Your Life is a sum of the choices you make.
My classmate from Sree Narayana College, Kollam, passed away four days ago. His name was Anil. We called him Anikuttan. He and I studied together for 5 years, the time that I spent at University. Anikuttan, who worked for the Government of India, over the last two decades, had turned into an alcoholic. Anikuttan was a great, well-meaning friend. He and I had drunk together a lot as college buddies. I last drank with him over 14 years ago, all through the night, in Thiruvananthapuram; our night of revelry was justified, we thought, as we were catching up 15 years after we had left college! I was not aware then that he had a drinking habit. When his wife pointed this out to me the next day, I was quite ashamed of myself that I had, unwittingly, contributed to furthering his habit. But Anikuttan slapped me on my back saying it was okay and took me to a neighborhood bar where he downed a few more pegs before dropping me at the airport in his office car. Vaani and I visited him when he was in rehab in Chennai some years ago. His attempt to kick the habit though never really worked out. In the last 5 years, I never picked up his calls. Because he was always in drunken stupor; to make sense of what he was saying was, well, impossible.
A common friend reported Anikuttan’s passing to me over WhatsApp. He rued the fact that a ‘good’ man like Anikuttan had to die in such anonymity – his family had left him owing to his alcoholism – and wondered aloud that perhaps Anikuttan ‘deserved’ better from Life!
Seeking deservance is a very natural, human, quality. We often wonder why ‘bad’ things happen to ‘good’ people. This is perhaps what my other friend too was asking in Anikuttan’s context.
What I have learnt from Life is that we are all a product of the time we go through. The choices we make in the circumstances we find ourselves in lead us to the Life we end up living. I believe the labels of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ are human, social, inventions. In Life there is no ‘good’ or ‘bad’. To society, a man who protects and provides for his family may qualify as someone who is ‘good’. And someone like Anikuttan who is in the throes of a ruinous habit may seem as someone who is ‘bad’; or as someone who is going through a ‘bad’ phase. But Life doesn’t bother about social interpretations. Anikuttan, for instance, was brilliant in Mathematics. And I was pathetic in that subject. Anikuttan was an alcoholic. I am not. Now, who’s ‘good’ and who’s ‘bad’? I personally see no Life phase, no period of time, as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ either. I have realized that Life just keeps on happening to all of us. And our choices determine the direction our lives take.
I replied to my friend’s rumination over WhatsApp thus: “Everyone has to go. And Anikuttan just went his way.” And that’s all there is to Life.
So, in essence, the only way you can review the direction your Life is taking is to review the choices you have made or are making. And to make more intelligent choices, you need to be more aware. To be more aware, you must be mindful – which is your, mind must not be enslaved by grief, anger or guilt over the dead past or be imprisoned by fear of the unborn future. And to be mindful, you must just be. Once who just are, nothing matters – neither circumstance nor perception! You just keep on flowing with Life – living it fully for what it is, the way it is.
Now, swimming in the depths of alcohol as he was, it may well be argued that Anikuttan too perhaps lived fully, happy and content in his own way, and lived his Life for what it was. Who knows? Which is why, it doesn’t really matter. The truth, the awakening, is that there is no ‘right’ way or ‘wrong’ way to live Life, there is no ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Everyone ends up living the Life that they do purely based on the choices they make in the circumstances they find themselves in!
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