Monday, May 01, 2006

On Life Hacks

I watched Tuesdays with Morrie last evening. The story is nice but a little too saccharine and Hallmarkesque for my taste. All the life hacks you will ever need in a notebook is too simplistic. Were that true or even possible, we would have no incentive left to learn and grow from our experiences. It is somewhat akin to resorting to religion unquestioningly for all that ails us and arriving at less than optimal to incorrect conclusions.

My personal struggles with family, relationships, marriage, divorce and motherhood has shown me conclusively that one size does not fit all. Blessed as I have been with many mentors in my life, even their collective wisdom could not prepare me for my individual and therefore unique circumstances. I have sometimes felt the need for a religious guru (maybe an euphemism for an emotional crutch) – the guiding light who has wisdom and depth of knowledge to interpret religious teachings and show me how it applies to my situation.

Yet in not having one, I have come to depend on my self and find answers on my own. A notebook can take you only so far. It is a good idea to have one but foolhardy to assume that it is all you will need to live your life well.

For instance, my notebook on motherhood culled from a diversity of trusted sources does not answer a very simple question – "Will J sit through this movie or walk away bored ?" Each time is a surprise and a revelation for me. Whereas, Shrek, The Secret Garden and Lion King did not make the grade, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory ( I am almost postive that she would have not liked the more recent Johnny Depp version), Narnia, some Arthur and Friends, and My Louisiana Sky did. Unless there is adult or disturbing content in a movie, I let J watch what I am watching. Very rarely has she walked away from a "big person" movie.

I find that puzzling given she does not follow the dialog and the themes are not child friendly. J will sometimes come up with her own understanding of the story based on the visuals. She seems to gravitate towards what I find interesting but when it comes to a "little person" movie she makes choices very independently. That I enjoyed Lion King did not prevent her from walking away to play with her toys.

I wonder if J feels she is empowered to like or dislike any "little person" movie because it was made for her and she can make her choices at will. Not so for a "big person movie" where she seems content to follow my lead. Its like "It's a big person movie, Mommy is a big person, she likes the movie so it must be good and I must like it too". The same is true about music. She will give Rashid Khan, Bhimsen Joshi and Handel a patient hearing even when her first instinct is to listen to something more accessible to her. She believes me when I say "This is the kind of music that you will love with time even if you don't like it at first."

In time J will make choices that she does not feel like she is able to make now. It will reflect in the clothes she wears, the music and cinema she likes, the relationships she forms, keeps or breaks. Some of these early influences will wear off, some will linger on to grow stronger. What stays and what goes will be determined by her alone. The sum total of her personality would be shaped by forces I can only partly control less direct. No notebook can tell me what I must and must not do to mould her to be the replica of my dreams. She will in the end become the person she is destined to be and without much help from me or my notebooks.

1 comment:

Cynthia Antoinette said...

Ahh, but your notebook will help you continue to develop into who you are and will therefore work to show children what personal development is.