Growing Up/Firsts

A Toastmaster’s speech I did last year.

Love_Letter__by_crimson_spell

Growing Up

There are many words to describe firsts. Baptism, inauguration, primary, conception, rite of passage etc. Like the last word describes, rites of passage come at many points in life and they are earmarked as events of metamorphosis or transformation. It is an evident truth that once someone has ‘one’ under his belt, he will not look back and move forward in his/her journey of life or should I say grow up. So ladies and gentlemen my topic for today is ‘Growing Up’ something quite unavoidable in anyone’s life.

I’m a prime example of a late bloomer. Someone who matured like a jewel and not like a fruit. I describe myself as a scientist cum poet and my first poem in English I wrote at the prime age of 32. Far from a spring chicken. And now I have written more than 2000 poems that are available in diverse blogs, poetry websites and books. So my primary hobby only planted itself in me in my lyrical 30s.

Now to the opposite gender. I had my first date after I graduated from college at the ripe age of 26. It was with a Tamil girl I met in Australia who I dated for a couple of months before everything fell apart. I was naïve in my 20s and didn’t know how to handle a relationship nor have any clue how to keep a woman interested. So a woman first came into my life past my silver anniversary of life.

A kiss is something that happens in the teens for most people and something taken for granted in most cases. It just happens people say. Not like my first kiss. It took a lot of planning and we had to book a place (A restaurant called Che) we would get plenty of privacy and somewhere that not well lighted but had a good ambiance. I had my first kiss on my 38th birthday, yes not 18th but 20 years afterwards the onset of adulthood, and it was my wife (who was my then girlfriend) and believe me it was memorable in every way possible. And I know I’m bound to see my grave before I kiss another woman. So a kiss finally found me in rock and roll 30s.

If you think good things happened late in my life…….it was the same for my vices. Yes, I’m no saint – I don’t possess a halo. I finally had my first sip of rum and coke nearing my mid 30s and believe me it wasn’t a practice I enjoyed that much and although living 10 years in Australia I’m yet to gamble at a casino or go inside a strip bar – I guess I will never invest some dollar notes on a blackjack table or a stripper’s waistline.

My message is that we, when we are young are eager to grow up fast. However, there is something beautiful in not growing up and wearing a diaper around your heart, after all you only get to indulge in a childhood only once. Making that childhood as long as possible is a rare event and somehow, maybe due to fate or coincidence, I had a long childhood or should I say the boy in me became a man very late in my life. I was dreaming even in my 30s, about the taste of arrack or a woman’s lips.

Sometimes a dream afloat makes you linger, perpetuate longer, lends more gas in the tank to make that dream a reality. A dream realized just transforms you from that sphere of normality, of just another regular Joe or a star in the sky to a full moon maddened with dreams. Like Martin Luther King said ‘I have a dream’……….that was my motto for a very long period of time and now, most of my dreams are no longer in my bucket list and believe me, sometimes I do miss that naïve person who I knew a long time back dreaming away far in to the milky way, for those rites of passage, which are beautiful and memorable. Unfortunately a first can never happen twice. That my friends is the beauty of a debut.

Now I look forward to – in about a year – getting my past my youth, my summer of age. Yes at the end of the next year, I will be in my naughty forties. Now I dream not alone, but with a beautiful creature called Michelle. We look forward to the adventure of being parents, our first child, our first creation, when I will be not just drilling the life out but drilling a life in, a heartbeat that will resonate with me and a genepool that is half mine. My only hope is that our son and daughter will have a long childhood, will be foolish and naïve, and will be infected by the dreamer’s disease. I sincerely wish that he or she will remember the many ‘firsts’ that come his/her way. The first bird might get the worm but only full-fledged wings will see you flyaway. After all you don’t need red bull to give you wings, a dream will do just that.

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Published by

meandererworld (Dilantha Gunawardana)

Dr Dilantha Gunawardana is a molecular biologist, who graduated from the University of Melbourne. He moonlights as a poet. Dilantha wrote his first poem at the ripe age of 32 and now has more than 1700 poems on his blog. His poems have been accepted/published in Forage, Kitaab, Eastlit, American Journal of Poetry and Ravens Perch, among others. He was also awarded the prize for "The emerging writer of the year - 2016" in the Godage National Literary Awards, Sri Lanka for his first collection of poems (Kite Dreams – A Sarasavi Publication), while being shortlisted for the poetry prize. Dilantha is a dual citizen of Sri Lanka and Australia, and shares his experiences from two different cultures. He blogs at - https://meandererworld. wordpress.com/

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