Monday, July 20, 2015

Dependence?

Paradhinam prana sankatam

Loose translation: Dependence on others is distressing to the soul

This is one thing that put paid to my budding career as a Wodehousian character - you know, the sort of guy who leads a carefree life cadging funds from his friends and family. There I was, merrily planning for a life in which I neither toiled nor spun but gently flitted from friend to friend, lightly nicking a thousand here and a five hundred there to accommodate my modest needs. Then, some busybody friend (prescient and taking preemptive action against my cadging from him? Maybe...people are SO devious) shows me this saying. Huh! Distressing? THAT is not quite what I want for a life.

I was not willing to take it as true, right away. One does not just abandon one's pet projects like that. When he explained, I could sort of get his point, though. I mean, if I had only one friend and the chap went away on a long holiday, whether or not it would distress my soul, it would distress my stomach - if I ran out of money before he came back. Besides, even with many friends, if they wanted nothing from me (if they wanted something, it would be inter-dependence, not dependence, right?) they could just refuse to give me my money. (These modern people are SO ungenerous). One would then have to go find new friends, tap friends after carefully checking whether they are feeling generous (or weak-minded) at the moment and all that. Too much hard work and THAT would certainly distress my soul.


You know what, I have found that people can get dependent even when it is not a matter of survival. Some depend on one person for affection, love or friendship and are forever hungry to get it. Have you seen someone hug a child too tightly? Does the child smile, hug back and dribble all over his shirt or does it squirm and try to get away? (If you think it will be the former, you have never hugged a child in your life or are only trying to pick a quarrel with me) Precisely the same thing seems to happen when one person so hungrily depends on the other for emotional sustenance. The situation gets so claustrophobic, that the other person tries to escape in any way possible. AND, if it would not be distressing to see that chap run away at the sight of you, you would not be smothering him with your presence in the first place.

The funniest thing, though, is the way people depend on others, whom they never see or even put a face to. I mean, pleasing someone you know is difficult enough, but pleasing a nameless, faceless multitude is impossible. On top of it, if you decide that your happiness rests in pleasing this nameless, faceless multitude, then you ARE doomed to distress. Yet, you decide on a career, even your spouse at times, a style of living, what you eat, how you eat, where you go, how you travel in order to get what you call 'social respect'. Exactly who constitutes this 'Society' I am yet to discover, other than, perhaps, a multitude of other people who are also trying to please 'Society', which apparently includes you. And, yet, none of you actually seem to decide what it is that should please you. There you go, hanging your happiness on 'others', and whether you are happy or distressed by having to pay all those EMIs for the house, car and appliances that you bought to get this 'social respect', only you can say. I, in your place, would certainly be distressed, if I let my personal goals for happiness be dictated by unknown people, who would seldom bother to praise me when I succeed in achieving the goals, criticize me when I fail, and even reset those goals at whim.

But, then, I would not be in your place, would I? After all, if I were the sort to bother about achieving 'social respect', I would not have set out planning to live a life cadging off friends. Alas! Fate sent me that idiot, who spoiled it all for me by telling me this quote!

P.S: A response to a 3-quote challenge, tagged by Rachna

16 comments:

  1. well, actually I liked the perception and also felt inspired to post an article on my blog towards the same idea, though, my perception is a bit different.

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    1. Good - these sayings are inclined to spark more thinking. The meanings are seldom prescriptive.

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  2. Yes it can be quite painful and deeply distressing if one becomes subject to or dependent upon others, craving for others' acceptance, social respect etc. And yet, so many people end up living their whole lives just in that prison. I am using a broader meaning of being paradhin here, because I think it is in a way a prison created by the mind!

    Great choice of quote here. Even though you in your own style are using humor to bring out a more subtle point, an idea like this makes one reflect on one's own mental prisons, doesn't it?

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    1. Exactly, Beloo, and exactly what I wanted to say. Most of our pleasures/pains come from our own mind. It is the ATTITUDE of dependence - of seeking approval from outside to validate yourself - that I talked of and, normally, think of when I think of 'paradhin', though I know that customarily people seem to take it purely as material dependence.

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  3. I can relate well to this post as my best friend is on such guy too (phew!!)...well-expressed :)

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    1. Thanks. Yes, one of the worst pains that you can inflict on yourself is this.

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  4. Very true, Suresh. Though it is impossible to be completely insulated from social pressures or not worry about anyone's opinion, it is good to be prudent about whose opinion you wish to matter in your life. But, one does need to live for one's own happiness. In the quest to please all, the self sometimes becomes very unhappy.

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    1. Quite true that, Rachna! Dependence, though, goes beyond merely heeding other people's opinions. It is steering the course of your life with a view to getting their approval. In the worst case, you do not even have an idea yourself of what course you want to steer. You decide the course based on what you think others would want you to do :)

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  5. Thanks for sharing.. :)
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  6. i can be a case study in "doing the exact opposite of what "society" will think"! yea..you too...:)

    there's a certain peace in listening to your heart, I don't mean, you have to be a rebel, but what is the joy in doing something that, like you said, pleases people who don't even matter to you.... and it is my experience that when people know that what they think no longer bothers you, they no longer flit around you...

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    1. Ah! Me! I only do what I want to do, not caring about what Society would have me do, one way or other. If it so happens it is the same, fine; if not, fine :)

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  7. There are two sides to this matter of being your own master or living your life to please others.When it comes to choosing your goals,your work;i would say to hell with public opinion.BUT when it comes to close relationships we sometimes cannot steer by our own compass.

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    1. My point, Indu, is not about the choices we make. My point is about not being dependent on social approval of your own life in order to feel respect for yourself.

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  8. 'Social respect' is so right on dot Suresh. It's distressing to see the amount of dependence one has on other people's approval and yes, mostly faceless. Who are those for whose approval,we are willing to sacrifice our entire lives.

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    1. Who, indeed! A question for which I despair of finding an answer :)

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