Warning: Serious post ahead.
I have been observing people around me for a long time now. This hasn’t been a leisure time activity- it’s been done with a purpose.
I believe life is constantly teaching us lessons- either through life situations that come our way or through the example of others. Carefully looking at others’ lives, their attitudes, their behaviour and they way they deal with the ups and downs of life, is an effective way of learning some of these crucial lessons. Everyone can teach us something. If they can’t teach you what to do, they can at least teach you what not to do. A wise man learns from others’ mistakes. So either way you learn… So long as you want to learn.
There are many things that I have noted through my observations, but to keep this post clutter-free and easy to follow, I am going to mention only one.
I am beginning to realise that generally people live very monotonous lives. It seems the older the person is, the more monotonous his/ her life tends to be. (I am sure exceptions exist, but by and large, this is what I have observed.) It’s like living life in a clock-wise fashion. Everything has a set pattern, a set time and a set manner of execution. I am not against schedules and patterns – they build in order in our lives, but I also strongly believe it’s important to do something new, something exciting and challenging often. Indulging in new activities expands our horizons. Helps us think in new ways. Makes us more adaptable and flexible. Enriches life and shapes our personalities.
Take for example, this lady I know closely. She’s a homemaker whose life centres solely around her family. There is no independent activity that she indulges in. She doesn’t ever leave her home alone. If she goes out it’s always with family. And “going out” almost always means going out to visit extended family. She has no friends so to speak of. She doesn’t drive, has never visited a bank and doesn’t know where to submit electricity/phone bills. Its hard to figure out what her hobbies are- she has servants for household chores, she doesn’t read, doesn’t like outdoor activities. The only thing she does is dictate where her kids can go, with whom and for how long. Since she has little to occupy her time, she spends most of it spoiling her kids, who are over 20 and are not “kids” by any standards, and monitoring all their movements. She has constructed for herself this cocoon and has comfortable settle in there, refusing to budge.
Her daily schedule is so predictable that a blind man can see how stuck in a groove she is. And to me, that’s scary. She, naturally, doesn’t realise this and when subtle hints are dropped regarding the same, she voluntarily chooses to ignore them. I suspect after 50 years of living the exact same life, day in and day out, change becomes intimidating.
When my mother offered to take her and another lady out for lunch one day, she was shocked beyond words. She couldn’t fathom how someone could go out for a meal without the entire family. That was shock number one; my mother delivered a number of others in quick successions. To me these weren’t really shockers- these were things I assumed all people did- drive, manage finances, juggle full-time work and a household, maintain social ties- the usual. But for some, “the usual” isn’t quite the usual. The lady was initially impressed by my mother, then a little intimidated and finally just turned numb. What I found strange was that even after the “shocks” she didn’t feel the need to modify her own life. Yes, I can believe she is happy with the way her live is, but when you see someone doing things you never dreamt of, don’t you have the slightest urge to try the same? Don’t you wonder if there is something that you need to do and have been ignoring till now? Or are people genuinely so happy with the “limited version” of their lives that they don’t even want to check out what else life has to offer?
So to me, the bottom line really is these two questions- why are we all stuck in fixed, unchanging patterns of lives? And why don’t we want to change these patterns?