Beyond ‘earning a living’, make time for living!

Why do we do precious little to nurture, develop, grow and protect all those things that come free in Life while ending up working 60+-hour weeks ‘earning a living’ and trying to cling on to, protect stuff, that in the end are impermanent, dispensible, unimportant, forgettable and replaceable?

Go on, get crazy – go do what you always wanted to do!

Every once in a while walk the line of lunacy.
Go do things the world calls crazy but what you believe delivers joy unto you. Soaking yourself in this joy frequently is what will, ironically, keep you sane and grounded.
I met a friend the other day, who has been an inspiration. He started his career as a bottle washer in a five-star hotel’s bar. And worked his way up to become an expert in wines, a sommelier. He is employed in the Middle-East and earns substantially to be able to provide for not just himself but his extended family of siblings and relatives. On a vacation to India last week, he went to a five-star hotel, and enrolled himself as a daily wage contract worker and washed dishes for a full 8-hour shift. His reasoning: “It was a bit difficult after all these years. But there was more, unadulterated, joy than the physical pain it caused. It helped me connect back to where I came from.” Another person I know, in his 40s, has kicked his “secure” job and is learning “tattooing” because he wants to be a tattoo artist on the beaches in Brazil!!!.
If what the world calls crazy is what gives you joy, just do it! When you walk the line of lunacy, you are following your bliss. Bliss works on us in several ways – ways that we have not even thought of.  The experience is always liberating.  When you are in bliss, you are one with the Universe. In this state, you attract health, peace and prosperity. Ultimately, aren’t we all not working hard and burning both ends of the candle in this Life for just those three things – health, peace and prosperity (to be sure, a.k.a wealth!)?
Interestingly, it is that time of the year when plans and resolutions to do meaningful, important stuff in Life, are chalked out. Yet, so many new years have come and gone. And as every new year turns old, the resolutions too will slip away, snowed under the pressures of everyday Life, BAU – business as usual, as they call it in the corporate sector! You can spend a lifetime planning, but it is in those moments of doing what you love doing, that you actually live! Rest of the time, you merely exist! Here and now is where it all starts. So, go do what you always wanted to do. Don’t postpone. Don’t hedge. Go on, defy popular logic, get crazy!

No matter how messed up your Life is, suicide is not the answer!!!

When did you ever ask to be born? Your lifetime is a gift. How can you then decide to end a Life that you has been ‘given’ to you?
I saw a note from a young reader this morning saying she read my post of two days ago – “Are you ‘sad sad’ or are you ‘happy sad’?”She confessed that she was just out of ICU after attempting suicide for a second time. She felt no one “really shared her sadness or was willing to understand why she was depressed”. Her note indicated that she was learning to cope with her reality: that she was perhaps having to deal with her Life, herself!
Indeed. Each of us is messed up in one way or the other. And we all have to deal with our quota of problems – some call it “s*%t” – by ourselves. Often times, Life may well be lonely. But sorry, I am not one who will ever support suicide as an idea – whatever may be the circumstances that drive anyone to that point.
Here’s what we need to understand. This lifetime of ours is a gift. None of us asked to be born. Life has been given, gifted, to us. For heaven’s sake, consider the miracle here. Isn’t it a miracle that you have been created as the human who gets the H1N1 (swine) flu and not as the swine that gives the flu? Even the swine did not ask to be born. Life has been given, gifted, to the swine as well. For all that the creator – if there is indeed one – cares, you may well have been created as a swine! So, know that, if you have been created as a human being, there must be a reason for it. And that reason is certainly not to feel depressed and to take your own Life!
A principal reason for depression is that your Life is not going the way you want it to. Simple. This reason may manifest itself in myriad ways but the basic concept is of not getting what you want. But hey, hold on a sec, will you? When did Life promise you anything? When was any guarantee given that your Life is going to play out this way or that way? Life does not promise anything. There are no guarantees in Life. Every product you buy comes with a user’s manual and a warranty. You – and I – are the only products, us humans, who come without any user manual to guide us or any guarantee that can assure us of a Life that we want. What this essentially means is that the best way to live Life is take it as it comes, to live with what is and to have no expectations from Life. The moment you expect Life to be this way or that way, and when it doesn’t go your way, you feel depressed. So, who is causing your depression, you – or Life? Besides, how intelligent is it to feel depressed over something that was never in your control?
Also, let’s not expect people to understand us either. It’s better to assume that no one will. And then when you find someone who understands you, well, won’t that relationship be worth celebrating? Your sadness is your own. Your happiness is your own. Don’t agonize over friends who don’t want to share either with you – the brutal reality is that such people were never your friends! You have made the mistake of calling mere acquaintances your friends, and you brood over their behavior? How intelligent is that? One of the best features that Facebook offers is when you add a friend, it asks you to categorize that relationship – is this a ‘close friend’, ‘an acquaintance’ or should this person be added to ‘another list’? I do this diligently for all my friends – even offline, off Facebook. And I would recommend you do it to. Let me tell you, it works!
Life has to be faced no matter what the circumstances. My wife and I have been enduring a bankruptcy for years now. For many spells over the last 8 years we have gone penniless. I have been called a cheat by my own mother and have been ‘disowned’ by my own family. As I write this, Vaani and I are not sure where our material Life is going – honestly there is so much debt to be repaid and no effort to reboot the business has kicked in place, the way we want it to. Yet, we are sure, that this Life must be lived, till it naturally ends, it is own inscrutable way, just as it all began! This is our story. But look around you – in your family, in your circle of influence, among your neighbors and colleagues – everyone’s got a personal story of pain, grief, guilt, sorrow and of facing Life stoically. If they can look their Life in the eye and live it, all of us too can!

