One of the biggest qualities that you develop, as you journey through Life, is patience. As you learn to be patient with Life, you also learn to anchor in faith – not in religion or “a” God, but in the Universe’s benevolence.
Over the weekend I delivered a Talk in Bengaluru on the Life lessons that my wife and I have learnt while learning to live without money. One of the people in the audience came up to me after my Talk and said: “AVIS, I think you are blessed with remarkable patience and inner strength. You are truly displaying resilience.” On the flight back to Chennai, I reflected on that comment and couldn’t but help chuckling to myself. Me – and patient? Do I really have inner strength? Do patience and inner strength help build resilience? Honestly, I wouldn’t know.
However, that reflection transported me back in time to a morning 27 years ago when I had missed a bus to work. I had reported late at the bus stop that morning because I had got embroiled in an insipid argument with my mother. The next bus to work was not to arrive for another hour at least. I rushed back home, barged into the living room and bawled at my mother, blaming her for my plight! Our brawl was so intense that it required all my father’s diplomacy to broker a peace between the two of us. My dad, who had stepped out of the bathroom mid-way through his morning shave, took me aside and told me: “Son, it doesn’t matter if you miss a bus in Life. You can always take the next one. If you miss something in Life, it means it wasn’t something that was ordained for you. But let me tell you this – you must also learn to be patient with yourself and others.” It was a simple yet profound lesson on intelligent living which every right-thinking father ought to teach his child. I was lucky have got it from my dad that day. But, at 19, I neither had the wisdom nor the frame of mind to realize the value of what my father was saying. I immaturely concluded that he was trying to justify my mother’s actions and was supporting “only” her. I snatched my father’s shaving razor from his hand, stomped out of the bedroom that we were talking in, and flung the razor at the TV in the living room. The screen, instantaneously, cracked – badly.
The steward on the plane who paused by me for collecting my water glass brought my attention back to my journey as it is today. My father’s words ring so true now – and I am grateful to Life that while I missed both the bus and the learning back then, I have not missed the learning forever. If there’s anything I can ever claim I have learnt from Life – though a dark and excruciatingly painful phase that we are going through – over the past 10 years, I can say it is faith and patience. From someone who couldn’t accept missing a bus that caused a one hour delay, to someone who has chosen to be accepting of a seemingly endless struggle, spanning several years – missing the bus, if you extend the metaphor – I believe I have changed a lot. And, hopefully, for the better. Along the way, I have also understood that faith really is the ability to keep believing – no matter what – in yourself and in the Universe. It is to know that if you have been created you surely will be taken care of and provided for. When this realization happens, you become more patient with people and situations. And holding on to faith and patience, you learn to walk strongly in Life, one step at a time, one day at a time, one dark tunnel at a time.