Did I coin an oxymoron accidentally ?
I am generally nervous writing about sensitive subjects that can be misinterpreted. However, I am noticing a sign of exasperation within me and I thought I will better get it out. I have taken the liberty of writing it as ‘we’ , but please be assured that I speak mostly for myself.
I think we possibly follow the dictum of “Do not malign the dead” and are mostly civilized in our remarks about someone who has passed away.
In most cultures, they read out something to everyone know ‘How great the dead person was’ !
Though I appreciate the rationale behind it, I do find it ironical.
On the contrary, we do very little to celebrate the value of a living individual in our own sphere of life. Typically, it is more of ‘How great the person was’ after the person was buried or burnt. We seem to be so gracious in our posthumous tributes, but do not seem to lift a finger when the person is around us.
I am guilty of the above.
I have always questioned the celebration of birthdays of many stars in many fields and when I reflect, I think the celebration is possibly justified, the reason being, the amount of impact they have had on a section of people and the celebrations are a way of telling them that they have made a difference to society at scale.
My memory goes back in time. When I was in eight standard, my library teacher wryly remarked “when he was alive no one bothered”, after reading towering eulogies of a well known person.
So I do wonder, Am I at fault ?
My brain’s defense mechanism starts.
My conservative upbringing does not allow me to demonstrate exuberance in my feelings and I am generally guarded.
My intellectual conditioning does not believe in empty rhetoric.
I do not remember telling any animate object ‘I love you’. It is a different matter that kind of emotion I reserved only for the inanimate products that I was part of building!
For me if I like or love someone, it will be always in terms of my actions. That is the only way I can express my feelings.
However, I am beginning to re-consider this approach of mine.
I read all kind of eulogies, memoirs and wonder ‘Can the dead hear ?’.
It is more of a liberation for the person who is writing the eulogy or memoir .
But the alternate question that I ask myself is
‘Would it have made a difference, if I had taken the time to spell out what is inside me when the person is alive ?
Would I feel better
- If I call a friend out of nowhere and let them know about the small little things that they have done for me
- Take my parents on a surprise tour
- If I write a ‘thank you’ note to someone who has impacted me
- If I send a greeting card to my teacher who struggled to make me understand linear algebra (he did not succeed, though)
- If I gift a shopping voucher to the security guard who smiles at me every day for nothing
- Surprise my wife by gifting her a solitaire (This is slightly expensive)
I may be digressing , but the simple point I am trying to make is
“If someone has impacted you in some way , has made that little difference in your life, let them know about it , before it is too late. Even if someone has not impacted you directly, but doing an awesome job, let them know about it.”
Let them hit their graves graciously, knowing that they have made a difference to at least one single soul in their life time.
Make those short and sweet calls, get a paper and write those scribbling notes, go for that street side 1/2 coffee and take that very little time out to let someone who has made a difference in your life know that you are better because of what they do.
The path we ride on has been made easy by many a people and though we pride ourselves in being labelled as a ‘self made …’ and equivalent, let us take some time to thank the people who made the ride easy. No person is an island. Even if we are alone, we are guided by a community that does its part in some unknown ways. Take time to thank that community in some way. I guarantee that you will feel better.
My intention is not to take you on a guilt trip nor to evangelize hypocrisy, but as you keep running, (and I think you should keep running) take those momentary pauses to help you rejuvenate and in that moment help that someone of you rejuvenate as well. Help someone count their blessings ! Start with your primary school teacher. It may be a good place to begin!
Do not reserve your best for the crematorium.
Do the ‘eulogy’ bit now.
Enjoy Maadi (Have Fun)