(Named so since “growing up” is already the title of a previous post!)
We talk less about the here and now, as we did as students, and more and more on the topic of future plans. On the other hand, we have a long way before reaching the stage in life where there is a rich past to speak of. Friends come to a weekday dinner in their classy work wear, driving brand new cars, probably deceiving patients (and society) that they are quite grown up, ha! As we go our separate paths with specialisation and training pathways, I ponder too how our friendships will change as we leave the world we shared together as students, and as new graduates being churned through similar rotations.
Brunch-ing with a group of girls from my youth fellowship, I’m surprised at the similarities in each of their plans and timeframes on moving to the next stage in their relationships. At the same time, hearing of other pairs parting ways with the changes brought by graduation and the practicalities of needing to move to separate places for work. Then at church, the strangeness of seeing young ones, obviously employed now, walking in with suits and ties. Of peers leading the congregation at church and starting to deliver sermons.
Sharing a simple meal with old friends again, I thank God again for the love and hospitality I received as a student, and the inspiration that is to me to do likewise. This time, the pastor’s son happened to be visiting with his wife, and the two shared about their work with the medical ship that delivers care and supplies to rural areas of PNG. As we talked I remembered the many stories and conversations from the past over the same dining table, or over a hot cup of tea. The elderly lady whom I bought a recipe book from, which she compiled from the locals in the various countries she lived in, in her work with a Bible translation organisation. Recently widowed, she grieved but was determined to continue the cross culture training work she first started with her husband decades ago. The former head of the same organisation and his wife, who were memorable for knack for telling stories and bring people together. I remember too, playing “Where’s Wally” with the youngest child of a missionary family on a break from their work in the Middle East. They spoke of the interesting dialogues they had with Muslim neighbours on the stories of Jesus. And many others!
Travelling with my cousin who isn’t very young at all, I felt ever so old! Waking up every day at a similar time to any weekday, and feeling disappointed that there was still ages to go before the alarm clock, set for a lazy sleep in, was to go off. Then, for the first time ever, trying to enter a grocery store before realising that it wasn’t open because it was too early in the morning. Getting back, hours later, still having to throw a pillow across the room to wake up sleepy head. Perhaps it was just a transient role reversal.
Going out and wanting not so much to fit in as many activities, shopping, food adventures as possible, and instead favouring the idea of scenic walks, or sitting in a park on a cold sunny day, with my favourite beverage on hand, and something good to read. Not too long back, I would have considered such inactivity an incredibly boring way to spend a day out. Anyway, how is it that students (probably myself included) assume that once you have a job you could spend whatever you like, whenever you like?
Seeing old places of terror, I marvel at how time replaces dread with neutrality and even a touch of affection. Well, bad things are always bad (or else no pay would be required for your time) but become a little less intolerable, or rather, a little more tolerable. Being older seems to come with increasing responsibilities which you fulfil at work, at home, in social situations, whether you feel up to it or not. Prioritising “me-time” over attending class, or being sad and not going to rounds isn’t really an option anymore. I knew that last year, but now I also think that maybe it’s not such a bad thing to be forced to deal with the garden-variety unhappiness of life in a more grown up way. Sometimes, plodding on with the usual is all you can do to deal with really tricky issues too.