I have often wondered whether this is an active choice, a curse, or simply a matter of circumstance. At my age and from my cultural background almost everyone I know is married and has children. At times I wonder whether it is the lifestyle I have adopted, but at other times partition blame to the circumstances which life have tasked me with. Just the other day it happened again. A moment glimpse, and she – a stranger – caught my eye; my breath literally, taken away. But as with every other similar opportunity, some momentary, just minutes, others prolonged over weeks and months, the old Arab adage holds true: an opportunity is akin to a cloud in a sky; rare and infrequent.
Arranged Introductions, But…
For a single man in my mid 30s, expectations are high. One ought to be established, I am not. And as someone now living their fourth decade of life, I’ve adopted norms and expectations, with which, 10 years ago, I may have been considerably more flexible.
It is not to say that there are no single women, on the contrary, they are many. The Muslim introduction events are full of them – as they are, of men. The dilemma is more of a schism related to upbringing and expectation that becomes all the more complex with age.
What am I looking for you might ask? Not too much I once thought. Good manners, good character, good personality, confident but not aggressive. Independent yet family orientated. It is pretty much, in parallel to faith, the middle path, a little bit of everything but not too much of anything. Perhaps the worst analogy is a jack of all trades but a master of none. Yet herein lays one of the problems. Some months ago I was introduced to someone, a lovely person. Problems arose and the matter came to an end. Months prior, there was another introduction. And so on. It has become a cycle of raised expectation with a dramatic fall on each and ever occasion. It tasks my mind, it troubles my soul and it stains the heart, weakening it at every turn. Pained, there is no other way to describe it; God forgive that it becomes apathy.
I went through religious learning at a much earlier age and have found my comfort zone. Many others are only now going through theirs. I am clear cut in what I believe, how I live and what I do. Others change from week to week. Of course these are not absolutes, nor are they indicative of a problem; faith, direction and inspiration are and should be sought throughout life. The problem is the learning curve which often begins with a stricter adoption of faith before it settles into a more balance position. Many of the single women I meet are going through a spiritual revival and are at the beginning of that curve. In my own comparatively liberal mindset, we are ought of synch.
Living with In-laws?
I feel at times as a character in a movie visited by the ghost of Christmas past intent on showing me my path had I selected different choices.We all have individual circumstances, I am no different. Thus being flexible is something engrained deeply into my psyche. And yet the older I get the easier it becomes for me to find fault, any reason why not to progress further.
I look back at and remember one of the first introductions made to me, a beautiful lady, my age, wonderful character, but her family’s expectation of me, even then, in my early 20s, was significantly higher; I simply wasn’t ‘successful’ enough for their daughter.
Here, to be clear, success relates to both wealth and professional achievement. A problem I faced then, just as I do now, is that I do not have my own property. With soaring property prices, shy of a miracle I do not imagine that to be remedied any time soon. Though as I have discovered with time, it is less about having my own home and more about now wanting to live with in-laws.
To me, having parents at home is a blessing. To many successful single women, despite originating from an Asian background, the notion is alien. Sure, we all want, need and should have our own privacy. There is nothing that I would love more than to be married, adopting the cliché of ‘settling down,’ and having a family – I look on in envy at any and every one I know who has been blessed so. But for whatever reason God has put me here where I am, instead of there where I would like to be.
It is said that one shouldn’t complain to other people, instead, complaints, concerns, requests, gratitude and thanks should be directed to God alone, so I do not raise the subject with my friends, preferring instead to address them with my Creator.
Yet every time I think to raise this as subject in my prayers, I am reminded of the blessings that have been bestowed upon me so I feel ashamed to complain. Instead, I will continue to pray and ask of God, but I will not complain. This approach isn’t pride, rather, in my understanding, it reflects, to me, manners.
The cycle continues.