- 12 Jan - 18 Jan, 2019
What Do We Really Want In Life?
- 01 Sep - 07 Sep, 2018
What do we really want in life? When we were younger we wanted the usual. The things that we are made to believe were important for us to be happy. An education, a cushy job and a paycheck. The bigger the paycheck, the greater the success, followed by greater pleasure and happiness in life. Once that milestone was achieved, we were told that we needed a spouse. A person to complete us. A person to fill the void that existed within us. And if God forbid we said that we were complete in ourselves, we would have to face the emotional torment of being single and eyed suspiciously till we caved in.
Thus, followed marriage, children and then bringing them up, and passing on to them the same reasons and meanings of life that we were taught when we were young, clueless and helpless. Thus began the vicious cycle.
I’m not questioning the reasons behind it all or even the results. But I am questioning the fact that all of the above is equated with the cause and effect of being happy. Maybe my happiness lies in helping others. Maybe I feel more comfortable and happy on my own.
A little too late for that, I thought to myself as I leapt out of bed with one glance at the clock.
Hardly any time left to debate, I wondered.
Saima was sleeping peacefully. Tabby was lying at her feet cuddled into a ball and literally snoring. As I looked at the perfect picture, I thought to myself that at this moment this is all I needed to be happy. The morning sunshine peaking through the curtains, the soft breathing of my wife as she slept her woes away and our tabby that had practically no care in the world only love to give and take from his doting mother.
I quickly went in for a quick shower. As I came out, I could hear Saima making my breakfast in the kitchen.
Tabby was still fast asleep. I dressed up and went into the kitchen.
“How are you Saima?” I said cheerfully.
“I’m ok. Are you ready? Let’s have breakfast.” She generally was matter-of-fact. I didn’t take it wrongly.
“Saima? What do you want in life that will make you happy?” I knew I was running late but I couldn’t help myself.
“Are you trying to make me feel depressed?” She stopped mid-way with her mug of tea in hand and glared at me.
“No Saima. I have no intention to disturb you. It’s just an honest question. Plus from now on, everything doesn’t have to be about Noor.”
There, I said it and come what may. I felt proud of the way how I was so comfortable in taking her name and not feeling guilty or sad. Had I finally healed? God works in surprising ways I thought.
Thank goodness Saima was on the same page. She even seemed to smile a little.
“Well, you know, the regular things, like becoming rich and famous.” She even laughed. That sounded like music to my ears.
“But what really make me happy are moments like this. And peace. World peace. An end to suffering and hunger and disease and genocide. My students make me happy. I feel valued around them. Their success makes me proud and happy. Food makes me immensely happy. You know that Fawad! And cheese cake, New York style cheese cake that will always make me happy. I like the simple things. I also like to make you happy. Your happiness makes me happy.”
I was sitting there grinning ear to ear when she said, “For a lot of years, I was made to believe that a child will make me feel happy. I was taunted for being childless and I was made to feel like less than the average woman because I didn’t have children. I’m sure women go through the same stigma when they don’t get married at the “right” age. And then society will concoct a number of reasons throughout our lives to make sure that we are always unhappy, or questioning our motives or intentions in life. What I’m trying to say is that our happiness is always attached to something else and when we can’t achieve or acquire that thing or be in that particular situation we are made to feel worthless, even though in our own space we are actually immensely happy. This is the worst thing about being alive.”
I understood what she meant. And I felt the same way many times. We were all trying to satisfy the great gods of society while sacrificing our peace and our pleasure in that maddening unquenchable thirst of consumerism, competition, and social status or worse the social media. Instead of taking care of the needy and helping the poor, we were all satisfying our ego and trying to compete with each other’s fates in the world. I mean let’s be honest, nothing really was in our control yet when we had it and the next person, didn’t we gushed over them with pride as if we were the ones that accomplished it on our own, when a huge part of it was in the hands of lady fortune and destiny.
So how can we break free? I guess we should all follow our dreams from the word go. I knew being a teacher was what Saima wanted and she was in reality following her dream. Was I following mine in punching numbers and making sheets balance? I guess I did like my job. Minimal human contact.
Numbers that I loved.
So the main goal was to pursue what made you happy. But wasn’t that also mildly egoistical?
We still hadn’t solved world hunger, poverty or ended genocide.
So I guess our real happiness lies in making others happy like Saima had suggested and, in our humble ways through helping and paying back to the community.
“Hey you! Don’t you want to go to work?” she brought me out of my reverie.
“And lose a chance to worship the great gods of capitalism? I’m gone. See you in the evening.”
With that, I picked up my stuff and left! •