Befriending Jealousy

                The other day while I was getting into my shoes to go for my evening walk, my teenage son asked if he could join me. I happily welcomed him and we both set off. For a while,  we talked of routine stuff, his studies, college friends, food, his new haircut. But I could sense that there was something more he wanted to discuss. It was not usual for him to take a walk with me, as he found walking very slow and sedentary, very “oldie kinda concept”, in his own words. I played along gently, giving him the comfort to open up and talk about the thing that was bothering him. 

Finally he asked, ” Ma, how does one handle jealousy?” I took a few deep breaths as I processed his question in my mind, smiled inwardly that it was not such a catastrophe I had been bracing myself for and decided to share my wisdom and understanding of this concept called jealousy.

Jealousy is a relative of envy, I said. Very often, when you see something in another person, which you want to have, but don’t, you feel envious. You unconsciously wish you had it too. After a while, you forget about it and move on to other things, busy in your own life. But, sometimes, you cannot forget and move on. Its absence in your life begins to bother you . It continues to bother you and the botheration becomes so acute that you decide to rid the other person of its joy. You could have focused on developing that quality in you, but you take the easier option.

So, my son, I said, the only way to handle jealousy is to improve your quality even more! Rise higher and do better. It is the should be the fuel for you to raise the bar and enhance your skills! So, actually, your friend’s jealousy towards you can be turned to your advantage! He gave a nod and from his smile I could understand that he could see a path ahead. He gently squeezed my hand and said, “Let me race to the end of the track!” Before I could protest, he sprinted off on the track!!

 

 

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Lesson from a Bottlebrush

       There is a bottle-brush tree in front of my terrace. I see it everyday when I wake up. Its been looking back at me for the last twelve years that I have been here. 

Every day, it keeps swaying with the breeze, its leaves doing a tango to the kiss of of the cool air beneath them. Every few months, it looks a little taller than it was. It surely grows tall and straight, and FAST!

     As i looked at it this evening, I realized something I had not noticed in all these years we spent together, looking at each other and silently speaking to each other. I realized that as the wind gets stronger, it bends more. Once the wind stops,there it is again; tall and straight. 

     So, what’s special? The quality of the tree to bend and let the wind pass, and still remain intact. Someone might say that it bends each time the wind touches it! I would say, it is this quality of the bottle-brush which lets it hold its ground and keep standing tall, long after the wind has died down. 

    Its as if the tree has been telling me everyday that bending is  not losing, its adapting; and adapting will make you stronger, hold on to your roots and withstand the pressures around you.

     Such a singular lesson and it took me twelve long years to understand!

How deep is your love?

               This morning, I was waiting impatiently at a rd signal, tapping my fingers on the steering wheel and idly glanced outside the car window.  Sitting on old, worn out plastic chairs, soaking the early morning sun and sipping tea was a couple in the sunset years of their lives. they did not look anything out of the ordinary, the numerous such people one passes by everyday and doesn’t even notice. Except that this couple was different. It was in their eyes, in their smiles, in their manner, in the aura they exuded. As the old lady sipped from her cup, the old man looked at her with complete adoration, with pride and devotion. He could not see the wrinkles around her mouth, or the bags under her eyes.  He did not seem to notice her thinning, grey hair or her trembling hand. He saw, the beautiful, youthful, lively young girl he had fallen in love with, so many years ago….. and his look said that for him, time had stood still. He seemed not to notice any of the signatures left on her person by time, only remembering the fact that she was the love of his life and she was by his side, even today.

       I smiled to myself. Was it possible for eyes to speak so much?  Was it possible for a smile to convey so many emotions? Yes, I had heard it all, understood it all, in just the few seconds that I had been waiting at the signal. The woman turned to the man, saw the look of pure love, reached out her trembling hand to pat his cheek and smiled back, in acknowledgement. Her simple gesture conveyed the depths of her emotions in equal measure. She sat quietly, smiling to herself, basking in the warmth of love, glowing with the knowledge that she meant the world to someone and was blessed to have him by her side, to be able to share her life with him.

As the cars behind me began to blow their horns, I realized that the lights had turned green. I gave the couple one last look and pressed the accelerator. But the memory of the couple would be etched in my mind forever, a memory to be treasured, to be pulled out when wondering about true love and how deep is love….. certainly its much deeper than the skin!!!  

 

 

Alone in a crowd

It was the tea break in college, students were pouring onto the corridors and staircases, wanting to rush to the canteen or ground,  catch up with friends, make phone calls, update fb status or hundreds of other reasons…. As I ran up the last flight of steps to the staff room, I saw a girl sitting on the steps, stooped shoulders, arms hugging her knees and looking out the window. As I passed her by, I happened to glance at her and our eyes met. The  pain in her tear filled eyes, wrenched my heart out. I stopped, touched her head and asked if she was alright. She nodded, unable to speak. I asked again if there was anything she wanted to talk or if I could help in any way. She shook her head, took a deep breath and once again looked out. Two tears rolled down her cheeks. I waited, debating whether to sit down or walk away, allowing her the privacy of her thoughts. I looked around, searching for someone who would show recognition to her and come over. None came. It stuck me as so odd that the corridor and staircase was bustling with students but yet, this girl was sitting alone, all by herself in the midst of this crowd. People were walking past her yet none seemed to notice her, none stopped to ask why there were tears in her eyes. She needed someone, yet she had refused to share with me, preferring to deal with her pain by herself. Right in the middle of the crowd, was a soul all by herself, needing someone, yet alone.

