The key question is: HOW do you want to be remembered?


Face it. At the end of your lifetime, after you are gone, your Life will just be an obituary. The question is how do you want yours to read?

 

This morning, as I woke up in a new city, in a new environment, a mail landed in my Inbox. It is the simplest, most ordinary obituary that I have ever read. At the same time, it is the most beautiful one I have ever read too. Because it captures the essence of Life __ of its inscrutability, of its twists and turns, its ups and downs __ and yet celebrates the spirit of the one who has lived it. It is written by a daughter remembering her mother’s Life. It is titled: “Be Happy while you are Living, because you are a long time Dead!

 

Here it is.

 

(To protect the privacy of the person who sent it, and the person who’s Life is celebrated here, I have changed the names!)

Leela Rosalyn was born on Thanksgiving in 1955. She never went by Rosayln, her mother always called her Leela after the character in R.K.Narayan’s ‘The English Teacher’. Why her mother did so simply name her Leela to begin with is one of those great unanswerable questions. Leela grew up in Florida just down the road from the Kennedy Space Center and watched man’s quest for the Moon first hand. Her mother was a secretary for NASA and shared exciting stories about the astronauts and scientists she worked with.

When Leela was seventeen she joined the Navy and became a nurse. She served during the end of the Vietnam War and was stationed in Cuba when she met her future husband. He was a Marine pilot and the two fell in love, got married and moved to the El Toro Marine Base in Orange County, California. Leela went back to school on the GI Bill and became a psychologist, alongside her husband. They opened a practice together and had a baby girl, who they named Leela, after her mother. (PS: Two ultrasounds indicated they were going to be having a baby boy and after 27 hours of labor and a C-Section, there was a bit of surprise all around. As no girl names had been selected the couple dazedly named the child with the first name that came to mind!)

Leela was a wonderful mother, patient and understanding with clear boundaries. She raised her daughter to trust herself and not let the voices of others drown out her own. She taught her that hard work, gratitude and service to others often led to a happier Life than lazy indulgence. She showed her that no matter how royally you had screwed up, you could always dig out again if you just kept going.

When her daughter was thirteen, Leela divorced her husband after (he had had) a series of affairs. Now in her forties, Leela began anew. She found a new job, got her own place and proceeded to support her daughter when her ex-husband lost his business. She put her daughter through college and made a new Life for herself. When her daughter moved to a foreign country to teach, she was proud and sad and happy, all at the same time. When she moved back and went to graduate school, Leela helped in any way she could and delighted in having her daughter close once more. The two traveled together, visiting the California Missions, taking the train to Seattle and renting an RV to cruise down the Pacific Coast Highway.

Then Leela developed numbness in her right hand. Dismissing it as carpal tunnel at first, she finally went in to see a doctor and was told the tremor was caused by a tumor in her brain. The tumor was metastatic, meaning it had come from somewhere else. Leela was diagnosed in October 2011 with Stage 4 Lung Cancer. She had a year or so to live.

Leela immediately retired and moved in with her daughter. The two traveled more, went to the spa a lot and generally enjoyed Life. They talked about the Life they had shared, the dog they both loved and the future they would no longer have together. Leela told her daughter to live well, to be strong and to dance, always dance. Leela died on May 29th, 2012. She was an amazing woman, incredibly strong and courageous in the face of death. Her bravery was inspiring to witness and her love was endless. She is gone now, but she is remembered by her friends, her daughter and you.

       Leela, Home

 

Pause a while this morning. How do you want to be remembered after you are gone? The truth is you will be remembered whether or not you want to be. The key operative word here is ‘How’? How do you want to be remembered Once you have that idea, are clear about that, go live that Life from today. Here’s hoping you will live it and inspire others that follow you with a memory that celebrates happiness, peace and love __ and not one of having run a rat race, of being felled by events and people, of pain, suffering and misery, of having lived an angry, bitter and depressed Life!  

