Get comfortable with uncertainty

Someone I know told me recently that his family was “living with a lot of uncertainty” at this time, given the condition of a member of their family who is battling a final stage cancer. The phrase ‘living with uncertainty’ made me pause and reflect. Aren’t we all, all the time, dealing with uncertainty?
The nature of Life itself is uncertain. The moment you are born uncertainty follows you like a shadow. Every living moment has no guarantees. Anything, absolutely anything, can happen. The past few days, the papers in India are running the story of a 50-day old baby in Tamil Nadu going up in flames, on its own, every now and then. Doctors treating the baby, that has severe burn injuries, are divided over the theory that the child is affected by the ‘spontaneous human combustion’ syndrome. Apparently, one historical view is that the baby’s case is the rarest of rare, among the very few that have been reported in the last 200 years, from across the world! Even so, can you imagine a human baby catching fire on its own?
That’s how bizarre and uncertain Life is for you – and, therefore, inscrutable.
If Life is intrinsically uncertain, why is dealing, and living, with uncertainty, so difficult? The problem lies in our “educated and informed” definition and interpretation of Life. A common view, handed down the generations, is that if we have money, many things in Life are predictable with some certainty. So, we have all fallen into “earning-a-living” and feel “comfortable” in the knowledge that money can bail us out in uncertain times. Even so, invariably, at least once in our lifetimes, more as a reminder of its true, inscrutable nature, Life will pose us a challenge that money cannot solve. Like that health (cancer) situation discussed above, or a relationship mess or a reputation loss as in the case of Hyderabad-based techie and former employee of HCL, Siddique Taj Kazi. 40-year-old Siddque, a father of five, lost his job with HCL and was jailed for four months (earlier this year) under charges of abetting ‘terrorism’ in a 10-year-old case of a bomb blast at a bus depot in Ghatkopar, Mumbai, in 2003. On August 2nd, the Mumbai Crime Branch pleaded with a Court that they found no evidence against Siddque and that they would like to drop charges against him. The Court has since acquitted Siddque. “But what about the loss of his reputation, his job and our peace of mind,” asks his beleaguered family, through their lawyer, Rebecca Gonsalves. Pertinent question. But am not sure they will get an answer – either from the Courts or from Life!  
The best way then to live in peace appears to be to drop the desire to be certain about everything in Life. Clearly, no amount of security that you garner in your favor ever works in the face of Life’s design. Despite all your plans, only what is to happen will happen. Know that when everything is so secure, or seemingly secure per your calculations, you are actually dead. Because death is the ultimate security – it is fixed, there’s no movement. Life, on the other hand, is flowing. And anything in flux has no form. So, welcome and choose to be comfortable with uncertainty. Then, and only then, despite its intrinsic insecurity, will you LIVE – truly, fully, happily!

Attain Buddhahood – by witnessing Life

Treat everything that’s happening in Life as not happening “to” you, but around you, and you will always be at peace! This is the witness state – Buddhahood, if you like. This way you will be in a perpetual state of equanimity within you, despite whatever turmoil that is going on in your external world. Just like the way it is at the eye of a storm. The storm is raging with all fury, all around, but at its eye, in the center, there is no turmoil. Through your witness-state you too can attain this level of inner peace.

Consider this: someone insults you. And you get drawn into that drama. This leads to an ego-play. He says something. You retaliate. He hits back. And you attack again. This goes on. And on. But what if you had let that insult pass? What if, like a lotus flower, you had not let the water (the insult) stick to you? What if you had continued to live in the muck (the dirty pond in which the lotus blooms, metaphorically, the turmoil-ridden world) but chosen to rise above it, untouched, unblemished?

This is true of, and possible, in every situation. Be it a conflict or a temptation or just a Life event__like a lay-off or a death or a break-up__happening to you! This does not mean that Life is to be resisted. But  means, in fact, that it has to be experienced dispassionately. Without getting embroiled or entangled in it.

