Friday, April 30, 2010

Prescience And Hindsight


I was meeting my friend E after a very long time. Since she had relocated, our contact has been limited to occasional phone calls and even fewer emails. So when she happened to be in my neck of the woods on business, we were excited to catch-up. In a segue from my comment about lack of reliable music reviews and my growing unfamiliarity with the scene, E went on to music from the 70s. That in turn brought back memories of her teens, having sex for the first time and such.

By her own admission, E has had a rich and varied love life - something she has mentioned to me earlier with more regret than pride - or that is how it seemed to me. That evening she said something I had not heard before "I suffered from low self-esteem and insecurity well into by 20s and 30s. The only way I knew to feel good about myself was to be wild and free. I needed men to tell me how beautiful I was, how much they desired me so I could feel I had some value. Nothing else did it for me. I was willing to do anything to have them say that"

In her late thirties, E seemed to have an epiphany about her motivations and began to understand why she had been through so many short-lived relationships - the sex was always great but emotionally she felt more and more depleted. She started to feel like she was giving herself away without receiving anything tangible in return. It was her moment of truth and her lifestyle started to change dramatically from that point on.

I know a few women of E's age and have heard them say very similar things about how they had been in their youth what motivated their behavior when it came to relationships. Similarly, I know women younger than me walking in the footsteps of E's generation, repeating their "mistakes" all over again. Yet there is a certain profoundness in learning life lessons the hard way which simply cannot be compared to the life experience of someone who is merely following their convictions without putting their value system to test.

E and others like her have often told me that I am wise beyond my years given my views on relationships and my life will end up being better and happier (not to mention infinitely less complicated) than their as a result of it. As gratifying as that is for me to hear, I don't imagine for a minute that I will have ever the same perspective as they do. In the end, it does not matter if our actions are guided by prescience or hindsight, we still win some and lose some.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

"learning life lessons the hard way" sounds very romantic but sometimes it is too late. You have already missed a bus and many a times it is not possible to recover. It was happened to me in professional life and this happened in spite of continued warning from professors in my first year of undergraduate. Your career path can take a different trajectory and so can your personal life.