Why I raise a mid-morning toast to Life!
After my morning walk today I remarked to Vaani: “It feels so good to have walked. It is so energizing.”
Just about 15 years ago, I loathed exercise. I was perpetually on the “busyness treadmill” – running from meeting to meeting, traveling 21 days a month, managing people – their shortcomings, attitudes and tantrums – more than harnessing their talent or managing our business! I had diabetes and hypertension; I weighed 95 kilos and had a tobacco habit. I also drank considerably large volumes of alcohol – frequently, sometimes daily.
And look at how my Life has changed in these years!
I read a story on Albert Einstein’s idea of happiness in the papers a couple of days ago. He has said this is 1922: “A calm and modest Life brings more happiness than the pursuit of success combined with constant restlessness.” That was almost 95 years ago, but even today I can relate to his philosophy. Simply because I have lived that restless Life and understood its futility. When we went bankrupt in 2007 (Read more here: Fall Like A Rose Petal), and in dealing with worklessness and pennilessness for most of the past decade, I realized that the greatest wealth in Life is the ability to celebrate what is, to live fully in the present moment. I believe I squandered a large part of my 20s and 30s pursuing success – name, fame, money – and so I was constantly restless. I was searching for something; I don’t ever remember feeling fulfilled or complete at that time. And then – poof! – everything material was snatched away from me, from us. And I was forced to learn to be patient with Life. That’s when – and how – I learnt the value of being calm and of enjoying, savoring, each moment – no matter how tough our circumstances have been.
Interestingly, I am reading ikigai – The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life (by Hector Garcia and Francesc Miralles) currently. ikigai is an ancient Japanese concept that means ‘reason for being’ or ‘a reason to jump out of bed every morning’! The book’s interesting. Though I feel it is more focused on the idea of longevity than on happiness itself. And I come from the Anand (1971, Hrishikesh Mukherjee, Rajesh Khanna, Amitabh Bachchan) school of thought of “Babumoshai, zindagi badi honi chahiye, lambi nahin”!!! (Life must be a grand celebration and not necessarily long!) Even so, I completely relate to the idea of ikigai! Because only when we understand the reason for our being, only when we have a reason to jump out of bed every morning, will we learn to be happy – despite the circumstances!
It’s been a fascinating morning for me…yet another day worth celebrating despite our zillion problems…there are so, so many broken parts of our Life that we don’t know how to fix, but re-reading Einstein’s idea of happiness, living my ikigai, worshipping a carefully cultivated sense of equanimity and relishing every sip of Vaani’s coffee…make me look forward with enthusiasm. To Life!