I celebrated my birthday earlier this week, another year older, and only one away from the next major milestone, how can I possibly be in my sixtieth year? Birthdays are always a time of reflection, looking back, looking forward, comparing, dreaming, but after all this soul searching, I thought I was feeling quite content. However, whilst folding some laundry I saw a slogan on an item of clothing that I had never really noticed before, and it really got me thinking.
If there’s one clothing brand that I’ve stuck with over the years (not least because they have trousers with a 29″ inside leg!), its good old M&S, thats Marks & Spencer / Marks & Sparks to you non-brits – and it’s the tag line on their ‘North Coast’ range that has caused these deep thoughts…
…. ‘Life Ready’.
What exactly does that mean, and at what point are we life ready – are we in fact ever life ready?
Benjamin Franklin is reputed to have said that “in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes”. The other certainty that I would add is that “life doesn’t come with a manual” – we never quite know what will be thrown at us, all we do know is that whatever it is, we have to do our best to deal with it.
Being an expat does seem to cause more uncertainty than perhaps is normal. You have to be ready (and willing) to adapt to new cultures, move all your stuff, or buy yet another set of bedding, cutlery and crockery, maybe learn new languages (although I have to admit to being very poor at that) and generally take on a new way of life.
Here in Dubai, it’s not been such a big effort to adapt; there are of course challenges, such as dealing with bureaucracy, re-learning how to drive so that you can survive on the roads, understanding that paying £10 or more for a glass of ‘hops’ or ‘grape’ is the norm, and finding your way around enormous shopping malls when you just want to get a pair of socks (preferably from M&S!).
But there are good sides too, and I hope that some of my previous posts have given an impression of a city that is very liveable, and one that we are happy to be part of.
But like everyone, we never know what the days ahead will hold for ourselves or our loved ones, we just have to hope that whatever it is, we are ready to face it, or offer help and support where it’s needed.
In fact, one down side of living overseas is that we are not able to support those close to us as much as we would like, especially when things aren’t going so well – its not easy to offer a reassuring hug when you are 3000 miles away, a Facebook message or emoji just doesn’t do it.
If I’ve learnt anything from my 59 years, it’s that you can never take things for granted, that things can change in the blink of an eye, but life is there to be lived and enjoyed, so as I used to recite as a young cub scout, the secret is to ‘Be Prepared’.
So, am I ‘life ready’? I don’t really know the answer to that – my sixtieth year is one that I’m relishing, I have a number of exciting things to look forward to, so as they say, ‘bring it on’!