Halfway down the street
I have the luxury and pleasure of being able to walk to work and every morning I go down the street running the tickertape of household to do’s—was the machine loaded, what time does Anta need to go to class, did I pack my food properly, too bad about the milk……..and then I realized that there is a point, almost halfway through when the conversation inside my head turns to the office. The emails I need to send, the agenda to be drafted, the confirmation needed, the tax returns etc
In our 20s and 30s we have many more thoughts of the future –what will I do, where will I work, how will my life unfold, but somewhere at the halfway mark, probably where I am now, my thoughts turn to the past as I spend more time in nostalgia, retelling childhood stories for the girls, reminiscing with friends, saying those dreaded words—In my day it was not like this !
And then I start wondering about the halfway mark and how things start to look different from that magic point. Midnight has always been considered a magical hour. When one day is officially over and the next begins. As kids the excitement is in staying awake till hen to wish someone for the birthday or new year.
We speak of the glass half full, the job well begun is half done, going halfway round the world, being half hearted about something. We measure the half life of radioactive matter.
We have halfway homes for people who emerge from long incarcerations—a place which is neither a prison nor the free world. We cheer people on by saying they are already halfway home !
We love having balconies around our homes , whether it is a bungalow or a hig rise flat. It is a halfway space—neither inside the house, nor in the outside world. One need not dress up to step out and can sit there in ones pyjamas but be detached from the domestic chaos, maybe enjoy the sunset, the breeze from the ocean, sip a bit of Absinthe. Mull on what goes on in other homes, lit with a warm yellow bulb, bustling shadows, flapping curtains, wonder if the word haphazard also has its roots in half…….
Mao said women hold up half the sky and all the homes…….and we call our spouses our better half. Nataraja , the dancing god of destruction is famously also seen as ardhanatanarishwar—half man and half woman. And the famous yin yang symbol is also a reminder that we are all made as a composite of 2 halves. We do get half our genetic material from one parent and half from the other and equally contribute to half that of our children.
My daughters used to love a story about a boy who goes into a shop and find a magic book where he can read the story of his own future. But one half reveals what will happen when he makes all the right choices—honesty, loyalty, hard work. While the other half reveals what will happen if he does the opposite. The wise old shopkeeper tells him that each one of us has 2 halves inside us and what we become depends on which half we decide to grow.
And to end with this simple yet profound little poem by AA Milne
Halfway down the stairs
is a stair
where i sit.
there isn’t any
i’m not at the bottom,
i’m not at the top;
so this is the stair
Halfway up the stairs
And it isn’t down.
It isn’t in the nursery,
It isn’t in town.
And all sorts of funny thoughts
Run round my head.
It isn’t really
It’s somewhere else