Insert from the book THE SUFFERING OF THE INTROVERT for English-speaking clients

We were born intelligent and perfect for our life mission

Each of us has some episodes in our lives when we wish the earth would just swallow us up and hide us from our embarrassments. In spite of it all, when we find ourselves in challenging situations, we fear the same thing could happen again – what a fiasco. We think we are incurable fools and everlasting losers that will always be used by others. “Born a fool, die a fool” is a common expression. This is a foolish expression and an excuse for people to never question the situations that are repeating in their life.

            After a child is born, it has all the knowledge it will ever need. The size of its eyes won’t change significantly. In its disproportionately big head, everything is prepared to be taken into it, copied, and created. A child is intelligent from the moment it’s born. It has the senses of smell, colors, and sounds so developed that we don’t need to explain to it what color something is or what kind of sound it hears. A child is full of curiosity and learns at the speed of light. But why does that child often grow up to be an unattractive adult and an aggressive, complicated, lazy adult – a detriment to himself? In what moment or development period does this happen? Adolescents usually shut off from their parents, or other authorities, and open up to all the silly things in the world and, in spite of it all, exactly at the most sensitive age when they still “know nothing about life”. At times they even self-destruct in dangerous activities that were not available to us when we were their age.

            I’m an advocate of the philosophy that we all have to experience life on our own. Our mission is not finished on this earthly life if we haven’t learned all the lessons needed for us to develop into beings of a higher spiritual level. It might seem that someone has it easy in this life – unlike ourselves or someone else who bears all the troubles of the world on their shoulders. Good people seem to get hurt and bear the heaviest crosses while others, “less worthy”, slip by through all the hardships life throws their way.

            Few of us grow up in an ideal environment. They say that parents cannot and need not be perfect; let them be good enough for a child to develop into an average adult and to lay the foundations for its further, autonomous development. There are those who always use a difficult and unjust childhood as an excuse and constantly throw it in the face of others, most often their still living parents. Their current situations is everybody else’s fault, but not theirs.

            For instance, I could say that my sufferings are my parents’ and my step-parents’ fault, but I will not because it is not true. The environment was, by some miracle, more inclined towards me than to my brothers. However, I’m not saying that everything was just ideal for my physical and spiritual development. My mother wasn’t perfect, but to her kids, she was the ideal mother. Everything needed to be exactly as it was in order for me to become who I am today. The kind of person I am, the purpose of my life, my aspirations, the level of my spiritual development, my persistence and perseverance in life’s challenges – all of it could be the effect of the environment I grew up in, but not a precondition.

            The feeling of being second when a new brother or sister is born does not always need to be a traumatic experience for the eldest child. The first-born child can often assert itself, have jealous outbursts, but a smart parent will recognize and accept that fight for maintaining a position. They will dedicate enough time and inexhaustible love for the older, “threatened” child, too.

            However, the biggest turning point for a child is among the peers at school. Will the child be accepted by its peers or not? I believe that you, the reader, have many traumas from your school years. If you’re of the older generations, you were most likely getting spanked, perhaps even by your teachers.

            My family name is Grđan (Ugly). I was ugly, freakish, with a nose that – as it seemed to me, at least – grows with every passing year and doesn’t stop. I had thin, greasy hair with bangs, a small, flat forehead and no modern haircut to alleviate these features. This was my problem growing up. At that time, we did not wash our hair every day, as we do today, nor were our living conditions good. Water should be fetched, a washbowl prepared. The room wasn’t heated. After washing, my hair gets very tangled, and I would scream as loud as I only could during washing and the combing-out was very painful. At that time, there were no shampoos with conditioner, only the patience of a mother to inflict as little pain as possible.

            Due to a turbulent family situation, I often used to spend time with relatives at different locations. I felt they liked me or were kind for some reason. Was that because my mother used to pay my nannies well, or because they liked my mother? Maybe, they pitied me because my parents were fighting and going through a divorce, or because they were afraid to let me down and lose a client? It doesn’t matter. One knows not what reasons and interests they had in mind, but as a child, I was treated with kindness by strangers. They used to touch my golden hair and feed me healthy food. Perhaps I, too, was loveable and somehow advantaged when compared to my brothers. “Grandpa likes granddaughters; grandsons are despised and dumb” – I seem to recollect that comment. That confirms to me even today that the best thing that has happened to me was being born a female. Grandpa lived passed 100, and I have good memories of him. That man knew how to live. He knew how to rest his spine at any given moment, and to pass wind when it was inappropriate, regardless of who was sitting next to him; that was his specialty. He knew how to preserve his teeth. He was merry and witty. Speaking of wit, I used to have it at a younger age, and I often made jokes. People like that. I don’t know where it has all gone.

