Know that when you lose something, you gain something too. And, often times, what you gain is not material – yet, it is priceless.
The other day I had a rare, interesting, conversation with my parents. For various reasons, we have been, and continue to be, distant. In the last few months, however, we have come to have conversations among us. That, I would believe, is significant progress.
We sat at a coffee shop as we chatted. My mother was aghast that my wife and I were still in a hopeless, bankrupt situation. Out of concern for me and my family, and out of disbelief, she said that what was happening to us was “unfair”.
I told her that there was never a question of fair-play in Life. Because Life promises nothing. “Life doesn’t guarantee that you will not be challenged, that you will not lose anything or that your lifetime will be easy. So, let’s not grieve over Life’s perceived unfairness,” I said.
My mother replied: “Look around you. Everyone is well-settled. Everyone’s Life is stable – they have a steady income stream, they have savings, they have assets, some have even planned their retirement well. Why is it that your Life is so bizarre? In your late forties, you have lost everything. I am not even sure you can rebuild everything and reclaim whatever you have lost.”
I understood where she was coming from. I realized that she found the absence of an immediate solution to my situation baffling. I said: “What I have lost is material, ‘amma’. Everything material is gone. But look at what I have gained. I have learnt the value of faith and patience. I have understood the futility of anger. I have gained inner peace.”
My father, who had not spoken until then during the hour-long conversation, piped in: “And son, those are all qualities that could not be associated with you just 10 years ago – faith, patience, inner peace and your ability to conquer anger every time that you are provoked by someone or some situation. What you have gained, far outweighs whatever you have lost.”
I felt humbled with my dad’s assessment and his wisdom. To be sure, I too was gripped with fear and insecurity some years ago. I was angry with myself and my situation then. I was held hostage by my guilt and was filled with grief. But none of what I felt made my situation any better. When I examined my feelings closely, I realized that they were all about my material losses – they centered around what I did not have, money and things! Over time, I understood that feeling deprived or clueless or sorrowful was not helping me. I simply let go of the way I felt. Not that I am or can be ecstatic about being cashless. But at least I stopped grieving and being angry. I decided to wait, however long it takes, while resolving to work harder and try even harder, every single day, to make things better.
I remember reading somewhere that whatever material losses we suffer, including the loss of people we love, always eventually leads to our souls gaining inner peace. From my experience, I now know this bitter-sweet irony of Life to be true.