She sobbed uncontrollably, unhappy that she couldn’t get to watch her favorite video series on Netflix because the weekend is over. She is merely 8, and yet she couldn’t accept that the rule to adhere was ‘No TV come Sunday night’.
She was of the age where the idea of who she was and how she could satisfy her wants and needs was beginning to flourish. At this age, her wants and needs are simple, often at the mercy of her parents and elder siblings. Her favorite food to eat out, her favorite games to play, her friends to play with, her favorite TV shows to watch. Getting these wants fulfilled was mostly within the control of her father, her mother and her elder teenage sisters. There was an acceptance of who she was in our eyes, we knew her character and adjusted accordingly.
Meanwhile, her elder sisters’ wants and needs have evolved over the years, getting ever more complicated. Now, they are also influenced by the outer circle of friends and schoolmates, uncles and aunties, and last but not least, cousins.
Now, the margin to be disappointed has also enveloped around this outer circle. There are higher chances of being disappointed by outside circumstances than within the family circle of parents and siblings. This is where they begin to understand that life can be cruel, people can be cruel if we don’t meet their expectations or we don’t satisfy their wants and needs.
As for us, the adults, expectations of what life can offer would tend to be a bit more realistic. We can get disappointed because when we engage and interact with the outer circles of our life, reality can really differ from the expectations that we have built within our hearts and minds.
Our wants and needs get very complicated, as quite often, these wants and needs also include the wants and needs of our loved ones. My wife’s disappointment on an unwanted outcome will certainly be on my mind as well. The same can be to see my elder daughter not excelling in something they expected to be. As parents, we too feel their disappointment. We too feel their sadness.
Within this family circle of ours, the wants and needs of each of us individually converge and swirl around us, creating emotional whirlwinds. We swing, from joyful happiness to abject sadness, as we helplessly navigate through these whirlwinds. A bit like dried leaves in the monsoon drains after the torrential rain. I might have gone overboard with the euphemism, but I really do feel helpless as our search for everlasting peace and bliss while being caught up with life, like that leave in the monsoon drain, is virtually impossible.
The Gurus, the saints, the sages have figured this out. They’ve compelled us through their teachings that the one way we can achieve a perpetual state of bliss and peace is to accept. The less we expect from our surroundings, the more we accept that we really have no say on why many of our wants and needs won’t be satisfied. Like that leaf, we’re going down that monsoon drain, whether we like it or not. We might as well enjoy the ride.
My problem is, this is the paramount of ‘Easier said than done’. I’ve understood the idea of accepting. Accepting people for who they are, and not try to change them or teach them a lesson so they would change. Accepting that results happen due to unseen circumstances (or as some of us call ‘bad luck’). Accepting that death is upon us at any time, slow or quick.
But I’ve yet to realize and practice this. It’s hard. I know we have a choice. We can accept our circumstances, and accept that it’s the Hukum or Order that we’ve got to go through these whirlwinds whether we like it or not. But to actually experience the feeling of being still, and not be happy or sad or angry in a moment in that whirlwind, is too far scarce in my memory.
I guess I can only ask for guidance through the teachings of our Gurus, our Saints and Sages, that I learn to enjoy that ride down the monsoon drain without expecting anything but a ride that I have no control or say.
Jagdesh Singh, a Kuala Lumpur-based executive with a US multinational company, is a father of three girls who are as opinionated as their mother
* This is the opinion of the writer, organisation or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Asia Samachar.
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