When my son asked me as I was cuddling him during his bedtime yesterday, “Mumma what do you want to become when you grow up?” I was taken aback. I ask him why he was asking me this question since he already knew I am a grown-up mom. He in his sleep-hazy voice said, “because I see you trying to make it work every day. You paint, you write poems, take photographs, and you write your blog and research papers. I see you take part in competitions, conferences, and meetings. So, when you grow up what do you want to be?” I stared into his 9-year-old wise eyes and wondered at the unconscious words of wisdom that he was trying to impart to his 40-year-old so-called mentor and guide. I smiled and snuggled into him further to put him back to sleep. But my thoughts were wide awake, and I was far from being comfortable. Have we wondered about his synthesis of our restlessness? This morning as I was on my workstation, I asked myself am I waiting to make it all work? Is there more growing up left? I guess this is our film titled the good, the bad, the ugly and the truth for us as grown-ups.
Each day when we wake up, what is the first thought that comes to our mind? The happiness, that sadness, the motivation or that depression, are many such cravings there in all of us? Perhaps there are some of you like me who think there is a need to do more with my life, work, and mind? I call it to dream on but here my question is, are we all satisfied, or do we consciously try to be? Do we want more from the part that has been hidden in the chamber of secrets because it does not bring enough moolah? The talents that we have, that we think of as extracurricular aspects of our wholesome personality growth. What if we are settled yet crave for that bit more? Perhaps the artist in amongst all of s wants to peek out occasionally and we shove it down deep enough because we know it can tumble our serene and stable existence? Am I original, Am I the only one? I guess not! Because there are so many amongst all of us who at one point want to bring out that side in the open that can bring real joy in our being but also has the power to destroy the stable, sustainable boundaries that we have created around us with so much of professionalism and hard labour.
Have we swapped our needs with wants? Our need to earn monetary independence and support seems to have bridged the gap between our journey of want and need. I am not saying there is anything wrong with it or in no way am I denying the importance and relevance of becoming economically self-reliant. But when a child around us realises and subconsciously recognises that there is a gap between our reach and readiness to attain something that we so fervently want, because of our obligation and desperation to make our ends meet and bring in the monetary gratification in our homes; there are some major fractures around the walls that we have built around us. That does not mean that we can’t be happy without the things that we dream of or wish for. But the cavity that is developed eventually widens the divide between our personalities and aspirations. We end up thinking and identifying the decisions for our life to be correct and justified. We even consider them to be essential in their totality.
The problem escalates when we are leaving this as a legacy for the next generation to follow. With our belief in the correctness of our present-day decisions, in a way, we are making them believe that there don’t have a choice. Moreover, the choice that we are conditioning them to make and take in their future is their want and need, merged as one! When my son asked me this question yesterday, I realised shockingly that it was as if he unconsciously was realising that I dream to be something else than what I am now. That is in no way healthy but, what is more, dangerous is that he might eventually think this segregation to be so-called normal and essential for his survival. He and many little brains like him across the globe might readily believe in this truth created by their adult patrons. Yes, many of them might surely become practical adults themselves, perhaps even more successful than we can imagine, and a professional that I and you as a parent, guardian, and the society in general desire in an ideal scenario. But life is harsh and there is no perfect scenario waiting for many amongst us. What I fear most as a parent, guide, and mentor, is that when he might one day cuddle his loved one to sleep with these same questions in his mind, and when that loved one will ask him, what did he want to become when he grows up, he like me will fall short of an answer! This vicious circle will continue. That craving to be something else may sound like over-ambition to some, but it is that harsh reality that eventually becomes a permanent afterthought for him and many like him. And it might then be too late to realise that there was a major gap between his needs and want just like yours and mine! There is a serious need to check our reactions to our experiences at the individual level as these reactions have the power to become concrete impressions in young minds that are way more sensitive to things that we adults take in our stride. I realise that I don’t want my future generation to keep on waiting to grow up even when it grows up and I know many like me might still feel the need to be something more when they grow up!