Childhood and adulthood

It makes me vulnerable to tell this story, but I guess vulnerability is essential to our human nature and there’s too much time wasted in hiding it. If I had to tell one major story, it would have to be about my mother. She is one of the most maternal, caring, self-sacrificing people I have ever known. As a compassionate person, and because her family were quite poor, she decided to work hard and go into Medicine. To be a female doctor where she came from was not a small achievement. But at the same time, she had two children. She married into a Medical family too, so she was expected to succeed in her career. Now, the point where I entered, she was already trying to marry the domestic and the professional aspects of her life. When she was in India, offered the chance to study and work in the UK, I was only two, and my sister was seven. Under a sense of duty, she was encouraged to leave me with my Nani, my maternal grandmother. I cannot complain about how my Nani was towards me: I was totally loved and cared for. But something about this has left its mark on me: I didn’t know my father because he left the country to better his career when I was born, and soon I would not know my mother too well either. Gradually, my mother became a stranger. When I turned five and could start school, I was brought to the UK, but this was now very hard for me because I thought of my grandparents as my carers. Also, as my sister and I grew up, we had to deal with my parents’ very unsettled careers that involved babysitters, moving around and periods left with different relatives.

That gap of not knowing my parents has never really closed. Certainly, to know someone as an infant is very different than knowing them later on. Infants have no judgement. I hardly remember my parents that way. I mainly remember their strange features, not really associating them as my own tribe. Then, I had to also adjust to a new culture in the UK, so I felt even more alone with no one around that knew me, spoke my alien language, someone who would be a real friend. Except, thankfully, there was my sister. Dealing with her own issues, but at least she was there.

All this has impressed on my memory a feeling of grief and sorrow. I don’t know if it is mine or my mother’s sorrow at the choices she had to make. More than anything, this affects me now in my relationship with my children. As early as I could remember, I had the strong desire to form a bond with my children where I would always be involved with their lives. But, knowing the fragility of the human experience, it also became a fear that, what if I can’t achieve this? And in this grappling, there has had to be a huge letting-go, that I can’t control what experiences are meant for my children. Just as I couldn’t control what experiences shaped my own childhood. And in that realisation, there is certainly a grief at how everything seems so vulnerable, but also a search for something enduring. Surely, love endures the human fragility and shows its power within and beyond our human limitations.

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The apologies you never got…

Human relationships are strange in that we don’t know how something we said or did stacks up in the universe. We don’t know the history-future-karmic stuff that relates to each thing. We don’t know what a comment we made meant to someone, nor a gesture.

But there are times with hindsight, when we can see that something felt unfair to us. Or in other situations, we reacted unfairly to someone. Unknown knowledge becomes a little more known, better understood. For instance, our boasting about our kids or our lifestyle could make someone feel uncomfortable or competitive, or we could feel judged as inferior by another person bragging to us. ┬áIn situations where such emotions get aroused, or reactions are created, there is usually a karmic string attached…necessary for our own growth of consciousness. We can go about trying to ‘put things right’, by manipulating what appears as our external, objective world, not realising that the objects are a secondary appearance.

If there is immediate need, most would respond to a situation without calculation or mental commentary. But if we are pondering the ‘shoulds’ and ‘should nots’, then the judgemental mind is further trapped into the karmic thread which created the situations in the first place. Often the thinking mind takes hold with strong force or habit, and there’s not much we can do. But the moment we realise this, is the moment of true ‘choice’, where we can become the observer of this play rather than the actor trapped in its template.

The work we do within is always forgiveness. Not as an excuse for harmful behaviour, but as a surrender and letting go, with the knowledge that we do not know the reasons. This is forgiveness towards the apologies we never got, and also the ones we did not utter.

Relationship with the Self

Last night as I was doing my evening meditation, I started thinking about relationships and whether anything in life is truly eternal. Is there anything that can never be lost? If so, what?

Straight away, all the things that WON’T last sprang to mind. The body will die. Possessions will be lost. People will change and eventually leave the world. Even memories will fade over time. When nothing can be relied on as constant, what is there left over?

Thinking about this strips away so much of what we have created around us: things, activities, possessions. All that is left as a constant within us is our own consciousness (the ‘I’ which experiences everything). There may be one other thing that’s always there but somehow not there: the passing of time. If all you had to really rely on as a constant in your life was TIME with YOU, would it be enough to make you happy? That’s the situation we are in, and instead of being limiting or lonely, it can be one of the most liberating things we experience: self-awareness and contentment with the self.

But how does this affect relationships? Surely we are not expected to live like hermits, not enjoying the company of our loved ones? I truly feel that deep, ‘real’ relationships are one of the most joyful aspects of life. Realising our own independence (emotional independence) from other people actually enriches our bonds. They, like us, are eternal and independent, so when we form a bond it is only out of love, free-will and joy, not neediness.

We create so many invisible ‘contracts’ with people. You do x,y,z for me and I’ll give you a,b,c in return. This kind of expectation makes relationships into business deals motivated by self-interest, and we begin to resent people or feel guilty within when contracts are not fulfilled (which is BOUND to happen at some point because no one can act like a robot according to our instructions at all times – relationships are not just limited to office hours, after all). Then we get into such a mess that we start feeling disharmony and the joy of life literally diminishes.

But if we come without any contracts, we realise that truly we are in a continuous relationship with no-one but ourselves (or, another way to see it is that we are in relationships with the WHOLE world in different ways at different times). In this way, expectations dissolve and we meet out of choice, love and joy.

Going within ourselves and seeing our emotional independence is not just good for the self; it helps all those we love.