Sunday, December 25, 2011

Rain on the bus

Another arduous bus journey for a good reason. Sigh. It’s been the 5th in this month. I settled down to enjoy the solitude as the seat next to me was empty. The only company I had to myself now was the water bottle and the blanket to keep me warm through the night. Life goes on no matter what we wish for or against.

A drizzle began outside. Part of me wished I would feel the raindrops caress my face. Another part was thankful that I had taken a sealed bus. Sighing again, I rested my face against the window and saw life on the outside. The driver touched a few buttons on his huge cockpit, backed up and rumbled out on the arterial road to join the millions of people seeking their destinations. Some happy to get soaked, some irritated, some cowering under a tree.

I counted the drops as each trickled down the glass. The glare of the oncoming traffic made me squint. Like each breath of life, each light hearkened me to view a reflection of my face on the window. The rain drops fell like tears on my reflection. I squinted and saw the crow’s feet on my eyes. Indeed, the only thing certain in life is life itself, followed by age and ultimately death. We seek the middle path so much that we forget age and experience. We need to remind ourselves to enjoy every moment that we are here.

6.5 billion of us. No two with the same set of experience. We live through our experiences out of little choice. But the choice we do have is whether we embrace the learning out of each experience. For no one else can truly know what each of us go through. It is personal and affects us alone.

For unknown reasons, we always reminisce on our bitter or learning experiences. We dwell on them and some of us reach down to self-pity in the hope that soon all will be well. And it will. Yet others face their pain head-on and emerge stronger. But what we really need to know is that each bitter experience shears away a part of our ego and mind and creates a new facet in us. Nothing tears faster than sorrow. It is abrupt and goes to the heart. The following happy experiences polish the facet and show us the pain was worth it. But happy experiences are accepted as our birth right. We accept it with some vanity.

Throughout life, our interaction with scores of others creates us. Our attachments, detachments and letting go make us aware of who we are; if we look inside. The constant shearing and polishing of our ego gives us an ever-changing face. Most of us do not realize it but embracing our pain, sorrow and joy and learning from it reflects our true self when we look at our soul in the mirror to see the proof of pain before joy. Each one of us becomes what we always are inside……a diamond.

Saturday, December 03, 2011


Asterix and the Normans is a great comic book. It conveys humorously the meaning of the word courage. If you get your hands on this book, be sure to enjoy the thrashing and the message.

The Vikings were a very proud lot. They conquered so many lands violently and their way of celebration was to drink apple cider out of the skulls of their enemies. Such a race was portrayed as “Not knowing the meaning of fear”. But the Normans were actually a very brave lot as they fought for honor. They were more afraid of losing their honor than their lives.

To say the statement “I do not know the meaning of fear” actually means “Only fools rush in where Angels fear to tread”. For courage is always about overcoming your fear. When you stand at the edge of a cliff, you instinctively know you’ll die if you fall off. So not knowing and jumping off is stupidity as the fear never existed in the first place. Facing your fear after the sweat, the adrenaline pumping and then looking at your fear face to face to overcome it is courage.

Ask a rehabilitated drug addict about the meaning of fear. During rehabilitation, the body is made to slowly go through the withdrawal symptoms. The body craves for the drug and goes to a point of insanity after which it begins to slowly recover. This craving is so frightening that the addict feels he/she is going to die out of something horrible. But overcoming this needs willpower. And the fruits of the labor are a drug free individual who is never going to touch drugs for the rest of his/her life.

Giving up smoking is the same. Same for alcohol. People who have never smoked or been drunk or been addicted to any vices do not know the meaning of fear. Abstaining from them does not mean one is free of temptation. But it does imply that the person has perhaps more willpower.

However, true courage comes when one is able to be in the thick of things and still not let it become an addiction or let it affect you. Courage is after all the power of the mind over substance. Once the substance has taken over, the will is lost. Standing up to society for what you believe in is courage. Standing up for your own belief is courage. Accepting your weaknesses is courage. In each case, the fear of either dying or being ostracized is overcome.

Courage is not about reading and imagining the experience. It is about being in the thick of it, the motions, feeling the trepidation and then overcoming it. There is no substitute for the experience.