 

Make your Life memorable!  Because, as someone has said so wisely, the Life you have lived so far and the one you plan to live, is no dress rehearsal. You can’t be practicing anymore to live. This is it. This is the only and final show. You simply have only this Life to live! Create it. Love it. Live it!


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See Life for what it is and not as you are!


Everything’s so perfect about our lives. We just don’t see it because we insist on seeing Life not as it is but as we are!

Just reflect on how you perceive Life on a daily basis. It is always about you. About your needs. Your wants. Your worries. Your anxieties. Your fears. And you fear, sometimes, about losing everything, because you are attached to them. So, on a daily basis, your Life revolves around you. Right from your maid not showing up to work (more prevalent in an Indian context!) to your commute to work being affected by a lousy traffic snarl to your meetings running behind schedule to your child having to be driven to the evening’s game to your report having to be readied for your customer __ everything, absolutely, everything about your Life is about you! And when you look at Life so myopically, the imperfections loom large in front of your eyes. Things are amazingly dysfunctional. Maids are thankless, so you believe. Traffic management in our cities is getting from bad to worse. You find the work-Life balance too hard to maintain and sometimes want to quit working but without the double income, the family cannot afford all the small luxuries it presently has! Arrrrrrrrrrrggggghhhh! And damn those reports. You wonder whether your customer hardly reads them __ but they want it because they are the ones who pay your bills! It is such a hard job living in this harsh, mad world!

There’s a way out of this tyranny. You just need to zoom out. Take your attention away from yourself for a while. And see Life as it is. You will then discover that you are having a hard time living, because you are trying hard to simply earn a living. You are making an effort. And there’s imperfection in every effort. Instead allow yourself to flow with Life. Look at nature. It just exists despite the scars on the mountain faces and the undulating depths of lakes and oceans. Or despite the stark contrasts of seasons. Or the waning and waxing moon leaving more nights dark than aglow. Nature doesn’t protest. But you and I do it all the time. We complain about what we have to do or what we don’t have. We protest. We resist. Therefore we see a whole Life of imperfection. Because the focus is on becoming something, than on simply being.

There is a Zen story that I once read in a book by Osho, the Master:

A Zen Master was making a painting, and he had his chief disciple sit by his side to tell him when the painting was perfect. The disciple was worried and the Master was also worried. Because the disciple had never seen the Master do anything imperfect. But that day things started going wrong. The Master tried, and the more he tried, the more it was a mess.

In Japan or in China, the whole art of calligraphy is done on rice-paper, on a certain paper, a very sensitive paper, very fragile. If you hesitate a little, for centuries it can be known where the calligrapher hesitated — because more ink spreads into the rice-paper and makes it a mess. It is very difficult to deceive on rice-paper. You have to go on flowing; you are not to hesitate. Even for a single moment. split moment, if you hesitate — what to do? — missed, already missed. And one who has a keen eye will immediately say, “It is not a Zen painting at all” — because a Zen painting has to be a spontaneous painting, flowing.

The Master tried and tried and the more he tried — he started perspiring. And the disciple was sitting there and shaking his head again and again negatively: ‘No, this is not perfect.’ And more and more mistakes were being made by the Master.

Then the ink was running out so the Master said, “You go out and prepare more ink.” While the disciple was outside preparing the ink, the Master did his masterpiece. When he came in he said, “Master, but this is perfect! What happened?”

The Master laughed; he said, “I became aware of one thing: your presence. The very idea that somebody is there to appreciate or to condemn, to say no or yes, disturbed my inner tranquility. Now I will never be disturbed. I have come to know that I was trying to make it perfect and that was the only reason for its not being perfect.”
 

