Live celebrating the suchness of Life!
Here’s an interesting anecdote and a learning from my Life and from Jet Airways’ journey from glory to bankruptcy…
I used to be a Platinum Card member of the Jet Privilege Program of Jet Airways. And on the sheer quantum of JP Miles I had with them, I always flew free on Jet Premiere (Business Class); and all our family vacations for several years were got free on JP Miles!! Those were the days when Jet held the Gold Standard in Service Quality. They were truly world-class!!!
In November 2006, I made a significant complaint on a series of slips that I had begun to notice in their Service Quality standards. A gentleman called Vijay Sethi (an expert and Master in Service Quality/Customer Service/Relationships in his own right), who was heading Service Quality for Jet Ariways then, reached out to me. He said that their records revealed that I was one of their most frequent fliers – among the top Jet fliers in India! So, he requested me if I would be open to sharing my feedback live, at a meeting of their top management team in Mumbai.
I gladly agreed.
So, I was flown to Mumbai on Business Class and I met their 25+ top management, leadership team, including then CEO Wolfgang Prockshauer and COO Peter Leuthi.
It was a two-hour session and the team was amazed with my insights on how I felt Jet was beginning to lose focus of the very core of their existence – the Jet flier, their God, their guest! I pointed out, with relevant details, why the famed Jet Gold Standard was slipping and how their Yellow Rose (a branding device they had used through the first 10~15 years of their operations) was beginning to wither! Wolfgang, Peter and Vijay thanked me profusely for my feedback and perspectives and committed to revive the soul of the airline. Sadly, all three of them left Jet Airways, in different circumstances, in the next few years…and…we all know what happened with the Sahara acquisition and where Jet is today…
Interestingly, while searching for something else in my archives today, I stumbled upon these images, on a day when Jet has suspended operations.
But let me tell you…its perfectly okay to be down. Such is the process of Life. I talk from personal experience.
I, who flew so many air miles monthly, have been grounded for the past several years – including 2016, which was my flightless year (read my Blogpost here.); and Jet which was India’s premier airline is out of cash and grounded now….
But such is Life…what goes up will come down, and go up again, to come down again…Being down is a great humbling, learning, awakening experience…
There’s no point in grieving or losing sleep over the turn of the wheel of Life…instead celebrate Life’s suchness…
So, don’t hate it. Embrace it, celebrate it!
In response to my Blogpost yesterday, on what I took away from K.S.Narendran’s book – “Life After MH370”, a reader wrote to me saying he could relate to Naren’s sense of loss and loneliness. The reader, who is 60+, is estranged from his wife and his children are too busy with their own lives. He wrote, “I feel lonely and I feel isolated.” “How does one deal with being left behind, and with loneliness, when the world chooses to move on,” he asked.
That’s a very important question.
As I write this Blogpost, our daughter is preparing to leave for her Master’s Program overseas. Our son has been living abroad for over 9 years now. So, Vaani and I are getting to be empty nesters. I don’t think any amount of perspective is sufficient to deal with separations. When it happens, when the time comes, you do get weighed down by it. But if you are aware, if you understand what Life is all about, you simply learn to accept it and move on in your own way. And that’s what Vaani and I are learning to do.
It may appear that dealing with children going away to live their lives and dealing with a permanent loss or separation are two different things. But a sense of loneliness, of being left behind, is perhaps the same – no matter what the context.
I have realized that whoever we are and however closely we relate to our immediate circle of influence, we must prepare ourselves to experience loneliness. The nature of Life is such that people will come and go out of our lives. Whoever is in your Life will soon, some day, be out of it. While some people will stay temporarily and leave, some of them will stay for long and leave after making a significant impact on your Life. And some departures and separations may also well be permanent. Such is Life. There is no escaping this reality.
Intelligent living requires that we accept this suchness, this truth, about Life. This acceptance may not quiet help us avoid the pain of separation or help us escape the tyranny of loneliness, but it definitely will help us cope better. I remember this beautiful song Na Jaane Kyun from Choti Si Baat (1976, Basu Chatterjee, Vidya Sinha, Amol Palekar, Lata Mangeshkar, Yogesh, Salil Chaudhury) which talks of the pangs of separation poetically! But although the mind will protest and make it difficult for you to accept your “new normal” and move on, it is only acceptance that can aid in the process, that can heal you, that can help deal with the void in your Life. So when you feel lonely, accept that feeling unquestioningly. Also be understanding of your world, of the people around you – don’t complain if they get busy and leave you alone; they have their own lives to live!
Anything that you fight, anything that you resist, will persist. So, don’t fight your sense of loneliness. Embrace it and appreciate it as a non-negotiable reality. When you respect this reality you will realize the futility of clinging on to your past. If someone is dead, so it is. If someone’s left you, so it is. By clinging on to what is over, to however close the relationship may have been, you are only inviting unhappiness and suffering into your Life. So don’t wish that what is true about your Life is not true. The truth can never be untrue just because you don’t like it. Accept what is, feel your pain, feel your sense of loss, feel your loneliness, and also examine the futility of consistently, continuously, feeling this way. The moment you understand its futility, your loneliness will dissolve.
Bottomline: you came here alone and you will go alone from here. Your loneliness is an integral part of the suchness of Life. So, don’t hate it. Embrace it, celebrate it!