As I sit here thinking about the next development in my book, I can’t help wondering what real life is. My real life now is keeping my home clean and tidy, running about after loved ones, working out regularly (luxury), walking the dogs, gardening, writing, cooking and worrying about money and unemployment. I have all the things that ‘matter’, you know: tv, computer, washing machine, dishwasher, my own home, a garden, good food on my plate, people who love me, but this isn’t everyone’s real life.
For many people their real life revolves around their social life, living for the times they can go down the pub, or out to a club. For others their life revolves around lack of money, fighting for survival, disappointment, frustration. For some loneliness and boredom dictate how they live, and for some their days are dominated by learning, gossiping with friends and looking forwards to holidays (that’s just the teachers, believe me). Often we look sideways at other people’s lives and think ‘I wish my life was like that’, or ‘thank goodness my life isn’t like that’.
I suppose my question is how did we get to where we are now? How did this become our real life? When I watch the riots unfolding in far away cities I feel like I live in another world removed from pain, distress and fear that must be rife there, but then I think about all the people I have known and where their lives have taken them and I realize that my real life is just that – mine.
Everyone’s reality is an organic development of experiences, opportunities and choices. Some would say it was luck, some would call it destiny or fate, but really it is a boiling cauldron of mistakes made and learnt (or not learnt) from. Sadly these mistakes are not always personal because they are made on our behalf by people in authority, our parents, the government … but we are free to make choices in this country, and the decisions we make in our lives affect the collective, the complete hive. That is why responsibility cannot be underestimated. ‘It won’t matter,’ ‘don’t be silly it won’t affect anyone’. Instilling the need to consider your actions with reference to other people, our environment and so on, depends on the teaching of young children about their role in society, and sadly often depends on adults who have not been taught this themselves.
It is easy if we don’t get what we want, or if things go wrong in our lives, to blame someone or something else and it is true that sometimes things are out of our control, but we choose how we respond. We choose whether we make decisions that impact favourably, or cause disruption and discomfort.
I feel so sorry for the ‘forgotten generation’. My sons are just on the edge of it and have not settled in their lives until their mid to late twenties. Many of those who are younger still are even more restless, unable to identify their role in the scheme of things. I know first hand how difficult it is to find work and I remember well, as a girl, how reluctant I was to contemplate being an adult for ‘so long’, and wanting to maintain my youthful aspirations for many more years, but the truth is the responsibilities we are desperate to avoid have a way of making our lives miserable if we don’t tackle them in our own personal way. Ignoring them, sadly, doesn’t make them go away.
I don’t think I have any real conclusions to draw other than how easy it is to be complacent in my real life bubble. I am not a political person and I don’t like going out of my comfort zone, and I am glad I am no longer in a position that requires me to be more than philosophical, but that makes me guilty, instead of completely content, within my real life.