This is a lovely story that I am sure most of you must have heard when you were children. The other day my husband was narrating it to my younger son, and it struck me how very sensible and relevant this story is for every stage of life. So here's the tale just to refresh your memory.
A man was walking with his son and his donkey in his village. He passed an old man who sniggered that they were so foolish to be walking when they had a donkey who could easily carry them.
Hearing this, the man climbed on top of the donkey. They had gone just a little distance ahead when a bunch of women looked at him in contempt and commented that he was very selfish to be making his young son walk in the sun while he enjoyed a ride on the donkey. The man immediately got down and put his son on the donkey.
Some time later, he came across a group of men. They pointedly commented that the boy was so lazy to be going on the donkey while his poor father walked.
The boy got down. Now, both of them decided to go on the donkey. As they passed some people, they overheard them feeling bad about the poor beast of burden who was clearly overloaded. Alarmed, both of them got down. The man and the boy now decided to carry the donkey. So, awkwardly and painfully they trudged the donkey along on their shoulders till they came to a bridge. Here they lost their balance and the poor donkey fell in the river and drowned.
Moral of the story: Please everyone and you please no one!
Correlate this to your routine life. Whether it is getting married at a particular age, having a career or not, having children or not, celebrating festivals, losing/gaining weight, raising your children in a particular way, taking care of your parents, even having certain views -- everything is under the microscope now. Everyone and their uncle has an opinion on how you should lead your life.
Seriously, you can't satisfy them all! It is a lost battle from the word go. You will just end up being miserable and unhappy. This festival season, as we look forward to the new year, I pray that all of us can clean the cobwebs of confusion and unhappiness from our minds.
May we all learn the most important lesson: Put your happiness above everything else. Self-love is not selfish. It is the best love to practice.
This post has been previously published on Rachna says.