Articles by Homaira Kabir
There was my lesson. What my child needed was my attunement to help her make sense of her emotions. By shushing them down with a glassful of gratitude, I was simply shirking my responsibility.
Perhaps I don’t need to fear the world I leave behind for my children. Perhaps technology is paving the way for them to come together as a common humanity.
The experience taught me a lesson about fear. It’s not just the dark and wicked emotion that we all wish would be gone because it seems excessive compared to its survival value in the relative safety of the 21st century. Like all emotions, it has an upside, for it possesses a certain goal orientation that urges us to act. When we move beyond our own selfish worlds, fear can give rise to moral emotions such as pro-social anger.
Like all New Year’s resolutions, it’s going to be a journey where there’s no guarantee of success. But something tells me that it is in embracing every part of my experience that I can move freely through the yin and yang of life.
The twins had been studying the last ice age in class, and on this particular day, had watched a short video clip about a large asteroid hitting our planet unexpectedly. As we discussed it over lunch, my daughter threw me an unexpected question.
“What would you do if you knew that an asteroid was going to hit our planet in two years time?”
This kind of selfless love requires that we sit with our uncertainties and fears and yet assure our children that they are not alone. It requires that we refrain from fixing the cracks and fissures in the urge of making their lives perfect. It requires that we contain our impulses and desires and live in the hope of creating something far more beautiful than perfection.
Infatuation with speed is a characteristic of our times. We live in the fastest phase of human history. That can lead to what Larry Dossey in 1982 termed time-sickness, as we become fearful of missing out. The ability to stay with the discomfort of life’s paradoxes and our own ignorance and to remain patient and still while questions and answers grow in never-ending cycles, requires a certain mental toughness that seems to be on its way out in a world in a hurry.
Perhaps it is adversity itself, and the strengths that it builds. For adversity humbles us and reminds us of our limits and our rightful place in the universe. Adversity makes us grateful by preserving small anticipations and accepting the good we find without questioning it. Adversity gives us faith to rise above despair and in so doing, answer the call of the soul. The poor may not have the material riches we possess, but I can’t help wondering who is really the richer or poorer amongst us.
Sometimes our children do something totally unexpected and unacceptable. Then we try desperately to make sense of what happened by playing it over and over in our minds. We can hope for particular outcomes, but with that hope comes fear that it will not be so. Is the road to fearlessness found by giving up hope and letting go of dreams? But not to dream of their futures is an intolerable posture.
As these thoughts and images flashed through my mind, I had a sudden surge of humility. The awareness that I did not have all the answers grounded me in my own limitations. The realization that she was not asking for my solutions but simply talking out loud to find her own solution made me question my role as a parent.