Power to Choose

Being a parent is never easy. While you can afford to make wrong choices for yourself and take responsibility for your actions, you can never afford to go wrong when forming the million impressions on the mind of your child. For it is these impressions which more or less will form their character as they grow up. 

My latest dilemma stems from a situation at school. Each new day at school brings home a new story to be told. This boy threw water at me, that girl punched me, that boy hit me with his water bottle, and some boy pushed me while I was standing in line. In all stories there are some things which are common – I didn’t do anything to ask for this, I am terribly injured by this action and Yes, I told the teacher and she didn’t do anything.

While she is not complaining and I know it is nothing serious, yet I sense the need for a solution for these daily problems. The choices seem simple –

1. Follow restraint – It is not good to hit others. If someone hits you and acts bad, it doesn’t mean that you should act bad too. Ignore them and move on. I am sure they didn’t mean to hurt you on purpose.

2. Eye for an eye – If someone hits you, go hit them back. You are strong and you can show your power. Once they know what they are up against, they will never try and harm you again.

Both these choices are right and will stand good in the world of today. The question then is – which one do you recommend to your child? Of course both options come with their side effects –

1. She might be branded as a softie and will continue to get hurt because others will think they can hurt her and get away with it.

2. She can be branded as a bully herself and get reprimanded by teachers, principal and the society.

After thinking about it for a long time, I realized before my daughter reacts to the situation, she needs to be aware that she posses a strong, fundamental power within her. This power is not the power of strength, her Takewondoo belts give her but this power comes from the knowledge that she has a choice she can make. I call this power – The Power of Choice. She can choose to ignore or she can choose to punch the teeth out of anyone she wants. I am pretty sure she is physically and mentally capable of achieving both. Once she realizes she has the power to choose, she will no longer feel the victim in the situation and will be able to stand up and react to the situation not the way I want her to but the way she decides fit.

Since each situation whether at school, on the road or at home is bound to be unique and in all likelihood she will be in the situation alone herself, the sooner she learns to make her own choices and learn from them, the stronger her power will become. Amen!

Shuffle it Up!

I am officially a walkoholic! Can’t go to sleep without wishing the dust, the road and the breeze good night. My music has always given me good company in my expeditions but having heard the same set a trillion times now, I was getting really hard to please. I tried new downloads, even tried getting used to Telugu radio, but nothing could last more than a few days. 

Just when I had almost resigned to giving up on my favorite companion, I discovered the feature – ‘Shuffle’. Since I have started using this feature, my walking life has transformed. I have been enjoying the same set of music (shuffled up) for more than 6 months now. 

One day, I wondered how a simple feature like that could make a transformation happen. The only thing Shuffle actually does is remove the predictability of what song was coming up and the genre of that song. I used to think, humans like predictability. In fact we spend so much time in putting systems and processes (both at home and work) to ensure that life is predictable. Then how come randomness seems so appealing?

I realized, not only humans but nature by its own virtue strives on a combination of randomness and predictability. While the seasons pretty much follow the same cycle, the duration, the intensity and the timing of each season always varies. In fact, nature also likes to surprise us all the time. That is what adds excitement to life. 

While we humans still have to work Monday – Friday and work harder over weekends, I am sure we can add enough randomness in the smaller elements of our life and keep that freshness alive.While predictability works well when we are striving for results, randomness works better to make the journey towards the results more fun! 

Bandh for Bomb Blast

Toyna: Mama why is it a holiday in school today?
Mama: Because there were bomb blasts in the city yesterday and some people are trying to say it is not right. So they did a bandh. Bandh means that no school, offices or shops are open.
Toyna: But how will a bandh help?
Mama: I am not sure I can explain.
Mama (thinking) : An 8 year old can understand there is nothing to be gained by these bandhs, but our senior 70 year old experienced politicians don’t seem to get it.

Love Me for a Reason

We recently completed 10 years of married life and I have been itching to write about it. Anyone who is or has been married even once, would know that marriage is the most complex relationship. All other relationships are either tied by blood, or have the freedom to walk out easily when things get rough, but marriage is different from all of them. Our marriage has been no different and hence it took me a long time to put my thoughts together on it. 

To start with, we had a love marriage, in an age, where it was not very common. Both side of parents graciously accepted and we landed together under the same roof having no clue about relationships. All we had common in between then (and now) is immense love for each other. Since then, we have been on a roller coaster of emotions and have survived without killing each other. At the same time, as we put each new misunderstanding behind us, our respect for each other has grown immensely. 

In difficult times, I have many times questioned, why the hell did I have to love him of all the people. Was it looks, was it the mind, was it the money/education/the family/the heritage or was it the fact that there were three other girls fighting for his attention? What was it that made me take the big leap? Honestly, I never found a reason why I fell in love with him and having known him for 13 years now, I still don’t know. 

In a way, I am glad not having the answer. If there was one reason to love him, the love would be dependent on that reason. Good looks, intelligence, money, compassion, passion, heritage are all so transient and can disappear in seconds. I would never want our love to be based on any one or a combination of them. The best thing is, I know he has also never found (perhaps he didn’t even question) the reason why he fell in love with me.

So having completed ten years of marriage (which qualifies me as the expert on marriage/love) my one tip for those trying to find their true love –  “Love thy for a reason, let the reason be love.”

