There is an interesting story in the book of Chuang Tze. It is said that Chuang Tze and his friend came to a dam. Chuang Tze remarked how joyful the fishes were. His friend disagreed and said, “You are not a fish, how do you know that?” Chuang Tze retorted, “You are not me. How do you know that I don’t know?”
Two days ago, I posted a picture showing an old man reading beside a huge pile of books. He seemed to be really enjoying himself. Many of my Facebook friends liked that picture too. But one friend remarked that she felt sorry for this man; for he has missed out a lot of life.
As humans, it is impossible to know what is really going on in someone else’s inner world. We are all different. What makes me joyful may not make you joyful, and vice versa. Similarly, what makes me miserable may make you joyful. The converse is also true. What does it mean to experience and “truly live” life? Different people have different ideas and preferences. One hat does not fit all. For example, let’s take a look at the decision to have children. I have two brothers. Both are married, but none of them have children. There are many people in our society who hold prejudice against childless couples. But how do we know what works and what does not work for other people?
It is imperative that we have some humility. It is not right to talk about things we don’t know, or to expect that our own lifestyle would fit others. The truth is that we remain ignorant about other minds. This is true even between couples. To let other people be is a basic decency. It is also part of the Golden Rule.