Of deeper matters…

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?

32 thoughts on “Of deeper matters…

  1. I think, one reason is lack of exposure which doesn’r make u feel like u’re missing out on anything…..you’ve seen a limited kind of life and u’re happy in it.

    Second is thr comfort zone…its easier to carry on than to change…. and isn’t it true…we change only when we want to..and the want arises only when there is dissatisfaction with the present condition…

  2. Absolutely LOVED the post. You and I think on the same lines. This is very abstract as a concept and still doesnt fail to make a point. I can do nothing but agree with every word of it.

  3. @chandni-yes the lack of exposure is one of the biggest reasons for feeling complacent with the present situation. but when you see how life is on the other side , how can you not get excited about it? how can you not want to try it out? i guess thats when the second part of ur comment comes into play- noone changes unless they want to.. no matter how compelling the external factors may be.

    @lively- this was an abstract subject. therefore a little dificult to put down in words. but im glad the point came across to you.

  4. i have now maintained for long time that “whys” are absurd questions. they should not be asked.

    having said that, the patters help retaining the [social, for one] order. people can’t just start getting into polygamy, start eating raw dog meat, start wearing shoes on their earlobes… patterns are there because they have been built for support, and so the theory goes for other feeble patterns

  5. burf- sometimes it good to question. u cant take everything the way it is dished out.a questioning mind is important for growth. everything doesnt need to be questioned but some things surely do.

    patterns have their own place, i have said so in the post too. but if patterns become restrictive or take away from the mulit-hued ,beautiful experience that life is, then its quite alright to change them. unless you are happy doing wat u did for years together with no change watsoever-its almost like living with blinkers on.

  6. Good post! I have seen it around me too. We live an extremely diverse life with a schedule so that it is easier and at times (or rather most often) people tell us to slow down as we have a whole life time ahead.
    I know tons of people like the lady you mentioned around the world including in Houston. Their biggest job other than minding the lives of their children is gossip with more twists and turns than ever.
    But on wondering why it is tough to change, the answer is as Chandini pointed out comfort. For example, Mrs.X she is a very close relative of ours. Very active, busy bee, MBA degree holder, full-time employed with a hi-fi company, teaches part-time at numerous college around town and married for 20+ years. There have been points in her life where she was the sole breadwinner for the family and has 2 kids both in their 20’s now. She is an excellent teacher, does amazing craft work, the neighborhood kids favorite aunty, reads, writes and cooks better than most people. Now, today she is not happy with her job of nearly 20 years and knows it is time for a change. She actively gets on a average 2 offers a month each better than the last. But she is not ready to make the change, why? leaving the comfort zone and fear of morrow. This is from a lady who was the first to drive a geared scooter and a car in her town, the lady who deals with drunkards and rowdies on a regular basis coz her job demands it. But the minute you ask her to leave her security – job her life changes…
    most people are scared about what tomorrow will bring so they cling to security of jobs, homes, children and unknowlingly fall into a routine which they can never get out of unless they make a conscious effort and put in work into it. We can encourage them, motivate them but ultimately unless they convince themselves, they cannot take the lending hand we give!

  7. But isnt that simple? As in to live a life already fixed and in pattern than to try out something new? Its like falling outside the normal distribution and increasing the risk of becoming an outlier? Its not their fault…its a systemic problem i guess…which works at the system level rather than this minute level of an individual. Anyways the first thing that came to my mind on reading the first few linew was the song – kitno ko dekha hai humnein naya, kuch sikha hai humnein unse yahan. – Lucky Ali

  8. Mandira, it is basically the comfort factor and the ease of having things falling in decided patterns that makes people live a predictable life. However exciting it might sound to you or to me, they are perfectly at ease with it.
    It was a good write up about such complacent people. Keep it up.

  9. Hmmm… you got me thinking on this post. I know what you mean and no – they don’t have to be older – my neighbour is like that as well and her kids are in 8th and 10th classes respectively. I have never seen her go out alone even to buy groceries… Its always her kids or the husband.
    Yes, I guess it could be the comfort factor here as well…
    But, change is necessary and important…

  10. @pooh- i guess common traits of human nature can be seen everwhere -whether in india or houston. and you got that rt- gossiping is a favourite pass time of this lady as well..i see you have a pt here. ppl dont want to change the lives that they are comfortable in- whether they are generally unoccupied and purposeless or are hyper-active and driven.

    @nishchal-i dont know if its only a systemic issue. i think its both. dont individual act in ways that over come systems? living in fixed patters is the easier more comfortable choice. but what if the choice is one that stifles the person? wouldnt it be best to break such a pattern? ..but in that case, the person would first have to realise that there is a pattern that exists that needs to be broken…

    @manpreet- i guess complacency works for some ppl…but it sure doesnt work fr me!

    @pixie- ppl got me thinking so i though i should get a few bloggers thinking as well!:) and on the issue of change, i too think its imp. and necessary…

  11. i still maintain that for “whys”. if it is how, what, whom et cetra, then it is okay

    i presume you are talking about breaking pattern for happy experiences? i guess people won’t break pattern for unhappy lives. lots of us who are advocates of change would want to go live in deep kumaon villages but not without comforts of city life.

    in fact after writing the above paragraph, i guess this is what you mean by breaking pattern – having a luxurious break/recess/holiday

  12. what u may see as a fixed “comfortable” pattern may actually mean something else to another person.
    where u may see the need for a change could actually be an effort of another person fighting for survival.
    breaking patterns may be the biggest challenge u see for someone but for that person, staying in pattern may be a bigger one.
    what you call a predictable someone else may call fortunate.

