I am on a movie watching spree. With G away on long trips, students fewer now due to exams and me recently Netflixed, the future seems grim from where I see. I can almost visualize a couch potato (literally and metaphorically) shaping up right here in my bedroom.
So I saw ‘Into The Wild’ (2008) recently. It was an extremely thought provoking experience, almost an epiphany. Not everyone’s cup of tea though. I believe there is no person on the planet who hasn’t dreamt of kicking it all and going away to be on his own and free. Except here, this 23 year old boy in the movie, wants to be free in the Wild, giving up on human association altogether. He believed that - Wants, desire, family, wealth, love and the likes are the root evils that stop us from knowing who we are and what we want.
As was revealed gradually, the thing that sowed this crazy urge in him was the continuous marital stress between his parents who were on the verge of a divorce since forever. He throws away his degree, burns his money and leaves no trace as he travels across with a backpack. The boy doesn’t allow anyone to get too close and eventually comes upon a lonely end. But then, as he wisely sums up, “Happiness is only real when shared.”
Now I have a friend who’s faced something similar at his home front and has always vehemently shunned the idea of love or marriage. He holds a bitterness about commitment and relationships in him that I often and silently concluded was more of an exaggerated sense of restlessness and even attention seeking. In my ignorance, I would urge him to shake that cynicism off, as if insecurities of ages could be shrugged off from the shoulder like a baby monkey that just perched on it.
More movies in recent times show children of broken homes being imbalanced and even psychologically twisted. Those who say movies are mirrors to our society, seem to be winning. Troubled childhood breeds troubled adults, 9 out of 10 times. I’m not blaming the children, I somehow wish to caution the adults.
I would wonder how could this happen if even one of the two parents is affectionate and sane. My friend had jolted me back to reason by saying “You would not understand with your cushioned early life, of how a stressful house effects the impressionable mind of a child”. Even if one parent is loving enough, he or she isn’t whole enough anymore to give it completely. You can hold on to a broken twig in a storm, but it can only last for so long.
And now I did what I often do, step into someone’s shoes to fathom how deep or shallow are my own convictions. As I was blessed to have been brought up by loving parents (one making up for the inadequacies of the other) my mind feels strong enough to fight the ups and downs thrown my way. I conveniently assume everyone else’s should also be. Often there had been a lack of empathy, for I didn’t realize how my being was fortunate enough to be conditioned in the conditions that were there. Not everyone is as strong. And as the movie says - In life sometimes it is not so important to be strong as is to feel strong.
So then, a child of six or ten or even thirteen for that matter, has yet to understand the ways of the world. For him, the world would be good or bad depending upon the reflection of what he sees at home. Where he spends all his time.
When he watches his parents screaming at one another day in and day out, he takes it to mean that there is always going to be chaos in the outside world. When he hears his parents calling each other names, he realizes that the two people he kept next to God, are full of flaws and begins to mistrust any goodness that comes his way. When his happy moments always get clouded with arguments and blame games, he is convinced that even if something good would happen to him, it won’t last forever. For if childhood, that is supposed to be secure and safe and carefree, is not, what will ever be?
Divorces are commonplace these days. Keeping an open mind, I believe there is nothing wrong with two incompatible people going separate ways. But when children are involved, you need to take more responsibility. Would you be strong enough on your own to nurture the child with the love of the mother and the father? Do you think the child would retain a sense of belonging and positivity in life, after you take the plunge? Or are you just putting your own invisible baggage on his fragile shoulders?
It is not wrong to seek happiness for yourself. It is not fair to always be selfless. But maybe when children are involved, we need to be cautious for we take up the role of the Creator. We can’t shrug off and say “not my problem, go fend for yourself” like perhaps animals do.
Hug your children as much as you can. Do not stop saying “I love you” as a ritual, repeated several times a day. You must not let your negativity rub off on them as they should grow up believing all is hunky dory with the world at least till they’re old enough to comprehend that it isn’t always.
Too much to ask, your say? But perhaps it’s just too little.