I looked at the guys huddled together at the corner of the road, all dressed up in expensive clothes, with their racing bikes and premium watches. I was envious of them. No wait, I was jealous of them. Yeah, that is better! They could roam and splurge according to their whims, without any considerations or constraints, without having to care even in the least bit.
I wished I could have a life like that.
I’m pretty sure that at one point or the other, you too would have felt a pang of jealousy/envy or a sudden urge or desire seeing somebody else having something in his/her life that you don’t have. We all have such moments, and they don’t make us any less human. On the contrary, they just prove that just about everybody is vulnerable to negative feelings once in a while.
There have been times when I have felt envious of rich kids, when I have looked on wistfully at people enjoying their weekends and festivals with family members and when I have felt my solitary melancholy deepen when a happy couple passed me by on the walkway or on a bike. To make it clearer, let me give you some info about me.
For the past decade, I have been living with different guys in rented accommodations in a city that’s some 2300-2500 kilometers from my home. My nearest family member is my elder brother who lives some 600 kms away. I was the third of four kids in a middle-class joint family and we were taught the value of frugality and austerity in life by our parents who, despite all the impediments of a joint family, gave us the best they could. And oh, I’m single 🙂 . So it happens that whenever there’s any festival, guys around me travel to their hometowns to be with their family members. For me, it becomes a bit difficult, since the travel duration by train is like 3 days for one way (flights are out of question!). So the holidays, generally a day or two, prove insufficient for me, which results in my having to spend them here at my room, usually alone. Not the ideal situation to be in.
By this point you might be thinking, well this is quite shallow. This guy is whining just because he has to live away from his home and is single. What’s the big deal? A lot of us have to live like that, so man up and face whatever it is you have to. Bravo! I give a similar advice to guys who are new here, fresh out of home, into graduation, just in a little more compassionate language. The poor kid needs encouragement, not scorn. And that’s exactly the advice that I follow myself, largely. But sometimes, just sometimes, it becomes excruciatingly difficult to order the mind to follow this simple dictum. And it’s those small moments that I am talking about. Self-help articles, books and life coaches tell us all the time to be satisfied with our own lives and try not to concentrate on the worldly belongings, or rather, our lack of them. But how many of those tips and tricks do we follow in real life? How tough or easy it is to have to keep burning the midnight oil to get good marks when you have a friend who just needs to clear the exam and his dad’s contacts in industry will get him a plum job? How difficult it is not to long for home when your parents are ill and your physical distance from them doesn’t allow you to take care of them at that time? Or when you haven’t seen their faces for almost a year? Not very easy, I can tell you from personal experience. But can we live a good and healthy life inspite of whatever problems we have?
My answer – an unequivocal YES!
To start with, life isn’t supposed to be easy. No, definitely not easy. It has to be challenging, unwelcoming and downright ugly at times. It is in the difficult moments that we realise the importance of what we have vis-a-vis what we don’t have. The satisfaction that we feel when we overcome difficult challenges is immensely gratifying. Those struggles help us in becoming better as human beings and give us a better idea of what our capabilities are and how much we can endure. Mahatma Gandhi might never have felt the importance of equality of all human beings had he not been thrown out of that train coach in South Africa, had he not experienced the rampant apartheid himself. Okay, that’s a bit too ludicrous, comparing my life’s struggles with that of the Mahatma, but I guess you got the general point, that we have to fight the conditions we are faced with, play the hand we are dealt by fate in the best possible manner and hope that it all turns out well in the end. Just feeling bad for oneself and not doing anything to improve the situation won’t get us anywhere. In fact, it’ll only throw us deeper in that vicious cycle of self-pity and depression. So yes, even if I’m not as privileged as some others, I have to keep fighting till I get to a better position. And then fight some more again!
Secondly, and this is something I do quite a lot with myself, it is important to have a balanced viewpoint and a good context. I might not be a millionaire, but I have a decent, well-paying job. I might be single, but I have loving and caring family members, brother and sisters and parents. There are millions who don’t have anyone they can call Ma or Papa. There are billions in this world who can’t afford a square meal a day. At least, I don’t have to worry about that. I might be living in a rented accommodation, away from family members, but I can take solace in the fact that I have a roof on my head. I don’t have to worry about the biting cold in winter or the scorching Sun in the summers. So yes, a better perspective is important. And I try turning my mind to these thoughts whenever I feel that I’m unlucky or underprivileged. Sure, I have my problems, but I have far better living conditions than those hapless fellows. Even the richest people and the most famous celebrities have difficult issues in their lives – peace of mind, work pressure, constant spotlight and scrutiny of their private lives, fluctuating market conditions and all. So no one is always happy. And if he were, he may not be able to cherish what being happy is. It is far harder to cherish something if you have it available always, at your disposal. So the cycles of life, happiness to sorrow and back again, are important. They provide us with a sense of level-headedness. It is said that one learns more from his failures than his successes. Failures give us a chance to reflect on where we went wrong and what corrective measures are required. Such insight may be lost in the euphoria of a success. So it’s important to lose, to be alone sometimes, to long for the company of your friends and family members once in a while, so that you can realise what success is when you achieve it, what love is when you get it and what happiness is when you are with your family. Isn’t that what life’s all about-those precious moments?
As for those guys at the road corner, I ignored them and their excesses. I thought it’d be better to make a call to my mother and ask her about her well-being. That turned out to be infinitely more satisfying!
How do you feel about life and satisfaction? What are your views on struggles? Share your views in the comments section, or catch me on Twitter.