MC's Whispers

Whispering Silences

Archive for the tag “different lifestyle”

Empathising difference

All happy families are alike, but every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way”, wrote Leo Tolstoy in the beginning of Anna Karenina in 1878.

Misery has many forms. And this is true for all people.

We don’t realise how insignificant or trivial our problems are until we hear what someone else is facing.

But what we often fail to acknowledge is that we don’t understand what other people are going through no matter how much they (try to) explain. It’s usually because we don’t really want to empathise. We’re better off worrying about our own microcosm-shattering problems: where to go out, what to do to pass the day, who to call for an outing, what to watch on TV, where to go on holiday. We quarrel among ourselves because we can’t coordinate to have fun, yet other people are facing evictions, money problems, job security; actual issues of survival.

It puts it all into perspective, doesn’t it?

Well, it should.

There is a truth in that in order to survive you need to be thick-skinned. You need to be somewhat insensitive, allowing things to slide, and refusing to be affected by them. If you’re too perceptive and impacted by everything, you’re the only one to lose.

Because no one really cares if you’re struggling – with work, with family, with pretty much anything. If you can’t follow suit in the fun and the expenditure, you’ll soon be cut off. And no one really cares what or how you work. It’s simple: if we don’t understand what you do, we’ll consider it as not very important, so you can always ‘leave it for later’ – but certainly not for the weekend or a holiday, or for when we already have plans.

We have a tendency to only view life through our own lenses. We obstinately refuse to walk in someone else’s shoes, or even make the slightest of efforts to share their perspective of reality.

And it’s a shame. Because united we could achieve so much. Instead, we ravage each other as if we’re trying to free up space in this world we’re destroying.

Instead of lifting each other up, we’re surreptitiously trying to tear each other down.


The real home we have

Her flat was beautiful, albeit small. Her parents had invested almost all their savings in securing for her a place of her own. In return, she gratefully ceded to them most of her income so that they could live a respectable life without needing to make more sacrifices.

But one day, the bank transaction went all wrong. She fell victim of a phishing scam that she could not revoke, and almost all her money was gone in an instant.

She could have done two things: either let it break her completely, delving into desperation; or allow it to make her stronger, changing her entire lifestyle.

She decided to do the latter.

With a sense of almost relief, liberation and excitement for the new adventure that opened up before her, she moved into the heart of the forest.

Using the little money she had left, she managed to build a wooden cabin based on an idea she saw in a viral video.

She retreated into isolation, knowingly and fully conscious of the huge alteration she was imposing on her life.

Yet, she was happy. And more relaxed and self-aware than she had ever been.

Her company was the woodland creatures that seemed to have emerged from a Disney movie.

She would spend hours observing them and witnessing the small traits each had; how their behavior was kinder, softer and more genuine than that of humans; how they treated one another without harm; and how they took care of the environment in which they lived and did not destroy their own habitat.

The forest was almost secluded in winter, as the paths would turn into swamps and crossing them became difficult.

But she did not mind.

Summer was the most social of seasons, when campers would disturb her isolation. She would exchange lifestyle habits with them, but it only served as a reminder that she was better off in her remoteness, away from a world in which she felt she did not belong.

In the end, it didn’t matter where she lived; what was important was feeling well inside her physical and spiritual home – her own body.

“You can live in a house, but your real home is inside you” – Leonard Jacobson

Is it really greener on the other side?

Greener grassThe great thing about going away on a holiday is that you get to forget about everything that annoys you in the place where you reside and go on to experience a different lifestyle, with possibly a different culture and mentality. However, a comparison between what you routinely endure every day and what you see for only a short period is unavoidable. And it seems that every time what you conclude is that the grass always seems to be greener on the other side of the fence. That this “neighbour’s lawn” is indeed better looking, healthier and overall greener than your own. Even though in reality you may be just ignoring anything negative about it and downplaying everything positive about your own.

But sometimes it is in fact greener on the other side. When you view and live in a routine different than the one you are acquainted to, it often simply serves to highlight everything wrong about the latter. The better manners, more efficient organisation, and work ethics of the host nation, simply underline the inadequacy, rudeness and corruption that may prevail in your own. And that is when you decide that things need to change.

Perhaps it is true that one person alone cannot change the world. But change starts from within. And an alteration in your own lifestyle may at least help you reach the satisfaction you so desire. If everything around you seems so negative, and everything elsewhere so positive, then perhaps the grass is truly greener on the other side. But how do you penetrate into that “greener” lawn? How do you enter a system which seems to value contacts, rank and background, much more than knowledge, skills and experience? How do you manage to persuade a director to let you in or at least give you an opportunity when you don’t even know anyone who can open the door? Some trends are universal. And the lack of meritocracy appears to be one of them.

It is like the fight between two wolves that an old Cherokee man told his grandson about. It was about a terrible fight occurring inside of him, between two wolves. One was evil – he represented anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego. The other was good – he was joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. “The same fight”, the man said, “is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too”. The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?” The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

That is true for every aspect of our lives. If we simply look at the negative in everything, that is all we will know. For as long as you feed your mind with the belief that the grass is greener on the other side, that is what you will forever see. In Greek there is a saying that every obstacle is there for a good reason. Perhaps to make you stronger and better prepared when you finally do cross over to the greener lawn. For when you do, you might finally see its own inadequacies and fading colour…


Also part of Daily Prompt: Good Fences?

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