Life is bigger than, and beyond, all of us!
Last evening while watching M.S.Dhoni play the IPL match between Rising Pune Supergiants (RPS) and Mumbai Indians, I reflected on his choices in Life. He quit his Indian Railways job to pursue his struggling cricket career with an unwavering conviction and belief in himself! After conquering every possible peak in the game, he quit test cricket at the right time. He quit his ODI and T20 captaincy too when he was least expected to. At his current level of form and fitness, he certainly has a few more years of cricket left in him. He has always played with detachment – victory or defeat, fame or the obscurity from where he rose, neither seem to have ever affected him. But now there’s more depth in the way he engages with the game – he plays with total freedom. He is as comfortable playing for his state Jharkhand in the domestic circuit, as he is playing for RPS, under a new captain, Steve Smith.
MS’ most inspiring quality is to always treat – and respect – the game as bigger than him. Which is why – and how – he has been able to handle, with ease, all the pressures and stakes of superstardom in cricket, his surprising decisions to step back when no one was asking him to and his choice of continuing the play the game in the domestic circuit, like just another ordinary player!
Indeed, the game of Life is always bigger than any of us. It is, in fact, beyond us. You can only live it fully in the moment that you are currently in. Saying steeped in the past is of no use. And you can never quite say what lies in store for you in the next moment. So, we must train ourselves to respect Life, to go with the flow and live it for what it is.
MS obviously is not the first person to be living with this awareness and this detachment. Intelligent living is as old as the hills – or possibly more. But MS is the most visible, superstar, practitioner of intelligent living. My heart goes out in admiration for him. Not just for being the great player and leader that he is, but for being untouched by “worldliness”.
I learnt this art of being “unmoved and untouched by worldliness” the hard way. In the phase from 1996~2002, when my business did very well, I imagined that I was its author. I felt my success was being scripted by my integrity and hardwork. I was right – but only partly. Results for my efforts were coming through me, for me, but not entirely because of me. This is a realization that came to me only when, in the past decade, I have discovered that despite my best efforts, results are not happening. (Read more here: Fall Like A Rose Petal). So, back in time, since I thought I was the be-all and end-all of my Life, and when things didn’t work out as per a plan, I quickly concluded that I was a failure. It is only through deep reflection that I discovered what young MS knows so intuitively – that success and failure don’t matter; what matters is playing the game! In fact, success and failure are human inventions. They are wasteful social labels. If you allow them to stick to you, either way, you are doomed. If you imagine you are successful, you will be struck by hubris. If you conclude that you are a failure, you will be drowned in depression. I have been in both places, so I talk from experience.
The simplest way to live is to be “untouched and unmoved” by either by fame and glory or by fall and failure. This is the secret of Life. If you recognize that everything is transient, that every phase will pass, including success and failure, you will be unmoved. Then you can only be happy.