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Sunday, December 6, 2015

‘Tis time for rebuilding, renewal and revival

Life is a great leveler. At times you don’t have much choice but to just go with the hand that you have been dealt with.     

A Facebook and WhatsApp forward that was shared by my friend caught my attention. Here’s what it had to say.

(The typos are as in the original!)

Photo Courtesy: PTI/Internet
“I am prassana venkatram working as a system analyst for an American software company in Chennai. Presently drawing 18 lakhs P.A. proud owner of a 3BHK in suburbs of Chennai. Today I have 2 credit cards with more than 1 lakh credit limit and a bank balance of 65 thousand in my account. But due to heavy water logging I am not able to move out my house, all I need is water and food for my survival. Till yesterday I was worried about my appraisal and was expecting at least 15% hike but today I am standing in my terrace waiting for a food packet.
Nature is the best teacher.”

Prassana’s candor makes the learning he shares very stark, real and relatable. At least those in Chennai, at the moment surely, can relate to what he says.

Another story I saw in this morning’s TOI threw up a similar learning. It narrated the experience of Deepika from Mudichur (a Chennai suburb) who had to keep her 77-year-old father’s dead body in her home because the floods prevented freezer boxes from reaching her and even if she had managed to secure one, the whole idea was rendered useless with the lack of electricity. She kept the body wrapped in a bedsheet for 2 full days and nights as she waited for the water recede – she lit incense sticks from time to time to keep the foul odor at bay. “My father deserved better,” Deepika told TOI.  

Deservance is an aspiration that all humans have. You work hard, you are ethical, you are well-meaning and so you expect Life to be fair to you. You often always think you deserve more than what you are getting from Life. And then Life deals you a hand, catching you totally by surprise, reminding you in the process that Life happens not because of you, but in spite of you. If you are wise you will humbly accept the learning Life offers you through such an experience and move on. It is when you miss the learning, and choose to instead resist the Life that’s happening to you, that you suffer!

Prassana’s and Deepika’s stories are just two among the several million that you can hear from Chennaiites just now. And all of them will point you in one – only one – direction…just take Life as it comes, accepting it for what it is.

But there are many who simply don’t get this; they don’t understand Life.

Even as the floods were marauding Chennai, a friend pinged me on Facebook messenger. He observed: “I hope there’s no financial loss for you.” He didn’t appear to be interested in knowing if my family and I were safe. My reply to him was: “I have nothing material with me to lose.” Which is indeed true! Our 8-year-old-and-enduring bankruptcy has left us literally without material possessions. The few “things” we have, we have learnt to be detached with them, about them. The lesson that Prassana learnt with the Chennai deluge, we learnt through our bankruptcy. And that is the most beautiful quality about Life as a teacher – she always gives you the test first and the lesson later! And what she teaches you, when you internalize the lessons, make centered, anchored and grounded.

Chennai is moving on. And everyone here will have to move on too. Because there is no other way. When Life takes over, you just go with the flow. In this case, the flow – literally, the water flow – is encouraging everyone to let go of all their material possessions and make a new beginning.

The message is simply this: don’t grieve over what’s past and what’s lost! Don’t crave for deservance! Just get up, rebuild, renew and revive yourself!

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