Now usually this phrase is used to talk about times when a person wants to show off his capability, versatility and experience.
I plan to do just the reverse. I’m going to tell you exactly how ineffective and naïve I’ve been in so many ways. In the past.
(Thankfully. I’ve grown with time, and seen myself change over the years… Though of course I still have the odd Alec telling me to “be mature”… as if I aren’t already! Duh…)
Nobody’s perfect, right? But I’m getting there :-)
It’s the journey that matters, the joy isn’t in the destination.
Or at least that’s what they say.
So I saw this friend lying to his girlfriend when we were out together. While he insisted that she wasn’t possessive, I presumed she wouldn’t be too happy to know that he and I were gallivanting for hours and having an awesome time. Which is precisely why he didn’t tell her the truth.
It was easy for me to comment on his behaviour and criticise hers, but it was a bitter realisation for me that I, too, have had a similar disposition and been in the same situation.
He went on to elaborate the girl’s other behaviours viz calling repeatedly when he was with his gang, and expecting him to talk endlessly to her on the phone while his buddies waited. And I listened quietly, reserving my thoughts and spontaneous retorts.
I had been in the girl’s shoes not too many years ago.
The next couple of minutes were enough for me to realise that people don’t lie out of choice. They lie because they want to avoid fights and hurt. They want to protect the ones they love from annoyance and sorrow, and that is why they hide the truth.
They want their partner to accept their preferences but when they suspect disagreement, the easy and only way out is to hide facts by either completely distorting reality or by concealing bits that could cause chaos.
I’m gonna give the entire world the benefit of a doubt and make a blanket statement: Each one of us prefers to tell the truth if only it were accepted with calmness and without judgement.
Wouldn’t life be so much more uncomplicated if we could tell each other the truth?
Obviously we don’t live in utopia, and this question ought to go unanswered. How could I even desire such perfection?! The next thing I’ll be asking for is paradise on earth!
(Though of course, the wise ones among us know it exists right here already if only we open our eyes and sense its presence…)
There have been umpteen times when I saw individuals and groups out to do something that I’d already tried before. Like doing something for the first time. Or doing something in a particular manner. And I’ve either succeeded beyond my wildest dreams or failed miserably or learnt something new.
(That’s the beauty of life – you never walk away empty-handed, you either have a memory to cherish or a lesson to remember.)
On most of these occasions, I’ve felt the need to enrich the person with my experience so as to make his going easier. And then I’ve held myself back. Coz it’s that person’s lesson to learn. Not mine to liberally pass on unsolicited.
Free advice is as welcome as unjustified punishment. And why not? It kills the excitement and novelty.
In fact, even when sought, hang on to your perception and knowledge. Let the other person experiment for him/herself. His learning and perspective might be remarkably different from yours. (Unless of course, it’s something lethal and risky. Not a merry thing to have guilt on your heart, right?)
I admit that it’s also very convenient to say “Oh, I’ve done that” when someone animatedly shares their first experience with you. For example, right after I visited Binsar, my uncle went there for a vacation. I’m not kidding when I tell you that he elaborated upon everything that happened in the journey, right from which train he took to where he ate what. Duh! I’d already done all of that just 2 weeks ago and told him to expect it! And here he was, sharing every moment with me as if it was something I’d neither heard nor read of earlier…
Just as I was about to say something smart, my conscience came forth and forbade me from being nasty. His need to talk was greater than my need to snap. It was his way of sharing his joy, and all he expected me to do was listen. So be it…
Ditto when someone younger (in either age or experience or both) comes with a hop-skip-jump and relates his/her “oh-gosh-you-must-hear-this” tale. And as I listen, I think back to the time I did it and itch to say how things had gone with me.
But, as I just said… sometimes silence is golden. So, curb the silver speech and listen. Enjoy the moment with the first-timer, laugh at his follies, smile at his wins, grin at his vivaciousness… But hold your tongue when you want to display your wit and pride. Some people merely stay mum to smirk at the end and voice, “I knew it but I wanted to see how you fared…” Not happening.
Damn, this post is getting to be another of my self-improvement rants. Duh!
So, anyway, I’ve made life hell for a lot of people by being possessive, short-tempered, demanding, rigid, and untrusting. All coz I was insecure for various reasons. All the times when I thought I was being intelligent and reasonable, and how easily I meted out conditions that others around me were supposed to fulfil.
Now, with over 2.5 decades of life behind me, I realise how much I’ve grown and how much I’ve learnt. I cannot discount any of the lessons I’ve learnt, nor would I prefer to learn them other than how I finally did. It’s made me who I am. And that’s the best way to learn. Yourself. Not through someone else. Experience things first-hand. So what if it hurts? So what if it’s not sweet as you thought it was? At least it’s your own to appreciate.
And hold that thought… Tell it to yourself, coz others will figure out what they have to…
Sooner or later.
That’s their decision and destiny.
Yours, you focus on.
In good faith, I remain…