So beautiful. In our trying to become something, like the Zen Master, we obsess with ourselves. And the myriad dimensions of our lives. Because we are attached to things and people in our lives and in trying to be very good at earning a living, providing, in trying to make our lives perfect, we don’t live at all. That’s why we don’t see the beauty of Life, of our lives, and we miss all that is flowing around us. We miss the perfection in Life’s ways, its timing of our lives’ events, our experiences, our learnings, our inner growth and our joys__which always emerge from our deepest sorrows! In Life, with Life, it is always__and only__what it is. So, stop expecting your Life to be any different from what it is now. And flow with it. Over time, Life will change. Your Life will change. And when you look back, you will find that had it not been for what you have gone through, you will not be the person who you are today and you will not have got to where you are too! So, don’t see Life for the way you are, but for what it is. Then, only then, will the Life that is waiting for you will unveil itself! Only then, as the Buddha said so famously, you will look up at the sky and laugh __ because everything, everything about this world and your Life, is so perfect!


To be a good parent, be a strong one in your child’s moment of crisis!


Give your children strength when they are in pain and are suffering. Don’t suffer for and with them!

The only joy we parents want is to see our children happy, healthy and successful. No parent will want their child to go through any pain. And least of all will want to see them suffer. Yet, the nature of Life is that the destinies of our children are different from our own. They will have to live their Life’s design__no matter what we may wish for them. So, intelligent living in the context of parenting is to be able to feel their pain, when they do encounter it, give them strength to endure it, teach them how not to suffer and show them the way to a courageous Life! 

Your first reaction to any pain your child may have to face is one of shock, grief, agony. In your grief-stricken stupor you will plead with each source of emotional succor for mercy. You will offer yourself in place of your child, to a higher energy, and wish that your darling angel be spared. This may well be a noble point of view, but in Life’s scheme of things, it hardly cuts any ice. The truth is, just as you have faced Life, learning from your every living moment, your child too has to go through her or his own learning curve. You cannot circumvent that process. It is both illogical and impossible.

So, indeed, the best thing you can do in an unfortunate situation, when pain is inflicted on your child by Life’s inscrutable design, is to replace your own suffering as a parent with acceptance. From this acceptance you will derive great strength. It is this strength that your child needs. Remember, irrespective of how old your child is, or how old you are, to your child, you are a hero. Your children grow up looking up to you for everything. Initially for food, security, warmth, love and care. Pretty soon, with their first ‘real Life’ experience, they again look up to you __ this time for strength, for hope, for faith and for understanding. It is more important for you to deliver on that expectation of your children than for you to mourn their fates.

A friend spoke to me yesterday about his daughter. At 18, she was going through phenomenal turmoil on the academic front. She had been a topper in all years at school, barring her last one. Resultantly, she did not get the kind of grades she needed to have to get into medical school. Besides, she did not qualify in the national entrance test to medical schools. Since then, she has taken a year off and has been preparing, at a special residential turtorial, which is five hours away from where the family lives, for the 2013 national medical school entrance test. My friend reported that his daughter was continuously in a state of confusion. She feels confident one moment and diffident in another, he said. She doesn’t want to live away from home but she also laments that her focus on her preparations flounder whenever she is at home. My friend and his wife have told their child that they are not keen she studies medicine if she can’t make the grade or cope with the pressure of the intense competition she has to face in  gaining entry to a reputed medical school. They have counseled her. They have talked of alternate career options. They visit her frequently. But, says my friend, the child’s sense of insecurity over her ‘seemingly uncertain’ academic future and confusion prevails. “I feel so helpless watching her suffer. I try to put up a brave front. But I wish there was a way to help her understand that what she grieves over, the uncertainty and homesickness, will be inconsequential in just a few more years,” said my friend. Indeed he is right. And he is doing, as a liberal parent, the best he possibly can. I would any day recommend that parents have honest and uplifting conversations with their children just as my friend has had, than bull doze an opinion or decision. The easiest thing for my friend to do would be to bring her back home, order her to quit making attempts to enter a medical school. And force her to study something which is more easily achieved than let her go after what she loves so much __ which is to study medicine! Yet, my friend is choosing the better way__of letting the child decide while placing all options in front of her__in the interest of his child’s longer term learning. And as he makes his choice he is finding a, perhaps difficult, way to overcome his own suffering of seeing his child ‘needlessly’ suffer.

