Few days ago I got a call from a leading life insurance company, the humble voice discussed the life threats I had around me, so much that I immediately decided to end a fight I was having with a friend that very day. I fought the urge to hang up, but something made me go on.
I spoke to him for 20 long minutes. He even discussed my retirement plans with me! I was really interested to know how these guys catch new fishes from their 20s and convince them of their death possibilities.
He was good, I must say, I actually gave it a thought at the day end. What was surprising is that my best friend had recommended me to him, who indeed wanted me to get a ‘life insurance’ like hers, is too in her early 20s and is done mapping out her retirement plans.
Our brains are programmed from our very childhood to live in the future, because that is what living ‘Smart’ means to the society! We are officially the “What’s Next?” generation. We get into a degree planning our next move to our dream job, and we enter the job market planning our ‘entrepreneurial exit’, the very recent craze.
How many of us, with privileged backgrounds are working 9-5 today for the ‘need’ of money? But no! More of anything good is better than less (Except when my undergrad Economics Professor made us question it). You need to save up! Get a secured career! You need to be someone! Get overdosed in whatever nice you can get your hands on. You’ve got to sponsor your future, your dreams- your grey hair and wrinkled skin.
In the race to become somebody, when was I, ever, taught to find and explore myself?
In the quest for sponsoring the unseen, where did my present go?
What do I do to feel good? “I hang out with my friends.”
Do I know if I even like hanging out in those fancy places checking out new food? (Wasting money in buying things that actually mean nothing to me?)
Do I even know how to make an informed choice?
Have I ever truly been honest with myself?
Who am I?
Get into a good school, eat well, learn to solve maths, speak good English, get good grades, graduate, land a job, get married, have children, get ‘settled down’ by 30- Perfect pilgrimage for living the ‘Bangladeshi Dream’.
Talkshows, Debates, TV series, Youtube, Facebook posts taught me something called ‘Choice’ should be pursued and ‘Freedom’ should be defended. My parents, they somewhat heard of it from their parents, who thought ‘Freedom of Choice’ was the cursed phrase that is used by the westerners to spoil our culture.
My friends come from sound academic backgrounds and all of them are on the right track towards pursuing their ‘Dream Statement’ they had independently prepared in their late teens (with a generous amount of input from their family). They are all glowing in their career paths and almost made a brand out of themselves.
But there is one problem; they are lost.
They do not see a point in the things that they are doing in their ‘autopilot’ modes. Given their above average intellect they can self actualize from perspectives where they question their identity; they question if their dreams were not to make them happy then what were they supposed to do? This generation, is a victim of a societal gambling that is probably a modern Aztec sacrifice made for societal transitions.
Happiness is a skill, to the aestheticians, may be an art. If you do not teach me to be happy with what I have now, I will be left with everything I wanted in life except the simple skill to be happy with it.
If you do not teach me to live ‘Now’ then I will very likely end up living half of my life chasing my future and the rest scraping out my past.
When was I given the chance to think? To pause, breathe, look back, observe and learn?What did you make me write in school when the papers asked “What is your aim in life” “What is your hobby” “Who do you idolize?”
Was my chance on ‘inner peace’ worth those 20 marks?