There are many instances in my life wherein I ask myself the question “How did I live?” I cannot remember my childhood too much. All I can remember is that I suddenly became a conscious being—able to see, hear, feel, and basically observe everything in my surrounding. I grew up as a toddler, then a few years later, as a child.
Of course I had a lot of realizations when I was a child. Childhood, for me, is the age of enlightenment. I do not know what childhood is for others or how they see or treasure it, but I am pretty sure that what we are now is a result of all the events that happened to us when we were nothing but a child, dependent on his parents, and incapable of protecting himself.
As I grew, I came to realize that I have a father and a mother; that they were my parents, and that they are basically tasked to take care of me and help me grow, not only physically, but also emotionally, socially, and spiritually. My colorful childhood is the main reason of my very existence as a person today.
When I was a child, I used to think that the world is centered on me—that I am the only one who should enjoy the fruits of this world. I had this thinking that I should be the only one to survive, despite knowing that there are other people around me. Later on I realized that having such feeling as a child is completely normal. Apparently, that feeling or state of mind is called egocentrism. A few years after that time, I learned that just like me, my mother and father, my siblings, and basically everyone in our extended line of family also have the same right that I have—to live. It was as if the egocentrism has been fading away. My selfish desires as a child were slowly withering and I was slowly but surely becoming able to see things from a larger and clearer point of view.
When I was in the last months of my secondary school, I came to realize that I, together with all the members of my extended family, live in a society, and that as a member of that bigger family, I have to do something significant, something that does not only benefit myself or my personal interests, but others’ as well. I was not really sure why I realized that at a time when I already made a lot of mistakes because of my stupid perception of the world earlier when I was a child. I used to bully kids when I was a kid, thinking that I am the only one with the right to live, to enjoy his childhood, and to be pleased. I did not know that we live in a so-called society where everyone should be granted with equal rights, and equal opportunities to grow.
Soon enough, I realized the value of giving back. For so many years, my parents, my classmates—some were genuine friends while some were simply afraid of me, and my circle of friends, tried to give everything they can to please me, to pacify my interests and wants in my childhood years—well, not in an exaggerated but in a normal way. Among these three groups of people, I am very certain that my parents are the ones who have the biggest sacrifice. In fact, they did not only sacrifice—they suffered.
As an adolescent or a near-adult man, I have come to realize that I have debts (not financial but personal debts) to my parents. I should give them a lot of credit for raising a stubborn and impulsive man like me. I have come to realize that I should give something back to them, and basically to all the people who have played their own significant roles during my childhood because like I said, if not for these people, most especially my parents, I would not be able to stand here today and do the things that I usually do now.
Society is such a big family. It has doctors, cooks, businessmen, lawyers, politicians, and all types of people who specialize on a particular job. I thought that it would be worthwhile to think that all members of the society as members of my own family. People outside my real family may not be connected to me biologically but if only I could think of them as individual parts of it, then everything would be easy. I will finally be able to let go of my selfish desires and be able to learn how good and fulfilling it could feel to finally be able to integrate yourself in the society.
One of the most important things I have learned within my childhood age bracket was how to give back. I now see my life as a huge bank account. However, the difference is that in this bank account, there are no bank clerks who will assist and limit the amount of investment for every withdrawal.
Another unique thing about this life’s bank account is the fact that the investment is not in the form of money. Emotions make up this real-life bank account. The more positive emotions you invest, the more you could withdraw in the future. It generally follows the law of supply and demand or the philosophical “what you sow is what you reap” principle.
On the contrary, the more you withdraw or the more negative emotions you invest, the less you could use in the future. These emotional investments are like money that you can withdraw and put in. Investing in this bank account is like a form of giving back to society what it has given to you at a time when you were just a kid, unable to protect and fend for yourself.
If every person living in this planet would do the same, investing nothing but positive emotions, which are basically good deeds, this would create a vicious cycle of positive emotions— and thus good deeds, which will only lead to a society full of happy and satisfied people.
Unfortunately, I have also come to realize that this is only an ideal, which as far as the current world politics is concerned, will not be achieved, at least for the next 50 years or even more. But who knows, maybe if I will continue investing in my own emotional bank account and serve as a good example to other people, some of my friends would start to realize the positive effects of giving back something to someone who has been a part of your growth and success.
This, for me, is the most important thing I have learned and realized, during my childhood. Now, even though there is no current field in science that could prove whether this principle of mine is true or whatever truth there is behind it, I know that it would still lead to good things. Good things will always lead to good things and bad things will always lead to bad things.