Going numb with a Life situation is a natural response; but it pins you down and makes you unhappy!
A reader’s comment on my Blogpost yesterday invites me to clarify between two different states that we can possibly be in when dealing with Life. One is when we are unmoved. And the other is when we are numb. The two are distinctly different states of being.
Let me share what I have learnt from Life about these two states.
Being numb is an inactive state. It signifies a resignation. There is a detachment here, a let-go too, perhaps. But all of it is passive, inanimate, almost as if you are feeling dead and are just going through the motions.
But being unmoved is a very alive state. Here you are conscious of everything that’s happening to you, but you are choosing not to respond. You can feel pain, you can feel the weight of whatever is being thrust on you, but you are choosing not to get snowed down by any of it. Being unmoved is a spiritually evolved state. Here too there is detachment, there is a let-go, but you are letting go while fully trusting the process of Life.
In our case, Vaani and I going through this decade-long bankruptcy. In a physical sense it is numbing. It has incapacitated us materially. It has slammed us to the ground and pinned us down. Yet, we are unmoved by the situation. We soldier on unmoved by the gravity of our problem or by the debilitating nature of our circumstances. We awaken each morning to live a Life of Purpose – of Inspiring Happiness among all those who care to pause and reflect – but we are unmoved about whether we are successful or not, we are unmoved about what people think of us and we are unmoved about how much longer we have to go through this phase of our Life.
Going numb with a Life situation is a natural response to a shock, when Life deals you a crushing blow. When you are numb, you are unhappy. But choosing to be unmoved is a lot of work. You have to, over time, train your mind to be alive to the moment. You have to make an important, intelligent, choice to be non-worrying, non-frustrated and non-suffering. And only by being unmoved can you be happy!
When you are clueless, let go and flow with Life.
I woke up this morning not knowing what to do about a situation that we are dealing with as a family. We had sat up late last night thinking through and brainstorming. But a solution continues to evade us.
Vaani and I are not new to either such no-go situations or to cluelessness. Over time, we have learnt to deal with them with equanimity than with panic or by worrying. So, I sat at my desk and surrendered to Life. I said, “Look here, I don’t know who you are or what you are. But I know you are a Higher Energy. I know you are more intelligent than I am. So, I will be led by you, I will be guided by you. I surrender.” I have always experienced that such a private conversation within myself, with creation, with a Higher Energy, has helped me. It helps me anchor and move to my center. And when I am anchored to my center, I am unmoved, no matter how furious the storm around me is.
In the eye of the storm, the epicenter of a cyclone, there is no destruction. Because there is no chaos. There’s only peace. And the strength of a storm emanates from its core. The epicenter of the storm is also its power center. This is science. I have learnt to apply the same logic to Life’s storms also. And it works big time, for us – for Vaani and me.
So, when I don’t know what to do, I let go and flow with Life. I know this flowing to be my Faith. I know that we will be looked after, taken care of, provided for and shown the way. I don’t know where the path is taking us but I always believe that it will eventually take us to where we must arrive. Taking that path and trusting it implicitly, to me, is putting my Faith to work. And that’s what I am doing, yet again, today…
Remember: you always have the choice to step away from whatever is making you unhappy!
As I sat down to write my daily Blog this morning, I was notified of a newsbreak on my phone. Vishal Sikka has quit as MD and CEO of Infosys. While his resignation letter to the Board of Infosys is detailed, his decision appears to have been driven by the fact that he was “unhappy over baseless, malicious, personal attacks” on him.
I am not going to opine on the business issues that led to Vishal’s departure. In his email to the Infy Board, Vishal does indicate having discussed his decision with his wife Vandana. And I believe that the couple may have talked at length about how the “continuous drumbeat of distractions and negativity” at the Board-level, over the company’s recent actions and performance, were impacting Vishal’s inner peace and happiness. Possibly, his final decision may have been made on wanting to be free from all those factors that made him unhappy.
Even if there were other considerations, I feel Vishal’s choice to walk away is a mature one. I would like to share here what I am learning from his decision.
Often times in Life you may find yourself in situations when you are answerable to people around you. However much you may try to explain your position, you may not be able to convince everyone – especially those who are either constantly asking more questions or those who are keen to interpret than understand what you are saying. At such times it is really not about who is right and who is wrong, or what is true and what is false. What really matters is how you are feeling in the midst of all the acrimony. If you are feeling pinned down, unhappy and wasted, remember, you have a choice to step away. Stepping away is not failure. It is not defeat. It is an intelligent choice. You can still fight the good fight from a distance. You can still, if you are keen, prove yourself. Stepping away from a fractious environment, however, helps you preserve your energy and keeps you anchored.
So, Vishal’s choice, to me, is worthy of respect. It reiterates my belief that if something – or someone – makes you unhappy, you can always say no, and walk away. That’s one way to preserve and protect your inner peace and happiness.
