Everybody deserves to be happy. But happiness is not the absence of sadness. It is the appreciation of it.
Just as death is certain, sadness is certain too. It will come. And it will also go.
In a marriage, there are disappointments. What's worse is a divorce. In a job, there is betrayal. What's worse is losing it. In parenting, there is lifelong anxiety. What's worse is a prodigal child.
And in life, there is eventual death - yours and mine. What's worse is to suffer an incurable illness before going.
Gary cited an article from The Guardian newspaper that reads:-
"Don't try so hard, lower expectations a little, change your relationship with your thoughts. Take proper holidays, nurture your friendships, try not to worry so much about things beyond your control."
Last evening, I took my 6-yr-old out to the playground to cycle. She was just learning how to cycle, and she was delirious about it. She knew she would fall, hurt herself, but she insisted to be left alone.
So, I stood by one side and watched her - worrying about how she would cope, physically and emotionally.
What crumpled that evening a tad was that there were two boys her age on scooters. They were chasing her, playing police and thief, taunting her.
As such, she had to learn the ropes of balancing and keeping the momentum on the bike while being chased by two boys bent on disrupting it.
Of course, to be fair, the boys were just playing, and it is expected that they would go overboard at times.
Unsurprisingly, joy fell. She was cycling away from the two boys as fast as she could and she lost her balance on a few occasions. Once or twice, she even hit the slide and fell even harder.
But, she didn't cry or complain after the falls. She smiled, at times even laughed about it (exposing in plain sight her toothless mouth).
She then picked herself up and cycled on - refusing to allow the falls to spoil her evening of learning and fun.
Just then, I was running weary and low on joy juice over the affairs of work and life in general, and the sight of joy, although not intended by her, taught me a lesson or two about life.
It taught me that every endeavour is fraught with pitfalls. The cliché is that you can't have the rose without the thorns. Or in this case, happiness without sadness.
Joy laughed when she fell, then picked herself up and cycled on - keeping the momentum as she learned to balance herself. She kept her focus on the road, ignoring her young chasers.
Of late, I have been bogged down by anxiety and worries. Expecting too much and enjoying too little. Being distracted at times and not keeping the focus on the road; being bothered by what is trivial and impermanent, and forgetting the simple joy before me.
Alas, the darnest thing about life as a father is that we teach and mentor our children as they grow up, but we forget that they are also teaching us in return.
Every new step they take and every new experience they savour under our loving guide is the same new step and experience we can learn from as we grow with them. It is never a one-way-street education.
We as parents are not so much just imparting lessons to them as they are reminding us to learn with them.
I believe children are God's way of telling us that we are not just alive, but we are also stronger and more resilient than we think we are. They are put on earth to remind us that as they grow, we grow with them, we learn with them and we overcome with them.
Life at work, in a marriage and parenthood differs little from life at the playground. Keeping the balance of all things, laughing at your falls, picking yourself up every time, and moving forward regardless of the obstacles are the same attitude I should adopt with life in general.
Sometimes I need to be reminded of that. I need to be taught a thing or two about smiling at the storm, savouring the simplest and most lasting pleasures of life, and keeping the balance and momentum of what is dearest to the heart.
And at times, it takes the most unsuspecting little bundle of joy to teach me all that. Thanks Joy. Love daddy. Cheerz.