If you are “awake”, everything, absolutely everything, is a celebration

[This Post is available as an Audio Recording too. To listen to it, please follow the Link: If you are “awake”, everything, absolutely everything, is a celebration]
Life is an ongoing, endless celebration. We, however, miss this celebration because, almost all the time, we are grieving over the past or we are worrying about the future. At times, given the cruel ironies of Life that we have to deal with, we even wonder if there’s anything worth “celebrating” about our Life.
Summer Fireworks at Navy Pier, Chicago
A few years ago, I was staying at a hotel overlooking Lake Michigan and the Navy Pier in Chicago. My room had a fantastic view. It was a full moon night in June and it was summer. I looked out the window but I did not feel like taking in the lake. My thoughts were elsewhere in India. A crisis we were dealing with had blown out of proportion. And in my air-conditioned hotel room, I was breaking into a sweat. I was texting and emailing my office back in Chennai and the updates I was getting were hardly encouraging. Things were going from bad to worse as the hour passed. I must have spent at least 90 minutes at the window – but noticed nothing. My mind was filled with anger over what had happened and with worry over what may follow. Then, suddenly, past 10 pm, fireworks lit up the sky – just above the Navy Pier. I had least been expecting it. To me, until the first firework burst in front of me, the lake was a dark expanse, as dark as my mood. The full moon was causing shiny ripples on the lake but I never appreciated them. Suddenly, something as spectacular as a 30-minute fireworks display happens, unannounced (at least to me – though I am told that all through summer there is a bi-weekly fireworks display at the Navy Pier) and I lost myself in it completely. For the entire duration of that display, I did not respond to my cell-phone which was beeping text message after message. Nor did not care to look at the email updates that were coming in. I did not brood. I was not angry. And my worries did not trouble me. There was a celebration happening in front of me, almost like a cosmic spectacle, and I was lost in it. When the fireworks display got over, I noticed that Lake Michigan was not just a dark, endless expanse in front of me. It was a beautiful, shimmering, wavy carpet of water, lit up by the warm glow of a full moon. It was, I discovered, another spectacle, another celebration, which was always there – even during those 90 minutes that I had spent agonizing and worrying at the window. I felt stupid – there was always a celebration around me, in front of me, and I had missed it completely?
That night I recalled what I had read somewhere. Osho, the Master, asked his followers once: “What isn’t there to celebrate about Life? The rainbow is there, the sunset is there, the ocean is there, the clouds are there – but you are asleep. Life passes by and you are not participating. You see a rose flower – but even though you have eyes, you see it and yet you don’t look at it. You have eyes, yet you don’t look, you have ears, yet you don’t listen, you have a heart, yet you don’t love. If you are asleep, there’s nothing to celebrate. But if you are awake, everything, absolutely everything is a celebration!”
Beautiful isn’t it? Osho’s wake-up call made a lot of sense to me that night. More than ever before. I realized that my urge to solve my problems and get rid of my worries was forcing me to miss the celebration of Life – which was happening right in front of me. I discovered that the only way to be part of this on-going celebration is to stop pining for the Life that I wanted and instead enjoy the one I had. Ever since, when a wave of guilt or grief, or worry or anxiety, rises in me, I let my awareness of the moment that I am in, drown that wave. You can never not have thoughts. And if you have thoughts, you will tend to brood or worry. But if you are aware, that Life’s celebration is on just now, for you, you will let go of those thoughts that worry you and instead choose to party!

Make a sound investment today – give your child your time!

Create quality time to spend with your children before they grow up and don’t have any time for you! Caught up with our own busy careers, we often tend to postpone family time and sometimes see our kids’ activities as unimportant in the face of several more pressing tasks. Our children are very forgiving and won’t really grudge it if we miss an annual day at school or a pantomime they are participating in. But soon, sooner than you can even imagine, they would have grown up and flown away into the big world – to build their own careers and raise their families. You may have all the time in the world for them then but they will have none to offer you! 
On my evening walks, I often see a father-son duo that we know of. They don’t know us. But we know of them and their family. The son is a strapping teenager. Tall and handsome. Must be close to 18 or 19. He can’t see though. And he is autistic (we know of his condition through a common family friend). Most evenings, the father will bring him along on a motorbike. The neighborhood we walk in does not have any traffic to speak of. So, the father will ride the motorbike a few times through it. The boy will be delirious with delight as the breeze pampers his face. He will raise his hands and at times yell in glee. After a few rounds on the motorbike, the father-son duo will walk through the neighborhood. The father will hold his son’s hand and tell him all that’s going on around them. The boy will ask several questions and seek graphic details__which, given his autism, I find, very remarkable. The father will patiently answer his son and provide each detail that he seeks. I find their camaraderie inspiring.  
In fact, it sometimes makes me feel guilty. In the years that my son was in his teens, I made little time for him. I rue the fact that I missed several of my kids’ special days in school because I was always having, as I vainly reasoned to myself,  ‘more important and urgent things to do with the business’. So when my son went away to study in Chicago some years ago, I felt the void in our half-empty nest the most. I couldn’t reconcile to the reality that our child had flown away even when I had not been around much during his growing up years! I am glad though that one summer, when he was 17,  we, just me and him, went on a vacation to Rajasthan. That will be a precious memory for me, forever, of spending quality time with him. Mercifully, we have a good friendship between us though. However, I made amends with my daughter. Apart from Life, and business, slowing down and offering me a lot of time to watch her do the things she loves doing, I also made it a point, with my wife, to be at each of our daughter’s special moments. Yesterday, for instance, we spent two beautiful hours watching her perform at an ‘Acapella’ concert with her very talented college band.
I have realized that we don’t need a handicap or a natural process of growing up to remind us that there are far more important things to do in Life than build a career or a business. Nothing can compensate for the joy of witnessing your child express herself or himself. Making time for being with your children is perhaps the best investment decision you will ever make. And here’s a simple tip to create that time in your packed calendar – just allot all the time you spend worrying about the lack of a work-Life balance to your children! And voila! Not only will you feel enriched, your work-Life balance will be instantaneously restored too!

