People are – and will be – different from you!

Don’t expect everyone to be like you and to agree to everything you say or do. Simply accept the diversity in people around you! 
Last evening I watched Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani (Ayan Mukerji, 2013, Ranbir Kapoor, Deepika Padukone) one more time. In one scene in the movie, Padukone, while examining her relationship with Kapoor, tells him: “Tum galat nahin ho; bas mujhse alag ho!” It means: “You are not wrong, you are just different from me!” I thought that’s a wonderful way to relate to people that we have relationships with.
Much of your strife in relationships comes from wanting people to understand you, from wanting them to see your point of view and from wanting them to agree with you on everything. Now, this isn’t really ever going to happen. So we go on piling this impractical, unreasonable expectation on people around us and, therefore, we continue to wallow in grief and suffering when our relationships fail.
I have learnt this lesson the hard way. Initially, I used to have a huge problem in an all important relationship with my own mother. This caused me enormous grief and inner strife. But when I learned this lesson, I found my whole attitude change to one of acceptance – of our diametrically opposite ways of looking at and dealing with Life and of our different outlooks to how it must be lived. The day I stopped wanting to be right and stopped demanding that only my view be respected, I became peaceful. When I made my peace – over the way things were – I discovered how simple Life really is. I realized that we complicate it by expecting people around us to be a certain way.
Every relationship, in fact any relationship, is stressed when we try to apply labels of right and wrong or impose dos and don’ts to whatever’s happening in it. The best way to avoid that stress is to accept that people are, and will be, different. That there’s no right or wrong – there’s just a different point of view. And through such a simple, relatable framework, you build and sustain beautiful, ever-evolving relationships.

Don’t try to make sense of Life. You can’t!

The moment you think you have understood Life, that you have a handle on how it works, you are finished. You have then written your own warrant to live the rest of your Life – imprisoned by your suffering and depression.
There’s an old Hindi song, sung by the immortal Kishore Kumar, that goes: “Zindagi ka Safar….Hai yeh kaisa Safar….Koi samjha nahin, Koi jaana nahin…” (Safar – Journey; 1970, Kalyanji Anandji) It means that Life is a journey that is inscrutable – no one knows it, no one understands it! This syncs with what a Siddha Yogi, who I met some years back, told me: “Only a fool will try to understand Life! The intelligent will simply live it for whatever it is!” Two stories I read yesterday only reinforced this learning in me.
Vincent Van Gogh: Tragically not valued in his lifetime
The first one is of the celebrated painter Vincent Van Gogh (1853~1890). He lived and painted in abject poverty. He was so poor that he could eat only 3 days a week. Nobody understood him. Or his paintings. And so none of his paintings were sold in his lifetime. His brother would give him a weekly allowance to subsist. Because Van Gogh was passionate about his art, he would use some of this allowance to buy his canvases, brushes and paints. Which meant he could only eat three times a week. He looked haggard always and people around him thought he was mad. One day, his brother, unable to bear Van Gogh’s plight, set up a friend to go purchase a painting from him so that Van Gogh would find the motivation to bounce back in Life! The friend had no idea of art. And merely saw himself as a person sent to handover the money under the pretext of buying a painting. So, even as Van Gogh excitedly explained each of his works, the ‘buyer’ seemed disinterested and impatient. He merely wanted ANY painting. Van Gogh smelt a rat. He realized that his brother had set this man up. So he asked the man to leave with his money. He was so heart-broken that he committed suicide that day. It was a sad, premature end to a great talent that the world would later worship! Van Gogh, in his short Life is believed to have made over a 1000 paintings. Over 800 of them were lost because no one bothered about them. The remaining 200 are the precious possessions of museums and art collectors – with each of them worth over a few million dollars! Now, how do you explain this? One of the world’s greatest artists dies a pauper, and frustrated, because no one values his work? And the same work today is treated as priceless?
The second story I read was the cover story in India Today on Bollywood’s new super star, Ranbir Kapoor. He, when asked what he believes is the secret of his success, tells the magazine’s Kunal Pradhan: “I have realized that an actor needs to be constantly unsure about what he’s doing, and what’s going on around him. The moment you think you have nailed it, you’re dead.”
That’s so true about Life as well. And about each of us. In a way, we too are mere actors on this world stage. Here now. Gone tomorrow. During our lifetimes, we will have to play different roles. The script will keep changing. And the best way to stay grounded, stay anchored, stay peaceful is to enjoy the uncertainty. Don’t try to make sense of Life. You can’t. If you try, you will end up where Van Gogh did – depressed, frustrated. If you simply let Life happen to you, you will love the Life given to you and will forever be at peace – with Life, with the world, with yourself!