When you don’t know what to do, simply play along with Life!
You don’t have to know everything or have all the answers. It is fine to be clueless. In fact, it is great to just be.
I am in a familiar zone this morning. I have no idea of what’s going to happen. (Now, I know, the truth is none of us can ever know what’s going to happen!) But I am referring to all our efforts at putting our business back on track, the way we want it to be, that have come unstuck. Yet again. It surely is unsettling at a practical, material, everyday level. But this is not something that we don’t have experience dealing with. Vaani and I have seen this time and again, that whenever we don’t seem to know what is happening or why it is happening and what we must do, Life has always shown us the way. That way may not be something we would have known of or liked to take, but we implicitly trust Life and allow ourselves to be led by it. This is perhaps why we don’t suffer despite our often excruciating circumstances.
The human desire to know why something is happening to you is what causes your suffering. The simplest way to avoid suffering is to stop asking why or why me. Stop wanting to know all the answers to questions that fox you. Stop wanting to solve all your problems at the same time. In fact, there will be times in your Life, when you can’t solve even one of your problems – let alone all. You will just be pushed to a corner by Life, button-holed and made irrelevant. Of course, you will be irritated, you will feel helpless and totally, completely, lost. This is when suffering will arrive in your Life. But it will lay siege only if you want answers, only when you seek solutions, only if you ask why. Instead if you just accept that being clueless, being helpless, being solution-less is fine, you will not suffer, despite the pain.
So, when I am in that zone, where I am this morning, I don’t ask why. I simply surrender to Life and say, be my light, show me the way and give me the strength, the stamina, to further endure the journey. I have learnt, that it is best, when you don’t know what to do, to simply play along with Life – as in this immortal song from Dev Anand’s Hum Dono (1961, Amarjeet/Vijay Anand, Mohd. Rafi, Jaidev, Sahir Ludhianvi)!
Pray, cry, step away, surrender – do whatever, while trusting the process of Life!
You don’t have to always have the solutions to all your problems in Life!
I visited a temple – Sai Baba’s – after a long time yesterday. I tagged along with Vaani because it was the first anniversary of my father-in-law Venks’ passing – he loved visiting Sai Baba temples, wherever they were. It was a usual Sunday at the temple. The priests were busy with the early morning aarthi service, the crowds were beginning to file in queues and the public address system played ‘om sai namo namah…’ setting the tone for devotees to enter into their personal communions with ‘their’ Baba. One lady did not join the queue. She did not even stand in front of Baba’s white marble idol. She stood in front of his portrait, in an ante-room, and wept inconsolably. It was a cathartic moment for her surely – and for us as we watched her briefly before we moved on.
I could relate to the way the lady was expressing herself. I have done that many times: I have cried at Baba temples, or at other places of worship, or when I have found myself in a private, intimate moment with nature. I have cried whenever I have felt lost, helpless and clueless about how to deal with some situations in Life. My belief that there is a Higher Energy, an inscrutable divinity that shapes our lives, led me to places of worship back then. And while there my form of prayer was to surrender to this Higher Energy. I would acknowledge my “smallness” and accept that I didn’t know what to do and offer myself to be led – by time and by my faith that if I have been created I will be looked after and cared for. The Hindu scriptures talk of this concept too and call it saranagati – total surrender. I have intuitively learnt to surrender myself. This has not always helped me find solutions to my problems but has always helped me find and retain my inner peace. I don’t visit places of worship necessarily to pray – or to surrender – anymore, because I have learnt to live – celebrate, pray, surrender – in the moment! The guiding principles of my Life are the two words that Sai Baba taught the world: Shraddha/Faith – keep the faith that you will be provided for and shown the way; and Saburi/Patience – trust the process of Life.
I have come to believe that when you don’t know what to do in Life you must do what you can do. And one thing you can always do is to allow yourself to be shown the way, to be guided and led, by Life. It is perfectly okay if you don’t have solutions to some of the problems you are faced with. Just trust that Life will, over time, solve your problems for you or point you in the direction of solutions. As you let go, surrender to Life’s compassion. Indeed given the tough situations and contexts that Life may place you in, you may think that Life is harsh and cruel. But no, Life’s really very compassionate. Because you have always got and you will always get what you need even if you get it from unexpected quarters or through unconventional, unpredictable means. To let go and surrender, choose your own way to express yourself. If you feel like praying, pray. If you feel like crying, cry. If you feel like stepping away from whatever is making you frustrated and unhappy, step away. Basically, when you feel overwhelmed by a Life situation, let Life take over and you simply go with the flow.
The way to live through a crisis is to engage with the NOW
When you don’t know what to do, allow Life to take over!
Often Life will push you to the edge of a precipice. You will not know what to do. Fear then is a natural response. But the way to overcome fear is not to avoid it. But to feel it and face it.
What is fear telling you? It reminds you how horrifying the situation is. And it tricks you to respond to such a situation intellectually. But the very fact that you are on the edge, at Life’s mercy, is a sign that your intellect has not worked. Because, had it worked, you wouldn’t be this way, in this place, at this moment! So please don’t intellectualize any grave situation. Please don’t respond with guilt either. ‘I caused this mess’, ‘I hate myself’ or ‘I am bad’ are wasted responses. Poor self-esteem cannot help you overcome a tough situation. And fear solves no problem; it, in fact, compounds a problem.
When you have tried everything, every solution and every approach, and when nothing seems to work, when Life’s become chaotic and turbulent, just sit back, relax and let Life take over. You must understand that you don’t necessarily have to know how to solve each problem that you are faced with. Know that Life is all powerful – more intelligent than you are. So, let Life handle situations that you don’t know how to handle.
No matter what your situation may be, remember, the simplest and easiest way to live through a crisis is to just be engaged with the present, with the NOW. Because a crisis anyway means all else is already lost or is being lost. So, prudence demands that we live with what is left, which is the present moment!