Growing up, with age and experience, is a personal, intelligent, choice.
A friend we were sitting with the other day remarked that “men mellow down over a period of time”. She was referring to my choice – and her husband’s too – to cut down on our alcohol consumption. I didn’t mind her gender bias. What she really meant was that all of us evolve over time.
And that it is so true.
Yesterday at the airport, a prominent person (a.k.a VIP in India) we know greeted us at the kerbside. And his personal assistant whisked all of us past the long, winding security line at the entry gate and at check-in. This VIP took seat 1 C on the plane while we trudged up to our seats at the rear of the aircraft, 23 D & E. Once we settled in, I told Vaani: “Once upon a time, not very long ago, I would have insisted we too sat in those front row seats. 1 C was my favorite whenever I managed business class upgrades. But now these things don’t even matter.” She agreed with me. She pointed out that she was very embarrassed jumping the security and check-in queues at the airport. I conceded that I too was very uncomfortable with the way our VIP friend’s assistant had broken the rules for his boss – and for us!
Just 15 years ago, I was so different. I believed in protocol. I insisted my secretary checked me in on first row economy seats on domestic flights, I fiercely fought for upgrades and I always demanded that a Jet Airways porter greeted me at the entry gate at airports with my boarding card and helped me “jump queues” – this was a privileged service that Jet accorded to frequent fliers. I was often told by the Jet Airways team in Chennai that I was among their “most frequent” fliers and so they always gave me “VIP status and attention”. I reveled in such recognition. I thought I was special. And I loved being treated as someone special.
And then, with the bankruptcy (Read more here: Fall Like A Rose Petal) everything changed. I believe I have now awakened to understanding the true nature of Life. I have realized that everything that we cling on to, everything that we demand, all that we fight for and think belongs us, well, everything is eventually going to get taken away from us. We came with nothing. And we will go with nothing. So, as Osho, the Master, asks, I too have concluded – “why all this drama?” Yes, personal comfort is relevant and important. But why confuse personal comfort with thinking you are special and that you deserve being treated as special? Growing up, when growing old, I realize now, is a personal, intelligent, choice. This clarity has come to me now. Perhaps, just maybe, I too have evolved over time?
Surely, 1 C or front row economy doesn’t matter to me anymore…23 D is just as fine…for ultimately when your time comes, when your number is called, whoever you are, wherever you are seated, you will end up as dust! As they say in Tamizh, you will end up as “verum thoosi”!
The Master Plan has no flaws.
Yesterday, just ahead of a very important workshop that I was leading, the sole of my decade-old pair of shoes came off – as in, there was a yawning, gaping crack on the sole of the shoe on my left foot. I was already dressed up and set to leave home. It was raining. And the car that had been sent for us by our host had arrived. I could have changed into another pair of shoes. But they were brown in color and would not match the trousers that I was wearing. So I decided to just go on – broken sole, that uncomfortable, worn out, feeling in one foot, et al!
Just a day earlier I had revisited a Japanese concept – wabi sabi. It basically means that Life is transient and imperfect; and that it is in embracing our imperfections that we must find beauty and inner peace!
As I walked on to centre-stage at 9.30 am to anchor my day-long session, I decided to celebrate that imperfect, uncomfortable feeling under my left foot. I didn’t try to push it away or forget that discomfort. I just accepted it for what it was. And I had a whale of a time delivering my 7-hour marathon workshop! The audience was fantastic and I immersed myself in doing what I love doing.
It was only when I finished closer to 6 pm that I actually realized that I had a broken sole below my left foot! When I reached home, and literally put up my feet, I thought back to my favorite poet Jalaluddin Rumi’s lines: “Live your Life as if everything has been rigged in your favor.” Vaani and I should know the value of this line. In a material sense, our Life over the past decade (Read more here: Fall Like A Rose Petal) resembles that broken sole of my left shoe. We know it is broken. But we clearly have been unable to fix it. And yet, like the workshop yesterday, our Life in the same decade has been miraculously flowing along – beautifully. At most times it has been painful, yes, but there’s a beauty, an indescribable sense of liberation that accompanies that pain. In every sense we have been, like yesterday’s shoe episode and workshop, celebrating wabi sabi – the impermanence and imperfection of, and in, Life!
This morning, on the eve of a very important milestone in my Life, my 50th, I recognize, yet again, that the Master Plan clearly has not flaws! Every minute of my Life I worship this truth and celebrate it!