Monday, May 27, 2013

The Burden Of Expectations

So, I've been listening to Disparate Youth by Santigold on and off for quite some time now.

And obsessing over a few lyrics. The ones that go like:
“Another roadblock in our way.”
“They wanna sit and watch you wither.”
“A life worth fighting for.”

Note: What I’m about to say is just my personal opinion. And probably unwanted advice of sorts. Take it or leave it.

The thing is that song has brought back something I realized fully in a single moment of clarity a few years ago and it’s something I've been wanting to get off my chest for quite some time now.

It’s about expectations and the burden that comes with them. People (your parents, your acquaintances and society in general) expect you to make something out of your life, from the day you are born. Even if no one tells you about it straightaway, it’s there – you can feel it and you can see it in the eyes of the people around you. Unless you are a child prodigy or a pop star who makes it big in your teens or simply have incredibly open-minded parents, the commonly approved standard for meeting those expectations or alternately “success” generally involves studying hard enough, getting decent grades, going to college, graduating and finally getting a job. Not any job at that, a “real” job that pays the bills and gets you a decent place to live in.

But what if you don’t want to get a “real” job? What if your dream is to make something else out of your life? To become someone else who’s not a robot doing that miserable cubicle job? What if you don’t want to go down the beaten path but make up your own? And oh horrors of horrors, what happens if you don’t conform to the expectations that others have of you?

So, my question is: Do expectations really matter?

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Life is short. Unexpectedly short.

As I sat on the bus earlier today, I looked down the street where I live and felt like this might be the last time I was going to see it. At that moment, I chalked it down to paranoia. And I was wrong.

Today a car lost control and crashed against the side of another car. This happened less than one meter from me as I was walking back home. When I turned back and realized what had happened, my first reflex was to thank God (or the Universe or whatever else you believe in) for sparing my life. I'd just crossed in front of the car that had been smashed against the wall and FELT the whoosh of the cars as they crashed and skidded right behind me.

As I think about it right now, I can still feel my legs shaking and my heart pounding. Standing right next to me, a guy was whining about his totaled motorcycle. I looked at him like he'd lost his mind. He could have lost his life and instead of thanking God or whatever else he believes in, he chose to whine about losing his motorcycle?

People swarmed around and tried to help and get those people out of the cars. I tried calling the emergency services several times and it was ringing, but nobody picked up. Nobody fucking picked up. I realize that this is a developing country. But that's just no excuse.

Dear Emergency Services, what good are you if you're not here when the people who pay the taxes to run your services need you? Fuck you very much Emergency Services. (Someone must have deigned to pick up someone else's call later though, because I could hear the sound of sirens from my home some time later...)

Right now, I can only pray that the people who were inside those cars can make it. Thankfully, the people from the car that lost control were still conscious, though shell-shocked and injured. I pray that they'll be okay. But the guy in the other car was unconscious…and I hope that he makes it. I remember glancing at him for all of a second before crossing in front of his car - he'd been waiting to get on the main road...

Yesterday, a bus of around 60 people turned over, killing 10 people and injuring many more. Today this. The difference is, today I was there. Until it happens right in front of your eyes, this doesn't really really affect you. You can feel sympathy and sadness true, but you cannot really understand the horror of it until you live it.

The car crash happened just a hair’s breadth from me and just a 5 mins walk away from my home. I could have never walked down the street where I live again.

Before the car crash, I thought I'd used up all my luck. I was wrong.

Life is short. Unexpectedly short. This could have happened to anyone anywhere. There's no guarantee of when you'll die. So, cherish each day that you live. Don't neglect the people who matter most to you, because you might never see them again. Do the things that you most want to do, because you might lose the chance of ever doing those things. Whatever it is you dream of doing, do it now. Don't wait for the conditions to be ideal. Because it might be too late by then.