One way to live in this world and yet be above it…


In this New Year, try a different ROI!

Follow what inspires you and you will harvest a greater return from Life!
Another New Year is upon us. And the business newspapers this morning are full of stories of where-to-invest and how-to-maximize-your-return-on-investment in 2015. While prudent financial decisions are key to leading a comfortable Life, some people get obsessed with their wealth and assets. Life cannot and must not be lived on financial parameters alone. When every action, each opportunity is dissected, scrutinized for Return on Investment (ROI), we are operating from our intellect. When we operate from our intellect all the while is when so much stress and strife comes. I am not saying that’s bad. It is perhaps complicating Life a notch too much. Instead try another ROI – Return on Inspiration. Have you ever wondered what to do with stuff that inspires you in Life?
I find this philosophy of Return on Inspiration, so simple and so effective. I am the sort of person who is inspired by film music – I can never quite thank the generations of music composers, lyricists, singers and artistes who have left behind a treasure chest full of their work for us to savor them endlessly. The other day, on Christmas, a bunch of friends and us got together. We jammed, singing old Hindi and Malayalam film songs. Nobody operated from the intellect. Nobody worried about the next morning or the next paycheck or about what was past or what was coming up. Each of us sang from our souls, inspired by the works of some of the greatest composers, lyricists and singers from Indian cinema. We went on for a good hour, humming away our worries. Each of us had a story. Each of us had our challenges. Kids to be raised. Bills to be paid. Life to be dealt with. But if that hour reflected bliss in a microcosm, we all experienced it wholesomely. That’s why I am truly believing of this way of Life.
Kaviarasu Kannadasan, that divine poet, has said this so simply, so soulfully, so beautifully, in his song written for ‘Paalum Pazhamum’ (‘Milk and Fruits’, 1961, A.Bhimsingh, music by Viswanathan-Ramamoorthy, sung by T.M.Soundarajan, Sivaji Ganesan, Saroja Devi), “Ponaal Pogattum Poda….” Which means, ‘whatever goes, let it go….let bygones be bygones…let go of whatever has left you….” Those of you who follow Tamizh may enjoy this song (video is, understandably, bad).
So, in this year, just keep doing what inspires you! Whatever it is, just do it! And review how you feel doing it! That feeling, which cannot be compensated or computed in money terms ever, is your true ROI – Return on Inspiration!

In the end, not even an entire lifetime will matter to you!

Sometimes, reflecting on Life’s true nature, from inspirations around us, can help. Yesterday I was grappling with an imponderable. I was totally clueless on how I was going to be able to handle the situation on hand. And so, as I often do, I decided to go on a long walk.
I had to drive a short distance to beat the maddening crowds and traffic, before I could get down from the car and walk. A famous song playing on a FM station caught my attention and got me thinking during my drive….It was from the Tamizh movie ‘Paada Kaanikkai’ (1962, K.Shankar, starring Gemini Ganesan, Savithri and Asokan). The song was the unforgettable and haunting number….‘Veedu Varai Uravu, Veedhi Varai Manaivi, Kaadu Varai Pillai, Kadaisi Varai Yaaro…Kadaisi Varai Yaaro….?’ Written by the legendary poet Kannadasan, and sung by the venerable T.M.Soundarajan, with music composed by the genius duo of Viswanathan-Ramamurthy, the lyrics mean: “(When you die)…all relationships end at home…the wife (or husband) accompanies the body to the street (according to most Hindu customs, women must not accompany the dead to the cremation or burial grounds)…the son accompanies the body (until he sets it afire or buries it – again per most Hindu customs the oldest son of the bereaved only can perform the last rites) to the cremation or burial ground…but not beyond…so, wonder, who is with you, the dead one, on your journey onward and till the end (that no one has seen)….” The song is a stark reminder of the impermanence of Life. It tells you coldly that you too will perish. That you will be dust soon. That all relationships, including that with your spouse or offspring end, at best, at the graveyard, and you have to journey along…depart alone…just the way you arrived here on this planet!
When you put your Life in the context of such irrefutable truth, the reality awakens you. It makes you step aside from any situation and analyze, with complete objectivity, the frivolity of all your worrying. Because, as the song points out, in the end, you are to go away with nothing – none of what you conquered goes with you, none of what you lost matters and none of what you aspired for is relevant anymore! So, why agonize? Why grieve? Why suffer?
As I walked for over an hour, the song’s essence and my reflections, healed me. I was still clueless about dealing with what I was faced with. But even the wee bit of anxiety that had surfaced, before the walk, had evaporated now. Thanks to Kannadasan’s wisdom seeping in, it was replaced by a benign calm. There was an unconditional acceptance by me that, in the end, nothing, not even an entire lifetime, will matter to you!