One Sunday afternoon in February, 2014, my husband and I sit in our living room drinking tea and chatting. My in-laws have gone to the market and we enjoy some alone time. When they come back, we are still sitting on pillows on the floor, drinking tea and talking about this and that.
The next day, my MIL confides to my husband: “When I saw you two sitting in the living room yesterday, drinking tea and talking with each other, I was a bit envious. This is something I never had. If only I could be young again today.”
In 1980, my father-in-law had just come back from the army, while my mother-in-law had come back to the city from the countryside where she had been sent to do hard work. 2 years before, in 1978, China had introduced its policy of reform and opening up. In the early 1980s, my in-laws were around the same age I am in now. They were working at the same company and a colleague offered to introduce them to each other. They agreed to be introduced to each other and tied the knot a little later. In 1981, my husband was born. My in-laws didn’t have tea and conversations on Sunday afternoons and their marriage surely had its ups-and-downs, but they were determined to go through hard times together. Or, as my father-in-law puts it today: “We were introduced to each other by a coworker, but it’s not like we couldn’t have said no to marrying the other person.”
Do you think it’s better to be young nowadays than a few decades ago? Why or why not?
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I think the circumstances today are very different from years ago. I feel that our generation is more expressive and we are not afraid to communicate our feelings which makes a huge difference.
Of course it’s better to be young today. Especially in China. There’s a bit more uncertainty and anxiety nowadays compared to living in such an enclosed environment where everything is decided for you, but that price of freedom is totally worth it!
In China, I believe it’s better now. But in the United States, it may have been better (at least easier) in 1980. The economy was better in the US, and people weren’t quite as stressed and busy. (That’s just an opinion.) I also hear about more fertility problems now for people who waited to have children.
Good point. I think the same thing you said about the US in 1980 can be said for Austria. At least job security and social benefits weren’t as much an issue then as they are now.
The same could be said for pretty much all the Western or developed countries. Life was generally easier and more comfortable a couple of decades ago, but the thing is, our comfortable living was being propped up by developing Asia. First, the Asian countries subsidised our lifestyle with cheap manufactured goods, which significantly reduced our cost of living; then they subsidised our lifestyle by lending us cheap money while depriving themselves of the comforts we in the West take for granted.
That era has now ended. China, for example, has been raising wages to increase domestic consumption and improve the standard of living for its own people. China will no longer be “the factory to the world” churning out cheap “crap” for Western consumption.
I’ve heard Chinese people speak fondly of the old days despite the oppression and poverty because things were a lot simpler back then. Now, people have many more opportunities in life but with these opportunities also come the intense pressure and competition to succeed.
It always depends on the individual’s experiences I guess. It might have varied a lot from person to person and place to place, which is why some people have better memories of old times than others.
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