I don’t know if the world is fake. I am authentic. Period.
A well-meaning friend called up this morning. He advised me and Vaani not to share in public the fact that we had not repaid even a rupee of our debt in 10 years. He was referring to my signature Fall Like A Rose Petal Talk and my curations in public spaces where I share learnings from our Life’s journey. His point: “Your credibility will be affected if people see you as strutting around when you owe so much money to so many people and you have not even started to repay them back.”
I thanked him for his concern. But I clarified to him that we can only be authentic, true, as we are, to ourselves.
The truth is for 10 years now, we have not made enough money to even be able to cover our living expenses. Business has at best been coming in fits and jerks – interspersed with long spells of incomelessness. We live in a rent-free apartment given to us by Vaani’s sister and brother-in-law. Unless we recoup ourselves financially to earn over and above our ability to cover our living expenses, including our rent, we cannot start to repay anyone. Yet, we don’t sit idle; either ruing our fate or succumbing to complacency just because we have a roof over our head. We are periodically communicating with, and available to, all our 179 creditors, humbly seeking time and understanding from them – and in cases where they have proceeded legally against us, we are cooperating with the relevant process. We work hard every day to put our business back on track and remain unfrustrated when we don’t get the results we expect. But, we also work with a Higher Purpose – of Inspiring Happiness – and this is why I wrote my Book Fall Like A Rose Petal, this is why I deliver Talks or why I write this Blog daily and why we curate non-commercial public events. So, if people see us smiling, cheerful and being happy with making others happy, and they want to judge us as lacking credibility, because of what they perceive us to be, well, too bad for us, too bad for them. If the import is that we are strutting around irresponsibly, while trying to Inspire Happiness, or that, as my own mother and siblings believe, we are faking a bankruptcy, well, again, too bad for us, too bad for them. If the question is how is it that our children have grown up to graduate from premium educational institutions, while we continue to struggle for living expenses, well, I don’t know why we deserve so much kindness and compassion from the Universe! The truth simply is that while we are broke, in every material aspect, we are also soaked in grace, perhaps because we have implicit faith that the Universe will take care of us; perhaps because we trust the process of Life.
Bottomline: just as I don’t know why we are being subjected to this enduring bankruptcy, I have no explanation to offer for the miracle called our Life. To be sure, we believe there’s a lot of compassion in the whole world, for all of us! Now, because we are witnessing this abundance in our Life, we have been stepping out and sharing our learnings with all those who care to pause and reflect – we are telling people that if you let go, the Universe will take care, Life will provide all that you need; and that it is indeed possible to be happy despite your circumstances. Being happy is not inaction. Happiness really means being non-worrying, non-frustrated and non-suffering – no matter what you are dealing with. Vaani and I have learnt this art through our catharsis. To share this learning with the world, to Inspire Happiness, this has become our Purpose, of raison d’etre, our ikigai, our reason for being.
As we live our Life’s Purpose, it doesn’t matter to me or Vaani what people think of us. We are not going to stop being authentic because some people are judging us. The truth is only this – we are enduring a numbing bankruptcy, our material Life is really, perpetually, on the edge of a precipice, but Life miraculously continues to provide for us, and we will only do what gives us joy, which is live by our Higher Purpose of Inspiring Happiness.
Having said all of this in the context of my Life, I invite you to look at your own Life. Perceptions that people carry about us are really the villains in all our stories. So, it is very possible that you too are being judged by people in your circle of influence. It is possible you live inhibited by your sense of insecurity over being judged. It is possible you are not living the Life you want to be living. But instead of living in fear of what people are saying about you and thinking of you, ask yourself, are you really happy? And ask yourself, what will make you happy? The answer invariably will be that you are happy only when you are true to yourself. Authenticity, my dear friends, trumps perception management – any day! That’s what makes the crucial difference between living and existing.
I, for one, clearly refuse to merely exist – as much as I refuse to be anything but authentic!