Sunday, 12 February 2017

How do you prepare for life?

Last week, I wrote my thoughts on the upcoming book by Mrs. Jennifer Yeo entitled "I want to marry you but...A Marriage Guide For The Young Adult."
Today's paper revisited her book and her thoughts about marriage. When she met George Yeo (as he was then a Major), she asked him point-blank, "Are you single?" George was a little taken aback by her directness.
Jennifer recalled why she approached her future husband that way: "I just needed ascertain whether he was engaged or married because you never know. As a law student, I had come across cases of people two-timing all the time."
The papers report this about the object of her book: "Having weathered the storms herself, and seen some nasty break-ups in her work as a family lawyer, Mrs. Yeo wants to impart to young people the importance of being prepared for the most important relationship of one's life."

Lesson? Just one. How do you prepare for life, for the right partner for life? How do you control it?
While some things you can predict, others defy prediction. The sun will rise. It will set. It's clockwork. But how do you predict her heat, the intensity of her shine, her brightness?
How about the moon? Yes, she is always there. That much you know for sure. That much you are certain. When a day ends, the moon emerges. It is a simple but elegant competition of lights.
But how do you predict her visibility? How high or low will the tides be? How sure are you that it would be a cloudless sky? Surely you can't tell where the wind will blow right? You can't tell how fast it will blow over, and for how long.
In the same way that you can't prepare for life by planning to the minutest detail, you can't prepare yourself for a sunny or rainy day.
Nothing in life bends to your will. Not a fortune. Not a tragedy. Not an inheritance. Not a calamity.
Life is clockwork as to the days left in it. It moves in a predictable clockwise direction. Day in and day out. 24 hours. 365 days. Decades and centuries. They move in circles. Unless the sun refuses to shine or the orbits run awry, nothing changes.
But the events in each life moves in unpredictable "anti-clockwise" direction. It messes up the best laid plans.
While time moves steadily forward, the events that happen in it may stop, reverse or speed up time for you. It's all relative remember?
A shock can happen in a second, but transforms you for a lifetime. A sorrow can last a lifetime, but all it takes is a second to change your perspective completely.
Pain can pause time. Hope can stretch time. Joy can deepen time. And love can fulfill time.
They all move in anti-clockwise direction and they give no warning of what is to come. You deceive yourself if you think you are in control of either direction when both of them clash to defy all expectations.
So, how do you prepare for life then? How do you bend it to your expectations? You don't. You can't.
You can plan. Make a fortune early. Retire at 30. Fortify your wealth. Take care of your health. Control your diet. Sleep 8 hours. Rest and relax. Distance yourself from the mindless stress. Meditate. Count sheep, listen to waves, imagine peace.
You can do all that, but life like the sunlight and moon's tides still do not bend to your will. Even the POTUS will face circumstances beyond his control. No one is all powerful that he can determine how every minute and second will play out in his life.
An event unexpected can change your life for good. Even an event expected may change it forever.
Be it for good or bad, you can't prepare for them with plans, flow charts, statistics, decision tree or a measuring tape.
Mind you, this is not a call to give up preparing for life. It is however a call to let go of things you can't control. There is a difference between planning for retirement and believing that all things will proceed like clockwork thereafter.
There is a difference between planning for your kids' future by saving up and ensuring that he or she will turn up the way you want him or her to be (that is, marry the right one, their kids will bloom as planned, and so on). And there is a difference between planning for marriage and expecting the passion of the wedding night will somehow work itself out.
In the end, for each new day, the best attitude beats any prediction and planning you can muster. Resilience is your best bet against trauma, disappointment and pain. Hope is your best vaccine against despair beyond your control.
Gratitude is your best immunity against envy and bitterness. Joy is your best medicine against tragedy of life. Faith is your best anchorage for a life of meaning. And finally, love is the only living stream you will ever need to know your center, to stand by what is important, and to live a legacy your children will always be proud of. Your strength will forever be their strength. Cheerz.

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