Let's take a break from Karas-isms this week.
Today, I'd like to share Birdy's Skinny Love. I've loved this song from the first time I heard it. I love the simplicity of her voice accompanied by gentle piano chords.
Let's discuss the issue of responsibility.
A few years ago I was seeing someone who was very big on his responsibility as a son. He was never happy with his life, always bitching about something or another, always had reasons as to why he wasn't happy or could not enjoy his life. His family, on the other hand, didn't seem very appreciative of his efforts. Oftentimes they would even misuse the funds he sent them.
A few weeks ago, he texted me, asking me for some guidance. He was not happy with his life, & even after all these years, still didn't know what he wanted to do. Here was a person who has been working in the same industry for yonks, day in, day out, for the sole purpose of funding his family, coming to be, years later, with the same bullshit issue he had back then.
Dear readers, please do not misunderstand me. I understand the role of the householder, & in fact I am tremendously thankful to this person for showing me the value & importance of sending money back home to one's family. I never used to do that before, but now I do. More about this in another post.
I used to look at this person with great admiration - wow, what a responsible man, willing to sacrifice so much for his family; his love for them must truly be great!
But slowly I came to see the foolishness in this way of thinking.
My response to his request for guidance was unfortunately very harsh, not the pity party he was hoping for. Well, what do you expect, the poor fool been doing the same thing for so long, while still expecting different results!
You see, sometimes it is easy to blame others, to create excuses as to why we cannot be happy, why we cannot be free. More often than not, you will hear people saying, 'I want happiness', 'I want freedom'...but when the opportunity arises, 'oh no I have xyz to do, maybe some other day', 'oh no but what about abc, this is not the right time'...dafuq???
Life is so short. What you choose to do with your life, is completely up to you. Happiness or sadness, it's all in your hands. If you choose to sacrifice your life for someone else, but that someone else does not give a shit about your happiness & well-being...is it worth it? Yes, money is important, money is needed in today's society; but if the other person only wants money from you, at the expense of your happiness...do you think they care about you???
For years & years, going through the same shitty life, day in day out...I asked him, 'oh my God, life is so unpredictable, if you die tomorrow, will you die happy knowing you lived a shitty life???'
His response: 'Not really.'
End of story.
Why choose to do something you don't enjoy doing, just to earn money; when you could damn well be doing something you love doing, & still be earning money? & anyone else who gives a shit about you would be happy for you, even if you were not earning as much as before.
Responsibility is empty when it does not come out of love. But there must be love for one's own self too. I think it takes a whole lot of Svadhyaya (self-study) to ask where one's heart is. If you really loved someone else, you would do anything to make that person happy. Suddenly, everything else is irrelevant, not even your own happiness sometimes. Yes, it is very contradictory, this philosophy thing. Self-love is important, yet love is also a burning away of one's Self - if there is any holding on to one's self-importance, then love cannot be there.
I always say, no philosophy teaching is ultimate - situations matter, therefore one can't just blindly depend on one teaching at any given time.
No one teaching is ultimate - that also means one always has to strive to seek balance between two extremes. People always think that enlightenment, spirituality, is a destination where once you have achieved it, you don't have to do anything anymore, you're just blissful, happy & everything is la di da all the time. Well folks, unfortunately it is not always that simple. Even enlightened beings still need to constantly put in the effort to remain balanced. It is like a tight rope walker - once he is balanced, it does not mean he can remain in that same position, using the same muscles, leaning towards the same side, forever! No, he has to constantly re-calibrate his body, constantly focusing on finding his balance...there is never one fixed point where he can remain un-moving yet still be balanced.
& so it is with life. Life is a journey. Just like walking a tightrope, we have to constantly find the balance between both extremes, even in philosophies & teachings. & no one balance is the same for everybody. What is right for someone, may be wrong for you, & vice versa. You will have to find your own balance.
So let's look at the opposite end of the spectrum here. The opposite of responsibility - irresponsibility. & irresponsibility is also not always straightforward. One can be very clearly irresponsible by giving an IDGAF attitude, but the more dangerous kind is the one which hides behind all kinds of philosophies to avoid responsibility.
Example. Say you stole an apple. The shopkeeper confronts you. Is it the right time to philosophize & talk about self-love (you were hungry, so you should prioritize yourself first, not others), compassion (the shopkeeper should have pity on you) or to own up to your mistake?
Similarly, responsibility in this sense - your interactions with others, is also very important. One cannot play around philosophies to suit one's fancy, & expect others to comply all the time. Not at all; just like in the first extreme, this is also a form of avoidance to coming face to face with reality - by giving all sorts of excuses.
Again here - what is important to you? Where is your heart at? You love your cat & don't want to give him away, yet you are not willing to put in the time to care for him. You want to live the life you've always dreamed of living, yet you don't want to put in the necessary work to achieve that dream.
It's like saying you want to travel, yet you do not want to leave your home. Or that you want mangoes, yet you do not want to tend to your orchard.
Using the teachings of self-love, going with the flow, etc to avoid taking responsibility in one's life is just a form of avoidance. Everybody fucks up, it takes a lot of courage to come to terms with that & to admit it. Especially when the going gets tough, using these philosophies as a way to escape from pulling through with hard work...what good does that do?
Life is not always going to be easy, even though some people may say that life is easy. Again, it just depends what your priorities are (where your heart is). Then, everything else becomes irrelevant. Hard work doesn't seem like hard work. What may seem like a sacrifice to others, is not at all a sacrifice to you. Heck, you may even feel happy 'sacrificing'!
I have a friend who once gave all of his few years' worth of savings to his brother so that he could start a new life overseas. His wife thought he was mad. But to him, it was a joy to do so. He never once complained nor asked for anything in return but his brother's happiness.
Now is that an empty responsibility, or responsibility which arose from love? & does that mean that he does not love himself? Does that mean that he was blindly sacrificing for nothing?
Yes, you are responsible for nobody else but yourself. But that does not mean that you are automatically relieved of all your other responsibilities in the world.
P/S The very first Karas product I plan to put out there has something to do with 'responsibility'. ;)