A film dialogue got me thinking recently.
When you pray for forgiveness, does god give you forgiveness or does he give opportunities to fogive?
When you ask for courage, does god give you courage or does he give you opportunities to be courageous?
That’s perhaps a better way to approach all the things you don’t like in your life. As an opportunity to do something new, different and entirely doable.
But these were my thoughts after reading When breath becomes air by Paul Kalanithi:
One random coffee with my notebook and I had to post my thoughts as they appeared- in their original form.
In these (politically and social-media driven or) charged times, I have begun to feel the need to confront the multiple dichotomies that exist within me. I feel it’s not enough to only mouth what you think you should feel. It’s also not important to only talk about what one feels. It’s necessary, for me, to bring those two planes on the same level.
It’s important to acknowledge all the areas in my life where I might not actually do as I say. I have never felt it more strongly. The more I look around, the more I see this everywhere, and in everyone. Where everyone, including me, reads one set of facts and reaches another conclusion, that suit us individually perhaps. So what makes my right more right that of that person whose opinion I despise the most?
Some dichotomies that stand out more starkly that others I can’t spot yet:
- For the feminist in me who is not able to stand up and honestly state her opinion in social situations
- For the feminist in me who is not able to be charitable to women who have no patience for my way of thinking
- For the modern person in me who constantly wonders about her worth because she does not draw a conventional salary
- For the girl/woman in me who is able to help friends think about their bodies objectively (I think) but uses extremely hateful terms with herself (and has a continuous bad relationship with the mirror)
- For the friend in me, who is not able to call out other friends for their obvious disconnect
- For the writer in me, who is not able to shake off the feeling that I have been living on the surface
- For the friend in me, who can’t believe the friends who stuck with me and wonders about those who I thought I would be stuck with
The next step perhaps is trying to reduce the distance between these two persons.
I don’t know if this holds true for parents in my generation but I am noticing (more and more) that when it comes to boys their mothers tend to be more accepting of them, as they are. Their relationship is not dependent on the how they look, or how they fare in school or how many friends are acceptable or not. Mothers of boys love them as they are, and as they grow up, tend to stay unshakable. There is blanket acceptance. This acceptance changes how the relationship evolves. It starts from always giving them what they want, whether its food or clothes or any other wish to it becoming a version of constantly wanting to serve your grown son. This acceptance is unshakeable. No other relationship in the son’s life can change this acceptance.
But girls and their mothers are never that way. Girls, from a young age, learn the nuances of looking good, being good, scoring better, constantly trying to outdo what they did the last time in order to stay the favourite. Affections from their mother also varies depending on which phase of life the daughter is going through. More love when the daughter gets married and goes “away” while less love when she isn’t acceptably married. More love if she is prettier than her peers. Less love as puberty approaches.
An aunt, while speaking about her son, went on to talk about her anxiety about who his wife would be because how would her son stay her son if he didn’t marry the right girl. But, the end of that sentence dismissed her daughter and her marriage because daughters and mothers always stay close, she said. It’s her son and his wife that she was thinking about.
I was brought up in a family of two girls but I still feel, to this day, that the relationship with my mother ebbs and flows based on current happenings in the family. I can think of many different occasions where I would lash out at my mother, demanding she stand by me or believe me rather than people who did not belong to our family. I don’t remember a single time when I can say that I got the same blanket acceptance I see my husband getting even today, from his mother.
What’s worse is that I don’t think my mother (or me, for that matter) even realised it is missing. I realise that as I have grown older my mother’s expectations from me have completely changed. Not only becoming a care giver but even taking on the mantle of unravelling so called family knots. On the other hand, I am also to become a care giver to my husband’s family, who have their share of knots. But he stays unshakable, comfortable in the knowledge that his mother is there whenever he needs her. This thought made me realise why that acceptance rankled so.
It’s because I have never known something like it.