  13. what u may see as a fixed “comfortable” pattern may actually mean something else to another person.
    where u may see the need for a change could actually be an effort of another person fighting for survival.
    breaking patterns may be the biggest challenge u see for someone but for that person, staying in pattern may be a bigger one.
    what you call a predictable, someone else may call fortunate.

  14. what u may see as a fixed “comfortable” pattern may actually mean something else to another person.
    where u may see the need for a change could actually be an effort of another person fighting for survival.
    breaking patterns may be the biggest challenge u see for someone but for that person, staying in pattern may be a bigger one.
    what you call a predictable, someone else may call fortunate.

    (this is my 3rd attempt at posting a comment, if this doesnt go thru….argh!!!)

  15. @burf- I dont think we are on the same page!i am talking of a much broader issue here..

    @N- you dont need three attempts to post one comment..one attempt si quite enuf! lol.. u wrote frm a diff email address, therefore it needed to be moderated by me.:P

    there is no denying that we all live in patterns and that patterns are our comfort zones but my whole Q is why dont we see the need to break away from these patterns…

  16. Not really sure about that point…i think its the society more than the individual that plays a major role in it and drives this kind of action. Just think what would be the payoff if a person tries to deviate from this pattern? Maybe he/she realises it but dont put an effort changing it because of some prior experience. It has to be an effort from both the sides.

    Aur yeh N kar kya rahi thi? πŸ˜€ (1 baar se dil nahi bhartaa…)

  17. its ur blog! wierd thing! first it wont accept my comment and then it publishes it thrice.
    and is this how u moderate??

    the need to break away from pattern is what im saying is subjective. for some people, the challenge isnt breaking away but staying insync with the pattern. its how u perceive their lives…… for them, it cud be very different.

  18. Loved reading this, for i too have friends who are caught in a rut and dont want to change or see there is more to the world than their cocoon…

    I feel, like Chandni, its to do with their exposure levels, the amt of independence given by their family/in laws/ and others who’ve had major influences in their lives.. Plus i find there are some who are happy being at home, and not going out/movies/driving/learning new things… for them, life is complete…

    But, i do wish they keep their doors open, and allow others to guide them around… instead of saying ‘chee, i wouldnt go out without x, y, or z, and that you shdnt either”…. πŸ™‚

    gonna blogroll u… πŸ™‚

  19. @N- dudette, yes this is how i moderate… i treat each of ur comments as precious and publish them even if they are repititve. but alas, you dont appreciate that!sigh.
    everything is life is subject. this is just one more of those things.

    @aaarti-the people we interact with have a huge impact on how we shape ourselves. there is no denying that fact. i am not against ppl being happy with their life. my pt is that its imp to self-assess ourselves to check if we are becoming too complacent, too tied-down or too restricted.
    thanks fr blogrolling me. πŸ™‚

  20. Hmmm, I think this post makes us look at how we judge other people, who are something that we cannot even fathom becoming! If we are so evolved, then who are we to pity them or be shocked, shouldn’t we just accept them? Hmmm…

  21. Hmmm, if one can be totally sure about analysing, then super cool, I say. I, for one, tend to get swayed by my own desires and needs and perspectives, that’s all. So much hmmming later, let me read on for now.

  22. I guess you better take this blog and all teh comments to that lady – i m sure she will consider changing her perspectives…

  23. Talk of “change” ! It is so difficult to adapt to change sometimes. When something has become a way of life, anything that does not fall in that scheme is often hard to accept and adapt to. I see that in myself sometimes. And I have a post in mind to blog about too πŸ™‚ So maybe there, I’ll link up to yours πŸ™‚
    Good post as always, Mandira πŸ™‚ Keep writing πŸ™‚

  24. I don’t think the “pattern” can be changed. I mean you can’t oppose nature. You can’t say I wan’t to break the monotony and sleep in the morning and work at night. It doesn’t work that way… But I do agree, sometimes life does get monotonous. We can do all we can and spruce up our lives and learn as much as possible from life.
    As for people like the lady you’ve mentioned. I think they’ve never had enough exposure or expeerience to even think otherwise. She got stuck there by choice and chose to waste her life if you ask me.

  25. @SnS- we are all a little stuck in our own way..but the pt is that we need to be conscious about the fact and to do smthing about it.
    and thanks fr the encouragement. πŸ˜€

    @niveditha- in a way u r rt. changing patterns isnt impossible but it is very very difficult. but at the same time all patterns dont need to change. but some reallllly do!!:)

  26. To resist any kind of change in a part of basic human psychology. Any kind of change, even for good does bring a moment or two of speculative thoughts in our minds. secondly, its the fear/hesitation of embarking into an unknown territory that stops people from taking that one step.Even if we do see other people in that territory our mind still need a reason to convince itself about the benefits of moving into that region. I would like to point out one thing though, discipline brings in some pattern but it should not be confused with monotony at any point of time. Every person has different priorities in life and they mold their lives based on those priorities. People also change when they are compelled to do so. In this case may be one day this lady will start going to the bank driving herself there if no one else is there to do it for her.

  27. @bodhi- i am just speechless!!you came over AND left me a comment!! i need a moment here..will recover and then react to wat u wrote………

    ok, am back!agree with u on most acounts…esp. that bit about mixing discipline and monotony. and yeah,priorities matter as well..

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