Fears and frustrations will arise, but you can choose to be fearless and non-frustrated.
This morning, as I woke up, I noticed emails from Google. Both my Gmail account and my YouTube channel were suspended because Google saw “suspicious” activity on them that violated their standard guidelines and policies.
Phew! That was the last thing I wanted. I had a packed day ahead of me and I reckoned now that I would be set back by a couple of hours having to restore both my Gmail account and my YouTube channel. The Gmail account was easily done with a normal verification process. But the YouTube channel, linked to my Gmail account, remained suspended. Even as I prepared to appeal against the suspension, I thought of the consequences. What if my appeal was not considered and the channel was shut down? Content on the channel and its subscriber base had been built up over a considerable period of time. To re-curate and reload all the content was going to take some effort. A sense of frustration came over me. I was particularly miffed because the mail from YouTube stated that I had indulged in activity that was in violation of their guidelines. Surely I had not done any such thing. So, perhaps, it appeared to me, someone had tried to hack into my account. And its suspension was more a preventive step.
I took a deep breath and decided to appeal against the suspension. Once that was done, I made a note in my calendar to spend a full day next week to create a new YouTube channel. Vaani volunteered to help me with that process. I felt reassured and we stepped out on our morning walk.
While we had moved on to consider a worst-case scenario – of the channel’s suspension not being revoked – the “stupidity” and “unfairness” of it all continued to rankle me. But the decision to move on, our willingness to create a new channel, helped in pulling the mind back into the present. It helped us to stay engaged with our morning walk – to a cuckoo’s call, to a walker who called out to her dog “Inji Marabba”, to a lady who struggled to learn to balance her two-wheeler, to newspaper boys who went about their day’s early routine.
Then, suddenly, a mail popped into my phone from YouTube saying they had re-reviewed the suspension and had revoked it. My channel, they now said, held a good standing and I was good to go. I, naturally, heaved a sigh of relief! Now, on the face of it, this morning’s developments for me, are not serious. But they did bring along with them pain – and may have left us more frustrated than anything else.
But that’s how Life is. The Google actions are but metaphors of how Life can surprise us – and, sometimes, even shock and sock us. I have learnt that however painful some episodes are, it is always practical to consider the “worst thing” that can happen in the given situation. Once you have considered that eventuality, just prepare yourself to face it. Even as you are prepared for the worst in the given situation, deal with the ongoing crisis – as it unfolds. That way, you can be focused while being non-frustrated, and fearless. Yes, pain will be there in come contexts and phases in Life, fear and frustrations will arise; but you can always choose to be fearless and non-frustrated. Of course, as it often turns out, in most cases, the worst case scenario doesn’t happen at all. But being prepared for any eventuality surely helps us to deal with any situation better – a lot, lot better!
If you can stay tuned to the impermanence of everything, your inner peace will never be disturbed.
For some vague reason Google is threatening to lock me out of my Google Drive account. I was immediately seized with concern for my files and data. A wave of worry swept through me. But a few minutes into the worrying episode, a certain peace arose from within. I said to myself: “Hey! I am not my Google Drive. I haven’t been locked out of Life! Let me figure out a way to deal with this.”
So I got down to working on reaching Google’s Drive Support Team. Interestingly, as I am discovering, searching on Google for an answer works for most stuff, except for any resolution to the problems that pertain to their own policies or inefficiencies. But I have been dealing with all of this calmly. The entire experience is very frustrating, but as I am realizing, responding to Life situations with trained equanimity works very well.
Training yourself in equanimity is simple. First begin with (re)-knowing that you are not this body. You have heard of this from millions of wise folk before. Even so, while you know that this is the intelligent way to live, you conveniently slip into the worrying mode over anything concerning your body. For instance, you know, just as I do and everyone else does, that the body will die one day. Yet you grieve over whatever happens to your body. You grow older, you grieve. You grieve if you lose hair, if your hair becomes grey, if you become fat or if your body is affected by health challenges. Let’s further simplify this. When you feel hungry or thirsty, are you feeling so or is your body feeling so? To be sure, it is your body that is feeling so. The body is like a car. And you are the driver. Can a car drive on its own unless the driver wills it, drives it and leads it? The car needs food and that’s what fuel, oil, coolant and such are for the car. Yet, clearly, the driver has more power, more control than the car. Similarly the real you, is the one you need to be aware of and identify with; and not attach yourself to your body or with your physical identity.
Once you get to that state of self-awareness, self-realization, when you know that you are not this body, when you are not what you think you are, you will be able to handle any ‘real world’ situation. A computer crashing, a job loss, a break-up, betrayal, financial loss, anything! Realize that you are not your qualifications, job, social position, your bank balance, your worry, your anxiety or your fears. You are truly above all of this. When this realization dawns upon you, you are already liberated and a free spirit. This is what equanimity is.
You may not want to believe that you can immediately reach this state. But know that you can be there in a nano-second if you want to. Know also that when you get to this state you will be unmoved. When you are unmoved, nothing – and no one – can disturb your inner peace!
You cannot escape what’s in store for you in Life – you have to bear your cross, no matter what!
Google reminded me that it is R.D.Burman’s 77th birthday today. Panchamda is my absolute, all-time, favorite. He passed away so suddenly 22 years ago with so much music still left in him.
