Here’s a man who has experimented all his life, reading, being inspired, and pursuing ideals that he wants spread in the world to change it for the better. He intends to make the lives of people more equitable, loving, inspiring, and one where everyone is pursuing – with complete passion and drive – their own self-expression.
He is married, about 65 years now; has two daughters, one married and settled, while the other is moving to the US for higher studies (and intends to fund the rest of it herself). He’s working in an engineering company (a Mech. Engg. from IIT), and nearly daily looking forward to the day when he could quit, and move to the villages in India (starting with West Bengal from where he belongs), to help make a difference in the quality of lives among people. He “dreams” about “moving from village to village”, spending about 9 months (i do not know how/why he arrived at that figure) in each village, motivating and mobilising them to “take charge” of their lives.
He has enough money in the bank to last the rest of the years of the lives of the husband and wife, has a house, and even a small part of the house given on rent – which generates some small rental income – but decent enough to keep the household running on basics. Further, his bank deposits give him a decent (if not healthy) interest income, and alongwith the rental income, suffice to make both husband-wife live a comfortable life, rarely having a need to dig into their reserves.
In my point of view, he has fulfilled all his responsibilities in life. And now deserves to be “set free” to pursue his dreams. And these are no ordinary dreams. These are dreams that people with large hearts dream;and the world deserves to have such people go out and express such innermost (and may i say, “lofty”) desires.
He does not intend to quit his home, leave his wife forever, and become a “sanyasi”.
Yet, he remains bound by the insecurity of his wife, who does not allow him to quit his job, and worse is disgusted with his idea of self-less service for people – people, whom, with his gentle uncorrupted heart, he wants to make his family and bring change in their lives.
So, the man goes through ups and downs, finding happiness in doing smaller things in his local community. But look in his eyes, and scratch the surface – and he is deeply unhappy. Unhappy, that he is still bound; and, that too not with the fact that he has not fulfilled his responsibilities – but just by the insecurity of his wife.
So what should he do? Pursue a life that his wife wants him to lead – of a regular householder? Or should he take a stand and decide to confront her, even moving out against her wishes?
I am certain that in both cases he will remain unhappy.
What is desirable for him is that his wife understands his “inner calling” and permits him to “move on” – perhaps even with some fences and boundaries.
I’ve stated this example, because i just came back from such a conversation with several of my extended family members about self-expression versus finding happiness in other people’s (those who matter) happiness.
Well, so far, this man in the story has been doing exactly the latter, even though it has certainly not been easy on his wife, and i am certain on his two daughters. He has taken the plunge into social service several times, run into deep bouts of depression (and by God’s Grace and his own inner strength come out all those times), and yet managed to keep the bank account filling – enough to live a decent life. He has lived a life that his family demanded.
Is it not enough now? Is it not his wife’s obligation as well to set him free, to let him go and live the dream he has suppressed during the best part of his life? Or should he still be tied down by the “morals that our society demands”?
Is the self-expression of his wife more important, than his?
The binding is so severe as if they (or any other couple, or even a parent-child duo) are going to live forever. Both of them are going to die. That’s certain! And most likely death is not going to bless them together. Shouldn’t people learn and train themselves early to live by themselves? This does not mean live a life-denying life! It simply means to live a more conscious and aware life (and by default i believe it would be a happier life for all involved as well); a life where questions are asked; a life which is explored a lot more than we city people (specifically in India) do; a life which is experimented with and risks taken a bit more, and a lot less mundane.
So, judge, and please tell me (do leave your comments here) through your own moral points-of-view which would be worse – a potentially inspiring life wasted, amidst insecurity; or, living a moralistic (and externally pleasant) life that the family and society demands?