TUESDAY, 28 JUNE 2005
A phrase frequently heard around barbeque fires, on porches or balconies, next to a table in a restaurant or a counter in a bar or other places where middle class mid-twenties spend their time, is this: “I now know what is important in life. I know what I want out of life.”
I am in no position to question what is important to them or what they want from life. The temptation does however exist to ask them: What was your process? In what way did you go about working out what is important to you, or what you want? Did you lie awake nights contemplating the possibilities? Did you spend years weighing the possibilities and mulling it over? Did you spend months? Weeks, perhaps? Did it your hit you one morning on the way to work? Was it something someone said at a barbecue, or on TV or in a movie, or at the office, or on campus one day? Did you follow a thorough process of elimination where you considered a dozen, or at least half a dozen possibilities, with all the possible pluses of every possibility weighed against all the disadvantages and all the possible risks? Whose tracks did you consciously or unconsciously follow? Why those particular tracks? What needs do you hope to fulfil with your ultimate choice of what is important to you, a young adult? What goals will be fulfilled in the pursuit of what you want out of life? What is important to your friends, your brothers, your sisters, your cousins? Is there a correlation between what is important to you and what you want out of life and what they want and what is important to them? If you want to follow a different path, what are your reasons, your motivations? If you want to pursue a similar path, what do you think would be the reasons for that? And now that we are on this line of questioning, what was important to your parents, or your aunts and uncles? Did they pursue similar things to what you now want to pursue for the next forty or so years of your life? Is or were they happy with their choices? For what reasons would you think were they happy with their choices? Did they regret some things? What are these things? Are there dreams or ambitions that you have already written off as unrealistic and unrealisable? How much regret will you have in 10 or 20 years about the things that you considered unattainable in your mid-twenties? What will compensate you for the dreams and ambitions that you would never pursue?
These are but a few questions for which you can pinch off an hour or so if you have the time – if you find yourself in a place where you know no one, where for the moment there will be no familiar voices to echo your own, or to talk you down, or to offer support.