Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Volume 1, Issue 23, Tuesday November 4, 2003







Choosing a life, when the meaning of life is so obscure

Life has a way of turning out the way you did not plan it to be. This is most true when it comes to choosing a career. Most of us go through the childhood fantasy period when it seems that becoming Superman is a distinct possibility and play acting sort of gives that choice a feeling of certainty. The onset of puberty and early adolescence gives a temporary respite but gives birth to new more complicated issues .We are more concerned with the extreme urgency of choosing the right cloths or the display of machismo in the sports field translated in world beating performances!! Adolescence existence is at best tenuous with events that meander into a burden of mistakes and hard choices for the spoilt brats or the ignored and the unfortunate. The ones fortunate enough to know the true security that middle class life offers are those who do well. You are your parents blue eyed boy or girl. Good in studies, getting good grades. The minor skirmishes with freinds or silly pranks are forgiven. As children, we have dreamt the impossible and the bravest dreams are those that childhood frolicking takes to, the extreme heights of fantastic achievements of inter galactic travel and conquests. This unstinted and imaginary world is the most crucial period for a human child. The gifted show signs of their talent and start to give indication that there is a certain fire that needs to be stoked by offering proper guidance and encouragement. The real achievers are unearthed in this period and the lucky that get the proper incentive flower into world beating sportsmen, engineers and inventors or set world records in many diverse fields.
The more average child and we are in majority are created or undone in the pre-adolescent period and during adolescence. Dreams are replaced by choices based on sudden liking for a certain activity. What is important is that we start to make our likings known by practicing those things of choice. For example, the sudden interest in singing or the desire to participate in school drama or reading books on archeology and history indicates a latent desire to pursue these activities in the future and excel in them. It is in this period that young people start showing their future field of excellence, atleast that is what I believe.

Middle class life, or even the life of a rich child is guided and supervised by the parents. Their role in this stage is one of extreme importance. The parents may recognize these traits and choices of the child and act on it. For example, the parents of Martina Hingis, the former tennis world no.1 saw that their child loved the feel of a tennis racket and the interaction of the racket with the tennis ball. The rest is history as the parents sacrificed time and money to help the talented lover of tennis blossom into a great player. It goes for my favorite character Billy Gates! He showed a certain knack for invention and things technical. Imagine a 12-year-old child, seriously sitting in the garage space to dissemble his radio and reassemble with concentration that belied his age. He was given the freedom and he dropped out of school to peruse his dreams. The rest again is epoch making history.

The Asian society is based on values and customs and traditions. Parents want their children to become career oriented with excellence in something academic or a secured job in government service or a multinational company. There is of course nothing wrong with that. We need doctors, engineers' scientists and the brilliant professionals people who run the important institutions of the country. These are people who, as children led disciplined lives and studied hard.

In Bangladesh and most Asian societies, for every professional born or for every child gone astray, we have the unfortunate death of dreams at the alter of future job security and functional life as a normal human being. The singer or pantomime, the pianist or percussionist, the clown or the circus performer, the impressionist or the actor is lost because some of us could not understand the cry of the soul coming from a child or adolescent.

Lives are shaped based on culture and national character. The intrepid or the headstrong will succeed and become what they choose to become, and excel in this field. However, for the one courageous person, there are others who are forced to adhere to the code of conduct laid down by family and society. Dreams die young. However, this would change when economic salvation gives the child-man or the child-woman, room to experiment and become somebody who has been given the blessing of becoming what his or her heart desired.

By Ershad Khandker


home | Issues | The Daily Star Home

2003 The Daily Star