So what did 2015 teach you? Was it a nondescript breeze with minor nips or did it change the way you moulded yourself and fit into life. I like to believe I learn at least something every year. I am not talking about professional profit and loss management strategies here. But the bigger picture. Yes, that all-consuming pair of words—life lessons.
It somehow makes the aging process easier to accept. 😀 A life well spent is the justification, even if when walking through the passages of time life does not seem to have any concrete value apart from a few good laughs or a heavy heart.
I have, above all, realized not every lesson needs to be learnt firsthand! Thank god for that at the risk of sounding callous and selfish. Some can be learnt from sneak peeks which are amplified in other people’s lives. But, some lessons are not so kind and knock us over to reveal to us our real selves in all our human beauty and ugliness. What we do with what we find out is also a lesson.
A recurring strand is that they answer, to some degree or the other, the questions I keep facing within and outside of me, and how to find harmony without escaping into blame games or some religious or new age dogma and set of prescribed rituals and beliefs.
Don’t get me wrong. I do believe in my God—He and I are the best of friends; we talk everyday and I tell Him everything. But I am in no doubt He expects me to use my head and heart, or else would not have given them to me in the first place. 🙂
The below three is what 2015 taught me: Some through rather gory knocks and some through short struggles overcome by learning from other people’s inspiring lives. Read on.
Loyalty is my default state. I could not cheat on a man or at a work place even if I wanted to, for I would not know how to do it. Though it sounds fantastically noble what it really translates to is it has led me to being stuck in a series of dead personal and work relationships where I ceased to grow.
This year I learnt to ask myself what “I“, and this is an I in bold and capital letters, wanted in each and every relationship and space. And if these were not being met, instead of being bitter and unhappy, I chose to leave. It was OK. I was not generating bad karma.
My sister, Anika, wrapped it up most beautifully this Christmas holidays with one simple word: “Next.” When something does not and cannot work, move on. Tell yourself, Next. Next client, next business partner, next buddy, next tall dark and handsome, next solitude. The universe is full of billions of people and opportunities, including one’s own space and oneself. Give the universe a chance to meet your needs. Move on.
A couple of months ago, I had the opportunity of listening to some amazing people at an ExpressO Talks event organized by my friend Shivani. Two stood out.
Sapna Bhavnani, gang raped at gun point in Chicago at 24 and a victim of domestic abuse in India, chose to stay silent on both counts. She explained, “I had no desire to be seen as a hero because bad stuff had happened to me” and went on to rebuild a life replete with what she wanted to do. Today she is an actor, artist, writer, director, producer, entrepreneur and activist.
The second was Sharmila Divatia, Associate VP at an IT company who got to where she is despite a four-week coma in 1970 which led to speech, vision, and limb paralysis and 20 years of therapy. She lives on her own in Bombay, goes trekking, is a hockey player, has done her MBA and MSc, contributes regularly to policymaking initiatives for the disabled, and parties every weekend.
What they both had in common was their focus on building on their blessings. That is all it took for them to create fantastic lives. I am rather ordinary in comparison. But every day I now choose how I want to use my limited energy kitty for the day. Mope or build.
This is for all us middle children who have the middle child syndrome. Being a middle child made me grow up with a million chips on my shoulder and on perpetual competition mode for my parent’s affection. When I was two, I am told I traipsed around the house saying Rama bhi achchi hai [Rama is also good].
This carried on through childhood, teenage years and adulthood, where I often found myself competing for affection, and not understanding why.
No, it was not a shrink or some life coach who enlightened me at last, this year. It was Google, some feni in Goa, and deep moments of solitude walking on Bandstand which helped me understand where my shaky self-esteem was coming from. The bad guy was the middle child syndrome. Grrrr. And once I knew, it was easy to make the switch.
Every time I now catch myself thinking Rama bhi achchi hai or a thought which is on similar competitive lines laced with envy, I drop the bhi [also]. I immediately find myself free for I no longer see myself in context with another. It is just me. I am neither better nor worse. I am me, and there is no one out there like me.
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The above may seem pretty basic to some of you, but it took me over half my lifetime to reach them. 😛 As 2015 ends, I wonder what life lessons 2016 will bring. But, hey, bring them on—I am ready for the next level in the school of life. I am what they call a mature student: rather late to join, but super eager to learn 😉