From losing two classmates back in school days to losing a friend last week, I have seen so many deaths that the sheer unpredictability of life has now become ingrained in me. The thought, “What if I’m next?” crosses my mind. When playing out these scenarios, children are at the forefront of our mind because they are not yet independent. As a parent, I have always strived to teach kindness and happiness. I feel if you know the secret of happiness, you can figure out how to deal with anything and everything in life.
I do not know for how long I will live, but while I am alive, I wish to equip my children with the habits, tools, and knowledge to help them live happy lives. I have clearly understood that fewer things and less “noise” directly equate to a peaceful life, which is instrumental in living a happy one. It was my daughter’s birthday last week and she turned 12.
This academic year, she joined secondary school and would often sadly mention how she was the only one in her class without a phone. She stayed in touch with her school friends using my phone, yet somehow I could not convince her that life without a phone is good. Adults around me tried convincing me that I need to buy a phone for her—for her security, to help track her so that it is helpful in the event of any danger. There have been stories of attempted abductions in London and some in our neighbourhood as well, which has increased the fear. I often feel sad we find a sense of security with technology more than with community or the system. We invest more on technology to build a secure environment but seldom on people and community to build a self-reliant, peaceful, and sustainable one.
In the difficult conversations we had, I always told my daughter that she should depend on her physical and mental self alone to overcome any situation, and not fully depend on technology. This is because technology is so easy and convenient that we seldom push ourselves to the best versions of ourselves. I succumbed to the pressure and gifted her a second-hand phone, but I do not intend to give up on the idea of technology dependence at the expense of self-growth. I hope to fill her life with purposeful activities to the extent that a phone may seem less attractive. I know it is a difficult goal, but I do not wish to give up yet. I have gifted her a book on digital minimalism for the start and some seeds to grow food. Growing your own food, is like printing your own money!
I know it’s not difficult to connect children with real things and reality. Of all the community activities, climate change marches, animal rights activism, talks I have attended, she has grown to adopt veganism and be conscious of food waste and green living. We do face difficulties in leading a minimalist life due to peer pressure, but nothing is impossible, and I have enough strength for now to carry on.
Though I now have the strength to carry on, I do not know how long this will be for, so I do wish to leave them with little things that may help in their future. One of these gifts is a framed version of the poem ‘If’ by Rudyard Kipling handwritten in calligraphy. This is one of the most motivational pieces of poetry that have defined and shaped my attitudes, and I do hope my children are able to understand and enjoy it.
Finally, we donated to the International anti-poaching foundation. Together as a family, we had learned a lot about poaching and extinction, so we decided to donate to the IAPF, founded by Damien Mander, a vocal vegan. My daughter whooped and shrieked “Yay!”, to this family decision. I told her that every time we spend money, we are casting a monetary vote on the type of world we desire to have. I wish to create a happier and more peaceful world for them, where every earthling lives in happy coexistence!