The Problem of Plenty

Or plenitude if you will. I am trying to follow Orwell’s six rules of writing, one of which is “never use a long word when a short one will do” with some success. I wrote this post about perspectives a few weeks ago. And out of that grew what I have written now. Some more pondering on the issue and I realized that personally I suffer from not quite affluenza but whatever the word is for “has been given too much in life for too little effort”. Something in between affluenza and poverty, skewed toward the former. Before it comes across as more of my self deprecation shtick, hear me out. Also, honest to goodness though, its not a shtick. I really am that low on self confidence and belief in my own abilities. Everyone suffers that to some degree I suppose but moving on…
Outside of struggles in my own head and some personal trauma as a late teen/young adult, I really can’t think of many other hardships I have faced. Things one day I may be able to write about but not today.

I had what would be considered an upper middle class upbringing back in India, an Army brat with privileges most common folk in India could only dream of. Don’t get me wrong I didn’t grow up wealthy or nothin’ but didn’t lack for anything. I mean I was spanked as a kid but who hadn’t ? I don’t know of a single Indian person of my generation that hadn’t and that’s how they raised kids back then in India. Even now probably some do. Was given chance after chance after chance by my poor (figuratively speaking) parents even after multiple disappointments. I wasn’t a particularly good student. In fact my grades used to be abysmal. The only subjects I ever enjoyed in school ever were English and Hindi. Granted we weren’t exactly reading James Joyce or anything but I realize now that at forty two I’ve finally figured out what I want to be:

An aspiring struggling writer of marginal but slightly noticeable ability like a friend says sarcastically.

In spite of not having decent grades to get into Engineering school my father spent most of his life savings to get me into a private college so I can have a better shot at life, even given my own failings and lack of effort. Speaking of my father, one thing I can think of and it doesn’t necessarily qualify as a hardship per se but I lost my father when I was 29. Just around the time when I started seeking out his advice on several things. I always felt shortchanged by that because I could have used a few more years of his wisdom. Because, like Mark Twain said:

“When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.”

But my father had an almost fatal heart attack when I was barely thirteen so it could have been much worse and he went on to live another sixteen years. Do I have regret about not taking him to a golf major that one time he was able to visit my sister and I in 2003? Absolutely. My reason was that I didn’t have the money at the time to afford flight tickets and tickets to a PGA tournament let alone a major. If I’d known thats the only opportunity he would have to visit the United States I would have begged borrowed or stolen to make that happen. That’s one regret I’ll take to my grave but even so I can take solace in the fact that I was able to, in what turned out to be his last few years, help him have some of the material things he would have loved to have but didn’t because he spent all his money educating me. And trust me, he liked the good life.

I have other dedicated several past and future posts for my angel of a mother and my sister, my moral compass, who always knows good from bad, so I’ll leave out of this post the two other women that are responsible for making me the man I am.

Of the hardships I have faced the one that comes first to mind is being stuck in a dead end job from 2002-2004 in spite of having a Masters degree making $25,000 a year. This after racking up several thousands of dollars in credit card debts due to my own reckless spending for the most part and some tuition fees etc. So it was tough going for a couple of years. Even then there was a redeeming factor to that. I could look forward to spending all my free time with a woman, that somehow against better judgement and advice decided to take a chance on me.
Speaking of the woman that has shown questionable judgement in picking a partner, another hardship if one can even call it that was, some mild resistance from some of her family and friends, completely legitimate. I mean when a dude that looks like he just fell off the turnip truck walks into your loved ones life who asks such trivial questions like

“What exactly does he do?”

What is his family background?”

How can he support a family with what he makes?

Are you sure you haven’t rushed into this? After all you’ve only known him for about a couple of years.

And in all honesty he doesn’t really strike us as the go getting ambitious kind.”

The last sentence they didn’t say but should have. It would have been completely justified. I don’t know what she saw but she persisted and I haven’t been prouder of any of my “accomplishments” than having landed her as a partner. And to clarify, in case it comes as resentful , if I had a daughter I wouldn’t let her pick someone that’s like me for a partner. In fact, more like  I’ll have that Remington 870 Express Synthetic 7- Round shotgun — Google says that’s the most popular handgun according to some sites, so it must be true —  at the ready. I know as much about guns as I do about the works of Milton or Byron so take it for what that’s worth.

My wife and I never really had any real trouble when we were trying to start a family. I mean, I joke that it was almost too easy if you ask me. Almost like well let’s try making a baby, and boom! the pregnancy test comes back positive. About thirty two months later we went well, if  we’re going to have another one lets do it now so they aren’t too far apart and boom! there was another positive test. Thanks to a lot of good luck and no doubt the way my wife took care of herself there were no miscarriages, no complications either time and we had two healthy handsome intelligent young boys. I know a lot of couples that haven’t had that privilege. So there was that.

Ever since 2004 I have been gainfully employed at one of the best most iconic companies of not just our times but perhaps in history. We’ve been financially sound as a family, been able to save some for the kids’ college, drive nice cars, live in a neighborhood with great schools and a house that probably ninety percent of the world’s population of 7 billion would love to live in.

The same friend that thinks I have marginal but noticeable ability as a writer says that if the biggest problem I have is someone being a dick at a gathering or wherever then I have no leg to stand on and complain.

Thank for hearing me out. Apparently I was on a roll yesterday.

Lakshman Hariharan
09/16/18 Prosper, TX

P.S.: My mother has this superstition about bad people seeing her kids’ prosperity and somehow will cast an evil eye, so I’ll say that I understand I’m only 42 and there’s plenty that life can throw at me. I’ve been advised that when my boys are teenagers I would wish I had the problems then that I have now.

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