Life is a “Limited Period” Offer! Hurry!!! Offer open only until Life lasts!!!!

Beware: If you don’t live the Life that you want to live, you may not get a second chance!
Mishra: the tea leaf plucker in Assam
Mishra: the “sevak” at the Golden Temple

This morning’s ‘The Indian Express’ (TNIE) has a fascinating story. The headline screams: “In pursuit of happiness former techie does 28 jobs in 28 states in 28 weeks”. Alexina Correya reports from Kochi that Jubanashwa Mishra, 29, a former engineer with Tata Consultancy Services in Chennai, decided to “seek what gave him joy”. So, he quit his “stable, paying job” and set up a website ( ) announcing his plan to travel all over India, across the 28 states, working at a new job each week, over 28 weeks between May and December 2013. He invited prospective employers to donate the wages due to him to an NGO he supports, Goonj ( ). He actually pulled off this incredible idea! He says he was inspired by Vancouver-based Sean Aiken who did 52 jobs over 52 weeks across North America in 2008. Mishra says Sean’s struggle to answer the question “What should I do with my Life?” got him (Mishra) thinking too. He told TNIE’s Correya that he has worked as a tea leaf plucker in Assam, as an emotional support consultant in Karnataka, as a hardware store assistant in Nagaland, as a photographer in Haryana, as a river rafting guide in Kashmir, as a groundnut/sundal seller in (Chennai) Tamil Nadu, as a cremation assistant in (Varanasi) Uttar Pradesh, as a contraception campaigner in rural Bihar, as a mountain garbage remover in Himachal Pradesh, as a pre-school teacher in Andhra Pradesh, as a film executive in a Bollywood production in (Mumbai) Maharashtra, as a TRP analyst in Odhisha, as a house boat driver in Kerala, as a strategist at a construction firm in Madhya Pradesh and as a sevak (volunteer) at the Golden Temple (Amritsar) in Punjab, among many other jobs! (See some great pictures in UK’s Daily Mail here  Daily Mail Jubanashwa Mishra Story) Mishra says parents put undue pressure on their children to follow the beaten path of securing an engineering or medicine degree. He says he too was “living someone’s else’s dream” until he decided to follow his own. Mishra says he has discovered that people who live their passion are the happiest. He told TNIE that he found his stint as a pre-school teacher in Andhra Pradesh the most “fulfilling” and plans to take it up full-time. He is currently writing a book on his 28-week experience and is also a motivational speaker.

Mishra: the “verkadalai-sundal” seller in Chennai

Mishra’s story and experience is as engaging as it is inspiring. Surely several of us would like to experience Life to the fullest – trying out different things like Mishra did and then choosing what gives us joy. But parental pressures, financial considerations, the responsibility of raising a family or societal influences prevent us from taking the first step. But if you, like Sean, ask yourself “What do I want to do with my Life?” – the answer can have a profound impact on what you “really” want to do. It is a Life-changing question.

There are no compulsions to live Life the Mishra way though. Or even live it any one way. It’s a free Life. You can even choose to ignore this opportunity called Life and be content with “earning a wage while doing a job”. But please be content and be happy. Don’t complain then that you had to make sacrifices for your family. Or that you are not happy in your career. To find fulfilment in whatever you do you must either love what you do or do what you love. It’s as simple as that. Hope you make an intelligent choice. Because you live only once – and remember, the offer of this lifetime is closing fast, faster than you can even imagine!

Pictures Courtesy: Jubanashwa Mishra/Internet

Life always gives you what you need

Life’s pretty amazing! It may not always give you what you want, but none of what you need is ever denied!  

This is true for each one of us. Irrespective of who we are and what we are going through.
A lot has been talked, in the past week, about Prithvi Shaw, the 15-year-old batting prodigy from Mumbai. There have been comparisons to Sachin Tendulkar’s brilliance and origins as Shaw amassed a mind-boggling 546 runs off 330 balls in the Harris Shield tournament. The media has gone ga-ga over this boy wonder. But one story in The New Indian Express yesterday, by sports writer Sandip G, caught my attention. It talked about Shaw’s background.

Sandip wrote about Prithvi Shaw: “His mother died when he was four. Soon, his father, Pankaj, a small-time readymade garment retailer, fell on hard times. By this time though, Prithvi was already regaling his neighbors with his batting. ‘Even when he was only six, he used to play better than bigger boys. Whenever he used to bat, neighbors used to flock to the maidan,’ recollected his father Pankaj, who still escorts him to and from Bandra. But the more Prithvi’s talent manifested, the tougher his father found it to sustain his son’s ambitions. ‘I was about to close down my business and I didn’t even have money to buy him a bat. I didn’t know what to do,’ Prithvi’s father said. Luckily though, former English county cricketer Julian Wood chanced upon him and convinced the (local) MIG Club to induct him. Three years later, former Indian spinner Nilesh Kulkarni spotted him and signed him up for his sports management firm for Rs 3 lakh a year. Another well-wisher gifted him an apartment in Santa Cruz.”

