Act 1: Birth and Growing Up
You’re born at a very specific location, we can reasonably assume in the closest local hospital, in a random village or city. It’s random, in a sense that you haven’t chosen your parents, nor the location. Lottery. That’s how your life begins. That’s how all of us start. Hello, world!
Your parents, and perhaps their parents, in some cases nannies and other close family members or parent’s dear friends, are your whole world for a while. You breathe, cry, learn to walk, always with and around them. Your life space is very tight!
You first start playing in someone’s arms, then in your little crib, and then in the whole house. Then yard if your family has it. Life space increases gradually.
Your first friends are those who live nearby, a few neighborhood houses and streets. Your hood. You expand, both geographically and socially. First, it was counted in meters, but now it’s kilometers. There’s still a strong parental oversight.
If you are not homeschooled, which probably isn’t the case if you’re not born in the US, or constantly moved around by hyper-traveling parents, you start to genuinely socialize in kindergarten and primary school. Usually, it’s the nearest one. Your circle grows!
And then when you grow up a little more, you choose a high school. Some decisions start to emerge. Is it the general type of the school, or a more focused one? Still kilometers, maybe tens of them, with occasional visits to other cities and casual outer world impressions.
It’s not about your personality, interests, or anything about yourself. It’s about the location. The location has a colossal, crucial effect on life and acts as one of the key determinants of your being.
If wealthy or talented, or just informed early enough, this is still mostly about your parents’ thinking though, you might end up in a high school that is abroad. In most cases, however, it’s a given. Whatever the schooling system algorithm decides. It’s about location.
You slowly start to wander around.
Act 2: Expansions
And then, you decide (what) to study. This is more about you, or if you are unlucky and caged by your parents’ (unfulfilled) ambitions, your parents’ choice. But still, your geography of life changes dramatically.
In this expansion phase, you encounter plenty of new people from different walks of life, cultures, diverse accents… and different geographies. You are with like-minded people, for the first time in your life, it’s about interests and passions. And geographies merge.
This is the most common scenario, it’s definitely not everybody’s route. Let’s stick with it for the sake of the argument.
Your network broadens. You might even move to another city, which is especially interesting if you are coming from a small town.
The world is made of networks. All you know, you hear from someone, either in physical reality or online. All the opportunities spread through networks as well. Also, unconscious mimicry is a serious thing. You mimic those you spend time with.
Your network of people, places and experiences, continues to flourish.
It’s probably smart to start working and be as socially (pro)active as early as possible. Understanding of the world, and yourself consequently, happens earlier.
Getting out of the familiar social topology is enhancing.
Act 3: Broadening the Network (and Horizons)
I was so fascinated with it a year or two ago. Let me explain.
I started analyzing some of my friends and the ways they “end”/“close” their lives at some point, too early. Nothing against it, just an observation, and how I want to go against it. People marry people from their cities, the ones they met 20 years ago, without thinking of stepping outside. The pool of possible options, if you think about it, is very small. Friendships are also closed, strong like concrete. There’s certainly some beauty in it. Life-long friends are romantic, but it’s also a cage in this context if the birth lottery isn’t ever questioned. It’s claustrophobic!
Anyway, why stop? If life is gradually unfolding in new territories, why not go further?
I write “Internet” with a capital “I” because I believe it’s literally the best thing ever.
Imagine the earliest internet users for a second, when you needed to go through never-ending sound terror before connecting online. Imagine Alpha geeks. And their revelations when they figured out that space/time can be easily overcome and that they aren’t so freaky and alone after all. Word of wonders. Human beings, sharing whatever passion you might have.
Research on how the Internet is changing dating and societies blew my mind a few years ago. This is the link.
I did Corona Love Stories when Covid-19 hit, a special publishing side-project for people in long-distance relationships. We published countless stories about long-distance couples, how they met, fought travel bans and anxiety, and everything in between. Some of the experiences were so fascinating.
Act 4: What do you want to do with your life?
You’re kind of set up. You hopefully have at least 50 or more years to do whatever you want. Why stop? Why settle down? Why put chips down when it’s finally your turn?
This is the most interesting and productive phase. You’re experienced and wise enough, independent, and all the other crucial necessities.
Maybe I am hardcore here or I am just tripping, but it would be so sad not to explore every corner of the world. Or at least as much money/time allows.