My friend’s predicament is far more simpler. It is an academic situation and borders on above-average performance and brilliant performance. It is a dilemma between doing something more comfortable yet unexciting (from the child’s point of view) and doing something against all odds but that which is bound to give the child great joy! Many parents have to deal with failed relationships in the their childrens’ lives, horrible health complications, lay-offs, death of their companions or their children! On Sunday I read a heart-rending story, in The Hindu’s Sunday Magazine section, of a young mother’s valiant effort to quell her own suffering to help her 5-year-old daughter fight acute leukemia. The mother differentiates her own suffering of seeing her daughter suffer from that of her daughter’s. She says, “(My daughter) has fought her lonely battle — lonely because cancer pain is unique in its ability to wreck you.” And how she __ and through her, her daughter __ derive strength and succor in listening to A R Rahman’s unputdownable music of over the last two decades. She concludes her piece saying: “Two-and-a-half years on, the promise of a healthy life (for my daughter) is within reach. Jai ho, Rahman bhai. Her (my daughter’s) healing, like your music, is the hand of God!”

To be sure, my wife and I too go through our own dilemmas of having to worry for or agonize, over choices our two young adult children have begun to make or over situations they are faced with, or to let go. We have learned that there’s no easy way to this. Acceptance is the way. We have learned to accept that our children are separate from us. That their destinies are different. We have learned to accept that we cannot live their lives for them __ not anymore. That we cannot decide for them or direct them. That they must learn of Life, from Life, in their own unique ways. So, we do, what we can perhaps do best. Which is, we give them strength. We tell them what we feel and never force a view or enforce a decision. We remind them that no matter what the outcome of their choices will be, they will not be judged or rebuked. We tell them the doors to our hearts and our home is always open to them (and to their families when they raise them). In the last few years, at least a couple of events in our childrens’ lives, based on decisions they took,  were avoidable. We may have saved some money and some sleep had we prevented them from taking those decision. But in doing so we may have robbed our children of a wealth of wisdom that they have drawn from those experiences that their decisions landed them in. That enriching awakening for each of them is worth far, far more than what we perceivably lost!  

Almost always, the most quoted Prophet on Parenting, Khalil Gibran’s words have inspired, guided and led the way for us. Here’s the most significant extract from one of his poems “On Children”:

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.They come through you but not from you,And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

I hope his words lead you too to letting your children go and find love, experience, learning and meaning in Life__in the way it is ordained for them!!


Don’t criticize and don’t worry about being criticized either!


Everyone has an opinion about everything. And everyone loves to offer it whether it is asked for, needed, or not. Some of that opinion is often critical. Again, everybody loves to criticize others. And they do it all the time! It’s so interesting. And often downright funny. If you just watch the social media space, for instance, everyone has an opinion on how the country must be done. Every action of public figures __ politicians, bureaucrats, movie stars, sportspeople __ is criticized and rubbished.

 

 

You and I are as guilty of indulging in, and are not spared from it either, criticism.

 

 

Just review the past 24 hours. Think of all that you said. And in some way you may have criticized or offered an opinion on something or the other in your circle of influence. Maybe you may have posted something on your facebook page criticizing a movie or a politician. Or you may have sworn at an unruly driver on the street and criticized the lack of traffic sense among people.  The one curious thing about criticism is that it always sounds right and justified when you use it on someone else. But when you are criticized you often grieve. This happens everywhere __ in our homes, at workplaces, among friends, in social circles, on a plane, even at a funeral! Criticism can surely debilitate you__leaving you wondering why people are being so mean and are unwilling to understand you.

