Recently, my son, who never feel contented without a solution to everything, said to me “I need you to buy me a motorcycle once I grow up so that I can travel to work to earn my salary till it’s sufficient to get myself a car”. I was never a “I will take care of everything you need” mom so I played reverse psychology on him and said “Maybe you don’t have to work, your Ah Ma (grandma) will take good care of you. She will make sure you have enough to eat (to settle his obsession in food), you will never go hungry. So don’t worry”. And after mumbled all that, I went straight for my shower not knowing that I have caused a stir in his little mind. After I have done, he came straight to me and said “Mum, I don’t want to just live a life without hunger. I want to pursue my dream.”
I grew up in a small town where as young as our primary school days, we were free to write subject like “Cita-cita saya (My ambition)”. My early memory as a child, I remembered dreaming of the things I wanted to be when I grew up. In those times, nobody would have said it was silly, scary or impossible, nobody said it was easy too.
My son’s words of courage make me realised with deep insight that having an ambition and desire to pursue dreams was once the core of our existence as a human being. Unfortunately for us, it takes only a few short years before we experience serious interference in this natural state of being.
When my son reached the milestone of crawling to upright standing, just like any other child, the initial process of balancing on his two little feet was so unsteady that he stumbled and fell countless times. It was more insecure in the watching eyes more than the falling child. During that time, his grandma would attempt to wrap him up with her “protective blanket” and said the most insecure thing like “Don’t let him stand yet, just carry him up whenever he tries. The safest place is in adult’s arm”. But, being a bad daughter-in-law, I enjoyed seeing him stumbled and fell and rose again, not running away from the battle of change.
There is so much fear in the world which lead us to a live with quality of “never go hungry”. And it can manifest in the most destructive manner when we try to cover others with our “protective blanket”. We fear changes because we have reached a familiar comfort zone in life, in career, in relationship, in others’ expectation where any change is too scary to the comfort mind although that means staying like a worm in the cow dung. As a kid there’s not a lot you can’t do, at least in our head, but as we slowly mature into adulthood reality sets in and suddenly only aspiring to one day own a watch to wear is no longer a secure option and neither is owning a pet elephant nor touching the moon.
This year is my 40th year of staying alive and during a recent interview an editor asked “How has your practice changed you?” which kept me pondering for a while. Many things have changed but certainly not during sunny days. In my life, I stumbled and fell too, countless times, in my career, in relationships, in matter of heart and mind, and I don’t know if I ever rise to see the rainbow after the storm. But what has “changed” is not learning how not to fall but to learn the courage to believe that there is a way out of “cow dung” in the midst of the hurtful unsupportive voice and most dishearten gesture of others with good intention. The “rising up upright” journey is not always welcomed with many clapping hands and it is in this time it matters the little sound of the people who still say “Let’s do it together” like it was natural again to dream like no others.