During the last 10 years of his Life, the man who ruled Hindi film music in the late 60s, all through the 70s and in the early 80s, struggled to get work. Bappi Lahiri’s disco music had taken over and nobody wanted to touch Pancham. Not even Nasir Hussain, who had consistently used RD for all his films that included (and followed) Teesri Manzil (1966). Hussain let his son Mansoor Khan have his way and signed up Anand-Milind for his production Qayyamat Se Qayyamat Tak (1988), which famously launched Aamir Khan’s and Juhi Chawla’s careers. Interestingly, Panchamda got no National Award in his entire career and won only 3 Filmfare Awards (out of a total 18 nominations) – Sanam Teri Kasam (1983), Masoom (1984) and posthumously for 1942 – A Love Story (1995). Observers and chroniclers of Hindi cinema say that RD died a beaten and heart-broken man because he felt the industry that he gave so much to, “abandoned him and moved on with the times”.
Anyone who has heard Mera Kuch Samaan from Ijaazat (Gulzar, Asha Bhosle, 1987) or Dhanno Ki Aankhon Mein from Kitaab (Gulzar, RD himself, 1977) will agree with me that RD is sheer genius. In fact, long-time collaborator, lyricist and director Gulzar refers to Pancham’s Life as an “era that began and ended with him”. To be sure, RD, Gulzar and Kishore Kumar together produced magic and the collection of the songs they created together would rate as the finest and most brilliant ever in Indian cinema. Why then should such a genius have had to go hunting for work? Why then should he be spurned by the same film-makers who once queued up at his door? Why then should such a celebrated artiste die a heart-broken man? Well, while there is no straight, logical answer to these questions; the only one I can muster is that “such is Life”!
Indeed. Such is Life. What goes up will come down. And what goes down will come up again. So, RD’s Life teaches us, yet again, to appreciate the impermanence of everything. Name. Fame. Wealth. Success. Glory. And even failure. Because, though he died wanting to be celebrated again, posthumously, RD is now worshipped. Such is Life! What I have learnt is that we must keep going with the flow. Be humble and be happy for all that you have. When you get what you want in Life, be grateful. When you don’t get what you want in Life, or when you get what you don’t want in Life, be accepting. Don’t fight Life. Don’t become bitter. You are born untouched by worldliness. Live untouched. And go away untouched. Success and failure are both worldly labels. Don’t let them get to you. As they seem to have gotten to RD in his last years. To quote my favorite RD number, again written by Gulzar, and sung memorably by Kishore Kumar, be like that ‘musafir’ (wanderer/voyager) from Parichay (1972): Musafir Hoon Yaroon, Na Ghar Hai Na Tikhana, Mujhe Chalte Jaana Hai, Bus, Chalte Jaana…!!!
The reason why you have a child is not for you to worry yourself thinking about getting him or her married.
A friend and I got together after several years. His daughter is now doing her final year in law school. She wants to be a sports lawyer. And wants to go abroad to pick up a Master’s degree in that field. But my friend and his wife want to get her married. “In my community, girls cannot go out of the country without getting married. Besides, what is the need for my daughter to do a Master’s when she has to actually focus on raising a family,” explained my friend. I was both shocked and disturbed by what my friend had to say. We had ordered a drink and in silent protest I cancelled my order. I felt very uncomfortable calling a man who had such primitive, regressive thoughts on parenting, my friend. I pretended I had an urgent call from home and said that I had to leave. But before I left I told him this: “This may seem like unsolicited advice. But please don’t come in the way of your child’s dream. You have not brought her into this world for her to only marry and raise children. She has the potential to make this world a better place. Please allow her to do that.”
I have no idea if my well-meaning appeal made any difference to my friend’s thinking. But what he had to say left me very, very concerned for what’s happening around us.
I just don’t get this. Why would parents want to interrupt – and how could they – their childrens’ Life plans? I see so many parents around me vexing over the marriage of their young adult children as if the raison d’etre of these young folks is to have sex and procreate. If this sounds crass, let’s learn to live with it. Because that’s precisely what parents of my generation continue to do with their children, of course, they camouflage it in a socially acceptable framework called an “arranged marriage”. In fact, nothing seems to have changed. For they continue to perpetrate the same crime that’s been going on for generations now. I can’t quite understand why parents need to “worry” about their young adult children? Why not just let them be and allow them to figure out Life for themselves? Let them marry when they want, to who they want to live with. If they want to live in, and not marry, so be it. I would much rather that parents hoped that their children found true love, companionship and understanding than rush to get them married.
For a change to come in social outlook and individual actions, the younger generation needs to speak up too. In the name of respecting their elders, many are unwittingly letting regressive thinking prevail. But there seems to be some hope. Yesterday, my son directed me to a Facebook post by a young gentleman called Dhruv Deshpande . Google him and check out his post of June 13th – it has gone viral!!! He invites people of his generation to work on making the world a better place, one parent at a time: “…Today, the biggest propagators of the notion of rape culture, caste system, racism, Islamophobia, homophobia…are your parents’ generation, however latent it may be. Do not ignore it because you think you’re respecting your parents…If you trace it, squash it. Let it be an argument, a fight, a stand-off, but don’t give up on your parents by silently letting them be carriers of social evils…So, stop preaching online. Look behind your computer screens at the wrinkled little lovable bigot you’re living with. If you love them, tell them they’re wrong. They’re wrong a lot…” I feel Dhruv’s said it. And said it well. To the list of social evils he has there, I will add the scourge of arranged marriages in the name of “performing duty”, “keeping the honor of the community intact” and “in order for parents and grandparents to die peacefully”.
In my humble opinion, it is a grave mistake for a parent to not know what his or her child dreams of. It is a graver sin, of course, to come in the way of that dream, citing as an excuse, of all things, an arranged marriage!