-19, this past year has been extraordinarily moving. For that reason, I feel as if I’ve been (spiritually) coronated. In short, the last three years of the past 10 years, especially this very last one, have been special!


So, how old am I? Biologically I am 50… I look 40… I feel like I’m in my 30s… and in the sense of conscious awareness I’m 20 years old… What’s more, I’m 10 years old in making a difference in my life… Let’s see what life is to bring in the next 10, 20, 30 years… I know for a fact that it’s going to be spectacular… Maybe like Benjamin Button’s story, I’ll reach to a state of being that gets more and more refined as I get older, where I’ll be whole… Perhaps narrating them all and making them permanent may be another ravishing journey… Why not! I’ll keep writing….


Shirli from Barcelona

July 1, 2020


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