Much of Life is Tax-Free – Enjoy it by Living it fully!

A couple of days ago, I read an interview that the famous film director Rajkumar Santoshi (who made Damini, Andaz Apna Apna, The Legend of Bhagat Singh, Khakheeand, recently, Phata Poster Nikla Hero) gave the Times of India (TOI). Santoshi tell TOI’s Priya Gupta that he regrets not having spent enough time with his mother. He says candidly: “My mother died three years back due to cancer and I cry thinking I could not spend as much time with her. We all live thinking we will live forever, but Life suddenly goes away. Even though she lived with me, she would be sitting on the terrace while I would have my discussions inside for three hours. Now I regret not having spent one hour out of those three with her. Even though my work will continue, I cannot get my mom back. We cry only once we don’t have something, but don’t value it when we have it. I have bought this house with a terrace where I can see the stars and feel the breeze which is tax-free but still we do not want to enjoy it.
This is so true.
Not just the breeze, but most priceless aspects of Life are tax-free. Yet we spend so much of our time lamenting over things that are not there in our Life. Instead, if we focussed on what is there, we would be so much more happier. Because then we will be celebrating Life for what it is.
The essence of Life is to experience its many facets. Its ups and downs. Its trials and tribulations. Its joys and sorrows. Going with the flow of Life__without resisting it at any point__is one sure way to experience it fully. This doesn’t mean you sit on the terrace and enjoy the breeze all the time. Nothing wrong with it. Except that you will get bored in some time. So, do everything, do it well and in good measure. What is happening perhaps to many people today is that they are working harder than ever before, postponing living their lives fully and are therefore unhappy.
Instead of complaining that you are unhappy, choose to be happy! If you can create time for an unscheduled business meeting in an already busy week, can’t you create time to spend an hour with someone you care for, love and enjoy being with? Who’s stopping you from planning your time differently but yourself?
Each moment that you spend complaining that you don’t have this or that, or that you don’t have time, is one more moment gone – wasted, without having been lived fully! Enjoying Life for what it is, doing what you love doing, and experiencing Life fully, is a full-time job! Remember to complete that job too before your time’s up!  

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Parenting ‘young adults’: Know when to let go!

The much-publicized showdown (this has been covered extensively by the media in Chennai) between celebrated Tamil film director Cheran and his daughter Damini, over Damini’s choice of a Life partner, leaves us with very significant questions that, I am sure, are on the mind of every parent who has a young adult at home waiting to make Life choices. The questions are:
  •     How much parental control is right and necessary in helping “young adult” children make Life choices, especially with regard to their companions?
  •      What does a parent do when the young adult child is, at least in the eyes of the parent, committing a mistake, virtually hara-kiri?
  •      What must be done when parents and young adult children can’t understand each other anymore?

The New Indian Express: Aug 4 2013
But first, let’s quickly review the Cheran-Damini context. Damini says she wants to marry and live with her boyfriend Chandru, who was an apprentice in Cheran’s office. She has complained to the Chennai Police Commissioner that her father used goons to harass Chandru and even had him roughed up on a few occasions. Cheran, on the other hand, has clarified that he is not against his daughter choosing her Life companion but is against her relationship with Chandru, whose character, says Cheran, is “not very good”.

Prima facie, both father and daughter appear to be right in looking at things the way they are, from where each of them is seeing it! Damini believes in Chandru implicitly. And Cheran refuses to. Possibly Cheran has his own valid reasons – because he’s looking at Chandru as a parent and not as a lover. So, he’s seeing something that Damini, at this time, given her age and her limited exposure, is not seeing. Now, the best way forward for both parties is to let go. First for Cheran to let go and accept that his daughter is now a young adult, who cannot and must not be controlled. And, next, for Damini to appreciate that her father is no villain and only wants her not to be hurt in the future, if her choice of being with Chandru, does not work out for whatever reason.

Fundamentally, we parents must accept and appreciate that our children have very different and unique Life paths from our own. Just because something happened to us, it is not necessary that the same will happen to our children. So, let go of that anxiety or expectation – whichever way you are looking at things. Especially when dealing with young adults__irrespective of the legal definition, any child over 16 years of age, per me, qualifies for this classification__employ a simple process (that will address, among other things, the three questions that were raised above) in all matters where conflicting viewpoints emerge:
  •      Advise – First attempt advise. Share your Life experience with regard to the context on hand. Place both pros and cons. Transparently. Calmly. Enable informed and intelligent choice-making by your child.
  •      Champion – When you notice that your child persists with a choice that you don’t agree with, invite the child for another round of conversations. Don’t reprimand. Remember: each individual is adventurous in her or his own way. Your child perhaps loves experimenting. Don’t restrain that spirit. Instead, champion your school of thought, calmly, with compassion. Outline where the child’s choice will end up, according to you, should the child insist on walking down that path. Always remind the child that if she or he fails, she or he is “welcome” back home anytime.
  •      Let Go! – When you still don’t see your child picking up your sage counsel, simply let go! Keep an open mind. Wish your child well. Be open to you being wrong with your assumptions. Because ultimately, it is your child’s happiness that you want. And not wanting to prove your correctness or yourself right!
  •      Never say ‘I told you so!’ – Should the child’s gambit fail, and she or he has to come back to you, simply receive her or him unconditionally. Don’t rub it in. Don’t say “I told you so!”. This is not an ego battle that you have won. Your child is back with you only because she or he realizes the mistake. Celebrate that learning, so that the mistake is not repeated, with care and compassion.

This process works fine in any context. Whether your child has a problem with academics or alcohol or tobacco or relationships or values. This process, above all, ensures peace and harmony while dealing with different approaches to Life and wherever conflicting views, between parent and child, emerge on Life choices being made.

I have learned from Life that there is no right way or wrong way to live Life. Each of us has our own journeys, peppered with our own unique experiences that lead us to our own personal learnings. The most important aspect of parenting is to know when to advise and when to let go. To be sure, by letting go, you are not being irresponsible. In fact, you are being mature – because you are preserving decorum and harmony in the relationship with your “young adult” child. The world is already ridden with enough strife and misunderstandings. Surely, you don’t want your small world too to be torn asunder by the same factors. Each of us learns to live Life more from experience than from being told how to live it! So, this Friendship Day, choose to be your “young adult” child’s best friend! Simply enable her or his learning too by letting go and, if required, getting out of the way!