Of all the philosophical quotes about life that are often repeated, nothing makes more sense than the one that says, ‘life comes a full circle’. At various points in life, human goals keep changing. Aside from the main, core goals, a lot of temporary wishes, needs and wants make their appearance and flash away equally quickly, lost in the waves of other wishes that follow, or drowned in the quicksand that time is, making them lose their relevance.
Life’s achievements are always given additional value based on their effect on the person, rather than a material gain. And this is why sometimes what is a good goal to achieve at 8 seems good enough at 80 too! Human life is an elusive search for fulfillment, with the mind and the heart having very different ideas about what constitutes happiness and each following in their own wake, often clashing, but very rarely agreeing.
Anything that brings a smile to one’s (or a loved one’s) face, is never a cause for regret, the lines of morality and ability slightly blurring with the force of the love and importance shown towards the person in question, even if it is the self. While the ages in between are a muddle of immaturity, and a series of mistakes and learning, as man grows older, he also realises that children have life sorted out better than most adults.
The changing goals during the different ages are prioritised only up to a particular age, slowly losing their relevance or importance as that invisible deadline passes. But the ultimate goals that are not bound by any material things remain constant, always just under the surface, making all the other goals just look like different ways to the same ultimate destination.
While financial stability and a job would sound important in the twenties, and an own nest seeming a priority in the thirties (with romance finding its way somewhere in between), the importance of things would vary based on what is had and what is needed. Much like a juggler’s tools, the emotions, people, and things once deemed as the top priority might just be shifted downwards in the list, their value reducing or increasing proportionately to the ease of availability.
An individual’s happiness is often determined by other individuals at best, and superficial material things at worst, and seldom on the self. But the purest form of contentment at 90 comes from something as simple as when one is able to walk without the help of walking aids, forming slow, steady steps – a goal that would have been relevant to a 2 year old. The appreciation for remembering a series of phone numbers correctly at the age of 70 is something that would be relevant to a 7 year old child. The goals are similar, the ages different, but the underlying emotions are just the same.
Life comes a full circle in the way an adult grandkid would hold an old grandparent’s hand while crossing the road, much like the grandparent would have done with the same grandkid as a child. Life shows its symmetry in the way the meaning of family comes to be defined at the different ages. What starts with ‘my family consists of my parents and me’, moves on to ‘me, my spouse and kids’ would finally halt at, ‘my children and me’. The shifting of priority stems from the basic human nature of assuming a backseat in the presence of loved ones, a form of maturity that exists during childhood, wanes in between, and reappears with age.
The admiration little children have for their parents could be matched by the adoration a grandparent would have for their grandkid, both happening as a by-product of the love that decrees that there is no better person in the world! With age, the superficial nature of material acquisitions is more evident, bringing the mind back to the innocence of childhood. What changes with age is the understanding that a few things that seemed valueless as a child, and invaluable as a growing adult would only grow increasingly worthless as age progresses.
In that sense, may be life does come one full circle, only deviating in between!