 

 

 

Yet when you receive criticism, it is a great opportunity to cleanse yourself. When you are, or anything you have done is, ridiculed, questioned and rubbished, through your pain you can awaken to an awareness that can transform you. Your grief, the way you feel at the time that you are being criticized, gives you the opportunity to understand the value of being compassionate and appreciative of others’ efforts and opinions.

In order to appreciate this better, first understand why you__or I__ criticize in the first place. Criticism is, fundamentally, an ego game. It is your mind urging you to consider yourself superior to another person. It is also a reaction borne out of fear. Because the act of criticizing is older than you are! So, you have been criticized even before you came to terms with the ways of the world. Your criticism, of others, is often, therefore, in self-defence. You criticize because you find it, obviously, more rewarding than being criticized!

 

 

The best way to deal with criticism is the way you would deal with hot candle wax. First allow it to dry up. It is a lot easier to discard it and get it out of your system when it has become cold and stale. Understand also that criticism is just a review about an event or action that is over, past, dead and done away with. In the now, in the present, there is no issue. So, learn to let go and move on than dwelling in the past! Second, appreciate where the person who is critical of your actions is coming from. Even if the person is unjustified, rude, violent or cruel, understand that that person has a right to her or his view. It belongs to that person and does not belong to you __ even if it is about you. Train your mind to respond with an exclamation__from awe, from wonder, from amazement__ that says “Is that so?” instead of responding with anger and violence while asking “How dare you?” Know that when you, even if it is only in your mind, question the other person’s right to opinionate, criticize, it is really your ego which is leading you. Refuse to follow. Turn your attention away. Learn to treat the whole experience like a game. Tell yourself: “Hey! Watch out! This situation, this comment, this person is provoking me. And my mind is urging me to fall prey, to succumb. Let me escape!” And each time you win, punch your fist up like a champion will. When you do succumb, do get dragged into the situation and when you emerge from it bruised and grieving, remind yourself to not fall prey again. Like with all other games you have learned in Life, you get better and better at dealing with criticism with practice. Then, over a period of time, you will have mastered the art of being unmoved. All criticism, then, will just fall off you. Like water falls off a duck’s back!

Celebrate your critics too. They are the ones who will tell you things which no one else will. Not all criticism is unfair or unjustified. There’s value in everything. Focus on the message and not on the messenger. On what is being said and not on who is saying it or why the person should not be saying it! Again, you don’t need to always agree with what’s being said. But you can at least reflect on it. And if you see value, incorporate the learning or input, to make you, or whatever you are doing, better.

 

 

Whatever you do, whether you welcome criticism or reject it, learn to be both miserly with your own views of others and to be unaffected by their views of you! It’s a beautiful way to cut your giant ego to size. And an even more wonderful way to celebrate the mystical diversity of thought that thrives in the oneness of all creation!  


When’s your bougainvillea moment going to be?


In reality, Life is pretty simple. And there’s beauty in its every moment. 

 

 

However we make it complex by worrying, fearing, grieving and rushing through it __ so we miss the magic in each moment!

 

 

They blushed at me from across the street

Pause. Close your eyes. And feel your breathing. Feel your heart beat. Hear the clock tick. Get up, walk over to your balcony and look out on to the street. Wait for a while and identify the most beautiful thing you see. I just did that. And I saw a burst of bougainvillea blushing at me from across the street. It’s a huge affair. But I had never noticed it until this morning. I am grateful I did. Because it made me come alive.

 

 

We often take many things for granted. Yesterday, my daughter suffered a ligament tear in her left foot, landing badly after attempting a mid-air split during her dance rehearsals. She’s out of action for at least a week and off dancing, which is her Life, for over four weeks. As she limped around, writhing in pain, I realized how ungrateful we are to our feet. Our cars receive more attention than our feet who have been with us longer and continue to serve us without protest, carrying our entire weight!

