We open bank accounts willy-nilly, and soon discover we have so many that we are confused which bank account has what. Does that sound familiar? As does the fact that we love stashing away small amounts of money here and there and big lumps of money everywhere. The relationship managers at banks are only too good at scenting these bits and soon—this might sound very familiar—there will be further bits in mutual funds, a small lump as gold, a big brown cover with bonds, another brown envelope filled with fixed deposits, recurring deposit receipts and so on.
This is the point when it gets insane. You wake up one day and start getting reminders for premiums from your banks. Then you start getting reminders for your reminders. You can’t figure out which bit is where and you spend the next few nights trying to track all this online. You log on and discover that you have forgotten the password to your account. [Only because you have got so many and can’t figure one out from another]. Now you begin recalling fondly about those days when you kept all your money in one treasure chest [or bank] and dished it out to yourself when needed. Your head didn’t spin trying to keep tracks of all those passwords and account numbers. You didn’t have to spend sleepless nights online figuring out your investments. You knew exactly how much you had. How I wish those days were back—with simple, uncomplicated ways of operating a bank? Don’t you?
Someone to come home to So, why do we still keep going back to complex ways when at heart we always long for the simple? Is it our minds or have our expectations increased? For we carry these complications over to everything, be it smaller things like clothes, food and money or larger things like our life and our relationships.
We marry with the hope to flicker romance initially. The woman has stars in her eyes and the man has a rose in his hand, and they both desire candlelit dinners. There is a rush of adrenaline, and the urge to spend as much time with each other, shopping and partying. You want to travel the whole world—the Bahamas, Rio, Istanbul, Paris, the Himalayas are all on your to-do list and you start packing. And when you are there, you just don’t want to look around, you want to bungee jump, paraglide, trek and shop till you drop.
Slowly, the years roll by and this begins to fade. You begin to realise that this isn’t really what you wanted and this isn’t really what you are. It’s simpler. Stepping into the doorway is like breasting an Olympic tape. You enter and almost immediately feel a sigh of relief, and a sense of peace. Ah! Home sweet home. The romance and passion fade too; for even that is in your head and is not your everyday self. At the end of the day, all you look forward to is a knowing that somebody is there in the house for you; somebody to sit and chat with, to laugh with, to watch TV with, and to discuss everyday things like the price of vegetables or the big feud you overheard in your neighbour’s house. Gone too is your urge for action-packed days [and holidays]. The bench on the lawn behind your house is more easing. And you can spend hours watching a long line of ants marching in a disciplined manner across the lawn. For those of you who have felt this joy, it’s a serious occupation. Watch the ants a little longer and you will always notice there are two and both travelling in opposite directions, along the same highway. They meet as they cross and you wonder: Are they just wishing each other good morning? Or perhaps they are kissing each other or telling each other a secret about where the next store of food is? Or are they talking about their holidays in the Bahamas?
I wonder to myself: What a pleasure it is to just sit for hours, admiring them and watching the world go by! Yet why do we associate our self-worth with the stuff we own? When what we really need is less of things and more of life!
A world with trees, filled with the smell of moist earth. And, of good home-made dal, rice and subzi.
And the contentment of lounging around in well worn clothes. And watching sunlight filter through the trees in the morning and throw warm golden pools on the ground.
Truly, is it that simple?
This was first published in the February 2013 issue of Complete Wellbeing.
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