An oft repeated remark amongst siblings – “Behave your age!” or “Behave yourself!”. What exactly does one mean when they say something like that? I have heard that often enough from my sister (when I was little, of course 😉 ). At the time it would draw a retort from me which would be along the lines of the very original “YOU behave yourself!” Oh well! Times have changed now.
It gets me thinking on some of the behavioral traits that we carry forward from our childhood. One such example is with possessiveness. As a child, invariably, either we were possessive or have encountered other children who were extremely possessive about their things. It may have been about a toy, their notebooks, tiffin boxes and in many cases, about their family. How often do we see kids clinging on to a toy or a video game – refusing to let others play even if they are not interested in the toy any more? Personally, I had a thing about toy cars, had a huge collection of these hot wheels cars for a very long time. I wouldn’t let anyone touch my collection of cars, except of course, if they were my kind of special people such as the favorite cousin. Nowadays, I have seen kids that are extremely possessive of their Mums. They can not tolerate seeing anyone touching or even talking with their Mothers. My nephew would shoot bullets with his eyes if I so much as touch my sister!
With age, one would expect to gain wisdom and hopefully, the good practical sense to correct this behavioral trait. But does this always happen? There are so many occasions when seemingly mature, responsible adults behave just like we would as kids. The pattern remains the same but unfortunately, it is not only a toy that people are possessive about any more as they grow older. It could be just about any material possession or even other people. Somewhere along the years of growing up, some of us never fully learn about the joy of giving and letting go. A very good saying in Tamil, roughly translated – a dog sitting on a stack of hay barks the loudest at cows. The dog itself has no use of the hay but it wouldn’t allow the cows to eat it either. How many times are we like the dog in this story?
The thing about possessiveness is that the more we try to possess something, the more difficult it becomes to keep it! Apply it to relationships too, if you will. To be possessive is like trying to catch air. On an open palm, you have all the air that you might ever want to use. Try to capture some of this air in your hand, and you are left with nothing but a clenched fist.
Letting others have what you no longer need is not generosity. It is only practical. Time to behave one’s age!