Make peace with an incomplete Life

No matter how hard you try, some part of your Life will remain unfulfilled, incomplete, sometimes, even irreparable….
This is true for each of us, for every Life.
Pandit Bhimsen Joshi: Worshipped by legions of fans
Picture: Raghu Rai Source: Internet
The latest issue of Open magazine has a poignant story of Raghavendra Bhimsen Joshi, 69, eldest son of Pandit Bhimsen Joshi, the late singer-genius. Raghavendra was born through Joshi’s first wife, Sunanda. Lhendup Bhutia, who wrote the Openpiece, talks to Raghavendra about the latter’s just-released Marathi book (also translated in Kannada) titled Ganaaryache Por (Singer’s Son). In the book, and in the interview with Bhutia, Raghavendra tells, with both reverence to his father and with total honesty, the tale of how his mother, he and his siblings had to face neglect and abandonment after his father married a second time, a woman named Vatsala, and eloped with her. “When people wrote articles or books on my father and his personal Life, we would never be mentioned…It was extremely hurtful. Here was this star, a public figure growing in stature, and here we were, neglected and alone,” Raghavendra told Bhutia. Raghavendra believes that as the years went by and as the guilt of neglecting his first wife and children grew, Joshi, who already loved his drink, took to the bottle more. Raghavendra confesses that he never really mustered the courage to either ask his famous father why Sunanda and her children were neglected. And although Raghavendra wanted to be a singer himself, he could never bring himself up to ask his accomplished father to train him. Then, a few years before Bhimsen Joshi’s death, as Joshi lay in bed with a fractured leg, Raghavendra asked him: “You could so effortlessly move people to tears with your voice, how could you be so cruel to your own family?” Joshi did not reply but, recalls Raghavendra, instead cried. Even as Joshi cried some more, Raghavendra took his permission and sang him a song. Again Joshi said nothing. Raghavendra sang for Joshi, one more time, a few years later, as Joshi lay on his deathbed. At the end of the song, Joshi, too weak to speak, gestured to the lone nurse in attendance in the room, with his eyes, what a fine Raghavendra was!
Such a great singer. Someone that legions of fans adored and worshipped. A Bharat Ratna. Yet Joshi died unable to express his love and admiration, per Raghavendra’s version, for his eldest son and without being able to ever acknowledge his first wife and her children in public.
This is Bhimsen Joshi’s story. Gandhi too, per his oldest  Hariram’s point of view, failed miserably as a father – although he is revered and remembered as the Father of the Nation! But none of us is any different. Each of us do have some part of our Life remaining unfulfilled or incomplete. With someone it could be a relationship with a spouse, with someone else it could be with a child. Someone could have a huge health challenge or the loss of particular physical faculty. Another could never perhaps get his career in order. Or someone will have either no parent to look up to or may not have one that understands.
Life deals with each of us differently. Even so, a spot of sunshine is surely ordained in everyone’s lifetime. Just as a patch of pain is. Sometimes, the factor causing pain may end up being a permanent aspect of your Life! When you realize that you can’t do anything to remove that factor which is causing you pain, learn to either accept it or ignore it. Accepting or ignoring the pain will not make the pain go away. But it will surely help you deal with it better. And it may well help you not to suffer.
But the choice to accept or ignore, whatever’s causing you pain, can be made only when you understand that there are some aspects of your Life which will be unfixable. Acceptance is easier in a physical context. For instance, if you lose a limb in an accident, it is easier for you to accept this reality and not grieve over it or suffer. But if you lose a parent’s trust or understanding or don’t get her affection, you will struggle with both accepting or ignoring it.
Intelligent living, however, means to be able to see a pattern to your Life – with regard to your relationships or with regard to those aspects that don’t seem to have ever worked and to simply move on. That’s when you will be in complete peace even with an incomplete Life!

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Living completely requires spontaneity


Anything incomplete is dangerous. And the horrible truth is we are all leading incomplete lives.

Check it out for yourself. Are you saying what you really want to say in all your relationships? Are you doing what you love doing all the time? Are you feeling comfortable in all contexts of your Life? If you answered ‘no’ or ‘not quite’ for any of those questions (and these are not the only ones) then you are, your Life is, incomplete.

At the core of your unhappiness__both stated and unstated but felt__with your Life lies your incompleteness.

You hate your job. But you go on doing it because it ‘provides’ for your family’s upkeep and maintenance. You are incomplete. Your don’t relate to your spouse anymore. But you go on suffering in that relationship because you don’t know how__or want__to get out of it. You are incomplete. You don’t like what someone in your family is saying or doing. You hesitate to speak your mind because you don’t want to sound rude. But you squirm in the person’s presence. You are again incomplete.

Your incompleteness helps no one. Least of all you! German philospoher Friedrich Nietzsche (1844~1900) memorably said, “Life is not a dress rehearsal.” So it is! In a preparatory Life you can afford to rehearse, put off your best act for the final performance. But what is the point in living an incomplete Life when this is it! When this is the only Life you have?

Life is not an examination. It requires no preparation. It requires living. Living completely requires spontaneity. When you see a beautiful sunrise or a flower dance in the breeze or a child smile, you ideally don’t think of anything else – you just soak in the beauty of that moment. The moment you think of something else, you miss the moment itself! Then you are not being. You are not present. You are physically there. But mentally lost in worry, anxiety, guilt, anger, sorrow __ whatever. Bottomline: you have missed that moment! You have missed living it!

This is how we remain incomplete. This is how we miss living. Missing moment after moment after moment __ and often an entire lifetime! All our lives we prepare for a tomorrow and then for another one and then another. Or all our lives we cling on to a dead past, a memory, a guilt, a pain __ and we suffer endlessly.

I have nothing against theorists. But people who talk of karma and say that everything is ordained are encouraging, perhaps inadvertently and unintentionally, us to give up on living fully. Perhaps indeed everything is ordained. But to live the Life that is given, and not to suffer it, is still an intelligent choice we may like to exercise. You can’t be living in fear all the time. Then you are not living. You are dying. Of course, we all have to die one day when our physical presence ceases on this planet. But why die suffering a Life that has been given to us to enjoy, to live?

Here’s a simple perspective. Easy to understand. Simpler to practice. The reason we fear Life is because we have been taught to fear it. If you don’t study, you will fail. Fear. If you don’t go to work, you will lose your job, lose your income stream. Fear. If you don’t be loyal, you will lose the trust of people around you. Fear. Every action is being driven by fear of a consequence. That explains why we have not learned love to Life! If we were told to love learning, love knowledge, than merely get grades, we would have no fear. Then we would have been better at learning! If we were encouraged to love creating value, making a difference, work would become play. Then we would not fear or loathe work. If we were taught that loving is what living is all about relationships would have been far more meaningful and would not mean simply conforming to societal norms and frameworks.

To be sure, we complicate a rather simple Life by thinking too much, by whining, worrying, strategizing and analyzing. All this analysis creates paralysis, crippling us far more gruesomely than we even realize. That’s why we don’t see the beauty and magic in each moment, in each day. The moment we stop being incomplete and start living spontaneously, we will live and love__and not fear or hate__the Life we have been given!