Life is not a 100-metre race that you have to keep on winning.
Someone we met recently, who knows that Vaani and I are enduring this crisis – our bankruptcy – for over 8+ years now, wanted to know how we have managed to keep the faith for so long: “What makes you believe that things will turn around. Don’t you sometimes feel like throwing up your hands in despair?”
Of course we do feel desperate and despondent at times. Surely. But our awareness, cultivated through the practice of mouna – daily silence periods – over the years helps us understand each time that the response to Life’s inscrutable situations is patience and not desperation. Impatience can ruin the party for anyone, in any context. Besides, what is the point in being disappointed about Life? Can it help solve your problem or problems? For instance, in a bankruptcy, what we need is money to a. meet and sustain our living expenses b. repay all the creditors to whom we owe money. Now by grieving over what has happened, the bankruptcy, by complaining about what is not there, which is money, can I bring in money? Can I keep worrying, can I rant, and wish my problem away? Or will I be better off working on my problem, while accepting that it exists in the first place? Obviously, it is a no-brainer. Anyone will choose to work on solving the problem – which is what Vaani and I are doing too – than brood and grieve over it.
Now, when you keep trying, over and over again, for years as it is in our case, and you don’t get rewarded for your efforts, chances are you will get disappointed. So we do feel low on some days. But as I said earlier, our awareness points out to us the futility of being disappointed or depressed. And so, we sleep over our disappointments and wake up the next morning repaired, renewed and recharged to address our situation.
We also have found a great way to keep the mind engaged in the present and discourage it from either brooding or worrying. We have learnt to spend our time usefully. So, I wrote my Book ‘Fall Like A Rose Petal’ (Westland). I write my Blog daily to share experiences and learnings, we curate Events that inspire happiness and I deliver Talks whenever I have audiences that are willing to pause and reflect. Vaani leads and curates activities in the space of eco-conservation. Together, we work, even when there is no commercial return, to make our world a better place.
A prime source of depression in challenging times is when you begin to feel worthless because your sincere efforts are not yielding the results you want. You begin to associate yourself with the outcomes and think you have failed because you have tried and tried and tried but have still not got you want. This is when being useful, over trying to only be successful, works. You can be useful in a million ways on a daily basis. You can help someone cross the road. You can carry someone’s shopping bags for them. You can share a thought for the day among your friends over WhatsApp. You can volunteer at a neighborhood social service or charity. Or if you are an artist, you can paint, sing if you are a singer or dance if you are a dancer. Immersing yourself in being useful, enjoying being who you are, is always a great way to feel good when you are feeling low.
Ultimately, if you get out of the social conditioning trap that Life is a 100-metre race that you have to keep on winning, you will find that it is possible to trust the process of Life. That it is possible to go with the flow. That it is possible to be useful even when you are not successful (in a truly, worldly, sense). That it is possible to be patient. And that it is possible to keep the faith.