No mistake is a sin – don’t get stuck feeling guilty!

Guilt cripples you. Let go of your guilt, forgive yourself, and move on!
Often times in Life we do make mistakes. And the cost of those mistakes ends up being very high. In private, when you are alone, your guilt will cause you immense suffering – just the realization, that with some prudence you could have avoided making that mistake, will make you feel miserable. When you have come to that realization, don’t belabor the guilt. Let it go. Forgive yourself.
Whatever be the context or situation of your guilt, whether it is to yourself, or to another, apologize sincerely. If you have hurt another person and that person is not willing to accept your apology, don’t grieve. Let your effort be sincere. Present your apology to the Universe, to a Higher Energy. The key is to understand that guilt is like excess baggage. You can’t move freely carrying a burden in you. The baggage has to be set down, it has to be offloaded. Only then can you make way of inner peace. Only then can you ascend in Life!
Don’t go on this trip to condemn yourself for what you have done or caused. No amount of guilt can change the past. The past is over. It’s dead. Your guilt will only heighten your suffering. Feeling guilty is not the same as atoning for your mistake. Guilt is a personal, selfish emotion. Atonement is selfless and seeks ways and means beyond the individual to express itself. If you can atone, well, that’s great. But even if you can’t atone, dropping your guilt is a good way to progress. No mistake is a sin. It is just a sign that you need to pause and reflect on your actions, on their consequences, on Life and on the learnings it is offering you. You may well have to face the consequences of your actions, you may have to pay the price for your mistakes, you may have to learn your lessons the hard way. Seeking forgiveness is the first step, however, to move on – and, hopefully, to repair and rebuild. So, don’t get stuck feeling guilty! There’s a lot more to experience and learn from Life – just remember, if you genuinely feel guilty over what happened, don’t repeat the same mistake another time!

Travel light and you will travel far!


No. This is not a budget airline’s campaign line! But a simple Life philosophy. It is as easy-to-practice a tenet as it is forgettable and so it doesn’t really get used much or championed.

All of us fellow voyagers in Life are traveling with far too much excess baggage than what we really need. There are three forms of excess baggage we saddle our lives with:

  1. Emotional Baggage: Memories pertaining to past hurts, insults, events, experiences. Some of these are heart-wrenching and keep our spirit nailed causing deep anguish, pain and untold suffering.
  2. Physical Baggage: More than 50 % of the stuff that inhabits our homes__furniture to clothes to documents to kitchenware to shoes to display-ware__are the ones we have not used in months and, most often, in years. So, our homes are overloaded with ‘waste’ which can be useful for others when given away
  3. Baggage that never was and that never may well be: This is the baggage of worry and anxiety. Of things and events that you fear will happen to you and because of which you are unable to live free and in the moment

All three forms of excess baggage must be set down to travel in comfort. The second form, the physical baggage, may still be reconcilable. As in, if you have a large living space, you can afford to accumulate, save or hoard the stuff that you don’t always use. But the baggage falling in categories 1 and 3 are just not worth carrying. In a way, Life is pretty much like an airline company. You sure do end up paying a heavy price for traveling with heavy, excess baggage! In a Life context, that price is the inability to live in and experience the magic of the present moment, of the NOW!

I learned the value of traveling light and traveling smart from experience. I used to, about two decades ago, work for a boss who was very good to me. He gave me a lot of room to do my work. And gave me additional support and resources to get my work done. For instance, he would allow me plane travel when others in my rank were not allowed. He approved my use of limos for local transport when others were asked to use public transport. He allowed me a business entertainment allowance which was not allowed for anyone else in the company but him. I believed he was justly supporting me because I was the best performer on the team, achieving, and often exceeding, every single target I was given. To be sure, I never misused or abused my position. I only employed the extra resources available to me to deliver unprecedented results month on month! Then, something must have happened either at a leadership level or at an audit level__of which I was not aware. One fine morning, my boss called me and asked me to explain the use of limos in Mumbai when the city has so many ‘cool cabs’ (air-conditioned public taxis). I said I have been using these limos for over 18 months now and I did not see why the question was being raised now. My boss, not always known for his good temper, said I had no business asking those questions. He placed a couple of my expense claims in front of me, marked several bills in red ink rejecting my claims and said all additional out-of-rank perks to me were being withdrawn with immediate effect. I was aghast. The way he came across to me, I felt, he was questioning my integrity. I walked back to my desk and sent him a detailed note justifying my claims, attached my resignation letter to my note and left the office immediately. He tried to reach me a few times on my home number (in those days, we didn’t have email or cell phones so widely available as now) but I refused to take his calls. For years after this episode, and my abrupt departure from that job, every time I met a former colleague or any reference to this former boss came up, I would be abrasive and abusive about him. I would call him a thankless opportunist, who used me, and dumped me ‘when his job was over’. I would say, brazenly, and with conceit, that I built the company up and upon my departure, things came crashing down. Each time I launched into such a tirade, I discovered I would be filled with negativity which would last for days. The memory of that unceremonious episode__the avoidable question on my integrity and my hasty, acrimonious exit__caused me great pain and suffering, each time it surfaced.

Years went by. And then, one fine day, while traveling to Boston, MA, (USA) I bumped into this former boss of mine at a book store in Harvard Square. We both found looking into each other’s eyes in a matter of a few seconds. Had I had an opportunity, I would have preferred not to talk to him. Because even in the first few nano-seconds of our encounter, the meeting of our eyes, I could feel the negativity in me for him rise violently. He spoke first.

Him: “Hey AVIS! Wonderful to see you man! Where have you been?”. So saying, he looked at his wife, who was with him, and introduced me to her. He said, “AVIS is the best professional I have worked with. He’s ethical, deadline-driven and extremely target-focused.”

