A chasing after the wind

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This is an incident from my teenage days.

I was seated alone in the TV room feeling sad and lonely while putting on the facial expression of one who is in a tolerable dilemma and does not know what to do. Just then my grandfather walked in and noticed my pitiable state. Being a naturally curious man, he was very interested to know what on earth the matter was, and so he inquired, while taking a seat next to me.

I had long been waiting for an unsuspecting someone to pour out my troubles on and so without any hesitation I proceeded to fill him in on my poor luck with girls, lacking resources for fun, limited time for rest and so on and so forth. I then went further to share with him my desire to grow older, move to a new place, make new friends and make all those changes that would in turn make my life much more of a joy than it was at present. When I was done, he looked at me, with a suppressed smirk on his face, cleared his throat and said the following:

“Look here kid; there is one you should know about life. The thing is…., well, we go through life with the belief that the best is yet to come and the present is not quite good enough. When we are kids, we dream to be teens and tire our brains with wild fantasies of an exciting, boundless and exceedingly happy life stored for us somewhere in the near future. When teenagers however, we discover that teenage hood is not quite as fun as our childish fantasies made it out to be. Of course we have immense fun breaking hearts and having our heart broken in that whirlwind they call love, but outside of that we see ‘too many limitations!’, ‘too many rules’, ‘too little opportunities’ and ‘too little freedom’.  We cannot wait to reach adulthood and make our own money, make our own decisions, make our own babies and just…make any other thing we like, any time we choose”.

“But when we eventually reach adulthood, how does it turn out? Well, the lucky ones among us do get jobs and make our own money well enough, but they are such jobs that are so boring that our teenage selves would pay enormous amounts not to do. Jobs that leave us exhausted and out of our wits whenever we are done with them. And often we never get to earn enough money to spoil ourselves and play to our choices, no, instead we make only enough to stay alive, barely that is.

And as for babies, those cute chubby things that seemed so lovable in our teenage days, they become less cute, less lovable and in fact turn out to more like a burden, a distraction or even a nuisance if we do actually ‘make them’. Meanwhile ‘any other thing’ we like becomes too far out reach and all our attempts at adventure and rule breaking end up as considerable failures.  Initially we don’t lose heart and keep trying with the view that eventually our dreams will come true. But by and by we finally settle for reality after suffering uncountable disappointments. At this point we throw away any of our remaining dreams or fantasies and buckle down to labor like horses until we grow old and frail. It is not until old age that we look back on our past with fond memories of all those beautiful moments we never truly cherished at the time, and regrets of all those opportunities we were too blind to see then”.

“And we…., but never mind, as you can see, we spend too much time fantasizing, thinking, wishing and… indulged in other forms of time wasting. We spend only a trickle of time actually living! Kid, give the future time to become present if you may. Who knows? It might turn out better than you think or it might turn out, well, worse. But give it a rest and try to make the most of today”.

I sat listening without saying a word and when he was done I felt so much relief and was filled so much motivation, spirit and enthusiasm that I jumped from my seat, left my house without saying a thing and went out joyfully to swim at a nearby lake, an endeavor that ended up with me nearly drowning and swallowing up many a liter of lake water. But I had enormous fun all along.

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