I saw an Oprah’s talkshow rerun yesterday with an episode featuring Tom Shadyac, a film maker of The Nutty Professor, Bruce Almighty, Liar Liar etc who documented his discovery to the question; What’s wrong with this world? and what can we do to make it better? It’s his own journey to self discovery after he hit the ceiling of an A-list lifestyle i.e private jets, mansions, and celebrity status and yet consumed by emptiness. He realised the more he has, the more lonely and disconnected he becomes hence he gave it all up and discovered a more meaningful way of existence. Tom Shadyac opted to just live by what he needs and that makes all the difference. What really striked me from watching his revelation is how nature only takes what it needs, contrary to how we humans are. The tree only take what it needs from the soil it’s been rooted, a lion only preyed on one gazelle in spite of hundreds in the herd, the elephant only drink in what it needs and leave the rest of water for others.Looking at how obsessed we are with appearance today, we acquire so much of what we don’t even use just to step up to the standards of living as expected. It’s like cancer cells; we keep accumulating and probing into each other it’s almost like a disease. We cloned after anyone who has more than us; more cars, more clothes and shoes to wear, more money. In the end, we come home to such empty feelings. What do we gain from looking better than the person at the next table? Nothing much, apart from empty compliments which may not come in as genuine. While it’s great to look superfluous, it’s even greater to stop shopping and look around for what is more important. RM50 can definitely feed a whole family for a week, and we spend it on a pair of shoes that will only last for a month at max. As I wrote this, I am guilty as charged! My ego feeds on my next acquisition, and somehow, after watching the documentary, I do intend to stop shopping for a while until I’ve worn out what I have in my closet.
I shared this with my daughter and explored her views. We had a bit of a laugh when she joked that she won’t be satisfied until she has it all. It made complete sense though, because had Mr Shadyac been living in the slums all his life, he would probably jump at the thought of selling drugs for a pair of Nike shoes! Not to say that those who are in the slums has no morale, but highest level of conciousness can only be attain once you have fulfill all your basic needs. I’m sure God chose who He wants to be enlightened and who stays in the dark. I’m glad that I don’t shun off the thought of a simple lifestyle but I still want a bit more comfort in my life. Can? *wink
Another thing that enlightened me from the show are effort and cooperation. You know how frustrated one feels when you’re out there in a team and everybody is leeching on your effort, or you’re the only one in the family that gets up at 6am and slaved in the kitchen to make a great breakfast and noone bothered to say thank you let alone clean the dishes after they ate? Yes, the only thing that bind us together apart from love is the effort to cooperate with each other. And when you don’t get it, you feel abused and unappreciated. When someone makes an effort to be nice, just reciprocate and cooperate. Compassion alone is useless untill it becomes a verb. Extending effort in keeping relationships, in cooperating with loved ones instead of being consumed by “everyone-owes-me” mentality is one in a billion these days.The other day, my friend Nissa who I have not seen since 15 called to say hello after she got my phone number from some friend. I was pleasantly surprised and a little ashamed that I didnt make an effort to keep in touch with many people in my past including her. I have not forgotten Nissa, but I thought after almost 20 years apart, nobody really cares how the other have grown. We were crying from each end of the line and promised to see each other by end of the year. Also, recently another friend, Audrey visited me from Sabah. She happened to be in KL with her kids and since it’s Raya, why not visit Qahina my old friend right? We weren’t very close before, but we’ve backpacked across Italy together and shared some of the best and wildest times of our life. And now, after 2 kids she still made an effort to come down from Papar where she had settled down and visit her friends in KL. To me that’s an amazing feat in trying to keep friendship alive. it’s just a phone call and an hour’s drive to reach each other (just like what my friend Lin Sun did when we got news of a friend’s wedding). Friendship should transcend outside facebook and twitter but how many people are genuine enough to be nice outside their realm? It doesn’t kill you to be a little sentimental about your own parent or your best friends. At least someone out there feels your effort.
At the end of our life, noone remembers us by how much we have. If one is lucky, people will recall your deed in bridging friends and families together. If not, you’ll probably die alone, worst, rot in some flat where the neighbours would only bother to look for when the stench of your body becomes overbearing. I pray to God I end well, overlooking my loved ones hugging each other and remembering my love.