Sunday, 23 November 2014

Great Expectations

There are some things in life that people do because they've been programmed to do them. We go to work, get married, have kids, take out a pension plan, try and fail to eat five servings of fruit and veg every day, and have a few drinks with friends to celebrate being one year closer to death.
At the same time, we eat, drink, sleep and screw because these things are hard-wired into our DNA, but they're natural processes that we do without being told that we should.
The others have been drilled into our minds since we were pushed into this world in a whirlwind of screams, wet icky stuff, and possibly some rather good drugs. From the word 'go' we're conditioned to expect certain things of life, although there will be variations caused by our experiences during our early years. If someone's childhood involves parents who spend every waking hour shouting at each other and throwing things, then the idea of marriage will probably hold rather less appeal when they're grown up.

Personally I think it's a bit of a shame that many of these expectations of life become so important to some people that they feel the need to pressurise others into following these ideas.
Take marriage for example. There's much to be said for the emotional security it brings, but it's not for everyone. Some people may feel that they don't need a piece of paper to spend their life with another person; that it's an outdated tradition that they want no part of. This is absolutely fine and I have no problem with that viewpoint. Unfortunately there are those who feel it necessary to constantly badger someone in a relationship with comments along the lines of "So when are you going to tie the knot then?", and react with shock and horror if they're told that it's not going to happen. "But your children will be bastards!" will likely be the next thought in their heads, but so what? It's the 21st century for God's sake.
Besides, the person in question might not want to have kids at all, which causes further shock and palpitations in our one-man (or one-woman) fountain of moral outrage. Why would someone possibly not want to spend what amounts to about a quarter of their lives and the whole of their wallet raising offspring that leave you emotionally drained and looking forward to them leaving and setting up home by themselves, so you can sit peacefully in the corner rocking yourself gently back and forth humming the theme tune to 'Postman Pat'?
Don't get me wrong, kids are not without their rewards, but I really don't believe anyone should feel in the least bit guilty about choosing to not have them - in the same way that I feel sorry for those who consider their life pointless and tragic if they're unable to have them because there are so many aspects of life to be embraced - many of which are hard to experience if there's a small person hanging round your feet 24/7.

The same problem exists with the more trivial aspects of our lives.
I don't celebrate Christmas at all. I think it's a colossal waste of time and energy and I'd love it if we got all Oliver Cromwell and just banned the bloody thing.
It goes way back to Roman times and the feast of Saturnalia - a week of celebrations culminating in a day of feasting on the 25th of December, involving fir trees, holly wreaths, gift giving and lots of other traditions carried on today. Then the Christian church decided to have a celebration of the birth of Christ on the same day in an attempt to woo the pagans away from their 'ungodly' ways - "Our God's just as cool as yours, look, we're having a big piss-up too!". The excuse for it being JC's birthday is bollocks anyway as historians believe he was actually born in the springtime.
The thing is, most people think I'm weird not doing Xmas and can't understand what my problem is. Well it's simple really - I have no problem with people celebrating a religious festival if they follow that particular religion, but to do so when you don't is just hypocritical. Not to mention that the festival has long since been stolen from the church by the modern religion of commercial greed.
The reaction of others to this viewpoint generally varies between disbelief and toxic, but some do admit to wishing they didn't get involved either. So don't. It's quite simple. The fact is that when you get back to work in the new year, everyone will be saying stuff like "Thank God that's all over", or "How the fuck am I going to pay this credit card bill?".
It's tradition. It's nonsense. Yet it's expected.

You'd think that in these supposedly enlightened times people wouldn't be so afraid to make their own choices without fear of being judged by others who really should be looking more closely at themselves instead.
It wasn't that long ago that homosexuality was illegal, unmarried mothers were put into lunatic asylums, and nearly everyone went to church on Sunday.
The world changes, and with the exception of Sunday trading and rap music videos, mostly it's for the better. Maybe it's time for more people to feel free to do their own thing; living their life the way they wish without worrying about what others expect of them. As long as our choices don't have an adverse affect on others we shouldn't be afraid of judgement.