A few days ago I happened to embark upon a conversation with an acquaintance, who, albeit has been a significant part of my social circle at college, was never a person I had much common ground with so as to extend my hand of friendship. We have had almost zilch idea of each others struggles and our conversations were parochial to few whiffs of jokes or satire that we exchanged through the barricades of our persona. As little as I was aware of the battles he was thwarting, I was certain that he was an open book if his psyche was probed adequately. We somehow started talking one day and in the midst of our conversation, I took advantage of his characteristic openness and ended up doing a psychoanalysis that somehow left him surprised. Truth be told, anyone with some experience could have done so but because of his utter surprise, we ended up delving in the so-called complexities of his life a little deeper. Here is a little snippet that really got me wondering how each of us play our part in this world and how it affects us and others.
He asked me about my definition of friendship as I did the same. And these were the contrasting views we shared. Mine being the green speech bubbles.
What I’m about to write is in no way meant to demean him, however, it really hit me how the way each of us looks at a common element objectively shapes how we feel and make others feel around us. The guy, lets name him D, saw friendship solely as a relationship that endows him with the care and protection that he felt he deserved. He adhered to such an ideal so strongly that when I asked him what if the a possibility of otherwise arose, he simply replied that it would shatter him. I gathered that he saw friendship as an idealistic bond that wouldn’t faze him at the hands of the realities of life. On the contrary, my idea of friendship reflected upon the participants as two individuals who appreciated their differences and bore the future possibility of parting as situations and people evolve. I too, once bore the perspective D has and it took me a couple of serious rough patches to recognize how we demand from people who claim to love to us things beyond their control and feel pathetic as well as make them miserable if they don’t slide down to the exact same expectations that we initially attached to them. It’s not just with D; this is a stigma prevailing among the generation Y. We somehow attribute mind reading properties to our close family and best friends that they would just magically understand everything we feel and tend to us the EXACT same way as we do to them. We define true love as the one that’s reciprocated in it’s entirety or otherwise there is no love at all. We have forgotten the unique way each of us is mentally and physically fashioned and how we love the people in our lives. And most importantly, we are just so self absorbed thanks to the wonders of today’s world that we have forgotten the meaning of actually playing our role of benefiting others. We barely do anything for others without the expectation of anything in return. The favors we do many a times are contracts in disguise. The purity in the acts of kindness has been soiled with our hopes of gaining benefit out of them and this has harmed no one but us.
Following the aforementioned notions, what else will we feel but miserable? We have begun to hate the people we once loved, family ties are being jeopardized, friendships have resorted to nothing but flaunting on social media and meaningless “I love yous”, divorce rates are the worst ever, sibling relationships have become nothing more than robotic coexistence. Let’s ask ourselves, when was the last time we called someone to ask how they were and went out of the way for a friend without having expectations? When was the last time you and I ever said a kind word or smiled at someone in the hopes of brightening their day? When was the last time were you and I actually were there to mentor our younger siblings or cousins instead of burying your nose in our phone screens? When was the last time you were genuinely happy for a friend rather than feeling a tinge of jealousy when he/she succeeded in something? When was the last time you just felt the sheer joy of just helping someone dear instead of doing something with a heavy heart or simply out of pressure? Or rather, when was the last time you actually felt happiness in its unadulterated form? The answer really does lie sharing the joy and love because it DOES reflect back; maybe not via the same channels but perhaps through different mediums; those that God decides you need in order to feel the satisfaction and happiness in life. If only we could just focus on giving. It’s a reminder for myself the most because I struggle with all this back and forth. But really, we would be doing ourselves a huge favor with this practice because as the daying goes “if you give a little love it all comes back to you”. (Inshaa’Allah)