Monday, September 22, 2008

Being Simply Happy

“ What do you crave most in your life? “ asked my friend, as we sat in leisure after so many years (15 years of married life), sipping tea at one of our favourite haunts of our past. “Well nostalgic moments like this one,” I promptly answered. “ I would always like to relive all such moments and every time it would be an equally delightful experience for me, because I feel happiness is something that you can get only out of things that are close to your heart.” I earnestly expressed. “Your material achievements, your professional success can surely give your ego some satisfaction and momentary joy, but these things fail to hand you pure happiness. At any stage of life, your ‘real natural self’ does not need big things to keep you happy. Only simpler things can see most of us in paradise.” I stressed.

My friend looked at me with surprise writ large on her face and I had to elaborate, “I really mean it, in spite of ascending on the exciting life ladder, simple things continue to remain my objects of happiness. The refreshing feel of a beautiful crisp, winter morning, the smell of the first raindrops hitting sun baked earth, percolating coffee, moments spent with family, nostalgic moments with friends, a romantic song heard far off, wearing an old favourite shirt, all such simple things make me very happy and hence happiness perhaps is always handy for me.” I feel that whatever I had expressed to her was applicable to most of us and not just myself.

Life is an evolution, where we evolve from a playful child to a bubbling adolescent and finally to a matured adult, but I think all this evolution is a state of mind, our heart continues to sing to the tunes of simple yet sentimental strings. My octogenarian grandma still finds her old age the happiest phase of her life for according to her; she hasn’t let the mischievous child, the active teenager, the romantic lover, the amicable friend and other ‘people‘ in her die with age. At heart, she still keeps close with all these ‘persons’ in her, and hence her happiness is still cloudless.

In our unbridled pursuit of pleasures and ambitions, most of us make our simple lives complicated, disturbing the ‘ecological balance ‘of our evergreen hearts. We spoil the very simple yet beautiful geometry of our hearts. We race for things that we feel can give us immense joy, and start grossly neglecting very simple things in our lives, which can unearth fountains of bliss for us. Life is simple mathematics where one plus one should always be two, but in our longing for more we try to make it twenty two or more; most of us end up with plenty of zeroes added to the end. We must learn to get this ‘beautiful two’ out of our lives.

Children are always ecstatic, because they have very simple definitions of happiness; they straightaway derive it from their routine child’s play. With the passage of time, most of us end up with ‘complex definition’ and ‘modified concepts’ of happiness. In the process, we lose our natural capacity to become simply happy. Unconsciously we become what I term as ‘joyless prone’ and ‘happiness resistant‘, so simpler things don’t give us felicity. We need to look for a long lasting happiness, which can only be drawn from the simpler things in life, simple yet close to our hearts. I feel true happiness is something we can only get through moments close to our heart. Let us try to gather and experience such moments. For all such moments should keep us ‘simply’ happy… forever.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Another Random Thought

Ok, it was another mundane day. There we all were sitting morosely wondering what to do as there were torrential rains pouring down. Then I got up to prowl the house restlessly as I was getting real fidgety. I passed by my eldest son’s room only to hear him mumbling. I knocked on the door and questioned him, “Are you talking to anybody? Is someone with you?”
“No, mom, no one, I was just talking to myself. Nothing to worry about”, was the response from his room. For a moment I thought it my right and duty to walk in and find out what was the matter with him. But second thoughts stopped me right in my tracks. Who was I to interrupt his privacy? Even I had running conversations with myself. The conversations go on and on for hours on end.

So I opted to settle down with my thoughts and a cup of tea. And it became all too apparent to me that we cannot stop talking to ourselves. It is impossible to stay incommunicado from one’s self. You have the liberty to talk to yourself any way you want to. Right from praising to pampering, patting to punishing, in a totally unique style that is all yours alone.
A galaxy of options came up at lightening speed. I had more reasons to talk to myself. The act of talking to self is so spontaneous that it starts even before we wake up as a continuation of our dreams. All it requires is any silly, daft topic or any event to start self- dialogue. It doesn’t come to an end when we fall asleep either. At times we are so clear about the dream we had in the morning and the endless dialogue we carried on in the entire time span. It would seem like we hold conversations with ourselves for at least 20 hours in the day. Amazing!! Yet, we still complain about not having enough time for ourselves or to our self!!!

I know one thing for sure. There is no one that can hide anything from the other side of our self. If I am worried about something, it is the other side of me that helps me to find the solutions, means and methods. Consulting others is only for confirmation that the right path or option has been chosen. Every decision on every issue is taken after weighing all the pros and cons in grinding conversations with self. Some thoughts and conversations are so weird or so extremely personal that others can tell just by looking at your expressions but are too much for you to share them with anyone.

Try observing anyone when they are alone. Are they really by themselves? No. They are busy holding conversations with their selves. At times they are grinning like loons as a result of the funny thoughts or a joke belatedly understood. A grumpy face tells another story. Maybe the boss is unsatisfied; or, a good, loud argument, at the traffic lights. Some of the sitcoms or reality shows on TV give exemplary displays of self-dialogue and the resulting compliments or bombardments. Eminent personalities impress with their speeches and supply us with grist for self-talking.

