There’s clatter in the kitchen. Pans being shuffled about while dishes clink-clank to the drum beat of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. His puissant voice warms the house with memories of dadaji as coriander and cumin seeds float us to a simplicity that lives only in Punjab. The wail of a baby bubbles from the far reaches of the house. As my ears tune to the unfamiliar sound of innocence and unabashed disappointment, I pause for reflection. Why did I ever leave? What is life and love if not spent with those who live and love solely for you.
The man of the house interrupts my thoughts with an oversized doll confusedly imploring me for recognition. Who are you? What am I doing sitting on you? Where did my grandpa go? Why aren’t you letting me go? Questions I cannot answer stare me in face and wait impatiently to be resolved with the threat of breakdown. My mind races for solutions in fear of her father stealing her away the moment she is unpleased with my act. I make clown faces and play peek-a-boo until she tires of me once again. How can one possibly do this all day?
I quickly wonder how off base I am when I tell my mom I could adopt a baby today. I confidently announce I don’t need a man or a savings account, just love and the warmth of the world to get me by. If it is ever as peaceful as this moment, with this delighted baby girl bouncing in my arms, laughing at my face, convincing me that happiness still exists in the small things in life, then it would all be worth it. I could sacrifice my career and my social life all for this little human being that knows unconditional love better than anyone in the world.
But could I? Could I push the pause button on every waking moment I’ve spent over the last 10 years to build into a successfully happy entrepreneur who makes an impact on the world so I could spend the next 18 years building someone else into a successfully happy young person who makes the impacts I could never make? And if I only half committed to both parts of my new life, would either one thrive to its full potential? Or would they both struggle in the wake of my lack of attention and commitment.
I cant imagine, on this day, anything being more important to me than my own child. But where do I draw the lines in the sand? How do I decide what is sufficient, what is smothering, what is ignorant, immature, or improbable? Clearly I have not thought through the monetary restrictions. It is infantile to assume that it will work itself out I suppose. But why not?
In the last 5 years of my life, the happiest communities, families, children, parents, villages, lifestyles I’ve witnessed have been those with less money, less material possessions, more human interaction, more honesty, more life. So why do we sacrifice the things that would truly make us happy in life; travel, spontaneity, risk, in hopes of securing an allusive “better life” for our offspring, when that sacrifice itself makes us resentful and depressed? In turn eradicating any possibility of happiness in our children and thus creating an infinite loop of halfhearted truths and hopes and dreams.
Why do we sprint towards the mirage of a finish line where all things will be perfect, blurring the reds and yellows and greens and blues to a dull gray when a lifetime of strolling through the park brings perfection in each hue of each moment of each day.