“When the well’s dry we know the worth of water”
– Benjamin Franklin (one of the founding fathers of U.S.A)
Anup Kekatpure, a forty-three- year old man, asked in an emotion-choked voice, “I always serve others selflessly, yet I am unhappy. I wonder why it is so.”
“What do you mean you are selfless? What do you do?” I asked, trying not to intimidate or probe.
Anup narrated his life’s contributions: He got all his eight siblings educated and married and in the process stayed so busy all his youthful life that he never got married himself. Besides, he was upset that his family was ungrateful for all he has done for them – they still need money, and he arranges it. He claimed he had sacrificed his health, wealth and time for his family, but they only want more. He moaned, “My health is a mess now, my Blood pressure and sugar levels are abnormally high, I also feel lonely, and have no free time to read or have fun.”
I tried hard not to pry into his affairs but blurted in wonder, “Why did you do all this?”
He was emphatic, “To serve my family and make them happy, that’s why I continue to serve them.”
I persisted with my line of reasoning, “But Why, why did you do this?”
“Because that’s the right thing to do, isn’t it? We should be selfless and care for our near and dear ones.”
I asked provokingly, “Are you saying it’s wrong to care for oneself, one’s own needs for good health, companionship, freedom, and happiness?”
He was embarrassed, “Well.. er…Yeah, I guess I should have taken care of myself.”
“Then why didn’t you?” now I was annoying.
He pondered for a few seconds, “Hmm… let me see. I thought I was selfish if I did anything that made me happy.”
“Did you ever realize there’s a difference between being Selfish and taking care of yourself- self-care?”
“No” his immediate answer surprised me. I saw his eyes lit up. Probably this was his epiphany.
To be continued….