Whilst pondering upon a prompt for one of my articles I found what I believe to be a generational phenomenon. This article is hence part one of what will be a two-article dilemma in which I explore human behaviour and search for… answers. I encourage all who read this to comment and share their thoughts, as it could add to this never-ending discussion.
Firstly, I want you to think back and remember the last time someone told you that you absolutely must go to university, or (if this applies) that you must have children. Think and try to recall those times in which you were pressured into living the same life as your ancestors. Does that not make you feel disgusted? The idea that your life is not special, that as many have done before you, now you must do the same in order to live a “good life”. Is the worst part not that the person telling you all this is someone who is supposed to have your best interests at heart because they love you? If this life is truly only lived once, is the best advice you can receive from a loved one thus, that a good life is a wasted life, in which all uniqueness you could’ve exercised you threw out the window? No, it’s unacceptable.
The trope I referred to when prompting the idea that “you must have children” is more specific than I expressed in the paragraph above. Thinking back to the last one hundred years, the general image of the “ideal life” is this: to study and find a suitable partner, have a family and settle in the suburbs until retirement. Billions of people have lived this life. Furthermore, from this pattern that developed in the last century, we’ve developed symptoms such as the infamous “mid-life crisis”, which is a product of a life lived in accordance with the general image. I’ll explain.
- My father told me when I was little that “there is no school for parenting”, not to insinuate that he didn’t know what he was doing, but rather to open my mind to the fact that each parent develops their “parenting style” by choosing what traits of their own parent’s style are worth keeping and which are not. For example, beating one’s kids. It still happens, but certainly not as much as it used to 40 years ago. Based on this, I gather that a parent may entice their child to live accordingly with the general image of an ideal life, up until the point the parent themselves reaches a summit — the mid-life crisis. It is at this point in a parent’s life that one realizes that maybe there is more to life than work and raising kids, and that a new corvette would look sick in the driveway.
Has the fact that there is always more to life not existed since the beginning of life itself? The idea that life is short and unpredictable should exist hand in hand with the idea that one should live every day as if the life they cherish so might end the next day. The idea that there might not be a “five years from now”, and that you probably won’t know that until a couple of seconds beforehand should be looming right over your head as you sit on your desk, studying for that degree you have no guarantee of finishing. Now, with the rising number of school shootings across America, this reality is one that is more present for many of the younger kids while the older members of society sit back dumbfounded, thinking that if they made it to their age with the same laws that exist today, so should today’s kids. However, this is wrong. As we discussed last week, time is continuous, and as we travel through time and things change, so must the rules we live by change in order to have progress.
So what is it that you can do to break this pattern? The first and most obvious thing is to simply live your life by a set of rules set upon yourself by yourself, and along with this to constantly remind yourself of your mortality and utter insignificance in the grand scale of our world, reality, and time. Remember, that your life is nothing but a speck of dust. This doesn’t mean that you don’t matter, of course you do. But don’t let the world make it seem like you are so important you cannot live your life however you want to. You are insignificant enough to live free from the expectations of society. Love yourself. The second is to actively work towards making it so that the generational pressures set upon you don’t make it to the next generation. By this I mean to be like my father, who is the reason I am so accustomed to thinking critically, and the philosopher from whom I’ve learnt the most. To be a source of inspiration for others to live a unique life, independent of what society deems to be right or wrong, and instead look to spirituality in order to find the answers society seemingly loves to screw with.
Live with yourself, but live for others.