The only part of Life worth living is … LIVING!

Throw yourself into the game and don’t worry about the outcome. If it is ordained for you, it will happen the way you visualize it. If it is not, you will not get what you want. Either way, immerse yourself in the game of Life and banish all thoughts on what may be, what will be, what would be and what could be.

Almost all the time, all of us miss the joy of living. We have been conditioned to think that an integral part of Life is winning. The truth is the only part of Life worth living is LIVING! Because what happens to or with us__to you, to me__is not in our hands. But what we do when whatever happens to us is surely in our hands.

Why then do we struggle with living?

Simple: because our entire upbringing and our whole education system is focused on winning. Now, when you focus on winning, it is a foregone conclusion that ONLY one person will win. That leaves the rest of the competition whining. There’s no teacher, no school, no system that ensures that the one who tries to compete, the one who plays the game, the one who makes an effort to win, is celebrated. If you take a country like India, our traffic sense will tell you what we are as a nation. Everyone is in the business of getting ahead of the others. There is no decorum on the road, nobody has any sensitivity and at the end of this mindless charade, people, the ones who manage to get ahead, actually feel they have ‘arrived’, while those who have been edged past feel they have been at a game they did not play or did not want to play. So it is with the way we live. Which is why we struggle.

Vijay Natesan
I met a young mridangam (a percussion instrument we play in south India) artist Vijay Natesan recently. I had seen him play on stage a few times. Last November, I had seen him play with the 80-year-old maestro T V Gopalakrishnan (TVG) at the Music Academy in Chennai. That performance has stayed in my mind because I found that TVG and a posse of mridangam artists were not behaving as if they were performing to a packed auditorium. They were playing their instruments as if they were in a living room and jamming with each other. So, when I met Natesan last week, I asked him how is it that they managed to have so much fun while playing in the professional circuit? He replied: “Sir, we play because we are having fun! We never play to impress. This has been our training.” This, said Natesan, was the first and the biggest learning, his guru, TVG, had imparted in him. “TVG Sir would say, when on stage, simply freak out. Don’t worry. Don’t think. Just play. Enjoy yourself. If you enjoy yourself, you can be assured that the audience is enjoying your performance. If you worry or wonder if the audience is enjoying, you will make a hash of it. So, just play your guts out every time you play.”

Please note the nuance in Natesan’s recollection of his guru’s advice. Play your guts out every time you play. TVG did not use the word ‘perform’. Both times he said ‘play’. This is our key learning.

Are you living or are you making a show of living? If you are making a show of living, you are sure to be disappointed, because you are not living for yourself. You are living for audience approval. And as long as you live for someone else’s approval (big difference from living for others’ – subject of another thought altogether) you will find that it is unlikely you will be able to satisfy everyone in the audience. Someone, somewhere will always be upset with you. And you will spend a lifetime trying to please that someone. Instead, just live your Life. Enjoy the game. Of living. Live fully. Because, unlike in Natesan’s case, you will NOT get a second chance at playing (living) the game!