            My childish temper started to change in this kind environment. I guess my caretakers had spoiled me. I frequently threw a toy at someone’s head, peed onto clean carpets, exactly on the place where a table should be set. I would tell someone they smell and the like. They say I had my share of spanking that cured this naughtiness right away.

            As a child, I had a good opinion of myself because I lived in a city – even if in the suburbs – while others lived in towns or villages with no electricity and running water. I played the piano and learned English.

            For my first piano exam, my mom had embroidered flowers on my pink dress. My first sonatina was played flawlessly, although it was already clear that I won’t have long fingers, so my teacher had to transform the octaves into something more easily played. I had no fear. I was being my true self, in my pretty dress and with my notes. I feared nothing. “This child will do something great”, said the teacher in the assessment committee. I have memorized that sentence forever, and this was the cause of many problems to come.

This child will do something great!

            I’d like you, the reader, to go back to the times you seemed promising, when you were praised and considered a smart child. Search your memories and recollections exactly from the time you were a child who knew no fear. Punishments and anxiety might have come later on. You might have grown up in a stimulating environment. Parents taught you to believe in yourself. Go back to the times when you had a pure soul, and you believed anything was possible and anything could be achieved!

            Can you feel the essence of life? How every moment mattered! You had no past and the future was full of possibilities. You could fall asleep peacefully with no worries. There were no worries as there are today. Still, I happen to know an elderly man who claims that he always falls asleep fast. He just scratches his head behind his ear, always on the same spot, and falls soundly asleep. He is convinced that he has lived and still lives in the best possible way. He believes he has harmed no one. Lucky him! This is evident, since his sons run their own companies successfully and treat their employees well. I’m not saying it’s easy.

            Speaking of this man is evidence that there is more to us than meets the eye. The world has its spiritual dimensions in the form of nature and its laws. His story took hold when he reached the end of his life and was already “written off”. Due to some bacterium, for which they say lives inside all of us, this man fell into coma. They say he saw himself at the brick of death. He walked on a wire bridge into the unknown. On one side, there were flames, where some people were melting, on the other side, indescribable black nothingness. That “nothingness” was even more daunting. Taking careful steps and reconciled with the fact that he surely must die, he walked on the bridge to the place where an apparition, a spiritual being, was waiting for him.

             “Here I am and I am ready!”, said the man, “But is there not a better place than this one?”

            The apparition, shrouded in the transparent colors of the rainbow, replied using the man’s name, “No. You’re not ready. Go back to where you came from. Your time is still not up. There are other doors, too.”

            This man – his skin coming off in scales, his body swollen as if he was drowning and his fingernails falling off – this man came back from the dead. The recovery took a while, with minor consequences. The interesting fact is that he shared his hospital room with three other people who all shared the same name. All of them died, one of them before the man’s spiritual experience, the others later on. The man thought to himself he must die, too. That was everyone’s destiny.

             “If they died, so must I”, he said to the doctors. After he came back from the point of death, they put him on the list of unresolved cases and biological miracles.

            Today, while spending time with this man and his wonderful sense of humor, I often say:

             “You were meant to stay in this world as long as possible to bring us joy. You have your purpose, although you’re not profiting from it”.

             “Well, I would still like to live”, says the elderly man.

            Our soul is timeless. It doesn’t age. We have the feeling that we knew everything and saw everything through the eyes of a newborn, the same ones we see through today. We cannot say that our soul has grown up or that it older, smarter or underdeveloped. The soul is our timeless traveler that had chosen its body and the life it leads today. Our bodies are our souls’ home. Do we not take care of our apartment or a house regardless of our financial standing?

            As a parent, you probably remember moments when you weren’t fair to your child, or you posed some rules upon your children. There were things you didn’t do right, due to ignorance, lack of time, health, or energy. Perhaps, you’re overly critical of yourself. It’s comforting that the child doesn’t remember it, because it was so small. Or you feel great guilt and sorrow, because you know that the child’s soul remembers it and your soul is wounded. There might have been circumstances you couldn’t change, so, again, you feel remorse, because you think you didn’t do enough to protect your child.

