Friday, 14 September 2007

Is It Fate, Faith or Forward Planning That Governs One's Future ?

Blank! That is how I remember my childhood years. Initially, I was of the view that Erickson’s theory could be more applicable to present days of upbringing children.

How I wish my parents could sing and talk to me while I was still a foetus in the comfort zone of my mother’s womb as young parents of nowadays are convinced or led to believe that such efforts could bring wonders to their babies.

It was my other wishful thinking that if, and ONLY IF my father did not succumb to cancer when I was only 1 year of age, my life would probably be more colourful and successful.

Another, if my mother need not have to work, and could spend more time with me during my nurturing years; I would probably have developed more positive characteristics in my later years.

My parents have passed on, and so are many of my relatives who had the opportunities to witness my growing-up years. There is no way that I could clarify and have a better insight into my early childhood when my mental capacity was probably still hibernating.
How many of us could really remember our early years of 1 to 2 years old ? There was no video, digital or otherwise, for backtracking on possible incidence of “Close eyes contact between mother and son” or “Inter-manifestation of mistrust” back then.

According to Erickson, I must have those positive experiences during my infancy. To these days, my trust in a total stranger is forthright. It has always been my basic principle that everybody be given the benefit of doubt unless further encounter and feedback proved otherwise.

Growing up in a single-parent environment has never been easy. My brother and I had ample autonomy when mother worked in the day. We were left very much on our own even though my uncles, aunts and cousins were all living with us under one ancestral roof.

There were ample opportunities to build up our will-power to attend to our challenges, and overcome our boredom and shortcomings as mother’s meagre income could not afford us a comfortable lifestyle. Notwithstanding, mother was strict and regimental in her parental approach.

I developed an early interest in reading - all sorts, but mother was concerned that I might develop a reading habit, and neglect my school works in due course. Little did she realise that her early forbiddance would cause me great agony and shame in coping with the English Language when I entered school.

Whenever I shared my dreams of better days ahead with my mother, she was never encouraging. She was condescending and destructive in her own pessimistic and conservative ways, and I was left wondering whether or not I had the right thinking.
I tend to agree with Erickson that somewhere along the continuum of development, I must have developed the capacity for action despite the constraints and set-backs.

Mother never bought me any toy, not even on my birthday. I remember taking a fancy at somebody’s four-wheel plaything ( a jeep with peddlers ), and went on to build my own “jeep” with a wooden crate as the body, a discarded wheel as the steering wheel and my vocal as the revving engine.

When I managed to save enough money to buy the plaything, I discovered that I had already outgrown the size of the plaything (I could not get into the driver’s seat !)

I was allowed too little success during my primary education (up to lower secondary to be exact). Mother disallowed me from reading and doing anything beyond the school curriculum. Teachers were not encouraging either.

Some were rather damaging - out to make fun of us as idiots for the slightest mistakes or lack of imagination. I was partly to be blamed. I was industrious, but I did not know what studying was all about.

I read all my school books, but I did not realise the need to memorise adequately for my examinations. Naturally, I was an average pupil in class until primary four when I failed miserably.

I was devastated on seeing my report card recorded mostly in red ink. Mother was terribly upset. After giving me a horrific thrashing, she arranged with a tutor in the neighbourhood to guide me through. I had my first awakening after a few lessons.
I realised that reading and writing alone were not enough - I need to seek out and memorise the examinable stuff well enough to score during examinations. I assured my mother that she could discontinue the tuition arrangements, and I went on to become one of the top pupils in my school from then onwards.

Overnight, I became a teacher’s favourite. I was competent in all subjects - arts and sciences. I was roped in to help out on sports day and other errands; and was once appointed as a school prefect. But, I was never elated with all the attention on me in school. I probably suffered too much and too late ( or too early ? ) that I continued to be humble to these days. I never like the limelight, and I am never comfortable with any accolade.
As an adolescent, I was never confused or lost about my identity or role in my family, to my relatives and society at large. My uncles, cousins, state leaders and legendary heroes were models for my character formation. My rite of passage through the compulsory two-and-half years of national service in the Singapore Armed Forces reinforced my attributes for my adulthood.

I took an interest in the opposite sex as early as when I was undergoing my national service. Perhaps, my loneliness during my childhood days had a bearing on this yearning for some sustainable and intimate relationship of my own choosing.

My mother was against my forming a serious relationship before my tertiary education, but I was adamant about it. I was of the opinion that a desired and fruitful relationship could actually lend momentum to my other pursuits in life.
It is precisely my constant fear of stagnation that drives me to plan ahead, and make the necessary changes to remain useful and active even during the last stages of my life span.

It was also at this stage that I went through the most important rite of passage in life - my baptism. Life takes on a new direction, and along with it all the hopes and vigour of a new relationship.

With God’s grace, it would be great to be able to live till a ripe old age. We need not have to look back with regrets for lost time and opportunities if we had a clear conscience throughout the bygone stages of living life to the fullest.

It is not too difficult to realise what options there are for us if we have taken the time and opportunities to witness those who have God’s grace to live till a ripe old age, and eventually leave for the Lord’s kingdom ahead of us.

Erickson is absolutely right in cautioning us that There is little that cannot be remedied later, there is much that can be prevented from happening at all.

Let us start cracking now before it is too late, lest we crack up under the misery of lost time and opportunities.

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