I realized that it took guts to be happy, contented, satisfied.
And to accept it to oneself.
Probably because it is so uncommon, a person who is happy with him/herself is an oddity.
And so, the rest of his or her circle of friends, acquaintances and associates try to make that obvious – and try to drag them back down into the pit of smoldering dissatisfaction that seems to be the norm for many.
It’s hard enough to be happy and content. First, it demands knowledge of what you really want. Then, it requires understanding that you have it – and deserve it.
Because this is so tenuous and unsure, it becomes easy for anyone to question, criticize and ultimately unravel the thin cocoon of happiness you weave around yourself… unless you are bold, confident and even – to a point – arrogant.
Earlier today, I had a conversation with a friend. He was pointing out ways I could do better with my efforts to fund heart surgeries for children. Each involved doing something that would involve a lot of time and effort, for little return.
I smilingly turned down his suggestions, managing not to offend him… while he subtly seemed to indicate I was leaving many children uncared for by doing so.
Thinking back to 10 years ago, when similar behavior might have made me defensive, and therefore abusive and angry, I feel a small thrill of satisfaction at my emotional development over the years.
After all, isn’t that what growing up is all about?
I was driving back home from hospital amid the usual cacophony of horns, which is the inevitable backdrop of any road journey in India, even on a Sunday morning!
To someone used to driving in the (relative) quiet of a major city in almost any part of the world (perhaps excepting Italy!), it can come as quite a shock to see how frequently, constantly and usually idiotically Indian drivers honk.
There was the man behind the wheel of a SUV who seemed agitated at every slowing of traffic flow (which happens each 15 seconds, by the way) – and was generous with sharing his feelings through the medium of his blaring, loud horn.
And there were his brethren in spirit, who in their own unique style, played supporting artists to his lead performance – and proved worthy members of that chaotic, noisy orchestra.
A quick glance at the faces of these anxious, stressed-out, frustrated road-hogs revealed their inner tension – a mirror of the kind of emotions guaranteed to raise blood pressure and heart rates, precipitate a stroke, or at best, leave one feeling sad, depressed and angry for a long while.
But I also noticed a few drivers who were ‘different’ – not just by the look of serene calm and quiet in their appearance.
They did something quite contrarian, even remarkable.
They slowed down!
And that made me think about how we tend to lead our lives – in all aspects.
All of us face hurdles, slow-downs and enforced ‘wait’ periods as we try to hurry and bustle through our day.
Yet some of us honk – while others slow down.
Which of us is happier?
Recently, I attended a funeral.
Indian custom dictates a long series of ‘last rites’. When the seemingly endless sequence of rituals ended after nearly an hour, the mortal remains were ceremonially consecrated to electric heat of the modern crematorium.
We waited outside for an hour, chatting aimlessly about various things – subliminally aware, all the while, about the event we were soon about to experience.
Finally, the time came.
A young man, bent a little with the weight of his burden, came out carrying a metal box by it’s handles. Each side of the square box measured about 18 inches, and it was 3 inches deep.
It contained all that was left of the man we once knew, respected and loved.
Cremation shifts many paradigms about what we value in life.
Everyone, no matter how great or small, rich or poor, young or old, powerful or weak, influential or ignored – everyone will be reduced to a box full of ash… literally!
Isn’t that a great perspective from which to focus on more than the merely physical?
Think outside the “box”!
Wow. (For a double wow, see the view count today!)
When I first watched it, my mind was in turmoil. I hit ‘REPLAY’ three more times, and each time, a wave of strong emotion ran through me.
Predominant was that surge of sheer adrenaline that makes you want to stand up and scream at the top of your lungs:
It’s the primal, atavistic rooting for the underdog, the irrational desire to see passion triumph over logic, the excitement that we live vicariously through seeing someone else go for that impossible dream… and win!
When the audience rose to give Susan a standing ovation, I didn’t just see a middle-aged 47-year old house-wife receiving accolades for a superlative on-stage performance.
I saw validation of the relentless persistence of a determined dreamer who dared to follow her heart.
I saw the collective cheering of humanity for someone who stared down a cynical universe, and spat in its eye.
And I saw MY FUTURE.
Yours too. If you want that.
Because Susan showed me – and you – that it is NEVER ‘too late’ to shoot for the stars.
When Simon asked, before she sang, about her ambition to be famous: “Why hasn’t it worked out so far, darling?”
“I’VE NEVER BEEN GIVEN THE CHANCE!”
Didn’t we ALL tell ourselves that at one time or another? And didn’t we then CHOOSE to shelve those dreams – forever?
And isn’t THIS our wake-up call?
Maybe you, like me, told yourself “But there are dreams that cannot be… And there are storms we cannot weather”
And then, perhaps, you buried that hope and desire and ambition that once burned in your soul deep inside you, brushed aside the restless spirit that rose up in stubborn rebellion from time to time, soothed the nagging voice that echoed in the silence of the night with the platitude,
“Later. Yes, later.”
Watching that video made me UNCOMFORTABLE. Because until now, I had an excuse. Now, I don’t.
The song Susan Boyle performed at BGT, ends with the words:
“Now life has killed the dream I dreamed”
My question to you is:
ARE YOU GOING TO LET IT?
Or are you going to fight FOR it to come true?
Lyrics of “I Dreamed a Dream”
There was a time, when men were kind
And their voices were soft
And their words were inviting
There was a time, when love was blind
And the world was a song
And the song was exciting
There was a time it all went wrong
I dreamed a dream in time gone by
When hope was high and life worth living
I dreamed that love would never die
I dreamed that God would be forgiving
Then I was young and unafraid
And dreams were made and used and wasted
There was no ransom to be paid
No song unsung, no wine untasted
But the tigers come at night
With their voices soft as thunder
As they turn your hope apart
As they turn your dreams to shame
He slept a summer by my side
He filled my dreams with endless wonder
He took my childhood in his stride
But he was gone when autumn came
And still I dream he’d come to me
That we would live the years together
But there are dreams that cannot be
And there are storms we cannot weather
I had a dream my life would be
So different from the hell I’m living
So different now from what it seemed
Now life has killed the dream I dreamed