A wise man once said, “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the sun.”
It all started for me with the advent of facebook. When I was single, I looked at all my married friends and envied them. When I got married, I looked at all my friends who had kids and envied them. When I had kids, I looped back and started envying the single ones. Today, a little less envious and a little wiser for it, I started thinking about time. We, our society, especially our Indian society has wrought for us all a timetable. In school by three, out of school by 16, out of college by 20, married by 25-26 if you’re a girl or at least 30 if you’re a boy, kids before 35…so on. (The timetable is frequently updated with each generation I admit.) And hence the inevitable questions arise when you see anyone who has not checked the appropriate boxes at the pre-determined age limit. A 30 year old unmarried girl!!! A 40 year old married girl with no babies! And the one I hear so often now, a three-and-a half year old not in school?
Actually, the only real progression of time is seen via calendars and experienced as we age. The other progression is one of seasons – birth, childhood, adulthood, death. They however have been inextricably linked to complementary phases/stages – school, dating, marriage, kids, grandkids, death. The oversimplification is to make a point. So if you meet anyone at one stage, the inevitable question that is asked is, “when’s the next thing happening.”
But here is what I wonder: Is marriage and kids a stage or an activity? If it’s a stage/phase then it must have a beginning and an ending. Clearly being a wife and a mother really never ends till you reach the grave. (I’m not even going in the direction of divorce…that’s too complicated for this time of the night!) So if being a mother never ends once it starts, is it a phase or a stage or rather is it an activity?
I am begining to think that studying, working, getting married, having children, bringing them up, sending them to school and so on, these are the activities in our lives. And therefore, there is a time for each activity and I think the times and seasons for each activity is determined largely by God and each individual. And there is nothing wrong with not wanting the activity at all or not doing the activity at the pre-determined time.
“The sun is the same in a relative way, but you’re older, shorter of breath, one day closer to death” goes the song.
And so I am determined to live my life with contentment. Content with the activities that I am engaged in at this particular time in my particular life. Not pre-empting people’s activities with inquisitive questions and not pressured by people’s pre-emptive questions about my future activities.
The added bonus of thinking like this? What I do then has ceased to bear any relation to who I am! My identity has been separated from my activity. And I can finally step back, see who I am and enjoy what I’m doing. I can enjoy living again!