Chief Want In Life.

“Our chief want in life, is, somebody who shall make us do what we can.”
~ Ralph Waldo Emerson,

This is one of life’s paradoxes. Completely baffling in its simplicity, truth and high impracticality.

This post has been inspired by my coming across that quotation earlier this week and connecting it to Cheerful Monk’s quoting, one of my favourite quotes by Viktor Frankl back to me.

“Between stimulus and response, there is a space.
In that space lies our freedom and our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and happiness.”

This was in my post Unpaid Carers. It will be worthwhile visiting that post to get the context for this post.

I responded:

“I am in that space CM. My response has been to take personal responsibility for the care of my father. My response was not to abandon him to a home or to his own devices. And that response has been the purpose that Frankl talks about. I have no doubts whatsoever that, I am growing spiritually and finding happiness in the process. It may not be the happiness that others may wish for me, but in my own way, I am happy doing what I do. My compassion will not allow me the luxury of abandoning my father to a home, irrespective of how far it is from my home.

Happiness however, is not a permanent state of mind. There are moments, when my fallibility comes to dominate my mood and I have learnt to handle it in my own way.”

Viktor Frankl says that the meaning of life is found in every moment of living; life never ceases to have meaning, even in suffering and death. Frankl offers the thought that, for everyone in a dire condition there is someone looking down, a friend, family member, or even God, who would expect not to be disappointed. Frankl concludes from his experience, that a prisoner’s psychological reactions are not solely the result of the conditions of his life, but also from the freedom of choice he always has even in severe suffering. The inner hold a prisoner has on his spiritual self relies on having a hope in the future, and that once a prisoner loses that hope, he is doomed.

I certainly have the freedom of choice even in the present difficult phase that I am passing through and certainly lots of hope for the future. Does that mean that I am looking down on myself from some detached level, and I do not want to disappoint that other self? Or, is that someone that Emerson talks about, my father, whose current health problems makes me do what I can for him?

My brother Barath thinks that I write about my experiences as an attention seeking device, seeking strokes as he calls it. Am I doing that? Or have I taken Web Log as a diary where I share my inner thoughts and let others read them for the sheer joy of writing and sharing? I ask that because no matter what I do, I don’t think that I will disappoint any of my siblings or other members of my extended family who know the background; nor my wide circle of friends. But I also wonder if I have already disappointed them by doing what I can under the circumstances!

Right now my chief want in life is to get through one day at a time and that the situation doesn’t deteriorate below what it is today.

Cheerful Monk also quoted another favourite quote back at me.

“Sitting quietly, doing nothing, spring comes, and the grass grows by itself.”

~ Zen

I responded:

“I have seen three springs since my father came to live with me, and indeed, the grass has grown by itself and also withered by itself. I have not yet lost my marbles!”

I think that another Zen quotation will fit in admirably here.

“Before enlightenment; chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment; chop wood, carry water.”


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