Here’s a story from Buddhism. A bunch of drunk people picked up a prostitute and stripped her naked. They wanted to rape her. But they were so drunk they fell asleep – tired and exhausted by the high alcohol content in their blood. The woman escaped from their clutches by the time they woke up. Shocked at their loss, the men began to search for her. There was only one way out of the place they were in and on that way they found the venerable Buddha meditating. They did not know who this man was, but decided to ask him about the naked woman because from where the Buddha was sitting, there’s no way anyone could have gone past without him seeing her.

“Did you see a naked woman pass by sometime ago,” asked one of the men roughly.

“You are late. You should have come 10 years ago,” replied the Buddha, smiling, calmly.

The men looked at each other. Totally shocked. Is this man mad, they wondered? One of them even asked the Buddha to explain his “weird” reply.

The Buddha explained patiently: “Well, 10 years ago, I would have been distracted by someone walking in front of me. But now I have learned not to get involved. I surely saw someone go past here. But whether it was a man or a woman, whether naked or clothed, I did not notice, because I was looking for nothing.”

Buddhahood is not something sacred or the exclusive prevail of those who get to sit under a Bodhi tree. Buddhahood awaits you and me too. If only we can learn, through continuous practice, the art of choosing to simply witness Life, without getting embroiled in it, of learning to distinguish that events happen “around” us and not “to” us!

Onward…with a song in your heart!

No matter what, keep smiling. Keep having fun! I know it is difficult. But there no better way to get the best out of the Life that’s been given to us! Life loves those who continue to do what they do when everything’s going fine, even when nothing’s going fine! Think about it. If suppose you have a friend who is depressed. How much time will you invest in motivating this person to move on? To accept Life for what it is, and simply get going? You will probably visit this person every day for several weeks. And then finally, you will start tapering off… Your visits will become biweekly, weekly and then fortnightly. Why? Because who wants to be sitting around with a perpetually, adamantly, depressed person? The same is true with Life too. If you sulk, Life sulks too. If you exult, Life exults too. So, the best way to deal with the ever-changing rhythm of Life is to keep journeying along with a song in your heart!
The song in your heart is a powerful method to stay anchored and positive while in the throes of a crisis or even, simply, on a demanding day. What happens when you listen to a new, catchy song? Or even an ad jingle. It just stays in your head. And keeps playing on and on. Now, follow the same principle when you are facing a hard time. Pull back a song you love from your memory and let it play on in you. Every waking moment march along with that song in your heart. Your problems may not diminish or vanish with this technique, but the journey at least will seem easier.
Sulking can’t help your situation in any way. Just as frowning and frustration can’t. To be sure, smiling can’t solve your problems either. But it can brighten the environment and bring some cheer. And why would you want to say no to some bright sunshine mid-way through a cold, stormy, squally day?

Everything’s as it should be and all is well

Everything happens at the right time. In Life, there’s really no concept of a good time or a bad one. Good or bad are labels that we human beings place. Life’s happening at its own pace, of its own accord and in the way it must happen.
We agonize over things, events and people because we seek instant gratification. In an SMS generation, this is even more starkly evident. Everyone wants everything now and fast.
Practicing mindfulness, enjoying every breath we take, every morsel we eat, every sight we behold, is the best way to live. This doesn’t mean you must not be ambitious or aggressive. This means don’t rush through Life as if it were a 100-meter race. It is not. Learn to be patient. Everything happens to a plan, and just because we are not aware of that plan it doesn’t mean there isn’t one! What we may like to accept and keep in mind always is that, this Master Plan has no flaws.
Kabir, the 15th Century weaver-poet, has said this so beautifully:
Dheere Dheere Re Mana, Dheere Sub Kuch Hoye
Maali Seenche Sau Ghara, Ritu Aye Phal Hoye
It means:
Slowly, slowly O! Mind….everything happens at its own pace…
The gardener may water with a hundred buckets, but the fruit arrives only in its season….

So as you rush through another Monday, breathe easy, slow down, be mindful. Don’t let the traffic affect your mood. Don’t let your meaningless meetings drain you. Don’t let any no disappoint you. Know that everything is fine. And as that memorable line in the classic Hindi movie ‘3 Idiots’, which I was watching on TV last night, goes, ‘All EEZ WELL’. In fact, everything is as it should be and all is well!

