You spend your entire life from childhood till death thinking of the next phase of your life. Once you do enter that next phase you start missing the past one. It is one of the most inevitable principles of life which is mostly ignored by the major lot of the people. When you are a kid you want to be a part of the teens. To be able to stay up till late, to be that ‘cool’ ideal that your elder sibling or cousin is in the family. When you are a teen then the misery of the board exams sets in with the stress on getting 90%+ or straight A’s to ensure that you get into good colleges.
In your teens you want to skip ahead to your college years and be a young adult pursuing professional degrees or go back to being a kid with lesser worries in life inclusive of education and well the new introduced concept of there being complications in relationships. Then you do enter your college years and you start taking different courses. This is one stage perhaps where you don’t feel the pressures of being in but still look forward to the next one. I think I would have to say for me (and I am guessing for the whole lot of you reading this) that the best and most fun years of one’s student life are the ones that you spend in your professional studies. You explore and thoroughly establish who you are as a person by that time. You get past the whole high school phase of ‘wanting’ to be part of the coolest gang in school. You are studying (mostly) something that interests you, something that you will use in the years ahead. You love the time spent in working on term projects and group presentations and societies and college activities and etc etc etc. But all the while you still look forward to the next phase of your life. The one thing perhaps that you feel you won’t miss is exams and mid terms and quizzes and finals and all that. You look forward to your work life a bit also because you will be free of cramming and studying for exams after this.
Then you graduate and you start your work life. Which is great at first and everything is inevitably within the ‘honeymoon’ period of having started this phase of your life and which is also one of the longer phases of your life. Once you are over the honeymoon period then the realities of true work life start setting in. When plans with friends seem to trickle down and you have to manage and balance family time with friends time more and more. When you start looking forward to weekends more for relaxing then anything else. When you are no longer on your own clock but the clock of the corporate or business or work life world. The deadlines start whizzing from left to right. Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying you end up hating your work life. I mean if you are doing what you wanted to be doing than you don’t hate your work life but the above still inevitably happens. Once you start settling into work life, understanding the true nature of it and settling into than you start feeling the pressures of growth, financial and professional both. You want to be successful. You start finding yourself on the constant lookout for a ‘better’ opportunity. And all that continues for a long time into your work life. Till you perhaps reach a certain stage in your career. Till now you are single and a bachelor (well maybe not single but in all probability a bachelor). Then comes the marriage part. All the while secretly missing your college days of fun where really all you had to do was make a couple of presentations every 4 months and study for exams. The rest was like the best 4/5 years ever. Anyway, you start looking forward to settling down. Finding the right person. Starting your family life with them. And entering one of the final stages of life (not in terms of life itself for no one knows when that might go except for the Almighty Allah) but more in terms of the number of stages. Anyway so yea you find the right person and start this stage of your life. Even with the right person it takes effort making it work. Not the struggling or suffering kind (well hopefully not) but definitely not like being handed on a plate. So you have to make it work. You make compromises. You make sacrifices. You are responsible for each other. You are dependent on each other emotionally (People who say that you don’t need to be emotionally dependent on their life partners are in my opinion daft and anything more I can say to them on this may well be within the parameters of being rude so I shall refrain on commenting on them any further). It is supposed to be a beautiful journey thou with all the sacrifices and compromises and fights and all in tow. Still you do sometimes miss the days when you didn’t have anyone to be responsible for…well not anyone new anyway. Not in that sense. No matter how happy you are .. you do. Anyway..so the beautiful journey of companionship begins and then you start thinking about when you will become a parent. You plan, you wish, you prepare. And then you are one. (I can’t really say much on this phase or any of the ones beyond this one since I myself have to reach this first). The point is that once you become parents you look forward to your kids growing up and settling down on their own and then you become grandparents. This keeps going on the hope for the next stage of one’s life and the reminiscing of the past stage.
My point is that in all of this… if one was to be standing just on the edge of his or her life.. the point where you haven’t quite gone yet but you know you aren’t going back either… how does one weigh up their life. Strange question? I mean seriously … how would different people weigh up their life? If given the option to before death how would they evaluate their life? What factors would they base it on? Would they actually base it on all the stages? When one’s life flashes before their eyes do they go through all the stages of their life? Is it just evaluated in the professional and well dream based achievements of their life? Or is it evaluated in the relationships (various: parents, siblings, family, friends, girl/boyfriends, spouse, child, grandchild, grandparent, colleague, subordinate, leader, etc etc) that one has garnered in their entire existence?
I am an emotionally charged person. If given the same situation I am pretty sure I would end up evaluating my life based on the human side of my life. What I mean by that is the relationships. Why do I say human side? Because I sincerely feel that one tends to be emotionally involved only in their relationships or interactions with other humans for means other than work. Anything which falls under the grand umbrella of work or professional life doesn’t evoke emotions (not the kind I mean over here). Hence being an emotionally charged person I would probably evaluate it that way. In all the life and years that have been spent I would want to look back at how I have spent them with the people I have had in my life. Not how I have spend them in the projects I have done or documents I have done. I would look back at the people I did those projects with. Who I was with the people who have been in my life. How have I left myself to be remembered by them. Have I done enough to even be remembered by loved ones. Was I important enough to them in their life. Was I significant enough in their life. Was I cared for. Was I loved? Were the bonds that were made strong and true? That’s how I would probably look back at my life.
“Is a bond established so weak to not even deserve a goodbye?”
– From ‘The Life of Pi’
For someone like me that would probably be the ultimate question at the end of it all. That question has more levels than one can obviously see. At least for me.