When I was a kid, I had lots of requests: when can I get a pet, when can I get a dog, when can I go back to The Gambia, can I go study in America… The answer was always the same: when you’re a little older. ‘A little older’ was the land where wishes came true. When I reached ‘a little older’, I would be lithe, limber, learned, loving, loveable. I would be surrounded by big dogs, travel tickets, opportunities and accomplishments.
Now I am older than I was, I’m still not totally there. Nobody gave me the directions on how to get there. In some ways I am still that little person gazing up at humanity with wonderment, wondering how everyone else is all doing what they are doing. Other people’s successes seem certain, mine certainly questionable. Other people’s dreams seem realistic, mine really fantastic. But funnily enough, I do know now that when I am ‘a little older’, I will be all the things I want to be. But there is some work to do.
When I was a kid, I never understood that the journey was the destination, no-one ever told me that the smiles, the tears, the pain, the happiness are what it’s all about. No-one told me that digging deep when you don’t want to and letting go instead of tightening your grip is what gets you there. No-one reminded me that all those people you gaze up at are just wearing the mask as well as you do in public. No-one told me that having the belief that you can do something is as good as doing it anyway.
Now I am older than I was, I understand compassion a bit better. Because if anyone out there is striving to focus as hard as I am to be better, bolder, bigger and beautiful inside out, then everyone deserves a little slack.
One day I’ll be ‘a little older’ and I will think I have it cracked. And I will realise at that point, I am just ‘older’, and I will start the next chapter towards being ‘a little older’ all over again.