Understanding the ‘other’ EMI – Each Moment’s Invaluable!

All our insecurity stems from our worries over what will happen in a future that no one has seen! And often times the insecurity is heightened by financial commitments that still remain to be fulfilled. There’s a cruel irony to this state: the financial commitments we have made are based on hope, faith and some self-confidence (in our ability to stay gainfully employed) even as we are totally clueless about our future and do not know for sure what awaits us in the next moment! This situation is further vitiated when we agonize over these commitments and always, therefore, are in a state of anxiety and worry.

I met someone who is in a well-paying job, with an excellent track record in an impressive corporate career. Seven years back he was laid off from his job when his company decided to wind up and after over three years of being unemployed, he finally landed the job he currently has. Even though there’s no evidence at the moment that history may repeat itself, he confessed, he is worried stiff about his job because he has EMIs (Equated Monthly Installments for loans taken) to be paid. “I live in constant fear of losing my job again. I am haunted by the consequences of defaulting on my EMIs,” he said to me, visibly anxiously. I advised him to chill and take each day as it comes.

When I recalled this conversation this morning, it became clear to me that as people who are continuously making an attempt to make our lives better, the EMI has become a necessary evil. Every financial institution today is willing to partner with every manufacturer or service provider to offer attractive, easy monthly payment schemes that allow us to buy whatever we “want” with an ease of repayment that’s commensurate with our projected income. This has led to our several “wants” being fulfilled. Be it the cars we drive or the TVs we watch or the vacations we take or the apartments we live in. At least a large majority of the working professionals today are users of EMI-payment plans.

Let’s clarify and understand this further. The reason why EMIs as a an option exist is to make our lives simpler. And to make us feel comfortable. And to make us happy. If they have started haunting us and tormenting us, then we have stopped using EMIs as a payment tool, and instead are being “used” by them! In the process, we have stopped living. And only seem to be existing __ slogging relentlessly, while complaining endlessly, to pay off our EMIs.

If this rings true to you, then it’s time to revisit both your financial outlays and commitments and inquire within whether you indeed are living intelligently. Focus on a different EMI as you do this. EMI does also stand for and mean EACH MOMENT’S INVALUABLE. So it is! And with every passing moment, you__and I__are inching closer to death. If there’s a great time to LIVE, it is now. If the average lifespan for us humans is taken as 70 years, then we have 220,75,20,000 seconds or moments in all to live. Each of them is invaluable. And several thousands of them are already over. They are gone! How many of them were memorable? How many can you recall? And how will you recall any, if since your adulthood, you have only been a slave of EMI payment plans, and have not lived completely to make Each (Invaluable) Moment Memorable?

Hope you get the unputdownable learning here. The EMI-payment plan is but a tool, an instrument. There’s absolutely nothing wrong in opting for EMI-payment plans. Use them well though__prudently effectively. And never be enslaved by them. Don’t allow them to ever rob you of the other EMI! Live freely, completely, happily – for the other EMI too. Because, Each Moment’s Invaluable, Indispensible, Irrevocable and Irretrievable! Either you encash the remaining available moments in your Life by living them fully or they are gone!

YOU, only YOU, have to make time for LIVING your Life!

Everything that money can’t buy is, logically, FREE! These are theimportant, indispensible, irreplaceable, unputdownable elements of our lives! Yet we do precious little to nurture, develop, grow and protect all those things that come free in Life and work 60+-hour weeks ‘earning a living’ and trying to cling on to, protect stuff, that in the end are impermanent, dispensible, unimportant, forgettable and replaceable!

Isn’t that kind of weird?

Some years back Mastercard ran an advertisement campaign that went “There are some things money can’t buy. For everything else, there’s Mastercard!” The campaign’s tagline was “Priceless”. It is an intelligent campaign. And a gentle reminder that while we are busy ‘earning a living’ Life is ticking away. While all things money can buy can still be bought, Life can’t really be wound back. And that’s why it is so priceless. Yet we don’t quite understand the value of what’s invaluable __ living totally!