Purpose of Life

I was fortunate to be part of a great session with a spiritual guru and have had quite a few takeaways over the last few days. I am sure some or most of them will figure in this blog sometime. However, this one stands at the top of my head right now because most of us have at some time asked this question and the answer provided by Sadhguru was truly profound.

Question: What is the purpose of my life?

Answer: We try and find a purpose to our lives when we think our life in its current form is not worthwhile. We are unhappy with what we are doing, or where we are headed and hence we try and find a purpose to be alive. The true purpose of life is to be 100% alive at all given times. If one is truly alive, we will never find the need for this question. To be 100% alive means to be completely conscious about your life and respond to it, actively, making the best possible decisions for yourself. If we are passive about life, thinking someone else is driving it for us, we will always try and predict where he is trying to take us.

Enjoy the Journey

I was out on a long drive today, a long list of to do items in my head and my favorite music on the air. I was in no hurry to get anywhere fast and was thoroughly enjoying the drive in the light traffic and the warm sun. 

Suddenly a large white van started honking from behind trying to find a way to get ahead. I was myself stuck in between some cars and had no option but to continue driving where I was. I tried to ignore the honking, but it got to me in some time. As he literally pushed some cars out of the way and cursed loudly at some others, I started feeling the blood rising in my head. I too started speeding trying to make sure he realized something… (looking back, I can’t even recollect what I was trying to make him realize).

Anyhow, after 2 mins of racing between cars and feeling the adrenal rushing, I suddenly realized I had lost all of the following – the song that was playing, the warm sunny afternoon and the happy mood that I was in. It then struck me, that I was being extremely foolish to get caught up in a speed chase, when I had nothing to gain at the end of it, but a lot of things that I could lose. 

As I slowed down, I realized life was also pretty much like driving a car. Even though we might not be in a rush to get anywhere fast, the entire traffic around us, forces us to pick up speed, run and push each other along the way. I wondered, what was the point of rushing through life, when in the process we lose the happiness of the journey itself? The end goal might be glittering in diamonds but it can never be more precious than the entire journey that brought us to it. What I learnt today – Drive slow, drive safe and remember to enjoy the journey!

Picture Abhi Baaki Hai Mere Dost

Born into a highly talented, creative and artistic family, I always considered myself a misfit whose handwriting was pathetic and who could never draw a single straight line, leave alone landscapes, portraits or fashion designs. In addition, I sucked at any sport you could name and got the worst grades in ENGLISH! My future to me seemed extremely bleak in those days and I had quite honestly resigned myself to live a life in the shadows of my extremely talented present and future family (if there was to be any).

Since those days, I gave up trying my hand at any sport, never bought a pack of colors or brushes, and tried to make myself happy juggling with numbers (maths) instead of words. As my daughter grew, all the past life nightmares slowly entered back into my life. There were colors all over the place, all sort of sports paraphernalia in the home, in all imaginable shapes and sizes and “I” still an alien amidst all of them.

One school project after another, forced me to give up my fears and discover how to use brushes, paints and chart papers. And to my wonderful surprise, I was quite decent in putting them together. At least I can proudly say, I was not amongst the worst out there. Similarly, one office assignment after another, and I developed a flair for writing. A little bit of encouragement from friends and colleagues and now I can even dream of becoming a successful writer one day.  

The point of this blog is – Life has a slow and surprising way of growing onto us. What we thought impossible to achieve one day, becomes possible one day, without us even knowing about it. I don’t know how it happens, but I just know it does. All we need to do is keep hoping and keep trying. In the process, sometimes our worst nightmares become our biggest dreams (writing for instance, for me).

It is completely OK if we continue to suck at some things still (sports in my case). There will be a day when we won’t, and if we still haven’t gotten to them, then I would think that it is not the end of life as yet “picture abhi baaki hai mere dost”. 🙂

The First Day of the Month

Ever since I started working, I have always looked forward to the first day of every month. Quite obviously, the reason for the excitement is that we receive our salaries on this day. It used to be measly amounts initially, often handed over in cash. Over the years, the amounts grew and got  added directly to my bank balance. The excitement associated with this day, nonetheless remained pretty much the same over the years.

Now we have our own business, office and team and the first day of the month means responsibilities to ensure all payments are released on time. Honestly speaking, my salary hardly ever gets processed on the first day as there are always many more priorities to review and close on this day. However, the surprising bit is that I am much more excited about the first now than I was ever before. It gives me an immense sense of satisfaction and achievement to be able to provide for the team. As the team grows, their salaries/bonus increase, the satisfaction only increases. Of course, it is the hard work of the entire team that culminates to this day but I am sure none of them (except for the CEO) feel the same excitement as I do.

We often think that achieving money, power, status in life would make us happy. The funny reality of life is that we don’t get as much happiness by accumulating things for ourselves as we get by providing the same to others. In fact the joy of providing is no where comparable to the joy of receiving. It doesn’t pain me one bit to take a lesser salary, later in the month, because I have already achieved the satisfaction of providing for the entire team, at the start of the month. I understand now, why fathers (at least in India) feel thrilled about taking family responsibility, why CEOs of successful corporations are so humble and why shopping gives women such a high. It is all about providing for the family, the employees and the economy!  🙂