Saturday, January 29, 2011

Of human bondage

Emotional attachment is what differentiates humans from most other living beings. We tend to develop a sense of bonding with people around us, right from childhood. We become attached to people we meet in the family, at schools & colleges, work places etc. The number of bonds increase with time, as we meet new people and the existing bonds grow deeper. Psychology tells us that this attachment is a human need and that we cannot live alone all by ourselves.

There may be several reasons for which people need these kinds of attachments. Attachments create a kind of trust in the person to whom we are attached – much like the way we undoubtedly assume that a beautiful girl is also very good at heart. The belief that we have a lot of friends and relatives gives us emotional and social security. We feel comforted that we have people with whom we can share our joys and sorrows, and seek help in times of need. We turn to them for direction and guidance when we have to make decisions. We turn to them for support when we feel low in life and share things with them when we are happy. And we believe that people help us selflessly, just because we are their friends/ relatives.

I have always believed that this bondage is the most beautiful thing in the world - the feeling that tied me to people around me, that gave me happiness when they were happy, that pulled me down when they were suffering, that made me think of their problems as my own and attempt to figure out solutions. It is this bonding that made me actively participate {interfere, rather} in others lives and advise them many times, even when they have not asked for it. All that I wanted was to make things easy for my near and dear ones. I wanted to share things I learned and help them avoid mistakes I have already made. I feel that there is no good in each one making the same mistakes, each generation should at least progress to make new mistakes rather than repeat the ones of the old. There was a sense of responsibility I felt and tried to help in my own way.

I wouldn't say that I have been living my life entirely for others. I have my own dreams and ambitions to pursue, but when my dreams came in the way of relations, I tried to be accommodative. And of course, there were trade offs I had to make in terms of time and other things. I never grudged because, as far as I knew, the bonding is what made life worthy and I derived happiness in being of help to others.

I had an idealized view that people should be selfless in relations. But the realization came as I started to understand the true need of attachments for most people. It came soon, and came more than once - to reinforce the learning - from people who want to cash in on my attachment, to people who want to save their professional networks by giving me an advise that they themselves did not believe in. And so, I realized that for most people these attachments are a means to achieve their goals, professional or personal. When I realized that the people I held very dear to my heart are not angels and wouldn't mind using me up if they needed, the bonds broke. All those attachments I nourished and cherished, all those attachments in which I found happiness, all those attachments that limited me vanished into thin air. I started feeling detached from people and the world.

I don't think it will be very difficult for me to take this. I love myself the most and I have a feeling that I am born to do some great things. This detachment is only helping me to shed the useless luggage I have been carrying so far in my walk towards my goal. In fact, it has made things a lot easier for me now. I am lucky that the lesson came soon, for, it would have been very difficult to take it at a later date. As we age, our thinking becomes rigid and we loose the ability to assimilate new learnings. Our heart will not want to accept things even if the mind sees them as clear as a day.

Trying to achieve your goals is fine as long as you work for them. But trying to use friends and relatives to achieve your means tantamounts to misusing the trust bestowed upon you. It makes your goals meaner, even if they are the most noble goals.