I was recently working with a bunch of managers who wanted to “understand Life in order to gain a “work-Life” balance”. The CFO had not slept for more than 3 hours nightly in three weeks. The HR Head had been too busy to even rush his wife, who was having premature labor pains, to the hospital and laments that despite that incident he is unable to “create” more than a few hours at home even on weekends. The Maintenance Head is having a complicated lung situation but is unable to quit his smoking. And the CEO is trying to commute between three plants in different states trying to ensure targets are met and that people are “on the ball”. His crib: Because his people don’t “show accountability”, he has not been able to take a break in over six months – not even a weekend off!

I was reminded of what I had learned from Richard Carlson (Don’t Sweat The Small Stuff): “Your Inbox is never going to be empty!”

I strongly believe that:

  1. If you are, as a manager, working more than 8 hours daily (that includes checking mail and responding to them or taking conference calls from other time zones) then one or several of these conditions are true:
  • a.     You are a poor decision-maker
  • b.    You are just horribly organized
  • c.     Your boss is inefficient
  • d.    Your subordinates are inefficient
  • e.     All of the above! 

      2.  Don’t take your Blackberry to the dining table and don’t wake up looking at it. Put it off     
           or on silent mode and leave it away from you while at home. Designate times while at   
           home when you will check your phone for calls and mails. 
      3.  When with the family, BE with the family 
      4.  When AT work, WORK – without distraction, without frittering away your time in     
      5.  Have the courage to say NO to unproductive meetings or attending meetings whose 
           agenda can be completed over mail or at least your contribution/input can be shared 
           over mail!

Remember this: Life is not going to make time for you. YOU, only YOU, have to make time for living your Life. Nobody can make it for you! Recognize that Life is ticking away. To be sure, you will die sooner or later. If you don’t LIVE now you probably will die wondering what all those meaningless hours spent at work__“being frightfully busy, with no time for anyone, even for yourself, yet having achieved nothing great”__were really all about?

Choose not to remain stuck with pain

You have two options in your Life and with it! Either to learn from your suffering and move on, finding in the process the true essence and meaning of Life, or you live your Life remaining stuck with your pain and misery.

Think about it this way. Just as you cannot control the seasons, or the sunrises and sunsets, or the rain, or the rainbow, you cannot control Life. Nor can you control what happens to you through your lifetime. So, pain and pleasure are both inevitable. Pleasure you never have a problem with. Because who will say no to pleasure? But when pain arrives, you have a huge problem. You wish it weren’t there. Whenever and wherever there is a wishing, an expectation, agony and suffering is assured. So, in effect, nobody can escape suffering the first time you are afflicted by pain. But surely you can learn not to suffer when pain strikes the next time!

Intelligent living is to learn, appreciate and accept the nature of Life as being so uncontrollable and to understand its essence. It is to know that if you are born, you will be subject to some pain, some time or the other, in Life. It is also to know that you have the choice to learn from Life’s painful episodes and moments, and move on, by choosing, therefore, not to suffer. On the other hand, if you cling on to your pain, or the sources that cause you pain, you will be stuck with it. You will then be wallowing in a cesspool of suffering, misery, agony, accompanied often by low self-esteem and self-sympathy!

Only those who know that freedom from suffering, and peace, comes only when you stop fighting Life, will be able to move on. And unless you discover this truth about Life, you will remain stuck.

Ramana Maharishi by Henri Cartier-Bresson April 1950
The great Indian guru Ramana Maharshi (1879~1950) eventually died of cancer. It was a very painful end. There was no way even a seer like the great Ramana could escape it. Many doctors came, and they were very puzzled because while body seemed to be writhing in pain, there was no sign of any pain in his eyes. His eyes remained the same – as serene as ever. Through his eyes only the witnessing Self arose; it was the witnessing Self that looked, that observed, reported people close to him at that time. The doctors would ask, “You must be in great pain?” Ramana would reply, “Yes there is great pain, but it is not happening to me. I am aware that there is great pain happening to the body; I know that there is great pain happening. I am seeing it, but it is not happening to me.

