I constantly marvel at how the past and the present can be blended into an intricate tapestry by a word, action or event. And this week while celebrating another “Christmas” I was cast into a sombre reverie by the thought of the Tsunami that struck most of South-East Asia a few years ago. My friends mother was forced to flee the family house and brave the elements and flying projectiles, with her grand-daughter nestled close to her chest, to make the long and hazardous journey away from the coast of South India. She was one of the lucky few who survived the event.
Behavioural scientists assert that if we are intent on finding our purpose in life we should go back to our grandparents, parents and the people we grew up with, and ask them what we liked doing when we were young. There is always a clue there, the experts insist, because it is invariably the thing one does best.
The sad reality is, many of us never pursue our dreams. We feel constrained by circumstances, other people’s opinions and perceptions and the overwhelming need to pay the bills; but, inevitably the biggest hindrance is oneself. So, we lead lives of quiet desperation, subsisting in a safe zone, embellishing anything that is beyond our present experience and imagination with suspicion and fear. In a sense we are getting older, but not really growing up.
While browsing the world of the Internet, I stumbled across this site Sing for Hope which is basically runs youth outreach programsthrough singing and other art forms to help underprivileged kids pursue their dreams. Sing for Hope’s Art U! program connects under-resourced youth with their potential to effect positive change through artistic expression. In the process of exploring and addressing important issues through the arts, students also learn valuable life skills including responsibility, teamwork, and accountability.
Self-acceptance is a powerful tool in the in the art of self-preservation and accomplishing our goals. So too is the gumption to say no to people and situations that are not loving to us or do not image our long-term view of life. This week in an intense discussion with a gal pal, she revealed that she desired to make a career move but felt intimidated by what her work mates were likely to say and do. At an intimate level, many of us can relate to this scenario. “Mr. Monk,” she confided, “you know that certain people won’t like to see me get through, if I barely inch forward they put a stumbling block in my way.”
“Just ignore them,” I advised, “or let them know upfront that you are aware that they don’t have your best interest at heart.”
“You could say what you like,” she contended, “if you had to deal with these vipers I am talking about, you would quit the job or go mad. And they call themselves my friends.”
As I told her, in almost half a century of living, if nothing else, I have learnt to accept and celebrate my own unique talents, abilities and looks, and to surround myself with people who, not only through their words, but also their actions, prove that they genuinely respect and care for me as I care for them. In the same breath, I am not afraid to dismiss negative alliances, and have become adept at setting emotional and physical boundaries that clearly show where I stand.
The fact is, from childhood, I have always thought within my head, painstakingly shifting through the barrage of information with which I was bombarded, trying only to keep that which was educational, empowering, positive and entertaining. I instinctively know that the guidance and love meted out to me by my childhood comforter, Ms. S, played a key role in my development. Each succeeding year, I thank the universe that we incarnated on this planet together.
If you are celebrating a birthday this weekend, make it a good one.