            We wonder how come we know so much as children, but later on as adults, we make mistakes and stumble. I wouldn’t know the answer to that question and why everything becomes so complicated. We long for a simple life. We brag modestly and say we don’t need much, and then we feel bad, because even that little that we have is often taken away from us. If we don’t know who that “someone” is, we say it’s “life”.

            “You look so fit!”, I say to a friend of mine after the unpleasant events she recently went through.

            “That’s life”, she says.

            Does “life” need to be guilty of everything bad happening to us? Is that the way life is meant to be? When we’re doing well, we say, “that’s life”. We could also say, “that’s life”. It does make a difference, doesn’t it?

            Can we influence some things or events? Do you also believe that everything happening to you right now is the outcome of your own decisions? Procrastinating in decision making is also a decision. We procrastinate because we’re not sure what to do; such decisions are often related to money or relationships. Hasty decisions aren’t desirable either, and we often make them in a state of anger or some other negative emotion. Then again, missing chances could be a result of our fear or calculation, of “how to get more”, i.e. how not to lose even that little!

            Did others have great expectations of you? Do you feel pressured at work, because you have been entrusted with a challenging task, and someone expects something of you? Someone has praised you in a business arrangement, and you’re still stuck in the same position? Nothing important is happening, and time flies by. You start doubting yourself, just as the ones who used to believe in you now begin to doubt you. Not only that! You wonder, “Is this it? What has happened to my dreams?” Or you resignedly shrug, “That’s life”. Or the most annoying expression of all, “Dream on! At least, dreams are free!”

            My hands never grew to be big enough to reach an octave. I didn’t fulfill “their” expectations. Moreover, as a child, I got candida on my fingernails, so that I took a year-long break from rehearsing. The teacher pleaded with the commission from the headquarters to “let me pass to the next grade” because of this illness. The fiasco at the final examination for that next grade came as a surprise, even to my teacher. To me it was not important, because I hadn’t rehearsed and finishing music school meant nothing to me. There was no passion in it for me, nor did I have an idol as a child. What mattered to me was not to be bullied so much, to have my mommy, and to have my neighbors still let me play basketball using an old bucket nailed to a lamp post as a basket. Should we impose an adult’s ambitions upon a child? My mother never thought I should play piano. Accidentally, I raised my hand as a candidate for playing accordion. When I told my mother about it, she said I’d better play piano, if I already want to play something, because I don’t need to carry it on my back. Besides, the piano has wheels.

            “You have never played as bad as today”, said my teacher concernedly.

            Still, those words rubber-stamped themselves on my childish brain. To make matters worse, there was a girl in my class who learned to play piano “at the headquarters”. I was only part of a “branch department”, the only child in that department, and I had never had a chance to see progress of others. Every year, at the examination “at the headquarters”, my self-confidence dropped to a zero when I heard the other children, true virtuosi, play. It was discouraging to hear them play before my performance. That’s the best way for a child to lose its self-confidence for the rest of its life.

            Otherwise, the girl I mentioned was a leading student in all the subjects. She was no more intelligent than another student, who lived in her shadow, and whose brain functioned better, even without studying the coursework, unlike this promising piano player who used to over-learn coursework, like a piano song.

            I sympathized with the other student, because I liked her. She was one of those children who make you feel good, and everybody liked to be in her company. It was truly an honor. The fact my grades were satisfactory and good (and I was considered a bad student!) was no reason for me to hate the piano player. The real reason for that was due to my piano teacher’s reverence for this girl. To show the class, or to me, how the piano should be played at that age, she often invited her to play something. The girl would proudly take a seat at the school’s piano, “my” piano. Her chubby red cheeks and uplifted little chin emanated pride. She has never looked me in the eye, nor has she ever asked me about my progress in playing, and all this sufficed for me to feel like a nobody. And that extended to all my other subjects, too. I failed. I didn’t fulfill my own and my teacher’s expectations. Big shame!

            Let’s stop this narrative of mine, for a moment! I would like you, too, to recall a situation when your inborn self-confidence began to wither. I don’t want to upset you, but I do believe that in the course of this book, we will all reach a certain point in which we will all accept or become aware of one thing – that we are all intelligent and worthy beings. We are all perfect just the way we are. We need not be a piano-virtuosi or a life-virtuosi in order to have the opportunity to grow, either spiritually or by acquiring new skills needed in our everyday work. No matter what goal we have in mind and how small that goal is, it is an honorable one. They say that the very process of creating and walking the path to the goal is the main journey that makes sense. ……

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