My google map guide told me that I have reached my destination. In front of me was a villa – a huge villa with steel gates. “Great!” I thought, she lives in a villa. Must be fancy. I was going to visit my long-time friend for the very first time in Doha and I couldn’t wait to see her. I called her up and she immediately opened the gate for me.
As we walked in, I noticed that it’s not the normal villa that you’re used to seeing here in Doha. Each room is a separate house for different families. I didn’t really count but I would say there were about 5 rooms in this villa each with different families living per room.
She led me to their house – the door opened to two huge cabinets and behind these cabinets was their living space. A double-sized bed on one side and a double decker bed in the other. In the mornings, the small area between these two beds become their living and dining space while in the evenings, a cushion will be rolled out on the floor to add more sleeping area for her family who lives here.
I don’t want to go into details because I think you get the gist – it was small and it was cramped. I wanted to feel sorry for my friend but I couldn’t. There was something amiss about all these things which just doesn’t add up. I looked at my friend, at her family and tried to decipher what I could possibly be missing here.
Then it hit me! What was so wrong about this whole scenario which doesn’t seem to add up to make me feel sorry for them was that they were happy!
How can anyone be happy in such condition? Is that even possible? Or are they just faking it in front of me? I’ve visited her so many times after that and I realized that their happiness is genuine and the cause of this happiness is fairly simple – they were contented with what they have.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not the lazy kind of contentment – they do have goals in life, who doesn’t? But they have set their priorities right, they want to achieve these goals together as a family. For as long they are all together and not sacrificing their time away from their children, they are contented and happy. It’s the most important thing for them – that their children grow up with them by their side with the basic necessities in life – education, food, clothes and a roof over their heads.
I felt so terrible of myself when I realized what was causing their happiness. Instead of feeling sorry for my friend, I felt sorry for myself that I had to have a reality check this late in my life. I have been consumed by the materialistic world that we now live in which is what was causing the discontentment in our lives.
We thwart happiness by binding ourselves to the constraints of the commercial world which has an uncanny ability to make us think that we need stuff we really don’t. It’s a never-ending process since the world of commerce keeps chugging along. There’s always something new that will come up which will make us think that we NEED it. In the end, we get into a vicious cycle of endless acquisition of unnecessary stuff. We will never be satisfied.
My friend had it all figured out. They’ve found the meaning of life through the love that they give to each other as a family. They are satisfied with what they have and learned how to live life to the fullest with it. They don’t need a big house to feel happy and fulfilled – they just needed each other and that, I think, is the biggest accomplishment of a person if they can say it and truly mean it.
My friend taught me that whatever material things you have doesn’t define you as a person which I think is so pathetic of me that I have to learn it from someone else when I just have to realize it myself. For her – being a good, responsible mom and wife is what defines her as a person. When her kids are older, I hope they realize how much of what they have become is a result of their parent’s sacrifices for them.
At the very top of their goals in life is to provide a secured future for their children and I think they’re doing a great job reaching this. They have also very recently just finished building their own house in the Philippines which she never wants to brag about because she said it’s too small and is not brag-worthy. Humility, I guess, is another thing that I can learn from her.
Now whenever I visit her, I no longer see a small, cramped space of a house – I now see a home which defies what society dictates us to do. It is a home of people who knows how to thrive and make the most out of anything under any circumstances. It is a home of people who knows how to truly appreciate the beauty that there is in life.
Because of her, I’ve learned to try to find the joys and fulfillment in little things in life which is what truly matters. I know, it’s such a cliche but it is how it is. I haven’t successfully mastered it yet but at least now, I’m trying.
Nothing is enough for the man to whom enough is too little.