There’s a lot of Life left after a crisis. A lot of Life!

You can surely use a crisis in your Life to make it meaningful.

Some years ago, I was traveling by the Rajdhani Express from Surat to Mumbai. The passenger sitting next to me was keen to have a conversation with me. I was least interested in chatting with anyone and preferred to go back to reading Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, which was nearing its unputdownable climax. But the man was irritatingly persistent. I finally put down the book and looked in my neighbor’s direction. He started the conversation gleefully. I soon discovered that he had an inspiring story to share. He, I learned, is a very successful diamond trader. His wife and only child had died in the Indian Airlines (now Air India) IC 113 plane crash at Ahmedabad airport in October 1988. He showed me pictures of his deceased wife and son. He told me how difficult it was initially for him to cope with his sudden, devastating loss.

“I loved my wife and son dearly. For many months after their death, I would wake up in the middle of the night screaming their names. I would be alone in my palatial bungalow. And my screams would echo back to me. It was eerie,” he said.

“How did you move on? Did you remarry,” I asked, considering that he was in his mid-forties when I met him.

“I chose not to remarry. I moved on, however, because I soon realized suffering and grieving was foolish. It was not going to bring back my family alive to me. I realized that while I loved them a lot, I was hardly spending time with them. I was busy making money. Now, I have lots of money. But no family to go back to. So, I have made it my mission in Life to awaken people to the importance of spending time with their families, and not just on their careers. Which is what I want to tell you too. Please make time for people who you love. Spend quality time with your wife and children. Life is very unpredictable and impermanent. Make sure you have meaningful memories when you are finally alone,” he explained.

That man on the train was serving me a wake-up call back then. I was still running the rat race then and was imagining that earning-a-living was more important than living. His wisdom, as it turned out eventually, was more unputdownable than The Da Vinci Code! For he had understood not just Life but its value. He had managed to make his Life – and his trauma, his crisis – meaningful.

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When I think back to that train journey and conversation, I feel it has helped me make my own Life meaningful, purposeful, especially in the wake of the bankruptcy that we are enduring as Firm and as a family. If today Vaani and I invest our every waking hour in inspiring happiness among all those are willing to pause and reflect, the seed for this sense of Higher Purpose has was perhaps sown in that conversation. To be sure, we are far away from having solved our problems, but we do realize that our crisis happening to us is part of a larger design, of what is to happen through us.

Clearly, when a crisis first hits you, you may think you can’t go on. You will imagine that, it is all over, you are finished. And so, when you are in the throes of a crisis, you may not believe that there is a lot of Life after a crisis and that the rest of your Life can really be meaningful. But if you move on and don’t allow yourself to be held hostage by the crisis, the Purpose behind why you have to go through whatever you are going through will soon unravel itself. Then you too will wake up to the opportunity and Life that there is after a crisis!  

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In crisis situations, just carry on stepping!

Don’t expect your problems or challenges to vanish into thin air. Don’t try wishing that they weren’t there. It is the nature of Life to have problems. Deal with Life, especially in a crisis, one step at a time.
Life in a crisis is pretty much like the headlights of your vehicle. You know where you want your vehicle to go. You know the destination. But in the darkness of the night, the headlight can’t get you to see the destination. But it sure can light up some part of the way, a few feet at a time, and as you make progress you get to see what lies ahead. This goes on, until of course, it is daylight or you reach the destination you were driving to. Life works exactly the same way. The night, the crisis, is not likely to go away immediately. A new dawn awaits you, but it is never dawn until daylight arrives. So, in the darkness of the night, follow the headlight principle. Don’t expect the entire road to be lit up. Be content with being able to see just a few feet at a time. In Life, therefore, when in a crisis situation, don’t expect clarity and answers to what lies a week down the road, a month, a year or in the distant future. Just believe that you will survive. Know that you will ultimately prevail. Know that you will eventually achieve your goal, reach your destination, realize your dream.
This is as true a statement as it is to say that a day always follows each night! Live each moment and each day completely__keeping your focus on where you want to go, living in the awareness that if you can see a few feet ahead, if you can survive today, you are making good progress. Don’t ask why are you in the dark phase or why you are groping with a crisis? Don’t wish and pine for the crisis not to have been there. These sentiments will cause you agony and hamper your ability to think clearly. The truth is that the crisis exists. The truth also is that you are caught in the throes of it! Accept it. Tell yourself that if you can last the next few steps of the journey, you will be blessed. Then when you pass each day, when you last that phase of the journey, work on lasting a little longer. And keep going until time relents, the crisis blows away and you are bathed in the warm glow of daylight, or what the world will call, ‘your success’! 

An old Chinese proverb reminds us that to get through all journeys, even the hardest ones, we need to take only one step at a time, but what’s important is, we must carry on stepping!

How do you pick yourself up when you have been felled by Life?

The only way forward from a crisis is to get up, gather yourself and move on. 
Many a time, Life deals with you in the most brutal ways. And before you know it you have been socked and have been left devastated with the turn of events. How do you pick yourself up when you have been felled by Life? Well, there are no easy ways in such a situation. You have to take Life as it comes, one day at a time, one step at a time.
When a tragedy or a crisis strikes you – death of a loved one, loss of business or money, a serious health challenge, a heart-wrenching break-up – you feel numbed by the event. All you are asking repeatedly is “why” and “why me”? But there are no answers to any questions in Life. So, you can spend time mourning and grieving – and feeling miserable – or you can move on. Now, there is no problem really with grief. It is after all a normal emotion that follows a loss. In fact, when you encounter grief, don’t try to suppress it. Allow it to rise within you. Feel the grief, hold it, let it hang around and watch it as it first rises and then recedes. When you suppress it, when you resist it, it will persist. But if you let it be, it will fade away. In the aftermath of a crisis, when the grief begins to subside, be aware and pick yourself up again. It will appear to be difficult initially. But when you choose to move on, it will happen more seamlessly than you can imagine.
For instance, just to cheer you up, when someone asks you out for a coffee or suggests a book or watching a movie, don’t say no. In the beginning it may appear that you are “indulging in being happy” while you need to be “clinging on to grief”. But allow yourself that indulgence. Don’t feel guilty. The truth is that your feeling sad is not going to undo your Life. In fact, nothing in Life can be undone. So, to move on, after you have been dealt a Life-changing blow, you must first be ready and willing, and then you must actually, physically, move. Moving on is not a feel-good philosophy, it involves a lot of practical, doable, must-do, actions.

But it all begins with believing that there is a lot of Life after a crisis. What you think is the end of the road, almost always, is the beginning of a new journey.  When you move on, when the scenery changes, as Life goes on, you will find that there is much more to Life than just clinging on to the dead past.