Thursday, April 14, 2016

L: Living life on your own terms

R's grandma passed away yesterday. She was 83 years old and all this while she was living in the village, by herself, tending to her cows, cooking her own food and some villagers had her back. All this time, she refused to come and live with her children or with her brothers and sisters. She was labelled 'stubborn' and after repeated attempts of coaxing her to stay with someone, she still constantly refused. Today, they said she might have lived a longer life and could have 'lived like a queen', had she agreed to live with her children. Does it really matter? Isn't it true that she did whatever she wanted, however she chose and for as long as she lived, she lived life on her own terms? I agree that she lived rather precariously, walking bare foot and doing chores her age wouldn't agree with. But who gets to decide what is wise and what is foolish? I mean, isn't your life your own to make your choices? I guess not! Why should you get labelled a 'rebel', when you just make a different choice? I mean, isn't that what individuality is all about? About making your choices and each person is different because of them.

That got me thinking. At what point do we start doing things just because they are expected of us? And at what point do those things actually become the things we do? I'm not really sure that line even exists. When does this social conditioning begin? For me, I don't know when this started and I can't even put a finger on what I do because I like to and what I've just grown up to like, because I don't know any better. It's a very scary thought for me that I could have been a whole different person doing something else if I had made my choices without being 'required' to do something. And I'm not even talking about big life choices, (of course I have been lucky enough to study what I want, marry who I want and live where I choose to). I'm talking about small things like choosing your clothes, friends, loving who you want and respecting people because you want to and not because you ought to, among so many other things. And don't even get me started on the social conditioning of the male in India and maybe other places!

All these things are suddenly important to me because I want to make sure I give Pickles what I didn't have: the option to make those choices. Although I know I will probably make some choices for him when he's young, I at least hope he is an active participant in most choices and that we can talk about them. I'll let you know in a few years about how that is turning out. But for now, I don't want to be forced into making certain parenting choices just because 'everybody else does so'! Issue in question (at this point): his tonsure. I know I need to pick my battles and at this point, I'm not even sure if this is worth it. But at what point does one draw the line? At what point do you actively start questioning why you ought to do what everybody does? But again, I'm not judging people who do certain things. I'm just saying that I would do what works for me.

I really hope the world is different in a few years from now and the children of the future have lesser rules to adhere to and more active choices. And I'm quite positive it will happen.

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