Last month, I had written a post about growing up and being disillusioned with life. Following that, I read a very similar article in GQ and felt that I should update my earlier story with an appendix.
When I was very young, I once asked my mother what she wanted to do in life. She turned towards me, gave me one of her warm smiles that makes me feel that all is well with the world and replied that her primary motivation in life was to ensure that my sister and I would be well off in life. Rather innocently, I giggled and went on with my day not thinking twice about the weight of her words.
Reflecting back on her words more than a decade later, I realize that all parents give up a lot of their personal pleasures in life when they decide to have children. However, some parents go above the beyond the minimum to ensure a comfortable and worry-free life for their children. They make personal sacrifices far beyond what one would consider normal in the pursuit of establishing a better lifestyle for the next generation.
My parents were married and had a kid by the time they were my age, albeit a few decades ago. If today, someone were to tell me that in a year, I would have a wife and child to feed and they would depend upon me for their livelihood, my world would turn upside down. I cannot imagine the pressures one would feel at such a young age when required to be responsible for the upbringing of another human life. Any dreams of traveling the world or starting up your own risky business dulls in comparison to the need of the hour – to feed your child. When you choose to make a decision that involves risk, you are not only risking your own life but also of your family.
In comparison, my life is a dream. I have no real responsibility that could impede my free movement. I have 24/7 access to safe shelter and food. Had my father gone globe trotting and soul searching instead of working with his blood and sweat in his early days, I may not be lucky enough to have this current lifestyle. Would I do the same for the next generation? That is a hard question to answer. Would I give up my current simple pleasures for long term delayed gratification? I think I can only answer that when I have a family of my own.
So I guess in contrast to the previous post, this one is a vote of thanks. To our parents who gave up their own fantasies so that we could be who are today. Repaying the debt we owe them may not be possible in one lifetime but we must try. We must also go above and beyond the minimum required of us. As J.Yahl said – Perfection is our goal, excellence will be tolerated. Thank you Dad and Mom. Without your sacrifices, I would be just another kid growing up in a small village in South India.
Currently listening to – Can’t Fight This Feeling by REO Speedwagon