Lessons from a Star and a Super Star

Never get deceived by success and fame. They are both fickle and fleeting.
Yuvi: With Player of The Tournament Trophy and ICC ODI WC 2011
Picture Courtesy: Internet
As the curtains came down on the ICC T20 WC at Dhaka last night, India’s sad loss in the Final led to angry fans venting their fury against Yuvraj Singh, once India’s Star player, online. While many critical views were expressed, questioning the pace of his innings (11 runs off 21 balls) and his very place in the team, some were outrageously rabid. Many called Yuvi a traitor. Some called him an “idiot” or such other uncharitable names. Although in Life, and in sport, you are only as good as your last effort or innings, and while critique is understandable, my personal view is that mindless criticism must ideally be avoided. Yuvi’s classic performance in the ICC ODI WC in 2011, which India won, and in which he was the Player of the Tournament, seems to have been forgotten. Also his record-making, six sixes in an over in the 2007 ICC T20 WC in South Africa, seemed a distant, historic data point last night. What was uppermost on everyone’s mind was that Yuvi had failed – yet again in the just-concluded championship – and that he needed to be crucified for India’s defeat in the Finals.
There’s a lesson for all of us from this chapter in Yuvi’s roller-coaster Life – if we care to pause and reflect. I am not suggesting that we should not review M S Dhoni’s decision to play Yuvi in the Final or in the slot that he batted. That’s the job of Team India and the selection committee of the BCCI. I am not saying fans don’t have a right to feel outraged. All I am saying is that here’s a lesson for all of us. No matter who you are or what you have achieved and how well you have served, when you fail, at whatever you are doing, you will find yourself alone. In that moment of loneliness, introspection is the key. Don’t grieve over what the world says, don’t agonize over the loss of fame or name, don’t brood over you actions – simply take Life as it is happening to you just then.
The nature of Life is that it can never keep you in one place. If you are on top, a fall is inevitable. If you are down, you can’t stay there for too long either – you will be hoisted up for sure. No fall is permanent. No conquest is forever. And no pole position is permanent. Each of us is a product of the time that we go through. For Yuvi, the fall will hurt harder because it is cricket – the sport is a religion in India, the fans are very demanding and unforgiving, and so he has to deal with a public scrutiny of his intent and talent. For many of us, our falls happen in our own limited, private, often small worlds. Even so, our pain will be the same as Yuvi’s. Whether you lose in business or in career or in a relationship – whatever be your loss, analysis by peers, family and society only makes the loss even more difficult to fathom and accept. The best way to deal with such situations is to remind yourself that everything is transient. Most certainly, fame, money, glory, success, defeat and loss are impermanent!
I remember an acceptance speech that Bollywood’s first and original Super Star Rajesh Khanna delivered at an India International Film Award event some years ago, when he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the man who dethroned him from superstardom, Amitabh Bachchan. Khanna said: “Everything – name, fame, glory – everything is impermanent. Where I am now someone else was in this place and someone else will be in this place when I am gone…” (Follow this link Rajesh Khanna IFFA Acceptance Speech to listen to that memorable acceptance speech) This is the irrefutable truth about Life.
The lesson from Yuvi’s fall from grace last night – and from Khanna’s wisdom – is that we must learn to take success, defeat, fame, fall, glory and loss all in the stride. We must learn to practice equanimity – which is really the ability to be untouched and unmoved by anything, in any situation. This may appear difficult to do. But this is the only way you can be peaceful within – and avoid all suffering – even as you deal with Life’s vagaries outside. 

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Guts and Glory don’t matter: Experience and Learning do!


Guts and Glory are mere perceptions. The reality is in experiences and in learning from them. It’s through the experiencing and the learning that the soul is enriched.

 

When we watch a movie and admire a hero for the way he or she has fought for justice, against perpetrators of evil or crime or injustice, we come back feeling good. We loved the movie. But don’t really think any of it is real. Because it’s just a story enacted for our entertainment. In real Life when we meet the actor, we do say we admire him or her and their ‘acting’. We know little about who they really are for us to be able to see the person behind the actor.