I was surprised. In fact, amazed. I don’t know what got into me. Maybe it was my rage. Pent up over years of carrying the burden of the memory of that awful episode. Maybe it was my immaturity. Whatever it was, it just led me to discard all norms of dignity and I took on my boss, in full view of his wife, in that chance encounter.

Me: “Ethical? Ha! That would not cut much ice with me. Weren’t you the one that disallowed my claims, citing reasons of my questionable integrity, and withdrew all the perks due to me in just one hasty decision without even asking me to explain or wanting to listen to me?”

Even as his wife looked on, my former boss, perhaps sensing that his immediate leadership of the situation was required, responded calmly to clarify.

Him: “I want you to know there was no question about your integrity. I was under pressure from both the management and the auditors to explain why you alone were being singled out for such ‘special treatment’. My boss had advised me to be ‘perceivably’ fair to everyone on the team so that even a just reward should not be seen as favoritism. So, while disallowing your claims momentarily, I was planning to work on a raise and a grade promotion for you basis your outstanding performance so that I am seen as not having to make policy exceptions every single time. This is what I was calling you about. But you never called back. I let you go because I felt you will learn better from Life than if I tried to reach you and teach you.”

In a momentary flash everything became clear to me. Indeed. I had learned. I had begun to dislike the negativity I carried about him and that episode, for years, that I had now begun to not want to think about it anymore. In my former boss’ clarification, I felt both humbled and sorry. I apologized to him. He hugged me saying it was okay. We stepped into a coffee shop, And over the next couple of hours, I emerged cleansed and peaceful.

Back in my hotel room, that night, I looked out my window at the Charles River, and asked myself:

  • How much negativity and years of boiling over could I have saved if I had not traveled without the baggage of that wasteful memory? It wasn’t at all about who was right or who was wrong or could the whole situation have been handled any better by both me and my former boss. What was gnawing at me was, wasn’t all this burden of carrying this angst, this grudge, imminently avoidable?
  • What a wonderful opportunity to speak up, share, clear the air, resolve and resume, would have been missed if I had not come face-to-face with the man? Given a choice I would have preferred slinking away from the encounter! Couldn’t I have written to him, or called him, in these intervening years, to clear the air? What did I gain with refusing to face him and with carrying this baggage on for so many years?

That night of self-enquiry awakened me to a whole world of inner peace and introduced me to a new way of journeying through Life __ of traveling light! I discovered that there is no value in giving power to the past or arming the future.

Either effort leads to excess baggage that you don’t need. What you need to live is what you have in the now. Ask yourself what past memories are causing an inexplicable heaviness in you? Ask yourself what worries take your mind away from attending to the now? Burn your heaviness away by giving the present all your attention. Make a call, give a hug, simply forgive__do whatever that will bring you into the present. Stop worrying about what will or may happen in the future. Life is here and never in the future, just as it is not in the past! Most important, learn, and keep relearning, to offload all your baggage and travel light. You will then not only travel smart, but travel far too!


It’s never too late to start living in Life!


It is never too late to start living in Life!

 

We miss the beauty and magic of everyday moments because we are either grieving over what happened or are fearful of what may happen. Truth be told, we are all, always, journeying through Life with more load than what we can carry. We are carrying baggage from the past __ guilt, remorse, grief and we are carrying unreasonable expectations of the future __ fear, worry and anxiety. Either way, we are struggling through Life. So, Life appears to be a drudgery. A burden. And a sad song.

 

To be sure, no one, simply no one, is spared of pain in this lifetime. Everyone who is born on the planet has to deal with their share until, as most scriptures say, death frees them. This is the truth and this reality is inescapable. It is when we label this share of pain as unfair, unjust and unkind, and therefore resist it, that we suffer.

 

Simply, tell you pain off: “Hello, you have come uninvited and I know I can’t do anything about it. So you be where you are, do what you want to do. I am choosing to be unmoved and I am choosing to just be. Now watch your relationship with pain change.” It will potter around with your Life but not at the cost of your missing the opportunity to live!    

 

In most Indian homes, despite the best pest control methods available today, it is rare that you will not find lizards. Now, there are many people who grieve at the sight of a lizard. They are petrified of them and imagine horrible consequences of co-existing with them. They cringe and suffer all the time. But there are several million others, across the subcontinent, that just let the lizards be and they be themselves. Yes, everyone wishes that the lizards don’t present themselves in front of them, but when they know they can’t do pretty much anymore, they make their peace and move on. Pain is like the lizard in an Indian home. It just likes to hang round. And it doesn’t have a vicious agenda to terrorize you and make you feel miserable. You suffer because you hate its presence! The best way to deal with pain is to make your peace with it. Then, Life becomes worth living.

Yesterday, it was very relieving to see a young friend come to terms with Life, making peace with her pain, a year after her husband’s untimely passing away. She celebrated the fact that she had found Life worth living all over again! It will be both impractical and foolish to imagine that she will not have memories and she will not feel sorrowful whenever she reminisces. But acceptance is a gift you can give yourself that will, while not taking away your pain, will help you to live without suffering. The key operative word here is ‘to live’.

So, make a serious investment in the rest of your Life NOW. This is one investment that requires no gestation period to earn you a return. You invest and you harvest instantaneously. Stop grieving over what has happened so far. And stop worrying about what will happen. You will be unable to live if you focus on ‘What Was’ or “What Isn’t’ or ‘What If’. Life thrives only in the ‘What Is’ realm. You can live fully only IN your Nows. And it is never too late to start living (IN) them!