 

 

The way we behave, and the way we distribute our attention, is so unfair. For every problem we face, we have perhaps a 100 other reasons to celebrate. But our problems receive our biggest attention. Somehow, the fickle human mind loves misery. So, we celebrate our sorrows. Always thinking about what isn’t and feeling woeful about Life. Lamenting is convenient. It requires no effort. The mind can and will go on and on and on telling you that you don’t have this or that. Grief, to us, comes naturally!

Being happy, on the other hand, is hard work. You have to labor to take your mind off fearing and worrying to be happy. It is not that being sad is bad. When things don’t go your way, you will feel sad. But to berate yourself and live in a perpetually sorrowful state is sacrilege. That’s really when gratitude can help. When you are thankful for what you have, what you don’t have loses its relevance. Christopher Reeve (1952-2004), the man who played Superman, before he became a quadriplegic in 1995, after which he was consigned to a wheelchair and had to have a breathing apparatus, had this to say: “Some people are walking around with full use of their bodies and they’re more paralyzed than I am.

Indeed. We are paralyzed by our insecurities, desires and anxieties. As American author Cynthia Ozick says, “We often take for granted the very things that most deserve our gratitude.” If only we spent a little time each day, to connect with Life, like my bougainvillea moment of this morning, we will see how simple, and how beautiful, Life really is. So, when’s your bougainvillea moment going to be?

Accept what you are served in Life and you in turn serve too!


There will be times in Life when you don’t know what’s going on and simply don’t know how to deal with it. You wonder if there’s a cosmic conspiracy against you! Nothing can be more untrue. Know that Life has no fixed agenda or menu. You get served what Life has laid out for you. And, interestingly, you have no way of knowing upfront what lies in store for you!

 

 

But you__and I__view what we deserve from Life very differently. You always believe that because you are good at heart, ethical, sincere and work hard, you deserve to be treated better by Life. Life, however, has no such ideals. It just keeps on serving what what’s programmed in your design, in your Master Plan. And from Life’s point of view, that Master Plan has no flaws!

 

 

All your grief in Life, from Life, comes only when you question what’s being served to you. Don’t question Life’s design and you will be at peace, perpetually. There’s great value and beauty in not being able to decipher Life or understand its design. Osho, the “spiritually incorrect mystic”, as someone called him famously, says: “The beauty of facing Life unprepared is tremendous. Then Life has a newness, a youth; then Life has a flow and freshness. Then Life has so many surprises. And when Life has so many surprises boredom never settles in you.”

 

 

Whatever happens in Life, whatever, it only makes you stronger and better. While you may not accept this at face value__and you shouldn’t because there’s a great learning in questioning and discovering how Life works through your own journey, your personal experience__an intelligent way to respond to Life’s vicissitudes is to serve before you say you deserve.

 

 

Serving selflessly in Life may not make any change to the way Life deals with you. But it will definitely make you feel better. The problem with expecting to be treated better by Life and demanding that you deserve better is that Life is not going to give you an answer or explain your design to you. When you keep asking questions and you get no answers, indeed, you will be frustrated. Your frustration will eventually lead you to depression and you end up becoming bitter in Life. Instead, immerse yourself in serving others despite your circumstances. It may not resolve your personal situation but will greatly enhance your inner peace.

Stop asking why Life is happening to you the way it is. Instead, make your Life meaningful and purposeful. Accept what comes your way and find ways to serve, make a difference and leave the world a better place than you found it!

Guts and Glory don’t matter: Experience and Learning do!


Guts and Glory are mere perceptions. The reality is in experiences and in learning from them. It’s through the experiencing and the learning that the soul is enriched.

 

When we watch a movie and admire a hero for the way he or she has fought for justice, against perpetrators of evil or crime or injustice, we come back feeling good. We loved the movie. But don’t really think any of it is real. Because it’s just a story enacted for our entertainment. In real Life when we meet the actor, we do say we admire him or her and their ‘acting’. We know little about who they really are for us to be able to see the person behind the actor.

