Perspectives- #3 Chris Huntington

All of us go through rough times in our lives. We battle it out, every time as if that is the last ever battle we fight. Sometimes, we feel tired and let it pass. I am reminded of this quote by Robert Frost that I used to tell to myself during tough times.

The best way out is always through

It is also true that every person who crosses our lives teach us something. It could be something simple or major, but they do it, knowingly or otherwise. It is on these lines that this post talks. The post is about a person who goes to a prison to teach the inmates and ends up learning a lot from one of the inmates.

The author shares his angst as a parent, who has adopted a son. He expresses his sadness on the fact that the boy would grow up oblivious to his own culture and roots. There is this truth that though the boy is better off with the author in terms of material wealth, he would still lose the old charm of his native. The author seems to realise this truth, which is surprising. In a time when people migrate in search of better material lives, not shying away from forgetting their roots, this author ponders on the value lost. It was fresh and strange to me, both at the same time.

We all have seen or experienced brain-drain at some point or the other. We also have this raging debate of our native languages dying out without anybody bothering to save them from extinction. It makes me think how much is all of it worth? Are we turning more selfish as days go by? Are we just bothered about ourselves and our families? Somewhere in the equation, aren’t we losing out on the bigger picture? I am not sure. These remind me of a poem by Bharathidasan, that I learnt during my high school.

“தன்பெண்டு தன்பிள்ளை சோறு வீடு 
சம்பாத்தியம் இவையுண்டு தானுண் டென்போன் 
சின்னதொரு கடுகுபோல் உள்ளம் கொண்டோன் 
தெருவார்க்கும் பயனற்ற சிறிய வீணன்“

The one who stays content with the welfare of his wife,

kids, food and wealth,

is the one who is of a heart that is as big as a mustard seed,

useless to anybody else.

We are becoming obsessed with our own happiness and fulfillment that we tend to undermine one major truth of life. Everybody is fighting their own battles. For each, their sufferings and issues form the crux of their existence. They go about those issues in a Do-or-Die mode. One just cannot blame them. It is the same fear of losing out that keeps them going. In a way, it has become a matter of survival of the fittest.

The author shares with us, one of the major lessons he learnt from one of the prisoners, Mike.

Be the best prisoner you can be.

This statement is a compassionate one if you think about it. It does not underestimate the struggle of other people. In a way, it acknowledges that one need not be similar to another in terms of problems and that all of us have certain limits and boundaries within which we may have to restrict ourselves in dealing with our issues. The statement gives credit to that component and implores us to put up our best show wherever we are and whenever it is. The author is right when he says that not everybody can do everything in life. In fact, even on an individual level, it might not be possible to do everything that one might have wished for. In such cases, the author tells us to live our best life, in any circumstance we may find ourselves in.

It is rare to find words of compassion around us. We all are in such a hurry that we fail to see the presence of another person near us. We do not really know who our own neighbor is and what they do for a living. For all we know, we might be sharing a wall with a serial killer, who is perennially high on LSD! (Just saying). We do not care anymore for such things, do we? There is one angle of people becoming sexually frustrated and do horrible stuff to kids, I agree. But we must realise that we would probably be the last generation who practically grew up, eating the same food as our friends in the neighborhood since all the families adopted us as their own, without any bias. We would also be the last generation who celebrated festivals together with the entire apartment sharing crackers and good wishes.

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