Shaw’s story reinforces a truism about Life. Not knowing what to do in Life, as Pankaj Shaw has confessed, is a great state to be in! That let-go is what Life requires from you in order for it to give you what you need. I have found this particularly true in my Life. Whenever I have reached a state of being clueless, and helpless, I have always found people walking into my Life, on their own at most times, and offering to support me and my family. One moment I would see no way ahead in a Life-and-death situation. My Life would be surrounded by total darkness. And in the next moment, I have found myself soaked in abundance and the milk of human kindness. This has happened again and again and again. When I connect the dots backward, as Steve Jobs famously said, I have found that Life gives you all that you need, when you let go! I have realized that miracles happen to you not because you pray hard or your faith is stronger but they happen because at one level you are a miracle yourself and, at another level, you need a miracle to move forward in Life!

It’s a beautiful Life really. You and I make it miserable by wanting it to be different from what it is. Drop all your wanting. It’s perfectly alright to not know what to do with your Life or in it! Let go! And, magically, you will find that Life manifests the right people, the right connections, the right situations, which will take you onward, giving you all that you need! You cannot live your entire lifetime in one nanosecond or moment. Life’s moves from moment to moment. Living Life, one moment at a time, savoring what you have, without question, without resistance, will always lead you to whatever you need.

Parenting ‘young adults’: Know when to let go!

The much-publicized showdown (this has been covered extensively by the media in Chennai) between celebrated Tamil film director Cheran and his daughter Damini, over Damini’s choice of a Life partner, leaves us with very significant questions that, I am sure, are on the mind of every parent who has a young adult at home waiting to make Life choices. The questions are:
  •     How much parental control is right and necessary in helping “young adult” children make Life choices, especially with regard to their companions?
  •      What does a parent do when the young adult child is, at least in the eyes of the parent, committing a mistake, virtually hara-kiri?
  •      What must be done when parents and young adult children can’t understand each other anymore?

The New Indian Express: Aug 4 2013
But first, let’s quickly review the Cheran-Damini context. Damini says she wants to marry and live with her boyfriend Chandru, who was an apprentice in Cheran’s office. She has complained to the Chennai Police Commissioner that her father used goons to harass Chandru and even had him roughed up on a few occasions. Cheran, on the other hand, has clarified that he is not against his daughter choosing her Life companion but is against her relationship with Chandru, whose character, says Cheran, is “not very good”.

Prima facie, both father and daughter appear to be right in looking at things the way they are, from where each of them is seeing it! Damini believes in Chandru implicitly. And Cheran refuses to. Possibly Cheran has his own valid reasons – because he’s looking at Chandru as a parent and not as a lover. So, he’s seeing something that Damini, at this time, given her age and her limited exposure, is not seeing. Now, the best way forward for both parties is to let go. First for Cheran to let go and accept that his daughter is now a young adult, who cannot and must not be controlled. And, next, for Damini to appreciate that her father is no villain and only wants her not to be hurt in the future, if her choice of being with Chandru, does not work out for whatever reason.

Fundamentally, we parents must accept and appreciate that our children have very different and unique Life paths from our own. Just because something happened to us, it is not necessary that the same will happen to our children. So, let go of that anxiety or expectation – whichever way you are looking at things. Especially when dealing with young adults__irrespective of the legal definition, any child over 16 years of age, per me, qualifies for this classification__employ a simple process (that will address, among other things, the three questions that were raised above) in all matters where conflicting viewpoints emerge:
  •      Advise – First attempt advise. Share your Life experience with regard to the context on hand. Place both pros and cons. Transparently. Calmly. Enable informed and intelligent choice-making by your child.
  •      Champion – When you notice that your child persists with a choice that you don’t agree with, invite the child for another round of conversations. Don’t reprimand. Remember: each individual is adventurous in her or his own way. Your child perhaps loves experimenting. Don’t restrain that spirit. Instead, champion your school of thought, calmly, with compassion. Outline where the child’s choice will end up, according to you, should the child insist on walking down that path. Always remind the child that if she or he fails, she or he is “welcome” back home anytime.
  •      Let Go! – When you still don’t see your child picking up your sage counsel, simply let go! Keep an open mind. Wish your child well. Be open to you being wrong with your assumptions. Because ultimately, it is your child’s happiness that you want. And not wanting to prove your correctness or yourself right!
  •      Never say ‘I told you so!’ – Should the child’s gambit fail, and she or he has to come back to you, simply receive her or him unconditionally. Don’t rub it in. Don’t say “I told you so!”. This is not an ego battle that you have won. Your child is back with you only because she or he realizes the mistake. Celebrate that learning, so that the mistake is not repeated, with care and compassion.

This process works fine in any context. Whether your child has a problem with academics or alcohol or tobacco or relationships or values. This process, above all, ensures peace and harmony while dealing with different approaches to Life and wherever conflicting views, between parent and child, emerge on Life choices being made.

I have learned from Life that there is no right way or wrong way to live Life. Each of us has our own journeys, peppered with our own unique experiences that lead us to our own personal learnings. The most important aspect of parenting is to know when to advise and when to let go. To be sure, by letting go, you are not being irresponsible. In fact, you are being mature – because you are preserving decorum and harmony in the relationship with your “young adult” child. The world is already ridden with enough strife and misunderstandings. Surely, you don’t want your small world too to be torn asunder by the same factors. Each of us learns to live Life more from experience than from being told how to live it! So, this Friendship Day, choose to be your “young adult” child’s best friend! Simply enable her or his learning too by letting go and, if required, getting out of the way!