Again, the fickle human mind will argue one of two ways. How is it that a sage like Ramana Maharishi can be afflicted by cancer? And when he himself could not avert any pain, what is the point of all this – how can you or I, lesser mortals, escape pain then? The answers lie in the questions themselves. Nobody can avoid or evade pain. None can. Your awareness, like Ramana Maharishi’s, can, however, help you understand that whatever is happening is not happening to you, the real you, but to the body or to a world that you are only visiting! That understanding is the way out of suffering. This is the truth! The other truth, though paradoxical, is also profound – without suffering you cannot understand Life!

Examine your Life. Refuse to remain stuck with pain. Use whatever is causing you pain__and suffering__as a means, a channel, to understand Life. And liberate yourself through that understanding.

This Lifetime is the treasure that you hunt for

It is incredibly tragic. You__and I__have been brought up to always focus on a better tomorrow and never to celebrate a great today! From infancy to childhood to teenage to young adulthood to middle-age to senior citizenship __ it is one endless pursuit of growing knowledgeable (all the academic education that is thrust upon us), growing secure (a stable income, a marriage, a family) and growing financially (acquiring assets and saving for a comfortable retirement). Nowhere are we told or taught__unless we stumble upon it or seek for ourselves__to grow up, grow wiser, grow aware and grow into bliss!

It is indeed sad.

Let’s look at ourselves. We are continuously running, from one job to another, one achievement to another, one crisis to another, hoping to find a pot of gold, somewhere, somehow, so that we can stop running. We hate all this running. But we simply keep on running!

Yesterday I watched a lesser-known movie called ‘Chodo Kal Ki Baatein’ (2012 – directed by Pramod Joshi – starring Anupam Kher and Sachin Khedekar). It is the story of workaholic who discovers who he really is, and what is truly capable of, through a series of bizarre happenings in his Life.

The movie’s lead character Aditya reminded me of myself. There was a time, not so long ago, when I was running the rat race too. I would skip the annual days and sports days of my kids’ at school, and sometimes even their birthdays, because building a global Firm, winning marquee customers and leading a world-class team were far more important than family. Business and income always came first, family and enjoyment always came last. Stupidly enough, I would imagine that I was doing all this, working 24 x 7, all year through, only to secure my family financially. Whereas,  unknown to me (or perhaps it was evident but I refused to pay heed to it – call it hubris!), I was driving myself, my Firm and, worse, my family in exactly the opposite direction. To a financial apocalypse!

Then the inevitable happened. The Firm I led collapsed. And suddenly, in the ghastliness of a business defeat, I made a shameful personal discovery. I realized my kids had grown up and I had really not watched them grow up! The night my son took a flight out of Chennai for the US, to do an undergraduate program there, I remember coming back home from the airport, hugging his picture and crying like a baby. In yesterday’s movie, Aditya misses his daughter’s debut Bharatanatyam performance, her arangetram. And he doesn’t even realize it. When I missed my kids’ growing years, I too didn’t realize it. In the few years that have passed, I have realized, through tragedy, crises and painful ‘eureka’ moments, that Life’s treasures don’t lie in what we achieve. They lie in the moments that we live.

In the film, Aditya is asked by the blind mystic (Anupam Kher), who he (Aditya) is?

Aditya replies: “Aditya Pradhan”.

Blind Mystic: “That’s a name that your parents gave you…it is almost like a luggage tag, so that you don’t get lost in the crowd. What’s your true identity?”

Aditya: “I am a software engineer, the Vice Chairman of my company, successful business leader….”

Blind Mystic: “Is that really you? Are you really happy doing those things? Have you ever felt happy in this long, illustrious career that you speak of?”

Aditya, after much thinking, enlists a series of achievements……

Blind Mystic: “You can’t ever think about when you were happy. It means you are applying your intellect. Happiness cannot be thought of. It is felt. And it is what you feel from your soul.”

