Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Faulty Trains, Love Derailed


It was one of those news that would set the citizens talking, criticising and complaining again. And indeed, it caused much inconveniences to many. Yesterday evening, a train with a brake fault resulted in trains travelling at a speed slower than usual. The eventual delay added 20 minutes to travelling time. 

While the fault was primarily within the faulty train, the deeper cause of this incident and the recurring interruptions to the public transport system may be rooted elsewhere. And its ripple effects are surely felt by many more. If a passenger has a tight schedule to keep to, an urgent matter to see to, the consequences may be direr and more difficult to manage than the good an apology can bring about.

In fact, apart from a faulty train, there are many other instances in which we have encountered the malfunctioning of something and the consequences it brings. A mobile phone dropped onto the road resulted in a cracked screen, a toothbrush’s bristles pointing in every direction but upright, a pillow that has flattened to half its height. There are many. And we know that once something loses its ability to function as it was made to, it will no longer be as useful as it could be. Something is just not right about it; it is no longer whole.

This which we notice about things. Can we recognise a similar pattern in people too? In the relationships we share? How we manifest a certain kind of behaviour we can never understand why? Until we dig a lot deeper within ourselves and find the deeper cause rooted in some other issues that never got resolved. And what ripple effects it must also cause others, damaging precious relationships.

Take for instance a person with commitment issues. The behaviour manifested – inability to commit in big and small matters. Unwillingness to marry someone one has been dating for more than a decade, just to name one example. The deeper question to ask is, “Why?” And in this case, what do I resist about entering into marriage with this person who is a good match for me? What is holding me back? What is the real cause?

One of the causes of commitment issues, if it is not the only, is invulnerability. To be unwilling and not daring to let ourselves be in a vulnerable position where we can be hurt. Certainly, no one chooses to be hurt and it is unwise to go around looking for hurts too. But to guard ourselves so that we will not get hurt, that no one will cause us to feel down, is a fatal defence mechanism that many people have come to learn and practice subconsciously.

It is fatal because we can only be hurt when we love, when the gates of our hearts are opened. To guard ourselves from hurt is a choice against love, to close tight our hearts so that other people will no longer influence and affect how we feel. So even if we cannot keep them far from us geographically, especially if they live under the same roof as us, then at least we keep at a distance from our hearts. 

And to choose not to love is to choose to die, to be zombified. We are made out of love, for love. Love is the energy that fuels our minds, bodies, hearts and souls; our lives! As the late Pedro Arrupe, SJ wrote:

Nothing is more practical than finding God, 
than falling in Love in a quite absolute, final way. 
What you are in love with, 
what seizes your imagination, 
will affect everything. 
It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, 
what you do with your evenings, 
how you spend your weekends, 
what you read, 
whom you know, 
what breaks your heart, 
and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. 
Fall in Love, 
stay in love, 
and it will decide everything.

People are afraid to love because of the fear of getting hurt. And this is because they have tasted hurt and know how awful it feels. The paranoia of having to experience such pain again can make us shut ourselves in and others out. So in our example, a person facing commitment issues may well be guarding himself against this vulnerability. If I believe that marriage is lifelong, then marriage means lifelong vulnerability. Because although I love this person now, what if it does not work out well? I cannot run, cannot escape. I am stuck and susceptible to more and deeper hurts. Scary and too huge a risk to take. 

Hurts left unhealed, unprocessed bring no growth in a person. On the contrary, they stifle, inhibit and cage us within those very wounds. We suppress and lose the ability to name those hurts, to know what is not right inside us. Something is just not right within; not whole anymore. That brake fault in the train, my anger that cannot find peace, insecurities that cannot find assurance, impulsiveness that cannot find control. 

Perhaps many Singaporeans will be pointing their fingers at the staff of SMRT for the lack of maintenance, for not responsibly ensuring the smooth running of the trains. Maybe the management will be looking downwards at the mechanics. Somewhere, somehow, whoever it may be, there is a missing link, a weakest link. Something else is not right that has caused the train to be recurringly faulty. Somewhere deeper within us, there might be something not right, not whole, causing the various manifestations in our unloving behaviours, words and thoughts. Until we decide to find and resolve those issues that lie deeper in us, these manifestations will keep recurring. Trains will keep breaking down. Relationships continue to be damaged because of our unloving. We cannot function as we are made to - to love. 

What is there in your deeper self that makes you less than whole? 
How can you seek good guidance to journey towards wholeness?

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