Monday Musings 205 - The fourth dimension
My self view about how good am I as a son, husband and father is very kind to myself and psychologists might read red into it, although I do not worry much about their theories as I recognize they have a living to make. However one of things that continues to be on my mind all the time is what kind of persons my daughters grow up to be.
A few years back I had arrived at three parameters that I will use to judge myself as a father. First I wanted to develop in them a love for literature or fine arts or performing arts. In my mind a love for any of the above necessarily develops in a person an appreciation for the finer things in life, the ones which make a person perceptive, nuanced and sensitive.
Secondly I wanted them to develop a love for the outdoors, either through sports or through travel. I did not and still do not see enough emphasis that families and parents consciously put in developing this aspect in children. My belief is that through outdoors a child develops a sense of perspective, of his own place in the universe. It roots us to humility by making us realize that while our sense of self makes us become larger than our surroundings, in reality we must never forget that in our best we continue to remain a tiny speck in this vast universe.
Third I want them to have a virtue called tolerance, which I rate as having a high criticality. It helps us to accept people who are different than us, accept situations that are not to our liking, acknowledge practices and circumstances that might be alien to us, but real to others. It helps us live with outcomes which are not to our liking, despite our most intense desires and even after back breaking hard work. Tolerance helps us survive the vagaries of life.
I was having a chat with a friend of mine who has a pretty grown up child and who had a recent experience. I got my fourth item on my list through this conversation.
It just so happened that the child, a grown up of 20 worked extremely hard for something. The child is a go getter, extremely confident and believes that anything that one can dream of, can be achieved. The hunger for success and achievement is high and is backed up by natural talent and relentless hard work. However there are subtle indications that this single minded dedication to the goal makes her oblivious to how human interactions are taking place. There is an indifference towards softer aspects of one’s ambition particularly when others are also involved. It just so happened that the result eluded the child and it was clear that not many others who were required to contribute and help her succeed did so. It was under these circumstances that my friend raised some questions, which got me thinking and led me to add a fourth dimension to my list of three.
The thoughts began by highlighting the power of prayer – not in the religious sense but in the sense that one must acknowledge the power of some higher order which runs this universe and along with acknowledgement must come respect for it. One must also acknowledge the power of collective wishes for oneself and make efforts not to attract too much negative wishes for ourselves even if it is equally futile to try to please everyone. My friend lamented that too much of brute ambition which rubs too many people the wrong way and too much negative wishes from people impact not only the outcome but also the quality of the outcome. If the purpose is to be successful then maybe these things are mumbo jumbo but if the purpose is to be happy with that success then one must be sensitive to these softer things.
I realized that in a very different way my friend was suggesting that the child must also have a spiritual side to her – which is now my fourth dimension to my work as a parent – will I be able to help my child acquire a spiritual side?