Monday, June 06, 2005

Various life worlds, various life forms

I have finally understood something important - that although the word LIFE is just one word, it can refer to totally different experiences!

There are various life worlds and various life forms. If one accepts this, then one will be freed from the impulse to compare.

Some people work horrendously long hours, with little time to rest, and maybe no time at all for social life or personal life (e.g. hobbies, contemplation, watching TV, etc). Of course, the compensation for such sacrifices is the money that they earn, or the increasingly impressive namecards that they hold (and can proudly present to their friends during 'gatherings').....This group of people, for the sake of my subsequent analysis, shall be called the workaholics. :-)

For me, I do not think that it's worth sacrificing your weekends (i.e. Sundays and Saturdays, not just Sundays) for work. It's okay to go back occasionally to office to work during weekends, but 'be a regular activity it should not'. Social life (especially those aimed at finding lifelong happiness) is important. A friend of mine sometimes laments, "Sigh, I've no girlfriend!", but from what I can see, he hasn't put in the hours and the 'work' required to get one! I wish to tell him (out of concern for a good friend) that ladies would not stroll into his office just like that and ask him, "Hey, Mr. Busy, I see that you are overwhelmed with work and are too stressed and busy, but would you like to be my boyfriend?" That simply won't happen. (As for those who really feel that they would like to let work take over their lives, I have nothing more to say...I wish you good luck.) :)

There's another group of people called the family men/women. They are contented to have a wholesome family, and the meaning of life revolves around the family. Work, for them, should not be too harrowing, and certainly should not 'eat into' the family time. So, no unpaid overtime, no 'bringing-of-work-back-home' for this group. In fact, I think this group is the happiest lot, based on my observation of people around me. If they have children, life should be even happier, provided they are also happy with the person they married. (See my 'Conceptions of Children' entry). There are those who feel that having a pet dog or cat can be a suitable surrogate experience for having a child, since according to them, the reasoning is perfectly logical:

1. "A child provides companionship"
2. "A pet dog/cat/mouse/(insert animal) also provides companionship"
3. "Therefore, a pet dog/other animal can replace a child"

This is simply flawed reasoning. It's true that both a pet and a child provide companionship, but the companionship provided by a child is so different from companionship provided by a pet. It does not take much of a leap of imagination to visualize this, does it? :) Of course, a person who is truly radical in his/her views can insist on the constant play of words and say that "a pet can also be your friend", "you can also talk to your pet", "a pet can also be part of your family", etc along with all the advantages of having a pet (e.g. you can give it away anytime, it's cheaper, you can ignore it, etc). But this only makes the discourse look like it makes sense without changing the fact that a child is different from a pet - as any empirical research work done on Singaporean parents can show. Just ask them, ask them, if there's any difference.

So, my conclusion is that there are various life worlds coexisting in this world. Everybody's life is so different. As the Chinese saying goes, "Tong2 ren2 bu4 tong2 ming4" (and this saying should be used in a non-lamenting way). Some are plainly rich, but do not feel happy for various reasons. Some are immensely successful in their careers for their age. Some are immensely happy with a wholesome family. Career success and wealth accumulation are not the only yardsticks to measure the 'goodness of a person's life'. So why compare? In another 50 years, we will all be nearing 80 years old. I do not want to spend my time at 'gatherings' chatting about other friends "VP position" at some top MNC (saying 'wow' endlessly), or over how much money and bonuses (in terms of "how-many-K's") so-and-so earns, or over the speed at which one manages to pay off one's housing loan, etc. The impressiveness of other people's achievements still leaves space for me to be happy with my own life, in my own way (that perhaps only I myself can understand), unless I let the mental demons trick me into an endless exercise of social comparison. That others may not be able to understand why I should be happy with my life does not matter at all, since I do not have to find reasons to justify my happiness. In the prevalent discourses of social comparison, the important things in life - friends, kinship, love, passion for what life has to offer, dreams and ambitions, interest in aspects of society - all but disappear into thin air. And the main reason for the increasing impoverishment of the discourses is the failure to understand that there are various life worlds, various life forms.

In short, a fish can be as happy as a leopard.


Blogger tyme said...

I think 'contentment' is very important in life.. of course it should also be coupled with a moderate dose of 'ambition'.. a balance must be struck to achieve true happiness.. a fish can have the ambition to swim in the ocean.. but if he is stuck in a pond, he should then be content with his situation and not pine his life away for the ocean.. IF the correct opportunity comes.. (i.e. Tsunami..)and the fish can swim to the ocean... i say go for it.. acheive your dreams.. hehe.. :)

Mon Jun 06, 01:12:00 PM 2005  
Blogger Heavenly Sword said...

Well said. However a fish that wants to go to the ocean may not be suitable for the ocean. There is a Chinese saying, "Fei1 er2 pu1 huo3" (flying moth darts into the fire). A goal, destination, or activity that one thinks is good, may turn out to be 'not good' for oneself...(e.g. workaholism)

In any case, I like the 'moderate dose of ambition' part and 'tsunami' part...Being able to grab opportunities as they arise is indeed important.

Mon Jun 06, 11:44:00 PM 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very nice site! » » »

Fri Mar 02, 08:26:00 PM 2007  

Post a Comment

<< Home