Sunday, December 18, 2016

The quest for the eluding happiness


We received a huge cardboard box for a shipment we had ordered online. The box was taller than my son, and we actually had trouble getting it through our door due to its wide width. Both my kids were excited looking at that huge box.

I got the box inside and emptied its contents. I was thinking of flattening the box and throw it out, when my daughter asked me if she could play with it. It was much wider than her and was almost at her shoulder height. We removed the sticky tape and cut a part of the opening before my daughter pushed the box to her room.

We had our friends with their 2 kids over at our place that day. All 4 kids were soon playing with the box. We could hear them laugh and shout. The box which I was planning to flatten and throw out had now become their doll house. My friend’s wife had helped them cut a square on one side and a circle on the other side, and those were the windows to the doll house. The kids had used the circle cut out to write their names on it. So it was no more just a box, it was the house of the kids. Looking at them engrossed with that box, I decided to wait for them to tire and throw out the box later once they were done with it.

Their interest with that box did not lessen one bit. I saw more improvements to the box over the next few days. They pasted stickers and drew images. They arranged their dolls and toy cars inside. The doll house now had a kitchen, a bedroom and a TV room. They had tied a thread with a small strip at the end and called it the doll house elevator.

In short, they had built a new world using that throw away box.

As I watched them enthralled with the box, I couldn’t stop myself drawing comparisons with us adults. The kids had made a world out of that cardboard box which I would have otherwise thrown out. We adults are not satisfied even when the world is given to us. If we have a 2 bedroom house, we desire a castle. If we are given the world, we desire the universe. The desire never really stops.

It’s just amazing how much we can learn from the kids. Yet, rather than learning from them, we want to teach them. We want them to go to school and learn from the adults to be happy. To me, it seems our education system is designed with the sole end goal of teaching us make money with the assumption that money will keep us happy. But the stark reality we miss is that, the kids are happier than we adults.

As I thought through all this, at some point my adult ego took over and justified the schooling system, the grades, the certifications, the money and that eluding happiness. As that ego hastened its grip, I no more could see the happiness which they already had. Just as every parent, I wanted my kids to go to school, focus on their grades so that they learn to make money to reach that mysterious happiness which is supposed to be waiting somewhere.


~Narendra V Joshi