My favorite café in town is a huge, bustling place that somehow manages to keep a cozy, almost rustic feeling to it. My favorite drink of the season is the delicious Santa´s Latte topped with cream and a sprinkle of cardamom and works insanely well with the cranberry-and-cinnamon cupcake I just can´t seem to keep away from. This in combination with a high speed internet ( hallelujah) and hordes of students (with whom I blend in perfectly with my laptop and notebooks) makes it the ultimate writer´s hide out for those days when I simply cannot find inspiration at home. It is also a wonderful place to eaves-drop to the conversations around me.
Today I was seated next to a man and a woman, both in their early forties, who were very obviously on a first date. It was the typical cringe-worthy kind. The man (let´s call him Tarzan just for the fun of it) haven´t dated since meeting his ex-wife and seemed to be extremely nervous (-of-the-sweating-kind), the woman (Jane, obviously) joked that she has dated hundreds of men. At one point they start talking about their families and Tarzan mentions his cousin, John the traveler.
“He runs his own company and works like crazy for months to make money and then he leaves it all to his co-workers and goes traveling long-term. And then he repeats” Tarzan says with a slightly disapproving tone. Jane laughs. “Sounds like a pretty sweet as life to me”. To please his date, Tarzan nods before barging ahead. “Yes I suppose it does. But he is 34 years old and he doesn´t even have a steady girlfriend. I think it is time he starts taking responsibility.” Jane hums and changes subject but I, I have to fight the urge to lean over and ask ”What exactly is his responsibility? Is it his responsibility to find the love of his life, settle down in one place and provide his parents with grandchildren? Has he then utterly failed the mission he was sent to earth to realize if he hasn´t accomplished that by the age of 34?”
John the traveler is probably not alone in being questioned this way. Even in this day and age many people seem to think that there is a Magic Formula for Happiness and that the recipe includes the exact same ingredients for everyone. Divergents are still viewed with suspicion. John the traveler can´t possibly be happy without girlfriend, kids and house now, can he? He is just escaping his responsibilities. The fact that he (hopefully) pays his taxes and has even provided work opportunities for other people doesn´t seem to count as being responsible as long as he is lacking the important three. But what if John the traveler is asexual, impotent and unable to find a house around the area where his company is based? Well then some people might be able to sympathize. He has reasons for being the way he is. But what if John is 34, straight, sexually active and able to buy a house but chooses not to settle down and have children when/if he finds the love of his life? Now this seems to be a lot harder to wrap one´s head around.
To the likes of Tarzan I would like to say these simple sentences. I don´t know if you are jealous of John´s life and see a dream-that-could-have-come-true if only you had made other choices in yours, or if you are simply so happy in your own life that you cannot phantom how one could feel that same happiness under any other circumstances. Whatever your reason, please try to respect the fact that every individual upon this earth deserve to compile their own list of ingredients that constitutes a happy life, as long as it doesn´t hurt someone else. Just imagine how much brighter a place this world would be if only we rejoiced in each other’s happiness rather than questioned the structure of it.