Monday, June 16, 2014

Thinking Out Loud - What is the defination of a "Good Life?"


Tadaaaaa, here is to the first year completion in France. From various uncertainties to few cherished certainties, from feeling like a lost baby bird to flying a whole lot more confidently in the new whereabouts of my city, from frowning at the idea of walking long distances to gladly breaking into random sprints in the streets, from hating a long grey cold weather to sweating incessantly in the current summer season, from approaching shopkeepers with the phrase: "Est-que vous parlez en anglais un peu?"to finally being able to chatter around in sufficient french, from having no one to call "my" friend in the city to having found quite a handful of "my very dear" friends and from being unsure of myself to becoming assured that someone up there in the skies is still looking out for me, this is how my first year in France turned out to be! Life, I would insist on saying so, is good!


What is a standard definition of a 'good life' anyways? Is it in the story of a girl who had to get shot in her head multiple times only to survive the trauma and than live to talk about it, get famous and earn tons of awards and grants or in the joy of a little kid who manages to earn just sufficient cash everyday after cleaning many dozens of windscreens under a scorching sun so that he can return with eatables for his little sister and old mother back in his little roofless 'home'?  A fatherless family managing to afford a small rental apartment by working double shifts and feeling content about it define a "good life"or a rich teenager who never gets to share the dinner table with his parents but can afford all the latest gadgets he puts his finger on is living a good life?


Do we choose to turn out how we turn out to be as we grow up? For a little while, lets put the conditioning aside, the experiences themselves have a lot to do with how we shape up to become someone. Whether we believe in a God or not, we can't deny the fact that we don't get to choose a lot of situations and people we end up being born around, crossing the paths with and becoming associated with. A rich kid didn't choose to be born in a rich family and neither did a poor kid had the choice. The constant absence of those rich parents because they are too busy earning a fortune to buy materialistic symbols of their love for their child wasn't something the child asked for. On the other hand, the apparently "materialistically unprivileged' kid did not get to select poverty over an extremely loving mother who will readily stay hungry to give her share of bread to her kid. Now, do we still have a right to judge which one of these are living genuinely a "good life"? It's been four weeks that the kid with latest and pricey gadgets hasn't yet been able to show his winning project to his parents so he can be hugged for a reward, however, probably they found about his success in an email from the school and that answers the many thousands that has been transferred into his bank account lately. Now, can he buy something as simple as a "hug" from those bucks?

That kid with just one incomplete meal a day learned to say thank you on the streets today. He goes back to his paper and glue held hut shaped home and flaunts this bit of English in front of his mother and gets squeezed by her in a long embrace out of sheer delight and pride of her son. And then they both agree on putting his day's earning aside by skipping on a dinner despite hunger so the next day they can add a bit more to it so to buy some cheap flour and lentils supply for one month. The kid hates the fact that he can't take his mother for a check up concerning her recent incessant cough and weakness and how his biggest ambition is to be so rich one day that nothing that he desires for himself or his mother may be out of his access.

So is it all a matter of perception or that case of human nature's undefinable desire of wanting more and better? So the rich kid in need of his parent's affection is wrong to be asking for "more" and better" than pricey presents and the child spending his childhood in labor is being thankful for his mother's love by still wishing to acquire material wealth and happiness?

If we think about it, do we really get to question their choices and how they grow up to become? The parents who probably miss their child too and are making up for their absence in his big achievements with their hard earned money or the mother who has always been there to share a smile, offer a kiss or a hug, sometimes even unnecessarily but cannot afford to buy her kid a new shirt in years, do they get to be  blamed for their respective offspring's desire for love or wealth?

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I have learned that our conditioning have a lot to do with who we are but only by acknowledging it, we can choose to become what we want to be by interpreting our experiences in the way we deem suitable to our consciousness. Not every poor kid grows up to become an angry and competitive "I want it all" personality and not every rich lad grows up to be an arrogant character. People desire things that they have never had or felt and it's possible that they will end up living a lifetime pursuing what they want and however they deem it to be possible.

Of all that each one of us is seeking in life, in my personal opinion, love is the most complicated desire. Those who are looking for financial stability in life may disagree with me and I respect their disagreement but my point is that when en route looking to be loved, you never know if that kind of love you will receive is going to be how you need it to be. The thing is "We can not customize love." Unlike a car (non-existent for now), a big bungalow (probably under construction somewhere in the world) or a 24 carat diamond necklace (which I will surely own by my 7th life), we cannot have someone's admittance of love adjusted according to our needs to be sufficiently supported, respected or even acknowledged the way we want it to. No, it's not called controlling the emotion of someone else towards you but it's the misery of those who know what it is that's missing in a randomly thrown statements of love's declaration. Their misery lies in hearing the words but not being able to feel the warmth of the emotion that they have always been seeking.

For the last noes, the most satisfying knowledge that I have acquired over the course of previous one year as I evolved outside my comfort zone, is that "No one" is entirely a good person or a bad person. We are all faced by a choice everyday between being good and bad. The good and bad that, too, has been defined by others for us. What a giver may assume to be a good gesture may not be what a receiver is truly in need of. That doesn't make either one of them "bad" or "wrong". We all here, in our lifetimes, are constantly battling either with the ignored or the hungry child within us. We all are here committing loads of errors hoping no one get hurts while we continue getting hurt by our own decisions. This, my dear, is life as I understand it.


So what, I think, is a good life? A life with some uncertainty, a life with the feeling where you know that someone up there is playing the chess of your life and your gotta be a good game, taking each barrier, knight or whatever else there is on the life's chess board and move along fearlessly through some loss, some winning and some moves resulting in nothing but an experience. There will always be a bit of uncertainty which will probably last forever for me. I myself need it to last because it reminds me with each exhale the reason why I must inhale again. The French language learning bit, however, will only resolve further each passing month. Ting!