What does it mean actually?
Today’s blog is all about ‘being independent’. The word ‘independent’ is and has been used in the context of many topics – independent country, organisation, individual, thought and so on. But what does it actually mean to be independent? Ofcourse, a lot have been written and researched about this. Most recently, I came across a scientific paper in Sciencedirect journal which talked about humans being slaves to their will: in simple words, it claimed of the non-existence of freewill in a living organism. So, no independent thoughts, then?
Honestly speaking, I both, agree and disagree with it. First, I will tell why I disagree. I disagree partly with this statement as the world has witnessed many people from varied professions working towards their goal relentlessly, not affected by sleeplessness, hunger, embarrassment, disbelief or betrayal. For example, the artists who work for 72 hours at a stretch sometimes or the world leaders who never take a holiday during their term or our ‘Moms’ who work endlessly just to keep the family happy and healthy. They accept everything as it comes, learn from their good and bad experiences, strive harder every time going beyond the human limits sometimes, fall sick but get back to working towards their objective, with a bang. So, I believe that in this case, humans are not slaves of their will, it’s rather the opposite. They enslave their will to work suiting to their conditions.
However, I also partly agree with the statement that ‘human are slaves to their will’. WHY… you ask?? Well! Let me explain. Our brain stores all data throughout the day processing and rationalizing various events. Based on these events, our viewpoint about a person or situation is affirmed. We say we are not judgmental; however, it’s usually quite the opposite.
What?? Are you saying ‘NO’? Come on…be a sport. Ok, let’s take an example.
What do you do when you see a shady person walking towards you on an empty dark street at wee hours of the night?? You run away…as simple as that. Though the person was coming towards you to tell you that you have dropped your phone near the garbage bin but in the moment of panic, human brain decides to do what it knows from its intuitive statistical analysis. The brain senses danger as it has registered such events in the ‘danger’ folder of the brain (from watching many thriller and horror movies stored in its memory) and hence, directs the body to run. Speaking about the legitimacy of the situation, the events mentioned above actually happened. Now, don’t ask me who that (scared – running) person was.
So, I have stated my independent thoughts about the free will of humans. Moving on to the next part of this blog – What does it mean for an individual to be independent? Ever since, I learnt this word and its different meanings, I always wanted to be independent. I am sure all of you also have had the same feeling at some point of your life. Isn’t it? So, let me tell you a story, in fact a true incident which happened earlier last week.
An old woman in her mid-80s probably, was trying to climb the stairs of the train station with her bag. It seemed ok-ish heavy for me but must be difficult for her to carry. Looking at her wrinkled skin and bony structure, I could see she was struggling with the weight of the bag so I offered to help. She politely refused. I was a bit stunned as normally people appreciate the help but she was determined to pick up her baggage by herself. This attitude of hers definitely impressed me. I did not help but carefully monitored and made sure that she reached up the stairs. Drenched with her own sweat, panting heavily, she reached at the waiting platform and took a deep breath. I looked at her; she had this divine shine on her face with a light smile…Trust me! I am not exaggerating. She looked surreal.
Then, it got me into thinking…What made her face shine? Why was she so happy, so satisfied? It immediately struck me… It was the shine of not being dependent on another soul in any which way, even at such old age. I tried to talk to her with my broken German as there was enough time left to wait for the train. She told me that she was going to visit her daughter who lived in a city about 200 km away. She lived alone and looked after their small shop after her husband passed away 2 years ago. I told her that today’s events have inspired me and I really appreciate her willpower. She smiled slightly and then with a shaky yet soulful voice told me her story. I will try to translate (from our conversation in German) the story with the exact same words as she told me.
She had a very loving husband. When he was alive she always thought that he was too tough on her as he never carried her shopping bags or opened the door for her or pulled the chair for her to sit (even on a romantic candle light dinner); he made her to look after her own bank accounts, made her to light her own fire during winters and everything else. (He loved her profoundly though.) In doing all these tasks, she sometimes failed miserably both physically and mentally, committed blunders in business…not once but many times and hence, she cried and complained to her husband that it’s not fair to treat her like this. She is a lady and she needs to be treated like a lady. To that, her husband replied in a very loving yet stern voice then, that you will thank me one day for not treating you like a lady. She told me that she didn’t understand him then but she understands him today. He didn’t treat her like some delicate person who needs to be taken care of because he knew she could be much more. He wanted her to be strong, strong when he’s not around, strong to be able to withstand his absence from her life, strong to face the world with or without him, strong to make her own rules, bend them the way she likes and follow them with all her heart and soul.
After listening to the story of the ‘bold-old woman’, I couldn’t stop thinking about her for quite some time . She had inspired me that day and still continues to do so. She had gradually transformed through the course of her life, learning both, the hard and easy way, emerged out stronger and is proud to be an ‘independent’ human being. Is this the true meaning of ‘being independent’? Well!! May be!! Who knows? In fact who can ever know for sure??
Our brain is always clouded by too many questions, too many assumptions, speculating too many meanings for a single word but events like these make you believe that ‘It’s OK‘ – to think differently, to not know or understand at first. ‘It’s OK’ to be yourself, ‘It’s OK’ to be unique in your own ways and that’s also the topic of my next post – ‘It’s OK‘.
Keep reading, keep posting your feedback.
[References: 1. Featured Image from https://pixabay.com/de/person-alte-frau-oma-senior-731423/ 2. Old hands Image from https://pixabay.com/de/h%C3%A4nde-gefaltet-frau-alte-finger-1209337/ ]
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