My 50th birthday, Amsterdam Netherlands

12 Nov My 50th birthday, Amsterdam Netherlands

When I turned 50, I realised that some things had changed and that there was no going back. From that day, more or less, I was to approach my time on Earth differently. Reaching 50, things may be as real as they are in essence. I had the impression that, finally, I was in synch with time. Even though I have always been on a quest for truth – preferring reality over its socially agreed-upon editions, I now know that I can no longer afford the slightest compromise in my choices. I really must speak my mind and heart, come what may. I have no other wish. Simultaneously, I turned towards working with greater impact and towards placing greater emphasis on my heartfelt relationships. I began nourishing myself on Bach, Purcell and Mahler at the Amsterdam Concertgebouw, diving into Gustave Flaubert and Anna Gavalda whilst greedily re-reading every line written by Ahkmatova. I rediscovered the sensual pleasure of beautifully prepared foods shared with my heart’s desire – be it home made bouillabaisse in Amsterdam, or Pesce alla Griglia on the Piazza San Cosimato in Rome, or Paneer Kofta at Karim’s in New Delhi (the Basti one). All of this streamed to the foreground and it seemed to me, this shift of attention from duty to experiential reality happened all by itself.

The fiftieth year of our life is like
the last hour of dusk,
when the sun has set and one turns
naturally toward reflection.
In my case, however, dusk incites me to sin,
and perhaps for that reason,
in my fiftieth year I find myself reflecting
on my relationship with food and eroticism; the weaknesses
of the flesh that most tempt
and are not, alas,
those I have practiced most.

Isabel Allende,
Aphrodite: A Memoir of the Senses