This was like The-Monk-Who-Sold-His-Ferrari-moment in the movie. I wish I had had a mystic or a monk to hold me a mirror early on in Life. Then probably, I may not have lost as many years in Life!

The learnings, from my story, and Aditya’s, are simple:

  • Life is happening now. Are you present?
  • You have lost the game of Life if you think of happiness. Happiness is what you feel, from the soul! You either feel happy or you don’t!
  • Life is not a treasure hunt. Because what you hunt for is already available to you, right here, right now!
  • What matters most is – how are you LIVING TODAY? The key words are, livingand today!

So, if you really want to live a more fulfilling Life, take time to say your good-byes, shut out your intrusive mobiles at family meal times, tuck your kids’ into bed and kiss them good night daily, make time for their silly moments and their school projects, for their music classes and their popcorn nights, make sure you get more done in five days of the week so that your family time is not intruded upon by your demanding work Life, and make time, at least weekly, for doing what truly makes you feel happy! You have heard this before. So it may well sound clichéd. Yet, this is the only way we must live __ because we live only once! This is not to say that we must not pursue successful careers. Or that we must not aim to create more wealth and be prosperous. This is simply a reminder service that if you are doing all those things, at the cost of living today, you are headed the wrong way. Working hard is certainly not working smart. Workaholicism is a disease. It is often an escape from reality. It may not often be a reality the workaholic lives in but may be about a haunting past, about an insecurity, and the workaholic keeps working so that the reality does not torment, does not bother anymore. Our society demands that we work to earn. But won’t it be better if we simply lived and earned on the side, in the bargain, without compromising on “living”? Think about it. Does any other creation of nature work the way man works? Do the trees, the rivers, the mountains, the crops in the farms, the fruits, the bees and the butterflies work __ meaninglessly, running a rat race__the way we do?

Mankind is guilty of creating two preposterous myths:

  • That an achieving mind is far more significant and powerful than a living soul!
  • That Life is a treasure hunt!

 Nothing can be farther from the truth! When you awaken from this stupor, imposed on you by centuries of conditioning, you will realize, like Aditya, like me, that if your soul is alive to the moment, to today, then it will recognize this lifetime as THE treasure!

Offer this lifetime to serve Life!

There is a famous book by one of my favorite authors Robin Sharma titled, “Who will cry when you die?”. I like to ask the question differently: “How will you be remembered after you are gone?

We will all be remembered after we are gone. Make no mistake about that. Have no doubt. The “how” of it is what you__and I__have a choice with. You can either make your lifetime memorable and have people remember you as one who served, who inspired and whose Life is the message. Or you can fade away, as a friend of mine wryly says, having been “a burden on the planet” – having lived a self-obsessed Life and having been totally “un-useful”.

The other day I was, out of sheer curiosity, watching Tamil film actor Prakash Raj host the inaugural episode (his first ever) of the “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?” reality show’s Tamil equivalent on Star Vijay. On the show, he celebrated a contestant who had dedicated his entire Life to support a marginalized, tribal community. Prakash Raj then went on to say what a big difference it makes when people reach out and touch the lives of people who are helpless, and in dire need. He narrated his own story of the day, years ago, when his father had passed away. He was a struggling upstart in the Kannada film industry then. He said he did not have any money that day to cremate his dead father. He recalled how, when he sat wondering what would happen, someone came by and bailed him out. Simply out of the blue. It turned out to be noted Kannada star and director Ravichandran. Ravichandran gave Prakash Raj Rs.5000/-, without him asking, and saved him, as he disclosed, “embarrassment and a lifelong burden of guilt”. “I will always be grateful to Ravichandran Sir for what he did for me and will always remember him as a great soul,” said Prakash Raj.