Life is too precious to be spent massaging someone’s ego or pandering to another’s whims.
There’s a wedding coming up in my extended family. And as it often happens, no TamBram affair is free from its share of bruised ego and petty politics. In this wedding story, the mother of the groom is a single parent. So, she invited her older brother and his wife to solemnize the wedding. Her daughter’s husband meanwhile has got offended because he was not invited to preside over the ceremony. So, hearing of his stance, the groom’s uncle (the older brother I referred to earlier) offered to step aside. But the lady’s daughter’s husband is still not happy. He is of the view that the opportunity to preside over the ceremony was given to him only after he demanded it. He feels that he and his wife have been “ignored and insulted” by his mother-in-law. So, he and his wife have chosen to “boycott” the wedding. Hearing of all this ruckus, all this tamasha, the groom, is threatening to call off the wedding – I guess he just wants to be free from all this drama!! I hear that his poor mother is busy running between him, her brother and her son-in-law trying to manage expectations and massage egos.
All this may sound juicy. And I am sure you too can relate to such behavior among your immediate family. I remember when Vaani and I got married in February 1989, several members of my family, both from my maternal and paternal sides, created so much fuss over non-issues. Someone or the other, I recall, was always sulking and Vaani’s brother had such a difficult time trying to please everyone. I am appalled that almost three decades on, nothing much appears to have changed in our society.
At the core of all such family soap dramas is ego. And gender bias. If you are the girl’s family you are expected to pander to the whims of the boy’s side. Else the boy’s (side’s) hurt ego will manifest itself by childishly sulking and throwing tantrums.
Change can happen only when the bride and the groom treat marriage as a celebration, as a joyous union of the two of them. The couple alone must have the right to how they want to host their wedding ceremony. Currently, as I see it, the couple hardly has any say in what’s going on – a wedding is typically a pompous ritual that parents undertake, in the name of love for their children, to show off their social, familial and financial muscle. Additionally, as I have observed on this Blog in the past, marriage itself as an institution has become irrelevant. It is the loving between two people that keeps them together and not necessarily their being married. So, my unsolicited advice to young folks who plan to marry will be to take all the money they have, including the budget that both families plan to spend on the wedding, and travel the world. Enjoy yourselves, explore each other and the magic and beauty on the planet. Make beautiful memories than make insipid wedding albums and videos, full of people who are either pretending or are sulking, which you are unlikely to revisit too many times in your Life.
And if you do plan to have a wedding, and don’t know how to deal with all those who try to control and torment you, by either sitting on an ego pedestal, or by throwing tantrums, or by doing both, well, just let them be. Only when you give such people attention do they begin to demand more. Instead, just smile and walk away. Let them kick around, rave and rant. In some time, they will tire themselves out and fall silent. Don’t analyze or fret over such behavior – by being the way they are, such people give you a great spiritual opportunity to evolve, to ignore all those who are irrelevant in your Life and to learn to focus only on what matters to you. Life is too precious to be spent massaging someone’s ego or pandering to another’s whims. Remember: you live only once. So, live that Life well – happily – and live it your way!
Life is a function of time. Everything happens in its own time and at its own pace. So, as I share on this Podcast, when you can’t solve a problem, you just let go and let people and things just be.
Listen time: 4:58 minutes
Traveling light through Life makes it simpler, meaningful and beautiful.
Our daughter Aanchal left today for studying at grad school. When the cab arrived to take her to the airport, and we were wheeling her two suitcases along the driveway, I was struck by the spiritual depth of the moment. Here was a child who had grown up with us in the past 22 years. And now, she leaves just carrying two suitcases of stuff to start a new Life. That’s it! Just two suitcases, a mobile phone and a laptop.
Interestingly, this event is happening a second time in our Life. In September 2008, our son Aashirwad too left similarly, packing his worldly belongings into two suitcases. He still lives out of them.
I believe the restriction placed by airlines that you may only check-in two suitcases, without having to pay for excess baggage, is a brilliant way of encouraging minimalism. Consider this: What if each of us just had only two suitcases worth of stuff, a mobile phone, a laptop and a passport, as our Life’s assets? Wouldn’t Life be simpler? And more meaningful, more beautiful? Nothing extra to take care of, nothing extra to protect and nothing really to cling on to?
For almost 7 years now, Vaani and I have been practicing minimalism in our own way. Every six months we chuck away stuff that we have not used in the previous six months. This excludes our passports or any important academic, professional or statutory documentation. And this week, we get ready to get rid of more stuff from our Life. At around 50, we believe we want to travel light for the rest of our Life before we fade away into the sunset. Yes, we have a moral responsibility of earning enough to be able to repay people that we owe money to. Apart from being able to do this, we have no interest in acquiring or accumulating wealth and assets of any kind. We have learnt that Life’s pretty simple. If you can live with what you need in two suitcases, and are forever ready to go when your name is called, I feel it is a great, magical, state to be in.