Root cause/Rude course

Peering at me through the thick lenses of her glasses, she leaned even closer to me before asking, “What do you want to be when you are grown up?” My paternal grandmother had always scared me. Her sharp eyes and even sharper tongue had a way of keep her children and grandchildren alike in line. Now, as she was waiting on my reply, her long talon-like forefinger nail was tapping away on the table in front of her, urging on my reply. “Uh,uh…” I stuttered at a loss for words. Before I could come up with an appropriate response, she went off on a tangent telling me about what all my cousins want to be once they are grown-ups. Under her guidance, their life routes had been planned and set into motion. I felt that I had failed the family in one way or another but just how I wasn’t quite sure off. At the age of six, I felt the burden of living up to the expectations of the family even though I did not understood what those expectations actually entailed.
The same question came back to haunt me for many years to come. As I entered the formal education system, parents and family, teachers and coaches kept on presenting the issue to me. “The question” became a qualifier or measure of selection; in many situations, a road marker designed to indicate to us the route to our life journey. Yet, what does a child know about why they came into this earth? What do they know about their reason for being here and their destiny? What does a child care about tomorrow if they have today to enjoy?

I just wanted to be me.

Free spirited, peace loving, seeking harmony and unity wherever I went, that was what I wanted to be when I grew up. However, to parents and teachers that was not the right answer. Their aim with using the question was to tell me what I needed to be as a responsible adult. They were training me to take up my place in the clockwork of society. Repeatedly, these figures of authority pointed out to me that my answer was the wrong one and that I needed to come up with the right one. It was all about wrong and right; not a thing about what brings life to me. Choose a career path; choose the way of living that we hold up in front of you. Choose wisely, because your answer will secure you your spot for the rest of your life, the message that I received.
Lambasted time and time again for coming up with the wrong answer to this very vital question, I gradually saw the light and came to the conclusion of what I needed to be. The verdict was that I would be a responsible, career driven, take-no-prisoner’s kind of woman that would juggle home, marriage and career seemingly effortlessly. I would be good at this, because it was the right thing for me to do.
My course was set for me. The well-oiled gears of industrialized society were turning and bureaucracy would have its way and sway over me.
In reality, the seemingly right thing to do does not necessarily bring life. Duty and obligation have the ability to kill the spirit and the soul, while passion and desire brings life to the being. Only many years later, I would learn this vital truth.
I had always believed that there was a unique place in this world meant for me only; a position custom made for me. A spot prepared for me because of who I am. No matter how hard I tried, I could not find this peculiar setting by doing the right thing. There was no comfortable fit for me to be found. Everything demanded of me was contrary to my nature, which left me feeling out of place, distressed and disillusioned.
I did not want to compete with others but desired to work together towards a common and shared goal. I had no joy in accumulating things and possessions. To me possessions were and still is, only the means to an end. That end being, creating the setting in which I could live my life purpose. I did not need to be the best in everything I did; I just needed to be the best me I could be. I did not want to pursue and build a career where I had to step on others to get to the top just to proof that I am the best and not daring to look back to see the destruction left behind. I did not want to be part of a fraternity where I constantly had to be one step ahead to be secure in my own position; to be an expert to keep that position and had to fight to keep the right to that particular seat.
Over the years, my discontent grew and together with it, my disillusionment with this system that promised so much but have exacted more than it gave. Only an empty shell of me was left. It was time for a serious intervention.

(To be continued)

©Copyright Micelle Coetsee 2014


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