In this simple gist, I examine the journey of life – its kaleidoscope of shifting convolutions. The first statement which many would identify with is the cliché that life gets better as one travels higher with age. Does it?
What then goes into the various stages of life? Is it a competition from the start? Is it meant to be an enjoyment? What then makes it turn into a pipeline of endurance for some? Maybe a bit of these is what actually garnishes the spice to what makes it all real.
Realist would say life starts at birth. At the first cry. After a strenuous pull through a birth canal or through the skill set of some blessed fingers. But to biologist, maybe actual life started a bit earlier – at conception. The in-utero issues matter too.
Whatever be the case, man is born. Man has to live. Man has to survive. Be it the bit of enjoyment, of atrocity, of enduring or of satisfaction. How will this life unfold? What will happen as the seconds string into minutes that gather themselves up into heaping days? The first week of life. Its challenges. Will breastfeeding be established? How palatable is the substance of the breast that sends many into oblivion? Will there be any yellowing of the eyes or will the awry of neonatal jaundice be outwitted? Will the cord fall off peacefully? Surely, a man shall prevail through all these and realize some sunshine. Life at that time seems more simple. Sleep, sleep, sleep, suck, “poop”, sleep, sleep, suck, sleep, “poop” and the cycle goes on and on.
A bit let off sleep and crying. Chanel a bit more energy into making meaningful gestures. It’s time to sit up. To give a reassuring smile, turn around on those butts and crawl towards the desire of being a biped. The distress of a delay at this age, any developmental interruption lurking around? When cerebral palsy has been outwitted, then the stage of the tantrums come rushing in. Not knowing very well who we are and what we are about but enjoying every bit of it anyway – early childhood. The real challenges of life might have started at this stage. The times when pain is felt and its memento may remain forever. A lot depends on the decisions and outplay of parents. Will there be schooling? What manner of clothes to wear, which line of religious formation to be established, which basic percepts of life maybe laid down?
Fast-forward a few years and puberty or adolescence sets in. Is it the matter of menstruation or physical outburst of growth? New hair spurts in new areas, increased self-consciousness and the need for more social approval from peers. Most of all fascinating is the surge in energy and the sight of a world so wonderful. Physical strength seems to be on the increase on daily basis and the increasing flow of ideas, charisma, drive and passion is awesome. Not forgetting how magnificent the surge in hormones opens up the arena of pleasure at this stage. This high energy state also stands to be mentioned as the most vulnerable and risky stage in life – a semi adult state where the wish and want for freedom frictions out with parental control.
A few decisions to make, maybe to high school or a vocational school. Start the course towards a career. Maybe this is the best stage of life. A fine tune between limited responsibility and optimum dependence. No bother about how to get school fees paid. No worry about the bills in the house. Why bother about the cost of health care or of transport? Dad, Mum or the guardian should get that covered. That’s no bother for this relaxed mind.
But hey! the loquacious and never satisfied id in man would make you feel this isn’t the best time in life. A stretch of thoughts towards the elderly makes it all seem like the years ahead are better. And the ever consistent cliché that life gets better with age lingers on. Does it really get better? Further examinations may reveal.
In the early twenties, one might have completed tertiary education or acquired a vocational skill. To the world is a young capable adult who to themselves have no good idea of what they are. No one introduces them to the world. They might have spent all their lives thus far learning towards a specific career path only to be thrown into a world which works on entirely different tenets as compared to the stipulates in the books.
Midway through the twenties and the actual reality of being an adult dawns itself into reality. So many cogent decisions to be made. “I have a basic career path, that leads to so many ends, what next?”. I want to be financially liberal, how do I do that? Which part of the country or the world would I have to live to see my dreams come to pass? I might need to build a family of my own. How do I do that and with who? How can I make a stable blend between all the pressures of this life and still have an enjoyable life? Society has its demands pushing down hard on my neck, how do I not crumble under that?
The foundations might have been laid earlier, but the decisions at this stage of life could make or break the rest of what is yet to unfold. A bad point of financial investment and the debt to be paid may linger for a while. Get the life partner issue wrong and the issues of marital instability and divorce may loiter discomfort for years. With all these come the great multifaceted aura of responsibility which is emphatically real.
Early thirties, maybe family has been established. Becoming the family person. The breadwinner, in part or in whole. As a single individual, standing as the a major at the workplace. A figure in the religious world. A fulcrum in the community, and when the moon of the day arises, measuring as the emphatic father, mother, husband, wife to the other beings in whom your blood and love innings. The possible unpleasant of subfertility, miscarriages, congenital anomalies, job insecurities, infidelity, child upbringing challenges, religious differences, time constraints, financial unevenness amongst a lot.
The ages of sixty and above seem to be almost dependent on medications. Which will surface and which will the escaped? The all so vibrant and lively body seems to have lost the strength in its connective tissues. The skin doesn’t look as bright any longer. Wrinkles are the order of the day. Having an erect gait becomes too tough a request as the lumbosacral vertebrae gives up. Vision becomes a bit impaired and memory starts diminishing. Are we also subject to the law of diminishing returns? I have no reason to talk of the ultimate end to life. But in a lifetime, one may have to go through these stages.
The inspiration behind this? Every week, I see a sharp contrast between the thought piece and affect of the two ends of human existence – the old and the young. Just as far apart as their ages are, so are their needs, affects and thoughts. I see children, though sick, jumping and running about. I also see adults, tender in every scheduled month or two, to refill medications – for hypertension, heart failure, diabetes mellitus, lumbosacral spondylosis. I see them turn in week after week with one complaint of pain or the other. And as I bid them bye, I know I’ll probably see them with a similar complain soon. And the most worrisome thought rushes in, “is this the future I’m growing into?”
My stand: Whoever said getting older was better than being a child has caused so much rancor. Maybe that is only good for wine. Do you think otherwise?