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Saturday, May 10, 2014

A lesson from a pavement dweller – Life’s beautiful despite the scars

Make the most of your imperfect Life. Accept it, celebrate it and you will find that it is perfect, after all!

We often look for our lives to be perfect. We keep searching for what we don’t have and, often, in the bargain, miss out on living the Life we already have. Sometimes, people, through their own stories, teach us how to live with the imperfect, and still make the experience memorable!  

Maria: Gritty
Picture Courtesy: New Indian Express/Internet
Maria, a 19-year-old pavement dweller in Chennai, is one of them. Today’s ‘New Indian Express’ recounts her gritty story. She was forced to give up school after class 8, was married off, became a widow soon after, and lost her doting father too – all in a period of a little over a year. She had to sell all kinds of knick-knacks at traffic signals on the streets of Chennai to provide for her mother and two siblings. But thanks to the Suyam Charitable Trust, she enrolled for her 10th Boards as a private candidate and cleared it two years ago. Then the Trust helped her join the Perambur Higher Secondary School for her +2. She finished her 12th Boards this week with a flourish – scoring 890 on 1200! All this, while she lived her other Life on the pavements and earned a living at traffic signals. Maria is now the first girl from the pavement dweller community from Chennai to have ever completed Higher Secondary grade. She says she wants to either become a nutritionist or get a nursing degree. She told ‘NIE’s’ Jonathan Ananda: “…come what may, I will get my family out of here.”

Maria’s story resonates with the Japanese philosophy of ‘kintsugi’. ‘kintsugi’ or ‘kintsukuroi’ is the Japanese art of fixing broken pottery with lacquer resin, dusted or mixed with silver, gold or platinum and understanding that the piece is more beautiful for having been broken. As a philosophy ‘kintsugi’ is known to have similarities with the Japanese concept of ‘wabi-sabi’ – which means embracing the flawed or the imperfect. ‘kintsugi’ also relates to the Japanese philosophy of ‘no mind’ or ‘mushin’ which means non-attachment, acceptance of change and fate as inevitable aspects of human Life. ‘kintsugi’ celebrates this spirit of acceptance, of making do and working and living with what is – understanding that the scars of Life cannot be undone. But you go on and rebuild with what is left, with what you have. Maria personifies this spirit – turning out, as she has, more beautiful and stronger from the experience she is going through!

That’s the key learning here. No matter what’s broken about your Life, no matter how dark the night is, no matter how incredible your situation may be, pick up the threads each day, and go on weaving. Your Life may never play out the way you planned it. But what is evolving, the way your Life is unfolding, despite your circumstances, despite the scars, is still beautiful and is really the Life that is ordained for you! Amidst all the perceived imperfection lies your perfect Life.

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