Prism of Life

I have always loved the way children behave and think. I have always believed that they possess an irreplaceable spirit, one that would carry them through the hardships with a smile, one that would offer forgiveness to other friends if a mistake has been made. They have the ability to absorb and endure emotional and physical pain more profoundly than older people do, and most of the children manage to solve their conflicts with a candy or a symbolic game where they are taught that friendship is the most valuable treasure a human soul can acquire and possess in his or her lifetime.It is sad that many of us abandon these ideologies as we mature into adolescence, an age marked by inner and outer conflicts.

I have always wondered why such simple techniques to resolve a conflict are abandoned as well.

Hatred evolves and grows, jealousy becomes more profound, and our ego becomes consumed with a marked selfishness. We resolve our conflicts with more conflict, and we endlessly spiral around in a vicious struggle between our wants and our needs, between what we expect and what we are offered, until we miraculously grow out of adolescence and emerge as young adults who have control over our attitudes.

And often, we don’t.

We grow older, and spread into the many wings of society, gaining painful and pleasurable experiences. We love, we marry, and we re-experience the burden of our youths with our children. We grow old, remain seated in our grandchildren’s houses, and resolve our great grandchildren’s conflicts with candy and memories.

We are then confronted with the inevitable thoughts of death, we fall into denial, and then we accept our fate. We spread whatever love we have to offer to the people around us. We give them part of our spirits so that they would live on fond memories of us when we depart into the immortal realm of souls, where we are born anew.

Life is an arch. Children and the elderly share the common thought of love, and they live on that emotion unconditionally.

It is deplorable that we abandon this most significant childhood thought, and we live on it at the very end of our existence. It is sad that we do not live our entire life on this thought. But an arch remains an arch, and so does life. When we are young or old, we cannot offer society but love. But to reach the middle of the arch, the climax of the materialistic life, we have to live on materialistic needs, and offer materialistic values to society.

But in truth, the self actualization is the inverted arch in life. It seems that only people at both ends of their lifespan will appreciate the true magnificence of life.

And we miss it out in our prime.

Children of the 80s: Are You Living Your Age?

Am I the only one who feels like I am not living my age? Are YOU living your age?

The only ages I think I “lived” are the times I spent in Syria during my school years and the time I spent in university.

Born and raised most of my life in Saudi, I had minimal human interaction. Partly because of my character (I was extremely shy and passive), partly because of where we lived (independent villa vs a compound) and largely because of the actual life style of the kingdom.

My family had lots of friends and my only forms of friendships came from whatever kids they brought along. Interactions were confined only to weekends, and until I met Hamza in 7th (or was it 8th?) grade I didn’t quite have any friends outside school.

Anyway, school was over and I was shipped to uni in a different country. It scared the hell out of me because at the age of 17 I didn’t actually KNOW how to interact with other people. However when it comes to other things, I was self-sufficient and quite the “housewife”. For quite some time I actually had to throw up before I went out to classes and the sort. To be exposed to a few people for 17 years and suddenly dropped into an alien world of 3000 students at the time was something out of the ordinary.

But I came through, in an odd fashion I might add.

Fast forward a bit now, and here I am in a corporate office. I am the youngest person in the current workforce (as far as I know). What does it feel like?

It feels good and it feels like shit.

It feels good to be able to make money and be independent and try to live and learn. It feels good to learn independence from the age of 17 and find my way through life. It feels good to be and act like a man.

But it also feels like SHIT. It feels like shit to miss out on fun days. It feels like shit that I have to pay for a car, pay for rent, pay for bills, work for 8-10 hours, drive for 3 hours and study for another 5-6 hours. It feels like shit that I have the illusion of not having support (I know my parents will jump in if absolutely necessary). It feels like shit to deal with corporate crap, prejudice, discrimination, unfairness, weird and demented people. It feels like shit that I have to justify myself to both religious and non-religious people (thank you philosophy and psychology).

It feels like shit that I have to do that at the age of 22 (now 23).

Question: What SHOULD be someone doing at the age of 22/23? Heck, my parents were in college! Times have changed, yes. Like the other Kinan expertly pointed out on my Maslow’s post, we, the 80s generation, are the guinea pigs of a global experiment. An experiment of industrialization, and experiment of a shift in morals. An experiment of shift in values, expectations, lifestyles, technology, adaptation, and the like.

So here I stand and say I AM SICK OF IT. I want to go out CAMPING with FRIENDS (and NO not on WEEKENDS). I want to go and PLAY and goof off and do all sorts of stupid stuff (because I am ENTITLED to be doing stupid stuff at my age – just not at my age in 2008). I want to go out take photos, experience nature, breathe fresh CLEAN air (not industrial by-products in the atmosphere, which Dubai has a serious issue of).

What do I do? Do I go with the flow, or do I rebel? What happens to rebellious lab rats? Get killed? What does this translate to in this day and age? Fall so far behind I become a no-body? Those who did read the book, isn’t this life becoming like Brave New World?

“But that’s what holidays are for” the boss would say. “That’s what you should do when you retire”. Oh my, how SAVAGE of me to have asked!

Since when are these things now designated for “holidays” and “retirement”!!!

I will end this post by quoting the priceless words of the other Kinan:

The pressure of being “someone” in this new “global village” that the world has become is one of the most important reasons behind people wanting to be ahead of their cognitive-development cycles. The world has become very fast, demanding, cruel, competitive, and insecure. Any one is susceptible to becoming a commodity at any moment until and unless they maintain a rate of growth of that of their surrounding economies. In other words, as a professional your job security is dependent on how easily replaceable you are. Hence, you are pressured to continuously make sure your skills and experiences are up-to-date and conforming with what the world demands. This is an added responsibility that our parents did not face. It’s a one-generation gallop between leading a content life and one that is overwhelmingly demanding.
It’s a whole new world that we deal with. The underpinning truth that no one seems to be realizing is that we are the generation that plays the role of the lab rats in this new system. Our parents lived in a day and time that was much more relaxed. In the 80’s all of that changed and it is us, being the generation of the 80’s, that are left to suffer the consequences of a globalized economy and an exponentially developing technology; both are components to a dynamically changing reality.

Stress, depression, ADD, SAD, Insomnia, and a multitude of other psychological disorders have become the defining factors of our new reality.