 

So it is with real Life heroism. Often people look at others around them and call them courageous and celebrate their valor or the stance they have taken in Life on fighting injustice or simply meeting a challenge head on. Someone who has found a deadly disease like cancer is often seen as a champion. Someone who has lived on despite the passing away of a loved one is believed to be very bold. Someone who fights injustice is seen as a ‘fearless’ crusader. And someone who refuses to run away from a seemingly impossible situation is believed to be incredibly resilient.

 

To be sure, everyone who has ever lived has had to encounter fear. Fear spares no one. Interestingly enough though all of us have the ability to be courageous. Because courage is NOT the absence of fear. Courage is what fear delivers when you face up to the fear. Because only when you face up to something, will you realize that it cannot harm you. Only what you run away from chases you, haunts you.

 

 

In a health challenge like cancer, you can feel fearful of death. But as long as you run scared of death, it will torment you. But the moment you discover that death is a non-negotiable eventuality that all of us who are born have to confront, you will no longer fear death. Then you start living. And despite your speeding to death, owning to your personal situation,  you begin to feel blessed that at least you reasonably know how much time you have left to live. And you start investing in the living than obsess with the dying. Fear of death has delivered to you the ability__courage__to live simply because you stopped running away from death.

 

 

So, it is with every Life situation. The more you run away from a problem, the more fearful you will be. When you face it, the problem, even if it doesn’t go away, will at least stop tormenting you. When you stop feeling intimidated by the problem you face, with courage playing a catalyst, faith is born. Faith is the light that drives away the darkness of fear. Remember, darkness cannot drive away light. Only light can eradicate darkness. You cannot project darkness on to anyone or anything. But you can light up a Life, including your own. And faith is that light!

 

Where there is faith, fundamentally in yourself, triumph is certain. You will ultimately prevail. Even if you die, while attempting to get on top of your Life situation, it is a triumph. Because you are now free, liberated from bondage to this world and its worldly attachments, responsibilities, consequences. But often times, the triumph happens again in the real world. And the world will glorify you. The world will see you as successful. True wisdom though lies in knowing that the fans of your success don’t see your struggle or don’t want to see it. They only see the finished product (at least for the moment): the successful you. And that glory can be humbling, relieving, gratifying and, often, heady. Beware of this tricky moment. And stay grounded reminding yourself that all this glory is a mere perception. A perception of the world. The truth is that the experience of getting here has been the reward. Not the material reward that all this glory brought you.

 

Jayakumar, an autorickshaw driver, with his topper daughter Prema! Pic Courtesy: Mid-Day

 

Yesterday India celebrated Prema Jayakumar, daughter of an auto-rickshaw driver from Mumbai,  for topping the national Chartered Accountancy exam. Glory followed suit. Media attention, cash rewards, job offers. And suddenly, overnight, the young 24-year-old, who shares 280 sq-ft of living space with her dad, mom and younger brother (who also passed the same exam this year), is feeling on top of the world. She knows that in a matter of a few weeks or months, she will be able to hoist her family out of the difficult Life they lead and offer them a more comfortable one. In her story, instead of living fearful of the same difficult Life she has led for 24 years, she decided to face her fears, and had the guts, as we see it, to dream big. And her guts led her to her glory. But unless she realizes that what the world sees as her guts is actually her ability to have dreamt big despite her deprived circumstances, and that her glory is only momentary and will fade away once the newness of her story is dead in the public eye, she will get caught up in this perceptional game. (If she indeed does, that’s will be another experience, another learning for her and another story!) The reality for now, in the context we discuss, is that she met Life, faced up to it, and triumphed one phase of it. The entire experience has enriched her. And now, a new conquest, a new experience awaits her.

So, don’t let all this talk of guts and glory, of whatever you do in Life, ever kid you. It’s all hot air capable of blowing your ego bubble. Only so that it can be pricked by Life and circumstance again! Your greatest reward, and your ONLY wealth, is what you have experienced in Life and what you have learned from it! Live with this understanding and focus. And you will be both in bliss and unmoved!