Life is like an airline company – you pay a price for excess baggage!
A conversation with a visitor at home on how airlines “mercilessly” charge passengers for excess baggage got me thinking. I believe that all of us carry excess baggage, not just when we fly, but in Life as well. We do end up paying a huge price for our excess baggage, but we don’t quite learn from our experience.
There are three forms of excess baggage we saddle our lives with:
- Emotional Baggage: Memories pertaining to past hurts, insults, events, experiences. Some of these are heart-wrenching and debilitate us, causing deep anguish, pain and untold suffering.
- Physical Baggage: More than 50 % of the stuff that fills our homes__furniture to clothes to documents to kitchenware to shoes to display-ware__are the ones we have not used in months and, most often, in years. So, our homes are overloaded with ‘waste and clutter’ which can be useful for others when given away.
- Imaginary Baggage that never was and that never may well be: This is the baggage of worry and anxiety. Of things and events that you fear will happen to you and because of which you are unable to live free and in the moment!
All three forms of excess baggage must be set down to journey through Life in peace. The second form, the physical baggage, may still be reconcilable. As in, if you have a large living space, you can afford to accumulate, save or hoard the stuff that you don’t always use. Even so, Vaani and I follow a simple principle: we don’t hold on to anything – anything – that we have not used for over 6 months, except our passports! But the baggage falling in categories 1 and 3 are just not worth carrying. In a way, Life is pretty much like an airline company. You sure do end up paying a huge price for traveling with heavy, excess baggage! In a Life context, that price is the inability to live in and experience the magic of the present moment, of the now!
All that you need to live is what you have in the now. Ask yourself what past memories are causing an inexplicable heaviness in you? Ask yourself what worries take your mind away from attending to the now? Burn your heaviness away by giving the present all your attention. Make a call, give a hug, simply forgive__do whatever that will bring you into the present. Stop worrying about what will or may happen in the future. Life is here and never in the future, just as it is not in the past! Most important, learn, and keep relearning, to offload all your excess baggage and travel light.
The power of now is huge – it creates unputdownable value!
Last evening was pretty interesting.
A friend had invited us to a meeting of his Rotary Club where Arundhati Subramaniam, the eminent poet and writer, was delivering a Talk. As we settled down to listen to her, my neighbor, a Rotarian who knows us fairly well, leaned closer and asked me: “How are things with you and Vaani, AVIS? I hope they have improved?” (To understand the relevance of this question, read more here: Fall Like A Rose Petal) I smiled at him and replied: “Things are exactly the way they have been. We live in the present, from moment to moment. As of now, I have clarity that we will be able to manage for this evening and tomorrow. What happens for the day after, I will know only tomorrow evening.” The gentleman held my hand and said, “Your equanimity is amazing. Thanks for inspiring all of us.”
I am humbled by such sentiment. I don’t think Vaani and I have achieved something phenomenal and extra-ordinary. I am quite sure anyone is capable of developing equanimity. All this requires is for you understand Life’s true nature. Everything about Life is impermanent. Whatever is yours today, including your own Life, will be taken away from you sometime surely. So, there’s absolutely no point grieving over or worrying about anything in Life. Let go of what’s over and don’t be insecure about what is to happen. Just be present in the moment – living with what is. This is what equanimity is all about. Through practice, you can make living with equanimity, from moment to moment, a fine art. Simple.
Most people don’t believe this is possible only because they don’t want to invest – their efforts and time – in learning how this is done. Living in the moment is not at all difficult – you just have to train your mind not to delve into the past or race into the future. The mind will initially resist you. It will fight you every step of the way. Because the human mind thrives only in the past or in the future. In the present moment, in the now, the mind is powerless. But with consistent training, the mind will submit to your direction. It will obey you. And when it does, and when you start living in the moment, you will see what a beautiful celebration Life really is. Where there is no grief, anger, guilt over what is past and when there is no worry, anxiety or fear of what is to come, you can only be happy. Which is why being constantly in the now is a continuous celebration.
Interestingly, as we stepped out of the Rotary Club meeting, a friend called. He is visiting Chennai from London. He was at an event to launch Tekplay, a digital business transformation company. He invited us to join the launch event at Hotel Crowne Plaza. When we arrived there, we discovered that Mahendra Singh Dhoni was the chief guest at the Tekplay launch. And as part of the event, he was in conversation with the company’s executive director, Prabhuram Ramanathan. Prabhu asked Dhoni what he thought of “Dhoni at 45”. And Dhoni replied: “I always live in the present. How can I even tell you what it will be like 9 years from now…?”
Vaani looked at me at this point. We smiled at each other. Ask us, and we’ll tell you how much value the power of now can create; it helps us live intelligently, powerfully, meaningfully. Besides, it has surely helped us postpone worrying and be happy despite our excruciating circumstances.