The best way to deal with Life is to have the “bring-it-on-I-guess-we-can-handle-this” attitude!
Sometimes, Life can be very unsettling. Just when you have been dealt one blow, a few more punches will be hurled at you. Roll with the punches. There is no other way. If you start asking why, why me or cry foul or scream “hey, gimme me a break!”, you will end up suffering – in addition to having to deal with the pain.
Last evening I was sitting with a friend who knows me and Vaani very well. He was keen to know how things are with us given that our bankruptcy endures and we continue to soldier on. I gave him an update which was really a list of problems, some of them inscrutably complicated and defying any immediate resolution. From the time my friend and I had met last, a few new issues had arrived in our fold. So I said, “I have no complaints. Not anymore. I have learnt to tell Life, ‘bring it on, I guess we can handle it’.” My friend looked at me and said, “Man, things are so tough. Yet you guys make it look so easy!”
I replied, asking, with dead pan seriousness: “Vera Vazhi? Is there any other way to respond to and deal with Life?”
Indeed this is so true – for each of us, in our given Life contexts and situations. You can rave and rant. You can kick and stomp. But Life is not going to get any easier or better just because you are upset with what you have been dealt with. I have come to conclude that the magnitude of the problems you are faced with is directly proportional to Life’s assessment of your ability to face them and endure them. Life is like a gym trainer who is intent on increasing your ability to lift weights on a weekly or monthly basis. Yes, lifting those weights can be tough, painful and impossible at times. But ultimately they build your strength. Once you have endured a quantum of weights you can handle those weights easily. And the more you lift, the better, and stronger, you get.
Your suffering is an outcome of your wishing that your Life is different from what it is. So, instead of simply wishing, tell Life, to use Punjabi slang, “Aan De – Bring it on!” And you will soon realize, like I have, that you can always handle everything that comes your way – no matter how impossible it seems at first!
Towards the end of a busy Monday, I decided to watch TV before I retired last night. I managed to catch the last 40 minutes of a pretty interesting Hindi movie called Heroes (2008, Samir Karnik, starring Mithun Chakraborty, Salman Khan, Sunny Deol, Bobby Deol, Dino Morea and Preity Zinta). It is a powerful story of how the families of slain soldiers cope with their loss. Dr.Naqvi (played admirably by Mithun Chakraborty) refuses to forgive his son Sohail (Dino Morea) for joining the army – a decision that costs his Life. For years after his son’s death the doctor refuses to move on – he hates his son for not obeying him and so, over time, he becomes an irritable recluse. Meanwhile, the doctor’s wife has moved on. While she misses her son, she’s not grieving his death anymore. The fact that the wife has returned to a normal “happy” Life, while he is still unable to cope, causes the doctor greater agony and misery. Until, of course, his wife holds him a mirror and tells him that the cause for all his suffering is not his dead son – but his own refusal to move on.
I found the story depict a very real situation that all of us often struggle with. Some Life events do numb us. They make us insensitive to the Life that is happening to us, around us. Our grief forces us to stay rooted in the past, in the event, suffering from the pain it has inflicted on us. Over time this grief, interestingly, becomes comforting. And to snap out of it requires an effort which we are unwilling to make. So, we wallow in this grief, ironically liking our own suffering! This is a deep-rooted, sub-conscious response to Life’s tragedies – to the death of a loved one, a failed relationship, a loss in business, a lay-off, a physically challenging health situation…to whatever blow that Life delivers to a “perfect” Life until then.
When something gets taken away from you, after your shock and stupor subsides, remember that what is playing out is an unalterable law of Life. That law deals with the impermanence of everything and of Life itself. Be sure, whatever you have today, that which you call your own – your family, your kids, your money, your property, your job, your reputation, your Life – has to and will be, eventually, taken away from you. So, the most commonsensical response to a loss is to let go of the event that caused the loss and to move on. Moving on does not mean you are insensitive. Moving on means you are intelligent. It means knowing that clinging on to the past, to a loss, to grief, only makes you miserable. Whereas moving on, liberates you. It helps you experience inner peace and joy. Your memories may well come visiting, every once in a while, but they will not haunt you anymore!
You suffer only when you wish that things were different from what they are. But with moving on you have accepted that your Life is what it is. That acceptance, through moving on, makes Life beautiful and worth living despiteall that you believe you have lost!
Forgiveness opens the gateway to inner peace. Always.
Ever so often, people hurt us. With their words or actions or both. We end up hating the presence of such people in our lives and are seething with anger at their mere mention. While such a response may appear logical and justified, in reality, it does affect the quality of our own lives. We end up carrying the baggage of that past experience and grieve every single time we reflect upon it. Anything that we carry as a burden will hurt us. Try this exercise: take a full glass of water and hold it up with your arm extended fully. Keep holding. How long is it since your arm starts aching and your shoulder starts hurting? How long can you go on holding this glass of water this way? At some point, you will be compelled to set it down. The sense of ‘aha’, the relief, you will experience when you put down that glass is the same when you forgive someone for what she or he has done to you. Forgiveness, however, must be unconditional. That’s when your inner peace will also be total.
I had the opportunity recently to deal with someone who has caused enormous pain and hardship to me. I hurted badly each time this person’s machinations got the better of me. Then, after much resisting, suffering and learning, when I realized there was no point in laboring over getting this person to see reason, I chose to simply forgive. I did not judge. I did not see who was right and who was wrong in the bargain. I simply chose to let go of all my hatred and ill-will for this person. For a long, long time, there was no contact between us. But because of the choice I had made, I discovered that I was not hurting anymore. That there was no anger in me towards this person anymore. When we finally were to meet recently, I was apprehensive how I would respond. I was hoping all the pain of the past will not surface again. I need not have been so concerned. Because when we met, while I discovered that this person had not changed one bit, my inner peace was untouched. My forgiving this person had helped me immensely.
A key ingredient of forgiveness, I have learnt, is to be non-judgmental. To say you are forgiving someone because she or he has done something wrong is bringing judgment into play. Such forgiving is suppressing your real emotions – your anger, your hurt, your pain. When you are not alert, these emotions can come back and explode on the surface like a volcano. True forgiveness is when you don’t judge, when you let go of your anger, your hurt and your ego. You simply decide that irrespective of what this person did to you, you are simply moving on. Because you don’t want to analyze. You don’t want to dissect what has happened. You simply want freedom from the past. And to be free of whatever you are holding on to or whatever is holding you in its clutches, you have to first let go. Then the forgiveness is complete. And liberating.