Sunday, October 23, 2005

Is it our life that we are living?

I was speaking to a friend a couple of days ago and our conversation inadvertently turned to the touchy subject of marriage. I find myself talking to more people about marriage these days than I did when I first moved to Seattle. It's that time and phase in the lives of my contemporaries, a time when the difficult decision of choosing a life partner looms large. Some of my friends are fortunate to be already married, engaged or in a relationship that will culminate in marriage. The rest of us aren't so lucky (though this is open to interpretation) and are struggling to find a suitable partner...

Ok, back to the conversation that prompted this post. We talked about potential suitors for her, what her criteria were and then she blurted out something that's been in the back of my head since,

"My parents won't approve of him..."

This set me thinking about the decisions I've supposedly made in the last 28 years. Indian children get a lot of love and support from their parents. This doesn't come without a price though - a lot of decisions that shape who I am today were made for me, not by me; some for good reason and others, without. Left to my own designs, I'd like to make the wrong decisions earlier so that I'd not repeat them when the outcome really mattered - but that's me. The burning question in my mind is, whose life am I living and on whose terms? In this individualistic society, I'm at a cross-roads. My Indian upbringing makes me want to do things for people around me, for my parents and family. My American life experiences make me want to look out for myself, to be selfish and removed from the trappings of societal pressures. What is ideal, which perspective is correct? Is there a correct formula?

Back to marriage then; I'd like my parents to approve of my partner, as would any other Indian. Does wisdom of age assure my parents of having more perspective and insight into the future than I do, enough to know what will work and what won't? Let's for a moment consider the possibility that I let my parents choose the girl. She'll have her approval then, correct? What's to say that this won't lead to disaster in the future? If the certainty of marital bliss post an arranged marriage is suspect, how is it any different from me finding a girl that makes me happy now but not in the future? How does the girl's provenance matter then? It is hard to find happiness with an another individual these days to begin with; how is eliminating whole sects of people going to make this any easier...

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