Contrary to what I’m sure most people would expect me to be writing about here, I will not be talking about the insanely expensive utility bills that many of us have been floundering in over the last few months or so. My discussion today is more obscure than that.
There is another intangible cost of living which is much more permanent and yet does not make news headlines. It can be lumped under one broad title: Pain. That sounds quite depressing. That to exist in this world, an inevitable by-product of life is emotional and even physical pain. However, it is true. I have yet to meet an adult who has not experienced one or both of those things.
Whilst nobody can claim to have had a life free from worries of some kind, the truth is that life has to go on. It is the price we pay to exist. Burdens of some sort are part and parcel of our journey through time and as much as some people complain about them, the stark reality is that they are only meant to make us stronger and more determined to soldier on. This is the cost of living.
Arguably, the real focus has to shift from the word, ‘cost‘ to the word ‘living‘. We need to train ourselves to understand that smooth sailing through life will do nothing to enrich our souls. As sure as there are seismic activities constantly occurring under the Earth’s crust, we can be equally sure to meet obstacles to our individual plans which will throw everything into turmoil. But each obstacle needs to be embraced with an almost detached philosophical view – that by confronting and then overcoming it, we will be catapulted onto something better although unforeseen.
No doubt, as emotional beings, it isn’t always easy to be detached from a situation and be able to see the wood for the trees. Wouldn’t life be a breeze if we could do that? The emotional toll which we endure when the balance in life is dramatically upset, is something not to be suppressed either. That would be disastrous – to deny ourselves the right to go through the full range of wild emotions however unhinged we may seem. Having gone through my own challenges, I would be first to testify that I needed to allow myself those irrational and erratic thoughts to run through my mind till I could purge myself of them. There was never going to be any way to fast track that process. It had to happen organically and in its own time.
And there’s another thing too. A more subtle yet insiduous cost of living that many of us should learn to absorb into our lives is the ability to be hardened to the critics who question our decisions when they don’t synchronise with their own way of thinking. That’s a cost we have to endure and accept if we are going to live – and live freely. If there’s one thing I have learnt since divorce, it is to stand up for what I believe in. It may be against people’s better judgement but they need to understand nobody’s life mirrors their own. In many cases, their derision or doubts comes from a place of envy anyway.
In essence, there is always a price to pay when making choices in life. Some things will have to be forsaken but the focus should remain on what we stand to gain. When a farmer reaps his harvest, or a student graduates from university, I’m sure the pure delight in the final outcome enables them to forget how they worked tirelessly to reach their goal. It was all worth it in the end. And so, this is how we need to view every encounter, obstacle and experience in life. The choices we make may cost us in terms of money, time, energy and even friends. But as long as no malice was intended and we have Allah on our side, there is nothing to fear but fear itself.