Learn to accept and celebrate the non-negotiable, inevitable, part of Life – Death!

Accepting and celebrating death is an important aspect of learning to live intelligently.  
Picture Courtesy: Internet
Cricketer Phil Hughes’ tragic accident on the field, and his passing away so suddenly, has shocked the entire world. Cricket Australia (CA) has confirmed that the first Commonwealth Bank Test Match between Australia and India, scheduled to begin on Thursday, December 4, 2014, will now be rescheduled. CA says three of its senior players, Shane Watson, David Warner and Brad Haddin, are among those who have said that they are not in the perfect state of mind to return to competitive cricket. Now, contrast this view with those expressed by two former Australian captains, Ian Chappell and Mark Taylor. They feel next week’s first Test in Brisbane should go ahead as it would help the cricketers and the fans to come out and share the loss of Phillip Hughes. Taylor feels it will be difficult for the players to deal with the massive loss but “cricket is probably the best medicine to heal the pain”. Chappell, too, echoed Taylor’s views, saying going back to the game is the best way to deal with the loss. “In a strange way I think it’ll be best for the players if they play the first Test,” Chappell was quoted in an agency report. I tend to agree with Taylor and Chappell. When someone dies, the best way is to celebrate the person’s Life – and what she or he stood for. To Hughes, cricket was his Life. And what better way to celebrate his Life than play a fascinating game of cricket?
I remember how Carnatic musician Nithyashree Mahadevan returned to singing within a couple of months after her husband committed suicide in 2012. The famous Chennai music season was on then and Nithyashree was booked to sing various concerts through most of December 2012.This sudden development shocked everyone and most definitely Nithyashree. The pictures that appeared in the media made everyone’s heart go out to her. They showed a forlorn, distraught Nithyashree and most people, while sympathizing with her, wondered how she would cope. But just two months after her tragedy, Nithyashree was back on the concert circuit. She was singing better than she had ever been. And, most importantly, she was not in grief. She presented a picture of complete acceptance and inner peace. I remember The Times of India carried a picture of her singing at that concert. The picture was captioned ‘Like A Song’. Indeed Life’s like a song. It has to be sung, and sung well, no matter what’s going on! What Nithyashree has done is truly inspiring. She has shown all of us the way that we must continue to live our lives, doing what we love doing, irrespective of what happens to us.
I believe that the human ability to cope with death is hugely crippled by the way society treats death. Death is not some gory end that society makes it out to be. It is the only thing that you can be certain of in Life. If you are born, and are alive, as you are, you will die. Period. So, you must learn to accept and appreciate death. Every one of us will die. In fact, we are all speeding towards our death, albeit at different speeds. So, death must be accepted as a logical end, and, as some would believe, as a new beginning, of yet another journey through another unknown. But let’s not lose our focus in over-intellectualizing death either. Simply accept death as a reality. And do everything that you can to celebrate the Life of the person who has died in your midst. Do not grieve. Do not mourn beyond a point. Recognize that death is inevitable. Take inspiration from those who live in the slums of Chennai.These people get drunk and dance as they go to cremate their dead. Reason, as one rickshaw-puller once told me, “The dead have been liberated from living on this planet! And that calls for a celebration!”

Wise words those are. And we will do well to learn from them. For, only when we accept that death is a constant, an unavoidable, non-negotiable part of our Life, that we will actually begin to live fully! And only then will we learn to celebrate the lives of those who are no longer with us! 
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No point regretting the Life you’ve had. Rejoice with what’s left of it!

There’s no point in regretting not doing anything in Life. It is never too late if you can go live the Life that you really want to!
Here’s an unsolicited tip to make your weekend qualitative: ask yourself what are your regrets in Life and get down to working on changing the way you live! You can call it your Bucket List or treat it as a Wake-Up Call – whatever, but simply don’t spend your time regretting the Life you have led so far. Rejoice with what is left of it!  
Bronnie Ware: Nurse, Author, Songwriter
There’s some unputdownable evidence supporting this thinking that comes from a former nurse, Bronnie Ware, from Australia, who has spent several years in palliative care, looking after the dying, in the last 12 weeks of their lives. She recorded the thoughts of her dying patients in her blog www.inspirationandchai.comand later put out a book, compiling her observations, called ‘The Top Five Regrets of the Dying’. Ware found that most people, while dying, felt one or more of these regrets strongly and grieved over them until they made “peace with themselves”.
Regret # 1: “I wish I’d had the courage to live a Life true to myself, not the Life others expected of me.”
                                         
Regret # 2: “I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.”
Regret # 3: “I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.”
Regret # 4: “I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.”
Regret # 5: “I wish I had let myself be happier.”
It’s possible that you may connect with some of these sentiments yourself. But chances are business-as-usual, the bane of Life, will take over and force you to continue living a sub-optimal Life. People normally grow a lot when they are faced with their own death. You will have noticed this in your own family too. So, one sure way to get started, to live the Life you want, and to stay committed on the path, is to imagine that you have only this weekend or say this month or whatever limited time to live. What changes will you then make to your Life? What would you stop doing immediately? And what would you start doing? When your list is ready, go over it one more time. Be driven by a sense of urgency to live fully – so don’t look at things practically or realistically and don’t operate being limited by the constraints that surround you. Simply go after Life – as if death awaits you in the next moment, at the end of the day! If that really is the case, what are the things you will do? Just go do them. Day after day after day. You will then find that you will be a lot more happier with a lot less – less work to do, less money to make and less stress to handle!
I remember reading somewhere that “One day, as you are dying, your entire Life will play in front of your eyes. Make sure the flashback’s worth watching.” Bronnie Ware’s observations and her Top Five Regrets summary are something that I can deeply relate to. Up until when I was 37, which was some time ago, I lived Life in an unintelligent, imprudent way. I would have had those same regrets back then. But through some difficult, but conscious choices, that Life forced me to make, I have learnt that being happy with the Life you have is the biggest opportunity in front of each of us. We all have to go one day. But if you have been happy living, chances are, you will be happier dying – for there will be fewer, or even no, regrets with the Life you have lived!

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!