I not going to tell this young reader – or anyone – that everything shall pass, that things will get better, that there will be dawn at the end of every dark night. I believe anyone attempting to take one’s Life is smart enough to know that all this is both true and fluff at the same time. Fluff because Life takes time to change. And it is people’s intrinsic impatience with Life, and a lack of understanding of what Life is, that drives them to suicide. But from experience I can tell this for sure: it is in enduring Life patiently that you evolve, you grow and you come to a point where you believe, like we do, that if you have been created you will be cared for, provided for, looked after – and loved! That you may not always get what you want, but you will always, always, be given what you need!    

There is great joy in living dangerously

Don’t ever fear living dangerously. Simply focus on the living, for you can do nothing about the danger!
Neerja Malik
Picture Courtesy: Facebook
The other day we were at an event to launch a book based on the Life of Neerja Malik, a two-time cancer survivor. Titled ‘I Inspire’ (Jaico, written by Megha Bajaj), the book tells Neerja’s story – of grit, of letting go, of acceptance and of being happy despite the circumstances. At the launch, Neerja, just as the way she always is, was beaming and radiating abundance. She personified being joyful! Without any prior notice, finding me and Vaani in the audience, Nina Reddy, of Savera Hotels, who was the chief guest at the event, invited me to share some perspective (perhaps given our own experience with dealing with a Life-changing crisis) on how “it is possible turn a crisis into an opportunity”.
I talked about how ancient Chinese philosophy and literature support this belief that the word “crisis”, when written in the Chinese language, is actually the sum of two other words. One meaning ‘danger’ and the other meaning ‘opportunity’. So to the Chinese, crisis always means danger + opportunity. The import for us is this – whenever you see crisis, don’t get overwhelmed by its inherent dangerous nature. See the opportunity. To be sure, there is opportunity all around, everywhere, and every step of the way.
Osho, the Master, takes the Chinese argument one step further. He says Life is intrinsically fraught with dangers. Each moment is an encounter with the unknown. He says our academic education, social conditioning and the availability of economic resources makes us believe, actually kids us, that we know what outcomes can occur each time all necessary and sufficient conditions are fulfilled. But every now and then – when an MH 370 disappears into thin air, when you are faced with a debilitating ailment with no cure, when a close relationship sours irrevocably because you have stopped relating to that person – you realize that you are controlling nothing. That only Life was, is, and will be, in control. You discover then that you are a mere pawn. So, when this realization strikes you it can be very unsettling. You thought you were the boss, the king. But now, Life’s telling you are that you are just a cog in the wheel, a nobody who controls nothing. Osho says that instead of feeling depressed and powerless, celebrate the joy of living dangerously. Since you can’t do anything about what happens to you in Life, since you have no idea or control over what dangers lie on your journey ahead, simply let go and be happy!
Neerja epitomizes that spirit. It’s her joie de vivre that’s helped her conquer cancer not once – but twice! It’s her zest to live that spreads so much positivity and cheer among all those she touches. She doesn’t make living this way seem easy. Living this way iseasy because she lives each moment fully – with awareness, with joy! There’s indeed great joy in living dangerously. If you can find some time from your worrying and fearing and fretting and fuming about the ‘dangers’ you are currently dealing with, believe me, you too can feel – and be – that joy! 

Aap Kataar Mein Hein

There’s no doubt that our Life stories will end soon. They will – one day surely. So, while our lifetime keeps ticking away, the only real time that we have available with us to live is the now, the present moment!  

A friend called a couple of days ago. We talked about the passing of Manorama, the Tamil actor, who we had all grown up watching on the big screen. And we talked about Amitabh Bachchan, whose birthday day it was, about how his era symbolized our youth. And how at 73, he was having the best time of his Life. Yet, said my friend, there’s no disputing the fact, that everyone’s aging, and will die one day, sooner or later. I quipped, punning on the old BSNL call-on-hold message, “Aap kataar mein hain…you, me, all of us, are in a queue, to eventually pass on…When our number is called, we have to simply go!”
Although it was a casual conversation, I cannot but reflect on the spiritual perspective it offers. If we treat Life as a soon-to-expire reality, we will want to seriously live. And not just exist. I mean we will want to live another way than the way we are living right now. Just this morning I read of Infosys CFO Rajiv Bansal’s resignation. He told The Times of India that at 43, he is re-evaluating what he wants from Life. And I believe it’s only right that like Bansal, each of us understands that Life has to be lived fully. And living fully does not mean spending your first 25 years qualifying, then spend the next 35 years earning, procreating and saving and then at 60-something “waking up” (if you are lucky) to decide what you want out of your Life. At that stage, possible you may have the means to do what you want but you may not be assured of either your health or enough time.

However corny the BSNL call-on-hold message may sound, it’s relevance to intelligent living cannot be ignored. If we take heed, and act on it, we will surely live a better Life than we are living presently!