Why does this generation prefer to crawl into their shells when they are hurt, when they are low? All day, they live on facebook, sharing every minute of their routine, yet, none of those social media friends was there to wipe her tears or talk to her when she  needed company the most. Then i wondered if these children had been taught how to share their feelings, I mean their real, actual feelings. The ones that she was feeling at that moment, which could not be captured on selfie, could not be photo-shopped or edited, just felt and understood.living in the age of gadgets and technology, had they lost the habit of connecting with humans?  Much as I wanted to, I felt helpless, unable to lessen her sorrow. But her eyes haunted me all day, haunt me even today. It is not fair for such a young soul to feel such pain and be alone in that pain. We need to bring back our human side. We need to teach our children to connect to others at a deeper, more meaningful level, to be more human.

 

 

 

walking in the face of the storm

A few days ago, as I sat sipping my evening cup of tea, my daughter came home looking dejected, her shoulders slumped, her chin drooping down and her huge, black eyes brimming with unshed tears. One look at her and I knew she was making a huge attempt at being brave and holding back the tears. I smiled and opened my arms. She dropped her school bag and rushed to embrace me. Her little arms squeezing me so tightly, spoke of her torment within and her need for love and reassurance. i gently stroked her head, kept mumbling gently nonsense, as i did with her as a baby, and slowly, she began to relax. her arms loosened their grip and she let the tears flow. I stood, embracing her, giving her my strength and comfort. when I was certain that the tears had dried, I sat her down, gave her a glass of water and smiled. She was ready to talk.

Her question amazed me and set me thinking. She wanted to know how I deal with difficult times and situations when nothing is going right? When friends are jealous of me, my successes and keep trying to take digs at me. Let me tell you here that she has been an outstanding student in all her schooling years so far, winning the topper and best student awards, consistently. So jealousy was naturally to be expected from her friends. But seeing its impact on her, I realized that the matter needed serious thought.

As I ran through the million and one quips and quotes I could offer her, one image stuck in my mind. As a child, whenever it rained heavily and I couldn’t avoid going out on some errand or the other, I would pull up the raincoat’s collar, tighten the string of the hood, put my head down and walk… keep walking, unheeding the rain, the wind and the chill.

Yes, that is what I would tell her…. that image had always given me strength and courage to keep going, keep walking. I took her hand in mine and with a deep breath began narrating to her how I would go out and face the rain, the storm, yet do what task was given to me. I never refused to do a task just because of the rain. So, in life dificult situations are like the rain, the storm, it will keep coming as part of nature’s cycle. But it cannot be a show stopper for us. It cannot be that we stop doing what needs to be done, just because there is a storm. We just need to gear up with our raincoat, put our head down and keep walking…. keeping the eyes on the road, one step at a time. The storm is not the prime focus, the road is, it is important not to lose sight of the road, the storm will finish when it is done.

When I finished talking, she looked at me, smiled and said, “yes mama, we need a good raincoat and eyes on the road!” I smiled back at the gleam back in those luminous eyes.

 

Who is in control?

I have been very persistently making efforts for last good about  6 months now,  to find my dream job, wishing it, visualizing it, even seeing myself sitting in that chair, juggling figures on an excel sheet while barking orders on the phone! i have tried all possible ways to generate positive vibes and draw the job to me. Honestly, I don’t even recall the number of nights I spent thinking, wondering, hoping, praying, worrying. But, all to no avail. This evening as I set out for my evening jog,  I began to wonder who controls my life; is it me, my wishlist or a higher power? Do I drive the things happening in my life or am I driven by them. The realization shattered a long-held myth of mine, that I am in control of my life. I curiously explored this thought deeper. I am not able to control the situations from occurring in my life. I am only able to control my response to those situations. I can not pick and choose the people or happenings in my life; albeit, I can only choose how I can handle them, the best way I can. Only in that sense, I can be called the controller of my life. 

So, does that mean I should stop dreaming or wishing? Should I have no goals in life? Certainly not. It just means that I should pursue my goals with sincere, honest efforts. Results are out of my hand. These goals, wishes cannot be the reason I exist. A job is not the reason I exist. A promotion is not the reason I exist. And, these are not the reasons without which I shall perish. I live, simply because I am alive. Its the here and now, the heart beating inside, the rhythmic breathing, the strength in my legs, the glow of health on my face and a sense of peace in the heart. This is what I live for. And these are in my control! As long as the heart beats in its rhythm, as long as the peace fills my soul, as long as I can chin up and face another day, I am in control.

What defines us………

 

Whenever someone asks me to recollect some of the best moments of my life, this one stands out at the top of the list. It was a chilly November evening at Allahabad. The results had been announced just a couple of hours earlier and we had decided to step into town to celebrate. We were 6 girls, who had been shortlisted for the joining the Indian Army, from that batch of candidates.  I don’t think I walked that evening. I floated a foot above the ground. My step had a bounce, my swing had a swagger and my chest was pumped up! I felt I had conquered the tallest, most challenging peak of the world! That evening, the word “impossible” was non-existent. I looked at people walking around and smiled. I could push my body to limits they did not even know existed, I could race them and win effortlessly. I felt a warm glow of love for the whole mankind. I was in awe of my own self for this feat. I was skinnier than most girls there, had no background of sports or physical training. So what was it that helped me qualify? It is who I am. It is what defines me. No, not my body! It is the tiny mind and the thoughts in it that had led the body to deliver. The mind pumped the body to stretch itself, to perform all those tasks and do them better than others. It was the mind over the body that helped me succeed. In my mind, I had pictured each test and visualized myself completing it. Then the body would get into action and just play out the visual of the mind!

This simple formula of success has held me in good stead over the years, the mind over the body. The limits to the body are set by none other than our own selves. If we want to do more, we need to raise the limits and simply go for it!