I was talking to a friend the other day about taking opportunities which have no guarantees. And I pointed out that, in life there aren't really any guarantees anyway - are there?
Reading recently a piece of research on family life in the Western world, I found out about a report which put forward the idea of "temporary marriages". The thinking was, in response to society's lack of commitment and obsession with the freedom to choose, the idea of traditional "marriage for a life" could be to changed to being a semi-commitment lasting only a few years. Following that, you would have the freedom to move on to another partner or else renew your temporary marriage for another few years.
As someone who has little to no respect for adults who identify themselves as commitment-phobes I will let you guess my immediate response to this. However, that did not stop me from realising that actually, that does seem to reflect the way we are beginning - through choice or otherwise - to live our lives.
This isn't only the case with relationships. The days of assuming you will own your own house and hoping to pay it off before retirement are long gone. I realise I'm speaking from within what my friend calls my "London bubble" but this doesn't seem to be a trend that ends at the M25. Many of us will continue to rent long after our last flush of youth; even when we marry or partner up and/or have children.
Similarly, how many people do you know who own their own cars rather than simply go for the pay monthly option allowing them to switch up to a newer and better model when they get bored?
Jobs. A "job for life" used to be something held in esteem; something to aim for and to be proud of. To work your way up within a company and to gain the experience and rewards which come with it used to be the norm. Now however, if you're in a job longer than five years people want to know why. Friends ask if you're not bored yet, potential employers question whether your decision to stay put is reflective of a lack of ambition and your years of service are no longer parallel to a steady year on year growth of income.
This used to bother me a whole lot more than it does now. I enjoy spontaneity and change as much as the next person but I also feel there is a comfort in knowing that the rug isn't going to be pulled out from underneath you without warning. I'm by nature a planner; I've always known where I'm going and what I'm doing next and prided myself on that steadfast quality. But a few years ago my ex-husband said he had "changed his mind" about being married so he wanted a divorce. That was a huge blow to me at the time but it has given me a different outlook on life and I've learned to take it in snippets. For me that means considering opportunities for their present benefits and not necessarily worrying about whether they will work in the long term. This can mean everything from buying reduced groceries with a short shelf life, to not putting pressure on a relationship to be the one and instead just allowing it to take its natural course. That doesn't mean I don't have expectations, it just means I manage them and I trust God to see me through, whatever happens. If I'm walking in the dark and I shine a lamp on the journey ahead, I'll be able to see the path, but I won't actually be able to see where I'm going. I only really need a lamp so I can see my feet, not the whole journey.
So, back to the conversation I was having with my friend. She asked me what would I do if I was offered this opportunity; this great opportunity with no strings attached but also no guarantees. I told her I would go for it. Because yes it means unbinding yourself from the comfort and/or constraints of a committed career, but also I just think, who knows? This could be the best thing you've ever done. You never can tell with life. It's always subject to change.