Today I'm wise, so I am changing myself


The title of this post is part of a quote by the famous 13th century Persian poet, Rumi.

Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so
I am changing myself. - Rumi

Even though one would deny it, every human has an expectation of how the world should work around them. It might be driven from a lot of factors - expecting perfectionism, requiring affirmation, insecurity or sometimes plain good will. But we humans seldom realize that the only thing under control is oneself. The mastery of the body and the mind is an arduous process in itself and we humans seldom realize the importance of doing this while instead we try and change the world around us.

This trait is perhaps why humans have been one of most successful species on the planet (at least for now). When confronted by a river in its path, an animal would walk around it or would turn back. But we humans in our relentless pursuit to march on would either fancy building a bridge or with the technology we possess, divert the river around us. Such is the power that humans are bestowed with and we seldom stop and think about this. While this might work with inanimate objects, it falls flat when our primate brains try to expect the same from our fellow humans.

I had a beautiful childhood growing up. My parents are one of the most caring and selfless people I’ve seen. They made sure to raise me right and give me all the things that I needed for a well-round life and I owe my current life to them. They ensured that I was enrolled in every class conceivable, gave me the best education they could afford and imparted the right skills and mindset to grow in the world. They developed the never-say-die attitude and the relentless (and annoying) pursuit for perfection in me.

While they concentrated every bit of their energies in grooming me and raising me, I failed to realize that all this while they didn’t care to do anything for themselves or grow themselves or take up a new hobby or the like. This is a pattern that I have observed with a lot of Indian middle class parents. Much of their adult lives have been dedicated to raising their sons and daughters and to ensure they were given what they were denied during their childhood. Once I started working, I asked my parents to take a step back and do what they pleased to do. However, I didn’t realize that subconsciously I had designed a plan for them for what they need to be doing in their post-retirement lives.

Post retirement, my parents have immersed themselves in social work and religious activities much to my chagrin. Over the few months, I’ve had some conversations with my parents, specifically about what I want my parents to do. This had led to many sour conversations that didn’t really end well. While I always kept insisting to them that I want them to live up to their full potential and be the best at what they were doing previously (My mom was a teacher of the Tamil language and is very well versed in it). But I didn’t realize that I was trying to impose something on them without even considering if this was something that they wanted to do with their lives. And I should give credit to my fiance for making me realize my mistake. Indian parents are notorious for imposing their dreams on their kids but turns out that Indian kids are even more notorious in this regard. :)

My parents have taught me a lot. But I’ve learnt a whole lot from them by observing them, the way they carry themselves, the way they are kind and nurturing etc. They have taught me to learn forever from the world around me. And today, I have learned to be more wise.