Dear Parent, Trust, Lead, Inspire…

The primary role of parents is to instil good values in their children and give them the freedom to choose a Life they want to live. And then let them just be. More often than not, children will, with their sense of adventure, make mistakes with their choices, stumble and fall, then they will wake up and smell the coffee, find their way in Life and learn their lessons, even while licking their wounds. After all, isn’t this how we have all grown up? Even so, irrespective of what your child ends up doing with her or his Life, at whatever age, it is your duty as a parent to reiterate to your child that you still trust her or him and that she or he is always welcome to come back home!
Mother and Sreesanth: That hug matters a lot
In the latest Bollywood hit, Yeh Jawaani Hai Dewaani, the relationship between the main protagonist Bunny (Ranbir Kapoor) and his dad (Farooq Sheikh) is under some stress owing to the father’s second marriage. But when Bunny is leaving home for studying in Chicago, his dad tells him, while giving him a tight hug: “No matter what happens, I will trust you. And this will always be your home.” This is not filmi alone. This morning’s papers in India carry pictures of cricketer Sreesanth’s mother hugging and kissing him when he got back home to Kochi after 27 days in jail. Sreesanth’s fall from grace has been in the headlines the last few weeks. No one would touch him professionally (or personally too) with a barge pole. But to his parents’, despite the seriousness of his alleged offences, he is still their child who has come back home after a tumultuous season in Life.
No matter how old you are, to your parents, you will still be a child. And what one needs, especially in the face of a crisis, whether self-inflicted or per Life’s plan, or in a way both, is a warm hug that says ‘Everything’s gonna be okay. We love you and trust you.’ People make mistakes. To err is human. Who hasn’t made a mistake? Sometimes, the mistake may affect only the person who has committed it. Or her or his immediate family. At other times, a whole lot of people may be affected. Making mistakes is a part of Life, integral to growing up. Analyzing, dissecting, learning from a mistake is the key. But far more significant is the role of parents who must continue to reassure their child, even if that child now is grown up and has children, and should not have done what she or he did, that whatever’s happening all part of Life’s ways to test you and teach you.
To be sure, there are no guarantees that children who have been taught the right values by their parents will live by them all their lives. Normally they do. And logically they must. But people do go astray. They are adventurous. Or they are simply seduced and blinded by the circumstances that Life places them in. There’s an old saying in Hindi: “jab subah ka bhula hua sham ko ghar laut aata hai, usse bhula nahin kehte”. It means: When the one who went astray comes back home pining, embrace him. Don’t ostracize him.
Good parenting is perhaps a responsibility that never ends. Obviously, what appears to children to be a generation gap, is actually years of experience of having lived and faced Life, stumbled, fallen, gathered and stood up to walk again, coming into play to counsel, to suggest, to guide, to lead. Of course, an integral part of that responsibility, is to teach children who have ended up creating or getting into serious situations, to face the consequences of their actions. Or if they haven’t done wrong, but have been victims of circumstance, to teach them to fight to clear their name. A parent is any child’s first hero (or heroine). And no matter what happens, a reassuring parent stands a better chance of counselling and guiding a person in distress. I write this from experience. In the face of inscrutable circumstances, with no way out in sight, when it seemed like all was over, and the whole world (including my immediate family) had written me and my wife off, my dad, held my shoulders, and told me and my wife: “You both will come out of this. Keep the faith. You are winners!” Those were compassionate words. But more than that they were trusting. And that trust mattered, when in every material sense, we were losers!
Hopefully, your children will not lead you to situations like the one Sreesanth led his parents to, or I led my parents to, but if they do, remember, you have a bigger role to play than just grieve over your children’s fate. And that role is to be a true parent – a hero, an inspiration, a friend who continues to trust despite the evidence, the circumstances and the odds, and the one sage counsel who guides the person in the dock to do, from hereon, what’s right than what appears to be right!