When confronted with no-go situations in Life, learn to live in the moment, with whatever is.
Rani Mukerji’s Hichki (directed by Sidharth P Malhotra) touched me deeply. It’s a simple film. It is an adaptation of Brad Cohen’s autobiography – Front of the Class: How Tourette Syndrome Made Me The Teacher I Never Had. And Rani’s portrayal of Naina Mathur, a teacher affected by Tourette Syndrome , is brilliant.
I could relate to the powerful scene in the film where Naina sinks to the ground in the school’s balcony – feeling completely hopeless, clueless and defeated – and cries inconsolably. She is felled not just by her the fatigue of having to endlessly endure her peculiar physical condition, her spirit is punctured and she is truly, truly, deflated. I undoubtedly saw Rani on screen, but I empathized with Naina – because I know what it means to feel that way when you don’t know what to do. What do you do when you don’t know what to do in Life?
Hichki left me with an important message – each of us has our own metaphorical version of the Tourette Syndrome. And like Naina Mathur we have to learn to accept it, live with it and keep going on. Sometimes, even people in your close circle of influence – like Naina’s father (played by Sachin) in the film – will refuse to understand you. There will be times when it may appear that the world is conspiring to pin you down and annihilate you. But you must go on. When you don’t know what to do in Life, you just learn to live in the moment. Don’t think too far ahead. Don’t brood over what once was, what is over, on what is past. Don’t sweat over what is not in your control – what is the use of worrying about what you can’t solve? Just learn to last one moment at a time. This may initially seem impossible to do. But the human mind can be trained to obey you – to focus on what is, on the moment. And the human spirit is intrinsically resilient. So, when you take one step at a time, you often end up enduring journeys that you never thought you would even survive.
I have learnt that every Life situation is a teacher. It arrives in your Life with a specific purpose – to humble you, to remind you that it is not you, but it is Life which is in control. Some situations have shorter tenures. And some are permanent. In either case, accepting the situation – than resisting it – helps you to be non-suffering while dealing with all the pain that the situation is causing. Acceptance does not make a problem go away. But it surely gives you a lot of strength to face it, to deal with it.
Vaani and I have lasted this past decade – despite our enduring bankruptcy (Read more here: Fall Like A Rose Petal.) – only because we accepted our own Tourette Syndrome. We know what it means to be hung by Life at the edge of a precipice, we know how cluelessness and hopelessness can suffocate you. And we also know, from our own personal experience, that no matter what your context is, what your own Tourette Syndrome is, Life can and must be faced. Just take one moment at a time, one small step each time.
Cluelessness will often strike, but you have a choice not to feel helpless!
A friend from the US called to say that she is at a cross-roads in Life. She has been laid off her job. She’s broken up with her boyfriend. She’s in a new relationship. And she’s figuring out what to do with her Life. She’s in her late 30s and feels both “hopeless and hopeful” at the same time: “I not sure I know where I am going in Life. I have stumbled along for over 15~17 years of my Life…I have only money enough to last me for 3 months without any employment…I feel stupid having done the many things I have done…only to find myself in this vague, directionless state in Life…”!
Surely, I don’t think my friend is either the first one to feel this way or the only one who is feeling lost at the moment. As I write this blogpost, I too am clueless about what’s going to happen next in my Life…but I am not hopeless. And this is the critical, discernable, difference between being anchored in faith and groping in fear.
Faith is not a privilege that only a select few have access to. It is not external at all – as all the religions, through their dogmatic pursuit of rituals, want you to believe. It is simply understanding and knowing that if you have been created, you will be provided for and taken care of. It is about trusting the process of Life. And this trust comes from your willingness to deal with the unknown, from facing your fears. When you look fear in the eye, it gives you the courage to face it, and courage opens the doors to faith within to last the course, to survive, to plow on!
Hopelessness sets in only when you don’t trust Life to take care of you. And when you have naïve, uninformed expectations of Life. Consider this carefully – has Life promised you anything; has it given you any guarantees; has it denied you anything that you have needed in Life so far? If the answer is no to all three questions, why do you doubt Life? Why do you think you will not get what you need? I have learnt that you always get what you need in Life, perhaps not the way you want it, but the way Life deems it appropriate for you to receive its grace. So, while I often face cluelessness, but I have stopped, in fact I have given up, feeling hopeless, long, long, ago!
Now, dealing with cluelessness is never easy. The human mind will torture you by conjuring scenarios that are dark, frightful and, often morbid. But when you are not feeling hopeless, when you are anchored in faith, you learn to cope with not knowing what’s going on or what will happen. So, being clueless is inevitable in Life. But being hopeless is something that you can avoid.
I have actually begun to love being clueless. It keeps me creatively engaged – it gives me the opportunity to find out newer ways of living Life meaningfully, it sharpens my intellect, it enhances my resilience and make me further trust the process of Life. Most important, it helps me see the miracle in every moment as it unfolds. Figuring out a way through Life, I have realized, is what Life is all about!
This lady’s experience teaches us something invaluable. It helps us understand that while hope is a good thing, in certain situations in Life, it may hold us hostage and blind us from seeing reality. Reality, however, cannot be escaped. So, while you live through certain unchangeable phases with unalterable realities in Life, being hopeful in a hopeless situation can indeed make you feel miserable. Your intelligence will tell you what the reality is. But hope will make you delusional – vainly wishing that the reality did not exist. This conflict will cause you to suffer – day in and day out. There’s a way to break this jinx. And that way is to simply accept a situation to be hopeless – when it really is so. For instance, if you lose someone to death – it’s pointless to hope for that person to come alive. Or if someone loses their limbs or eyesight or hearing or speech – it is futile to hope that it will be restored without a specialist medical intervention or, perhaps, a cosmic miracle!