 

So it is with real Life heroism. Often people look at others around them and call them courageous and celebrate their valor or the stance they have taken in Life on fighting injustice or simply meeting a challenge head on. Someone who has found a deadly disease like cancer is often seen as a champion. Someone who has lived on despite the passing away of a loved one is believed to be very bold. Someone who fights injustice is seen as a ‘fearless’ crusader. And someone who refuses to run away from a seemingly impossible situation is believed to be incredibly resilient.

 

To be sure, everyone who has ever lived has had to encounter fear. Fear spares no one. Interestingly enough though all of us have the ability to be courageous. Because courage is NOT the absence of fear. Courage is what fear delivers when you face up to the fear. Because only when you face up to something, will you realize that it cannot harm you. Only what you run away from chases you, haunts you.

 

 

In a health challenge like cancer, you can feel fearful of death. But as long as you run scared of death, it will torment you. But the moment you discover that death is a non-negotiable eventuality that all of us who are born have to confront, you will no longer fear death. Then you start living. And despite your speeding to death, owning to your personal situation,  you begin to feel blessed that at least you reasonably know how much time you have left to live. And you start investing in the living than obsess with the dying. Fear of death has delivered to you the ability__courage__to live simply because you stopped running away from death.

 

 

So, it is with every Life situation. The more you run away from a problem, the more fearful you will be. When you face it, the problem, even if it doesn’t go away, will at least stop tormenting you. When you stop feeling intimidated by the problem you face, with courage playing a catalyst, faith is born. Faith is the light that drives away the darkness of fear. Remember, darkness cannot drive away light. Only light can eradicate darkness. You cannot project darkness on to anyone or anything. But you can light up a Life, including your own. And faith is that light!

 

Where there is faith, fundamentally in yourself, triumph is certain. You will ultimately prevail. Even if you die, while attempting to get on top of your Life situation, it is a triumph. Because you are now free, liberated from bondage to this world and its worldly attachments, responsibilities, consequences. But often times, the triumph happens again in the real world. And the world will glorify you. The world will see you as successful. True wisdom though lies in knowing that the fans of your success don’t see your struggle or don’t want to see it. They only see the finished product (at least for the moment): the successful you. And that glory can be humbling, relieving, gratifying and, often, heady. Beware of this tricky moment. And stay grounded reminding yourself that all this glory is a mere perception. A perception of the world. The truth is that the experience of getting here has been the reward. Not the material reward that all this glory brought you.

 

Jayakumar, an autorickshaw driver, with his topper daughter Prema! Pic Courtesy: Mid-Day

 

Yesterday India celebrated Prema Jayakumar, daughter of an auto-rickshaw driver from Mumbai,  for topping the national Chartered Accountancy exam. Glory followed suit. Media attention, cash rewards, job offers. And suddenly, overnight, the young 24-year-old, who shares 280 sq-ft of living space with her dad, mom and younger brother (who also passed the same exam this year), is feeling on top of the world. She knows that in a matter of a few weeks or months, she will be able to hoist her family out of the difficult Life they lead and offer them a more comfortable one. In her story, instead of living fearful of the same difficult Life she has led for 24 years, she decided to face her fears, and had the guts, as we see it, to dream big. And her guts led her to her glory. But unless she realizes that what the world sees as her guts is actually her ability to have dreamt big despite her deprived circumstances, and that her glory is only momentary and will fade away once the newness of her story is dead in the public eye, she will get caught up in this perceptional game. (If she indeed does, that’s will be another experience, another learning for her and another story!) The reality for now, in the context we discuss, is that she met Life, faced up to it, and triumphed one phase of it. The entire experience has enriched her. And now, a new conquest, a new experience awaits her.

So, don’t let all this talk of guts and glory, of whatever you do in Life, ever kid you. It’s all hot air capable of blowing your ego bubble. Only so that it can be pricked by Life and circumstance again! Your greatest reward, and your ONLY wealth, is what you have experienced in Life and what you have learned from it! Live with this understanding and focus. And you will be both in bliss and unmoved!