My laptop had prompted me about my birthday the day before my birthday just like how it usually tinkles about a public holiday one day before the day itself. In my teens and twenties, what’s another birthday? I was never one about adult milestones such as career deadlines, marriage deadlines, parenthood deadlines. In another lifetime, someone had made me feel really bad about being laid back when I was two to three years shy of thirty. That did affect me and it took me a while to rethink and work things out. In my early twenties, my supposedly best buddy from secondary school chided me for being immature and she even compared me to my younger sister who was more grown-up than me. She had meant that I had not prioritized what’s important rightly and that it was time to stop dreaming and be a grown-up. Maybe she was well-meaning. While I appreciate that growing up is a necessary part of life, I felt the sting in that comment and we naturally grew apart since. Why could I not do the growing up thing in my own time? Must there be a formula that everyone follows? Who dictates those rules?
According to Robin Marantz Henig and Samantha Henig, the authors of Twenty Something : ‘ Traditionally, five milestones have been used to define adulthood – completing school, leaving home, becoming financially independent, marrying and having a first child.’
Consequently we are all sucked into having to work out our life plans and goals at some point of our lives, then we realise that the career path or the partner that seemed right in your twenties might not fit so well a decade or few decades later, but by the time you are past middle age, you probably have to resign to accept the path that you have set for yourself. How you wish that you had the crystal ball in your youth? Even if you did have the foresight, could you have known how you would possibly feel about how you now feel many years later? The optimism in you would not have stopped you in your tracks. After all you are young, you feel that time would be on your side. Life is what you make it out to be, isn’t it?
HOW TO STOP TIME written by Matt Haig is a book about 41 year-old Tom Hazard who has lived through more than four centuries (439 years to be exact) , from Elizabethan England to Jazz-Age Paris and from New York to Sri Lanka. If one sees him, he looks forty but he was actually born on 3rd March 1581 in a small French château. Just imagine Tom has seen it all as he is actually ‘old -old in the way that a tree, or a quahog clam, or a Renaissance painting is old’. Tom has to keep changing his identity so he can stay one step ahead of his past and in order to stay alive, he must not ever fall in love. He is now a history teacher and in his extremely long lifetime he has met Shakespeare and Scott Fitzgerald. Its author, Haig writes,‘That was the familiar lessons of time. Everything changes and nothing changes.’
How To Stop Time, the time travelling tale is about losing and finding yourself and as we know all about the mistakes that humans are doomed to repeat, change is the only certainty in life. How many lifetimes does it take to learn how to live ? That is the ultimate question in How to Stop Time.
No matter what , I still believe that it is definitely better to have fallen in and out of love, actually loved somebody, be it a child or an adult even if it means heartaches and heartbreaks ( it just means that you have the human heart) , it is also better to have ventured into some business enterprise or new vocations even if it has not turned out the success that you have hoped for. What will be, will be so long as you go on experiencing and live life. You only know what you are made of when you go through life with gusto.
Can one be grounded and experimental at the same time? We definitely need more than one lifetime to learn about how to live.
Indeed , how to stop time ?