35 Lessons on Turning 35

Today I turn 35, which according to UN data is the midpoint of worldwide life expectancy (70 for males; 72 for females). And while my birthday signifies nothing more than an arbitrary point in the universe, where earth happened to be the time and day I was born (and will never return to, due to the universe’s ever expanding nature), the impact a year has on your life can be significant; the impact that x35 times rotation of the Earth around the sun has on your life, can be life-altering;

On People …

1. If you internalise the fact that people are basically a sum total of their life experiences — from birth, until the moment you meet them — you won’t be judgemental of anyone.

2. Friendship is the greatest success story of human collaboration.

3. In unusual circumstances, most people want to be told what to do; few think for themselves (observe how many people wear face masks when driving alone in their own cars for topical evidence)

4. Celebrities are just like us, but with the added pressure and stress of having their entire life on display.

On Family …

5. Don’t compromise family for work. You may not get enough of either.

6. Your parents aren’t always right. They may know more than you by virtue of experience, but what they know may not always be right. You owe them your respect, not your obedience.

7. The greatest gift you can give your parents in their old age is peace of mind.

8. Your children aren’t your property. You chose to have them; they didn’t choose to be here. You have a duty to take care of them till they can take care of themselves. They don’t have the same duty towards you.

On Love and Relationships …

9. If you’re single, don’t rush to get in a relationship. If you’re in a relationship, don’t rush to get married. Don’t let your age be any factor in your need to be with someone. Happiness and contentment come from patience. Not haste.

On Marriage …

10. Marriage won’t make you happy if you’re already unhappy with something else in your life. Fix your problems before you introduce them to someone else.

11. There is nothing called a man’s role and a woman’s role in marriage. Forget what marriage used to be. Make it something better for both.

12. If you’re unhappy in your marriage, kids won’t magically change that. Work on your problems first, or divorce. Don’t bring kids into an unhappy marriage. It’s a selfish and cruel thing to do to another life.

On Parenting …

13. The greatest gift you can give your children is the freedom to think for themselves.

14. Don’t shield your children from the evils of the world. Expose them early, so they get a head start at trying to correct them.

15. Babies and toddlers are probably capable of doing much more, much earlier than you think, and your meddling may only be slowing things down.

16. Having two kids doesn’t double the workload, it doubles the joy. Having a third probably triples it but I’m too tired from all the joy of 1 & 2 to test this out.

On Religion …

17. Most selfless people I know don’t give a damn which religion they or I belong to.

18. All religions emerged for the same reasons, and they all basically preach the same thing — to be respectful of others. So if your religion is not helping you respect others, their choices, or their opinions, you’re better off without it.

19. The times and circumstances around when scripture was written, is often more important to study than scripture itself.

20. You shouldn’t need the promise of heaven or the threat of hell to be a moral person... If you do, does that really make you moral?

21. Perhaps the dumbest thing I have ever seen is people fighting to defend their religious ideologies at the expense of friendship and relationships.

On Politics …

22. Politics is important. You don’t need to have an opinion on everything, but know what’s going on. Politics may not impact your life directly, but you can’t escape its repercussions.

23. Politicians are no more flawed than the rest of us. They are merely victims of a broken system which appeal to people’s worst instincts.

On Life …

24. Science explains everything. If it doesn’t, it’s only because the answer hasn’t been discovered yet, not because it’s not there.

25. There are many things which survive today that have no basis in rationality — for example, there is no rational reason why smoking and alcohol is allowed, while weed is still illegal in more countries.

26. Don’t drink and drive

27. If I recommend just one book for everyone to read, it would be Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari.

28. Books and travelling — two things guaranteed to change your outlook in life.

29. 99.9% of WhatsApp forwards can be safetly ignored without it having a material impact on your life.

30. One of my favourite quotes from Nelson Mandela goes “Resentment is like drinking poison and then hoping it will kill your enemies.”

31. It’s not “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” People’s circumstances are different to yours. So “do unto others as they would have done unto themselves.”

32. No, the world is not run by some elusive Zionist superpower conspiring to achieve global dominance and control the minds of its inhabitants.

On Everything Else …

33. Now is the golden age of cinema. Have you truly watched the classics? They may have been genre defining in their time but now they are just awful.

34. Cricket is a fun game if you’re batting or bowling.

35. I am grateful to my parents, my family, and my friends for being a part of my 35 years on this planet.