The stages of life have been defined by different cultures and religions in their own diverse ways. In ancient Greece, the human life cycle was broken down into seven-year periods. In the Indian culture, we have always believed that human life can broadly be classified into four phases. In the contemporary times, the scenario is very different and there are no set rules. At times, changes occur a bit too often and sometimes, not at all. 40 is considered to be the new 20 and 60 is considered to be the new 40.
Let us have a look at the major stages of human life that can be easily discerned and discuss their significance.
Once an egg gets fertilized, a baby steps into this world after staying in the mother’s womb for about 9 months. During this stage, life begins as a single cell and slowly develops into a foetus and finally a fully formed new-born ready to commence its journey of life. This phase is generally associated with potential and hope, for the baby could become anything in future – an Einstein, a Nelson Mandela, a Tagore. Progenitors and others are full of optimism that the new life would bring something new and special into the world.
An infant grows into a toddler and then a child. During this stage, the child explores, discovers and learns in various ways – on its own, from kin and kith, the society and last but not the least, from teachers. Childhood stands for vitality, playfulness, imagination, and ingenuity. Attempts are made to inculcate ethics and virtues in the child. Most of all, it is about fun because learning is a never-ending process.
In this period, teenagers start developing a sense of independence and identity. Puberty unleashes numerous physical changes, and adolescents learn how to adapt to their changing bodies. These changes can make adolescence a confusing and stressful period. They might tend to try out different hairstyles and hobbies in their endeavor to feel more confident. It is also the stage of a teenager’s emotional, sexual, cultural, and/or spiritual passion.
This is the phase of contemplation, dedication, and fulfilling responsibilities. One looks for a suitable means of earning a livelihood, a good life-partner, nice circle of friends, and home, etc. It is during this stretch that one also bears offspring and sees to their proper upbringing as also make plans to have a relaxed retirement. It brings along with it major experiences of life, good as well as bad and makes one wiser.
This is the final chapter of life and along with retirement, it dwells upon wisdom, benevolence, and renunciation. By now, one has generally discharged most of one’s duties towards the family. Now, one likes the idea of contributing one’s bit to the societal causes. A lot many retired people volunteer for social work as also mentorship and indulge in philanthropy. In the modern era, while some elderly renounce the world, others opt for fulfilling their long-cherished dreams of travelling and enjoying themselves. That is the reason we often see them making merry with their grandchildren, going for religious and/or fun trips, and reveling in one another’s company over their favorite card games such as Indian Rummy and Seep.
There are essentially five phases in human life and each phase has its own importance. Each stage of life bestows humanity with some unique gift. We should support each stage and protect it from attempts to stifle its contribution to the human life cycle. Care must also be taken that we as also our fellow human beings live each chapter of life to the fullest because we get life only once. Kids must not be over-burdened with studies, the aged must not be abused and help should be handy for adolescents. Adults have the maximum burden on their shoulders. As such, they should also go for some means of recreation to unwind themselves. Card games like Seep and Rummy Game and would be great choices for them too! Compassion and mutual bonhomie should always prevail. By supporting each phase of human life cycle, we can ensure that all its members get adequate care so that they can blossom to the fullest and actually live life – not drag it!
Life is a journey, within and without, enjoy it.