At your age, how would you describe the sum total of your life?
Many years ago when I was in university, I had the privilege of staying with my grandfather for about a year while I was a student. During this time I got to know him well, and as time passed by I got to know myself better. I also learnt a thing or two about genetics.
Did you know that you get to inherit a fairly decent percentage of genes from your grandparents?
I'm reminded of Mendel's Law of Independent Assortment, which explains why some children/grandparents tend to favor one grandparent/grandchild more than the other. Now, I'm not the best person to explain Mendel's laws of genetics, but this I know: In my grandfather's family, I was the one who inherited my grandfathers ability to paint, his passion for wildlife and his outdoorsman talents. For his background, he was a well-travelled man, one of the adventurous few in his hometown who decided to leave his family behind, travel across the ocean to the other side of the world and pursue an education at UCLA, Berkeley. And later on upon his return back to India, among the very few to own a car in the small town he lived. Enough about my grandfather.
I really enjoyed having long discussions with him, and we developed a good relationship.
For a person who had been there, and done that, I was always curious to ask him something.
And one evening during his final years, as we sat down to chat, I asked him a question, "At your age, how would you describe the sum total of your life?"
He paused for a few seconds, as if to recollect the past 80 plus years, and replied, "The most important thing in my life are the few relationships I have made. Nothing else matters... "
At that time, his statement didn't mean much to me, and most of what he said made no difference to me. After all I was just a young boy with very little experience in anything. But decades later, now, I can see what he meant.
I believe life is all about relationships. Relationships are about communication, and all communication, including prayer, is a two-way process. But what exactly is a relationship and why are relationships so important?
We live in a connected world. A world of family relationships, business relationships, community relationships and so on. A relationship is nothing but the way in which we are connected, or our state of being connected. And we all know that we want our relationships to work well and bring us happiness.
So what are relationships made up of?
I am sure you will agree that to create, nurture and grow a relationship, we need trust, transparency, honesty, respect, love and most important, communication. Try removing one of these and see what happens to your relationship.
In our day and age, where we spend less time meeting people face to face, and more time socializing virtually (sometimes not even with real people) how does one focus on making and maintaining relationships? Life is short.
If we spend most of our time just educating ourselves, working, pursuing our passions and living our lives just because ...? Well, we all have different reasons and purposes for doing what we do. But whatever our reasons maybe, in the end, is anyone going to remember our achievements, the work we did, the positions we held, the money we made, the type of cars we drove, or the brand of clothes we wore? (materialism)
Don't we want to be remembered, and if so, how do we want to be remembered after we are gone?
Maya Angelou put it well when she said "I have learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel" The key word here is feel. And it involves two or more people who have a connection (relationship).
Why are relationships important?
We were all created as social beings, to connect, interact, love each other and live a life of peace and harmony. A perfect world! But we have chosen to remove some elements of our relationship, leading to the problems we face today. Why don't we choose to ignore all the materialism and the stuff that makes us stressed out and unhappy, and focus instead on our relationships?
I believe that for a relationship to work well, in other words to be able to perfectly synchronize trust, transparency, honesty, respect and communicate with one another, we need a cohesive force to bring and keep these attributes together.
Please don't compare or judge me, but when I view and treat every relationship in this order (shown in the diagram below), then it is easier to maintain relationships, because I am accountable to the creator of the relationships
As my grandfather once said, nothing else matters, except for the relationships we make, nurture and keep.
"If civilization is to survive, we must cultivate the science of human relationships - the ability of all peoples, of all kinds, to live together, in the same world at peace" -- Franklin D. Roosevelt