As a child, English was my most favorite subject in school. I often used to read books much more mature for my age ( I tried to read Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake in the 8th or 9th std, and had all my relatives laughing at me )
I was also fascinated by idioms, the way a single sentence contained and conveyed a deeper meaning than it originally seemed to be. I used to steal my grandfather’s prized book of idioms, often as a light read when I had nothing to do, or when I wanted to have the feeling of stumbling on a new word and discovering its meaning, only to put it at a later stage in the essay writing assignments or in the exam to impress my teachers.
So as my affair with idioms and fables continued, I came across a few I really did not understand back then. Rather I guess I was too inexperienced to grasp the whole wisdom behind them. One of them intrigued me to no end. ‘ There is no such thing as a free lunch ‘
Why would anybody say that ? Does it mean the beggars who beg for food pay for it ? Has it anything at all to do with food, what does it really mean ?
Questions, questions. It annoyed me to hell that no matter how much I tried I just couldnt grasp it. I decided to keep it dangling at the back of my mind and not just shove it under the rug. ( See what I did there ? 😀 )
Anyhoo, as time passed and years went by, me and a good friend were debating on various topics. We both were struggling ( still are btw 😀 ) to expand our horizons and we had a habit of talking about random topics which somehow made sense because they used to be all connected somehow ( I still think I am the one who finds connections in everything )
So I causally mentioned to him that how x has got this and this and look where am I, how has y got so successful, how so and so gets more than us, even though they seem less deserving in my eyes. I was naive and quick to judge anyone back then. It always used to be a tone of self-righteousness, and I guess when I realized that this was taking an ugly turn in my mind and thoughts, I decided to analyse myself and test if this saying had any solid base at all.
From what we see on social media and hearsay, we get to know only one side of the person’s life. The side only they choose to show, like the moon. We cannot see the dark side of the moon. So I decided to dig deeper, talk with more emotional awareness and involvement rather than forming judgments straightaway. And this helped me not only see the good in others, but eventually made me realize that every person who has achieved something substantial has learnt this the hard way and is living it.
I looked back on my life, I reflected upon every opportunity of luck ( Or so it seemed ) I got, or a situation where it felt I was given more preference or life just had handed me a bunch of roses when I was expecting nothing but thorns. Isn’t this true with me too ? I mused. For every person who felt that I was undeserving of something ( that they lacked, possibly ) I looked at the sacrifices, adjustments and hours of hard work I put.
To get something, I always had to do something extra, or to compromise on some aspect ( Time, money etc )
But I feel relief now, and awareness too, because now I know that nothing in life comes for free and I always will have to decide, what I am willing to adjust/ accept / undertake or partake in order to get what I want. So, prioritizing is first and foremost necessary. This way I have the flexibility to put in extra hard work but without expecting – which is the main part. Work for work’s sake, not because maybe you’ll get rewards out of it. I learned it the hard way and still its a long long way before it gets imbibed fully, but I am grateful for the foundation this experience has given me.
*Contrary to its economical meaning, this phrase is very different to me and I have put it the way I take its meaning.