Veer Bhadra Mishra  – Mahant Ecologist
That’s a learning I picked up from the past week on how we can make a difference in an individual’s Life! And then there are those who touch the entire ecosystem. The Hindu this morning carries an obit titled ‘Warrior for a River,’ by Omar Rashid, of Prof.Veer Bhadra Mishra, noted environmentalist and mahant (head) of the famous Sankatmochan temple in Varanasi. Mishra inherited the position of mahant of the temple when he was barely 14, after his father’s death. But he has, since 1982, been involved in leading the Sankat Mochan Foundation, a non-profit, non-political body, that works for keeping the river Ganga clean and free of pollution. Most Indians revere the Ganga and consider it holy. But almost all Indians know that it continues to be among the most polluted and contaminated water bodies in not just India, but the whole world. Mishra’s raison d’etrewas to clean up the Ganga and restore it to its once pristine state. Rashid reports that Time magazine declared him the magazine’s “Hero of the Planet” (1999) for bringing the plight of the Ganga to the world’s attention and inspiring other river activists. “For his commitment to the river, he rightly won the epithet ‘Ganga Putra’ (Son of the Ganga). Varanasi will also remember him for his “Ganga-ethics” and his personal relationship with the river, which motivated him to say: ‘I am part of Ganga and Ganga is part of me.’”, writes Rashid, hoping that the day will come when Mishra’s dream of the Ganga being free of even a drop of sewage will be realized!

All of us have this good gene in us that inspires us to want to work outside of our own myopic view of the world and climb out of our own needs’ spectrum. Yet we are also so very caught up in the whirlpool of seeking deservance that we fail to seize the opportunity to serve. A simple way to get started is to flip the paradigm and stop wanting to be only successful and instead aim to be useful. Stop saying you deserve (more) and instead try to look for ways to serve (more). This lifetime is a gift. And you may want to be remembered for having used that gift judiciously for helping make this world a better place. Offer yourself to serve Life! There’s no other God than Life. There will be no other opportunity than NOW!

The worse never really happens!

Examine what you fear. And know that the worse that you imagine often never really happens.

I don’t relish hospitals. Who does, in fact? Yet, they are great institutions at the service of people looking for crucial, urgent solutions at most times. And so, in a sense, are both indispensible and laudable!

I had my own brush with what,  in medical terms, is a simple, out-patient procedure yesterday. An abscess in my right ankle had become very painful. It required what they call ‘Incision and Discharge’. All day I kept thinking about how painful it will be when they finally ‘nicked’ the abscess. The doctor had reassured me, the previous evening, that it would be a simple procedure and painless. Yet, when the hour dawned, I was mortally challenged. I can’t say I was scared of the procedure itself. But I guess I feared the physical pain and did not know if I would be able to handle it.

So, there I was. I lay coiled up on the hospital bed. As the nurse applied some, I presume antiseptic, solution around the abscess, I realized I was clinging on to my shirt with one hand and the railing of the hospital bed with another. I must have looked quite a sight. Then the doctor asked for my name, and he seemed to be touching and feeling the abscess. There were a few shards of intense pain that went through my body. I must have squealed “Ouch!” more than a couple of times. But I soon realized I was not howling. I was not writhing in pain. It was painful but not the unbearable type. In a few minutes it was all done. And the wound was dressed up. I opened my eyes and felt a lone tear drop.

As I sat up and listened to the doctor explain how he wanted me to look after the wound over the next few days, I could reflect on a key learning. And I share it here with you today: Much of what we imagine is, well simply, our imagination. The worse really never happens.

This is so true about Life. When we face up to Life, to situations, to people, to events, we do always find that the fear of having to face the unimaginable is what is gruesome. In reality, every situation can be faced. Each of us has been equipped with the ability__call it courage__to face Life as it happens to us. Because courage is NOT the absence of fear. It is the ability that fear delivers unto you when you face up to it.

Invariably, for almost all of us, things don’t always go to a plan. But such is Life. The dark eventualities we conjure up in our myriad ‘if and but’ situations in our mind never really pan out as bad as we have feared them. Look back at your own Life. Every horrible, fearful situation has been met by you, has been lived through and that ability to ‘face up to Life’ is what has brought you to this moment. And it will be so in future too.

So, sit back. Relax. Face Life as it is, for what it is. The worse never really happens!