Live Inspired: There’s no way you can change what was, what is and what will be!

What you have to go through in Life, you have to. You simply can’t escape it.

I remember a dialogue from the movie “Shirdi Ke Sai Baba” (1977, Ashok Bhushan, Manoj Kumar, Sudhir Dalvi). Rajendra Kumar, who plays a rational-minded scientist (whose son is cured miraculously by Baba’s grace when even the doctors have given up), asks Manoj Kumar, who plays a Baba devotee, “If Baba is indeed so great that he can cure my son when medical science failed to do it, why can’t the same Baba solve all of the world’s problems? Why is there poverty, hunger, death, depravation, sorrow and grief everywhere?” Manoj Kumar replies: “Karm-yog ki Bhatti mein sab ko jalna padta hai!” It means, literally, each person has to go through his or her Life burning in the kiln of destiny! And so, that’s the way it is!

Dr.Shilpa Rao and Sonu
Picture Courtesy: Dr.Shilpa Rao/Internet

On Saturday last, the weekend magazine of The Hindu Businessline, called “BL Ink”, ran a story by Deepa Bhasthi on a very courageous mother-son duo. I learnt, reading that story, how people deal with their own Life challenges, stoically and peacefully. Dr.Shilpa Rao, a paediatrician, discovered that her son, Sonu, had Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) when he was 18 months old. She was shocked when her ex-husband and his family – although they were all doctors – shunned Sonu for not being “normal”. She decided to help Sonu grow up and face the world confidently and cheerfully. Bhasthi writes: “It was four years before he (Sonu) spoke his first word, six-and-a-half before he formed a sentence. Now 13, he goes to Class VI at an open school, equivalent to Class VIII in a typical school. Acceptance from teachers and classmates hasn’t come easy, but she (Rao) is sceptical about special schools, where “children are in a place where they aren’t interested in each other. In a regular school, he has to talk, he has to protect himself, that enriching environment is required,” she believes.”” Sonu is encouraging his mother to remarry. He plans to buy himself a Jaguar XF when he’s 21 and be a business leader in a large company where people report to him. He hopes also to be able to support and teach children like him who have special needs. Rao believes their journey has been, and continues to be, tough but they “soar” together, inspiring each other along the way.

Now, I am sure Rao, in her own private moments, at least initially, must have struggled to come to terms with her son’s special condition. We all do struggle when we are first confronted with an “abnormal” Life situation which we have neither expected nor wanted. The first reaction is denial – “no, this can’t be true”. Then there’s the “why me?” phase. Then, because the situation still exists and stares you in the face, you are gripped with fear, insecurity, worry and anxiety. But all these only debilitate. They cripple you and inhibit your thinking. Which sure doesn’t help you to deal with your situation. Slowly, when nothing seems to work, you grudgingly accept your situation. But grudging acceptance means being in the shallow end of the pool of Life. You are merely splashing around on the surface. Only when you accept a situation, only when you take a deep dive and plunge head on into Life, accepting it for what it is, do you see how peaceful – and happy – you can be, despite your circumstances. It is only through total acceptance that you can deal with Life’s challenges – with focus, inner peace and happiness. No challenge will ever go away just because you accepted it though. You don’t conquer a Life situation immediately. Acceptance, however, enhances your ability to deal with that situation phenomenally.

There are some Life situations that can be rebuilt over time – like a financial or a career situation. But loss due to death or a health condition – you simply have to learn to live with it. Which is why, whatever be the situation, what Manoj Kumar says in the movie is of great significance to all of us. It’s always wise to remember that none of us can escape what we have to go through in Life. It’s equally wise to also take a leaf from Rao’s and Sonu’s book – and “live” Life “inspired” because there’s no way you can change what was, what is or what will be.

Make a sound investment today – give your child your time!

Create quality time to spend with your children before they grow up and don’t have any time for you! Caught up with our own busy careers, we often tend to postpone family time and sometimes see our kids’ activities as unimportant in the face of several more pressing tasks. Our children are very forgiving and won’t really grudge it if we miss an annual day at school or a pantomime they are participating in. But soon, sooner than you can even imagine, they would have grown up and flown away into the big world – to build their own careers and raise their families. You may have all the time in the world for them then but they will have none to offer you! 
On my evening walks, I often see a father-son duo that we know of. They don’t know us. But we know of them and their family. The son is a strapping teenager. Tall and handsome. Must be close to 18 or 19. He can’t see though. And he is autistic (we know of his condition through a common family friend). Most evenings, the father will bring him along on a motorbike. The neighborhood we walk in does not have any traffic to speak of. So, the father will ride the motorbike a few times through it. The boy will be delirious with delight as the breeze pampers his face. He will raise his hands and at times yell in glee. After a few rounds on the motorbike, the father-son duo will walk through the neighborhood. The father will hold his son’s hand and tell him all that’s going on around them. The boy will ask several questions and seek graphic details__which, given his autism, I find, very remarkable. The father will patiently answer his son and provide each detail that he seeks. I find their camaraderie inspiring.  
In fact, it sometimes makes me feel guilty. In the years that my son was in his teens, I made little time for him. I rue the fact that I missed several of my kids’ special days in school because I was always having, as I vainly reasoned to myself,  ‘more important and urgent things to do with the business’. So when my son went away to study in Chicago some years ago, I felt the void in our half-empty nest the most. I couldn’t reconcile to the reality that our child had flown away even when I had not been around much during his growing up years! I am glad though that one summer, when he was 17,  we, just me and him, went on a vacation to Rajasthan. That will be a precious memory for me, forever, of spending quality time with him. Mercifully, we have a good friendship between us though. However, I made amends with my daughter. Apart from Life, and business, slowing down and offering me a lot of time to watch her do the things she loves doing, I also made it a point, with my wife, to be at each of our daughter’s special moments. Yesterday, for instance, we spent two beautiful hours watching her perform at an ‘Acapella’ concert with her very talented college band.
I have realized that we don’t need a handicap or a natural process of growing up to remind us that there are far more important things to do in Life than build a career or a business. Nothing can compensate for the joy of witnessing your child express herself or himself. Making time for being with your children is perhaps the best investment decision you will ever make. And here’s a simple tip to create that time in your packed calendar – just allot all the time you spend worrying about the lack of a work-Life balance to your children! And voila! Not only will you feel enriched, your work-Life balance will be instantaneously restored too!