An oxymoron, or not? Adaptability, is after all, a much prized feature in any living organism. And it wouldn’t be prized unless it was useful and indeed, needed. It doesn’t really matter how well adapted you are, if you are unable to adapt to new and changing circumstances: “Doom on you!” It’s just that these days the rate at which we are expected to change, is so much higher than the rate of evolution!
It is not like it was for our parents and grandparents in my opinion. Back then, you finished school, maybe went to university, got a job, did it for 40-50 years or so and then retired. I am not even 35; I have had 4 different jobs at four rather different institutions and after having spent the last year raising my premature baby, am venturing out into that vast, unpredictable job market once again.
I know that the people society views as “successful” have one thing they all tout: “You must have a goal; whatever you do, has to be to geared towards reaching that goal.” This is easier, I think, for single-minded people with one goal in life: to be rich, to be famous, to rule the world … you get my drift. When your goal is to live a full life and be a balanced, well-rounded being, to actually live; not so simple. Finding the balance between “living in the moment” while keeping an eye on that future goal, is really rather tricky!
As your gaze is fixed on the future, your feet have to tap out a dance to ever-changing circumstances in the present. Add to that the fact that life only gets more complicated the longer you live and moments of balance are a rare occurrence. At some point, it is no longer fun to be single and partying, and you settle down with a partner, maybe have a couple children and perhaps add a few animals to the mix. All of a sudden, you find yourself not only trying to be true to yourself, but doing that while every decision you make has a domino effect on not only your life but also much more acutely on the lives of loved ones.
I have enjoyed every phase of my life more than the previous one. I do look back sometimes at the historical me and think how easy life was, but with every additional year, I like my life more!
I will admit, I am not calm and serene all the time. I do have the occasional mini melt-down followed by a few days dipped in depression. But then I get up again,shake off the dust and I carry on. Is it a hindrance or a help to flexibility and adaptability to have your eyes set on a goal in the future? I guess it makes the short-term sacrifices more bearable, but does it not cause one to “numb out” the present in the hopes that tomorrow’s rewards will be worth it? It is this constant reinvention of myself that I find both exhausting and exhilarating.
Even as I get excited at the prospect of going out an continuing my career, I weep for all the precious moments I will lose with my children. All the days I won’t be there to hold them and kiss an ouchie better. Will that be worth the fact that we may now have money to give them a decent education? I suppose so, but every day is so precious and so short and you just never know what will happen next…
As Heraclitus of Ephesus said: “Change is the only constant in life.”