Life is no bed of roses for anyone. So suspend all judgment and live free.
Yesterday, at the Hindu Lit for Life 2017, we had the opportunity to listen to veteran Bollywood actor Rishi Kapoor talk about his Life and times. He was speaking in the context of the launch of his freshly-minted autobiography, Khullam Khulla: Rishi Kapoor Uncensored (Harper Collins), which has been co-authored by noted film journalist Meena Iyer.
I came away with a reiteration of two key perspectives that I have always held close to my heart: 1. Life is all about learning to get better and better about living and 2. Candor is the best policy. Rishi talked openly about losing his way in Life after the heady success of Bobby (1973), he talked about having been naïve enough to purchase an award once, he talked about his father Raj Kapoor’s affairs with his (Raj’s) leading ladies. In the breezy hour that Rishi regaled the audience at the packed Sir Mutha Venkata Subba Rao auditorium with anecdote after anecdote from his Life, candor was the only word that kept popping in my mind to describe the experience of listening to him. To one question, on whether nepotism is graciously accepted in the film world, compared to other industries, Rishi snapped back: “I am not Rishi Kapoor because I am Raj Kapoor’s son. I am who I am because of my struggles, my hard work, my sweat, my tears. Yes, I am proud that Raj Kapoor is my father. But I disagree that star children have it easy.”
There was not a word from his conversation that did not ring true. There was no starry tantrum he threw. It left me, and I am sure almost everyone, in awe of the way that Life deals with all of us. As Rishi confessed, he didn’t have to struggle for basic living comforts, he said he doesn’t know what it means to be hungry, but he also pointed out that he has struggled in his own way, uniquely, with his lows and learning from them.
That’s brings me to an all-important perspective. Life is no bed of roses for anyone. Each of us has to bear our own crosses. There are no right or wrong ways to live Life. You do what you have to do, or feel like doing, in some contexts. And you learn from each of your choices. Over time, when you look back, maybe through an autobiography, maybe while nursing a drink on the beachside, maybe while on a hospital bed, whenever you look back, you will only realize that you can never claim you knew then – or know now – one hundred percent how to live your Life. You can only say that you are better off living it today than you were yesterday. Simply, you just get better and better with living your Life. This is what experience does to you. This is what Life teaches you.
So, why feel shy or apprehensive about Life? Be open. Wear your Life on your sleeve. Jio, as Rishi is doing, as Vaani and I have been doing (Read more here: Fall Like A Rose Petal), Khullam Khulla! If you did something you ought not to have done, take it easy. After all, s**t happens! Just learn from the experience than brood endlessly over it. This attitude serves to not only help you with moving on but it also works well in reminding you not to judge others. When you see someone doing something that you would not either do or approve of doing, don’t be dismissive of them. Don’t ridicule and write them off. Remember they too have a story and they too have a need to evolve through their learning curve. Simply, suspend all judgment. It will save you a lot of energy and also spare you heartburn and negativity!
I often believe that everyone, like Rishi Kapoor, should write a Khullam Khulla autobiography. Not necessarily for others to read. But also for the individual to heal. Sharing, I know from experience, is very therapeutic. When you examine what has happened in your Life dispassionately, treating every experience as a teacher, and learn from it, you let go of all emotional baggage and set yourself free. You are then eternally grateful to Life for this human experience – no matter what kind of seasons and flavors have dominated that experience! This is what Jalaluddin Rumi, the 13th Century Persian poet, meant when he wrote in the Guest House, “…The dark thought, the shame, the malice, meet them at the door laughing and invite them in. Be grateful for whatever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.”