The Circle of Life
Life is interesting. When we first arrive in the world, we have no one but our parents. A sibling or two, if we're lucky. And maybe grandparents as well. But for the first few years of our life, our immediate family are the only people we know. The only relationships we have. All not more than the number of fingers on our hand.
However, as we grow up and enter school, kindergarten or primary school, for that matter, our circle of relationships increase. We begin to know new people, people we come to know as friends as we progress. If we're lucky, we will have friends too from places like church or tuition, even extended family. We start to realize that family relationships are not the only relationships we can have, and that friendship itself is a magical thing indeed. However, the bulk of our time spent is still with our initial family, as we still rely on our parents, as well as grandparents to navigate this world. There are still many things that we do not know, and our rebellious side has yet to surface.
The best period of our life, however, would of course be the high school period to the university/college period. It is during this time where we will have the most number of relationship at any one time, the most number of people that we will know. Be it from our class, the clubs that we join, even random people from the internet, it would seem that the amount of friends that we have is unlimited. It is during this period of time where we will have multiple cliques, numerous friends, and never ending outings with friends. Our definition of friends will increase too, from just friends we will have close friends, best friends, acquaintances and what nots.
It is during this period of time too when our relationship with our initial family will be the weakest, as we strive to go outside, to explore new friendships and relationships beyond what we know. We might even enter into romantic relationships too during this time, some might last, most don't, as we explore the meaning of love. It is during this period that it is easiest to get to know new people, to forge new relationships/friendships that last, as life presents us with the numerous opportunities to meet new people during this period.
However, as we move past the post 20s life and enter into working world, we start to realize that some friendships that were formed in our school days have simply faded away, which can be due to various reasons such as distance, time or simply lack of common ground anymore. The number of people that we keep in constant contact with will eventually dwindle, due to us starting a new phase of life, and most of the time only a few or maybe only one close clique remain. Those we call our true friends, and even then, we are not able to afford the time and money to hang out as often.
Sure, we can still make new friends during this period, but it will lose the sense of innocence and simplicity that it once had when we were young. A new notion called colleagues may be introduced, and we will be quick to learn that colleagues itself is not a friendship. Some of us may start a family for instance during this period, where the family relationship comes to include new members who are not part of our initial family, be it a spouse or your own children.
Once we cross the young adult life and settled more into the working life, a sense of loneliness may creep in as we realize that friends that we once have, that we once used to hang out every week, are getting busier with perhaps their own family or work. We can still try to meet up once a while, but the frequency itself may be lesser than what it used to be.
We may gravitate more towards our new family too, the one that we have with our spouse and our children, and our focus changes. We may ourselves find that it is not easy to meet up as often as well, and our friendships will eventually get replaced with our family, as we fuss ourselves with new responsibilities and roles. Eventually, our family will be the dominant part of our lives. For many of us, it will be the only part of our lives. We may still have friends, but most of them are nowhere near the kind of friendships that we may have while we're still young.
As we get closer to the end, our life may grow to resemble our life during our early years, where family is our main focus, while friendships may have taken a peripheral space. The number of important relationships in our life has dwindled, and once again, ten fingers will be more than enough to count them. We may have grandchildren at our side, new relationships of new dynamics themselves, if we're lucky. And at our deathbeds, it will be our family who is by our side, it will be our children and spouse who till mourn the most, and it will be them who will send us on our final journey. If we're lucky, some friends may come and send us, or we may still hang out with friends when we're old, but more often than not, the ones that we will end up with is our family, just like how we started in life.
The circle is complete.
It's interesting when you choose to see it in this light. Of course, I am not saying that everyone of us will undergo the exact same thing, but the phase that we need to go through are roughly similar, unless of course you choose not to marry for your entire life. But if we were to plot a graph over the course of our life versus the number of relationships we have, most of our graph will be something like this:
At the end of our lives, it seems that the most important relationship, the one that matters more in the long one, are the ones that we have with our family, particularly with our siblings. And at the end of everything, it will be our family that matters too, as it will be our spouse (if she/he is still alive) and our children that will accompany us (if we manage to make it that far).
Of course, the viewpoint that I conveyed above might be an idealistic one, as life itself is unpredictable. We may have divorce or other complications but what I am trying to say is this: If you have a romantic partner or children, maybe it's time to look them in the eye and start appreciating them more thoroughly. After all, the best relationships are the ones we invest the most time in, and given how some relationships might accompany us for the rest of our life (ie children), maybe we should start putting more effort into them rather than focusing on relationships that don't last forever (ie bosses). I mean given how society have changed so much today, with parents focusing so much on work but neglecting their children (working over time and throwing their children into daycare), one cannot but wonder if our priorities are messed up.
Still, it's amazing to see how life goes one big circle to where it begin when you decide to look at it in this way. I would say perhaps the period where you're in high school and university/college is the most important one as it enables you to meet as many people as possible, and fight the right people to hang out with, and as we grow old the chances to do that diminishes quickly. It's like a golden opportunity handed over to you, once in a lifetime, and you have to make the best out of it.
But of course, I am not saying that once you passed the stage you're doomed to fail. The question mainly changes from how you choose to meet new people in a way, and I suppose there are plenty of opportunities out there. The only thing you have to worry about is how willing are you to throw yourself out there.
But at the end of the day, don't forget the relationships that matter most, which is the one that you will have with your new family. Be sure to find someone whom you can walk the rest of your life with, and be sure to put a hell lot of effort in making sure your children turn out fine. And only then you may say that your life is complete. Unless you decide to go Han Solo, then that is another matter.