Celebrate all the people who touch your Life

Every single person comes into your Life with a reason.
Some come to help you, some come to hurt you. Some love you and some hate you. Some lift you up and some let you down. Some stay with you and some leave. But never doubt that all of them are messengers, carrying Life’s lessons with them, for you to learn, evolve, grow and thrive!
We don’t see all of our lifetime’s encounters with people in this perspective because we constantly worry about those that don’t understand us or love us. We crave for their attention. Instead we must learn to look at the many, many more who actually do believe in us and are there for us. The best principle in Life is to stop expecting people to understand you or love you. On the other hand, know them and understand that they are messengers, who are teaching you how to live and experience Life, and love them for who they are.
At the age of 27, I was the Executive Assistant to one of India’s biggest takeover tycoons. I was based in Singapore. We used to work out of the famed Ritz Carlton Millennia hotel – I also had a room for myself there. One of the people that came visiting my boss was a lady called Hema. She was about 60 then. She decided to stay in Singapore for about a month. We had put her up at a hotel nearby. But she preferred hanging around at the Ritz Carlton. I particularly despised her. She was talkative and nosy. She tried to figure out what I was doing on an hourly basis and gave me, much to my dislike, unsolicited advice on how I must be working. Around the same time, my relationship with my boss had soured. He was always a difficult man to work with. He was very abusive and harassed me no end – making me work 22-hour days without a break for weeks on end. I was simply not enjoying my job. And over time, I had morphed from being an Executive Assistant to becoming a personal assistant. I once told my wife, over phone, from Singapore, “I just hate this job. Except buying him a condom, I am his Jeeves, for every other practical purpose.” But I ploughed on. I had two young children and a wife to support back in India.
Then, one day, perhaps because of the sheer volume of work I was handling, I lost my boss’ passport in a taxi (the passport was retrieved the next day as the Lost & Found service works efficiently in Singapore) as I reached Changi airport to check him in for a flight to Zurich he was due to take. He was to reach Changi in 30 minutes after finishing a meeting. When he came and realized what had happened, he bawled at me in front of all the passengers in the First Class check-in lane of Singapore Airlines. I felt humiliated. Later that evening when I got back to my room at the Ritz Carlton, Hema was sitting in the ante-chamber, which doubled up as our office. “Gosh,” I thought, “the last person I wanted to see!!” But when she enquired why I looked so beaten, I told her what had happened. She sat me down and made me some hot coffee. She said, “You are just my son’s age. So, please don’t mind me saying this. I think you are wasting your time here. You have the ability to lead people. And you are being treated like a doormat? I have been watching you over the past few weeks. You are sincere and hard-working. Perhaps, you should think about moving on. You should be close to your family, especially in the years that your children are growing up.”
What she said, made me think. Over the next couple of days, I quit my job. It’s been almost 20 years now. And in this time, I have rarely been unhappy with whatever I have done – no matter how difficult or daunting my job, at several times, has been. Interestingly, I have never met Hema after that time. I have tried to trace her – but despite facebook, I have not been lucky. I can only think of her as playing a crucial role in my Life – as someone who stepped in to deliver a message to me at a time when I needed it the most. She did that and she stepped back!
Remember that Life does not always link you to people that you want to be connected with. But it connects you, with the compassion of a Mother and the guile of a Master, with people that are part of a larger cosmic design! Your design, your Life’s road-map. People come into your Life and leave you to take you from point to point, on this road-map. On this journey, celebrate all the people who touch your Life, no matter who they are and irrespective of how they impact you, and remain eternally grateful for every encounter, every connection, every experience, every teaching and every lesson.

You create your own reality

Don’t blame others. Whosoever they are and whatever they have done to you. In a way, you, me, each of us, creates our own realities. You are responsible for whatever is happening to you, with you. And unless you recognize this, and own this reality, you cannot escape suffering.

Through ownership, through taking responsibility, through being accountable for yourself, you awaken. Only when you are awake and aware, you can be free from being controlled by others or avoid being enslaved by your own thinking and actions!

About 20 years ago, I was executive assistant to a rich billionaire. I was based in Singapore but traveling the world on work. I used to love my work, because I was learning so much every single day. But I used to hate__and fear__my boss who was abusive and unreasonable all of the time. I had to work 20+ hours daily and travel without a break for weeks on end. One particularly stressful day, at the end of a harrowing week, when I thought my boss would travel to Zurich and leave me alone for the time his journey would take, he changed his plans at the nth moment. Nothing surprising about it. But the reason why he changed his plans at the last minute was absurd!  He decided to not take the early evening flight from Changi to Zurich that day because he ‘felt like having fish head curry at the Apollo Banana Leaf off Serangoon Road’. So, while he went to eat his meal, I was dispatched to the airport with his baggage to check him, and another senior colleague Paul ( a New Zealander, the President of our company) traveling with him, in on the next flight departing Changi around midnight local time, get their boarding passes (in those days proxies could check in for passengers though they were not allowed to travel!) and await them both at the airport. Perhaps because I was exhausted and tired, perhaps because I loathed these last minute, unreasonable changes my boss made, perhaps because I hated my boss, or perhaps for all three reasons, I took my eye off the ball. I lost Paul’s passport in the taxi. Result: while my boss could take the flight out to Zurich, Paul couldn’t travel that night. My boss let off a lot of steam in full public view at the Singapore Airlines’ check-in bay in Changi while I stood silently, my gaze down on the floor, allowing myself to be ‘slaughtered’ like a helpless lamb.

Paul and I took a taxi back to our hotel. As soon as we were seated, I broke down and cried inconsolably. I blamed my fate, I blamed my boss, I blamed the taxi driver and I blamed my earlier company!! I did that arguing that I would never have left them for this job had they been good employers!

Paul allowed me to explode and express myself. After about 20 minutes, after I had sobered down and had wiped my tears, Paul spoke: “Son, each of us is responsible for our realities. Nobody forced you to take this job up. Nobody is forcing you to put up with your boss if you don’t see eye to eye with him. He’s not the one to be blamed for being who he is. You must assume responsibility for allowing him to treat you that way. He doesn’t talk to me the way he does to you. He knows he dare not. So, stop sulking. Stop the blame game. Take charge. And get on with your Life! Don’t worry about my passport. I have called the limo company and they will check with their ‘Lost & Found’ service tomorrow. In Singapore, anything that passengers leave behind in taxis is turned over to “Lost & Found”.”

Paul’s advice appeared to me as if it was an impromptu sermon that I needed to hear. I took his point to heart. In a couple of days following this episode, I quit that job and returned to India. In these two decades, my level of awareness has only improved. I have come to a state where I accept my realities and own total responsibility for them. I have learned that all the guile and craftiness of the people around us, or even their nastiness and unreasonableness, is only to make us more aware. And staying on the ball, in the moment, being alert, is integral to intelligent living!

Each person has a role in our Life’s journey. When we see each one as an enabler of our lives, we will stop blaming them, or ourselves. We will then live richer, fuller, lives__peaceful within and with all the others in our circle of influence!