Remember the days when you didn’t have a single care in the world, when you could do what you wish, and your only worries were when you would get fed next, and when the rain would stop?
Sadly, most of the younger generation would probably not remember the second part of the problem – they’ve been brought up in a highly technologicalised environment, and wouldn’t care if it was rain or shine.
But the worries of a child are the same through out centuries – when is the next meal, and play.
And that was life.
Fast-forward to your twenties. Most of you would be pursuing a degree at this point. Those who have chosen to enter the work force early are working, day in, day out, in pursuant of a better tomorrow, signified by a bigger paycheck.
We are all in pursuit of paper.
Who made these rules? Who decided that our happiness would lie in scraps of paper? Is this all there is to life now, an endless pursuit of paper?
As kids, our parent put us through school – not just to educate us and broaden our horizons. We were expected to do well in school, in extra-curricular activities. And it all boils down to getting good grades. There is little focus on teaching us how to apply what we have learnt, the focus is all in helping us achieve the grades required. The focus is on getting that piece of paper that says we did well, regardless of whether we are capable of applying the information that has been fed to us. Our obtaining a slip of paper that said we did well gave them something to be proud of, and in turn, that made us happy. They reward this achievement through granting material requests, purchased with more scraps of paper.
This goes on till we are ready to take our first steps into independence – when we are deciding what we would be studying in tertiary education. Once more, the considerations are based on paper – namely, which degree would gain me the most in terms of monetary rewards when I enter the work force? Once again, we are chasing papers.
We graduate, some of us doing better then others, and, with mortar boards on our heads, grin ear to ear as we recieve our degree from the chancellor. So we gained another piece of paper.
But it is not enough. We strive to be better – we complete our honours, our masters, our doctorates – and still it is not enough. We can only truly be happy, or so we think, if we could afford certain luxuries in life.
All this time, not one of us would have stopped to think about what all this meant.
We’ve let scraps of paper, which someone has assigned a value, control our lives.
I’m not saying that this is a bad thing; neither am I saying this pursuit is good. I’m just trying to get all of you reading this to stop for a moment, and think.
What sort of magical powers do these pieces of paper hold, why do we let them control our lives so much?
Given the current state of the global society, I’m pretty certain we can’t just throw our hands up in the air, forsake all the papers we possess, and crawl off into the plains and live as a nomad – our lives have become too entwined with material comforts and technology – and we need to be earning a decent amount to gain those comforts. Even if we could do without most of the material comforts, we still can’t escape the need for cash. To begin with – how are you going to travel anywhere without cash? You could argue that you could walk, but how long would it be before you need food and drink? If you didn’t have any money, how would you survive that first leg of your journey towards freedom from paper?
Though we are unable to distance ourselves from this paper chase, we could take a step back once in a while, and think about what else makes us happy. Life isn’t just about obtaining as many sheets of paper as possible – take a step outside and listen to the birdsongs once in awhile. Breathe in the fresh scent of just-cut grass – little things like this make us complete, without increasing our reliance on the scraps of paper we pursue.