Self-dialogue is totally personal and self-taught. The style and language is totally unique. It is free flowing chatter attached to your system from birth. There are no restrictions to the topics or line of conversation. A good healthy dialogue with one’s self is a much better solution than asking anyone else for solutions on how to handle our affairs or to take decisions for us. It is God’s gift that has been showered on every individual. Does any other man-made gadget offer us the same satisfaction?

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Maybe I am not the only one. But have you ever noticed that all parents spend the first two years of their children’s lives teaching them how to walk and talk and then the next 16 years asking them to shut up and sit down?!! Is it not interesting how these turn of events occur?

Nevertheless, the first few years of a child’s life is what every parent cherishes and holds close to the heart. Their first word, their first step, their first day at play school are memories every mother carries with her for the rest of her life.

I remember the day my eldest son called me mama. There I was despairing that I would never hear that one word that would culminate the entire emotional rollercoaster ride of my pregnancy and birthing, because no matter how much I entreated the tyke to “say, mama,” all that I would get in reciprocation was “DADA.” Jesus, talk about being frustrated! Then one day while the furthest thing from my mind was to get Kyle to say mama, I heard it. Everything literally came to a standstill. I remember that day with crystal clarity.

There I was running myself ragged trying to prove to all and sundry about how strong and together I was. I was a young woman of 24. Born and brought up in the big, bad city of Bombay, suddenly transplanted in this little hamlet – to my way of thinking – all alone with a toddler to take care of, with a husband in the merchant navy, I was totally at my wit’s end because I could not stand the slow, plodding pace of the boondocks. To cut to the chase, the rope was fraying. So there I was sitting in my living room with my son cradled in my lap wallowing in self-pity and quietly weeping, lest anyone else heard me break down.

The little tyke must have sensed my inner turmoil, for he turned around caught hold of my shirt collar and dragging himself up shoved his inquisitive fingers into my mouth and uttered “mama.” Jesus freaking H Christ (forgive me Lord, for I have blasphemed)!!! My tears dried up faster than I could say, “Jack Robinson.” Yes, time can come to a standstill. I was jubilant!!

I was thrilled, ecstatic, overjoyed. However… my joy was short-lived. I soon realized that he would call everyone mama. The maidservant, the milkman – even my mother… and to worsen a mother’s joy would even look at my father-in-law and call him mama. I used to get so upset but taught myself to get over it and can now look back on it and laugh about it.

Children are indeed a joy to have around – from the moment they are born to pre-adolescence. The love that they spread and the joy they find in life’s ‘simple’ yet ever so important things, is something we grown-ups don’t understand because we have forgotten what it was like to be kids ourselves.

I remember another incident when my eldest was about 3 years old. It was the annual Anglo-Indian Christmas tree party. Games had been organized for the children and one was an 80m dash for the younger ones. My son and several other children were rounded up and made to line up. While they were made to stand at the starting line, Kyle spotted his father and me in the crowd of onlookers. The look of joy on his little face was priceless. He started waving out to us; the whistle went off and all the little wannabe athletes took off at top speed. But not my 3 yr old. He was in ‘wonderland’ as he continued to stand at the starting line, while the other kids made their way to the finish line! We frantically made signs to him trying to persuade him to run. However, nah, he just would not budge. He was more pleased to stand at the starting line waving out to us, watching the other kids run, rather than run the silly 80m dash himself! The look of bewilderment on his face when he realized all the other kids were getting candy and he was not, made us split our sides laughing. As I said, Kids are a constant source of joy.

Then there is the time when I was returning home one day with my second son Kirk from play school. On the way out, I got talking to this adorable little girl and I asked her about her day, and all that she had learned.( Now before I go any further, English is the language everyone here aspires for his or her child to learn as everyone speaks in Hindi here.) She said the teacher was very nice and had taught her a-b-c. Very enthusiastically, the little girl asked if she could say them for me. I half-heartedly said yes and prepared myself expecting her to refresh my memory of the alphabet we all learnt on our first day in nursery school. But, oh dear Lord! I almost tripped over my own feet when I heard her say; A for apple, A for ball, A for cat, A for dog

Was I dreaming? Had I heard wrong?! So I asked her to stop and start over and this time I was certain I had heard right… A for apple, A for ball, A for cat, A for dog. Oh, it was so hilarious I was hard pressed to keep a straight face!! Now, I’m not sure of b,c,d but on her first day of school, she certainly did learn that it was not ‘e’ but ‘a’ for ‘everything’!!!

These are just a few of my most cherished memories. It is what puts a smile on my face on the days I do not feel my best, or down in the dumps. What are yours?

Monday, September 1, 2008

My Obsession...

So alright, I have this one obsession. So what? What I'd like to know is: who in their right mind doesn't obsess about this? What am I talking about? Any guesses?! G'on... take a pot-shot. Make a wild guess. Need a hint?

Yeah. I'm talking about money... wealth. Something that brings smiles - along with a big parcel of troubles. That which always, always, seems to be less - no matter how much of it you possess. That which is dear to everyone, sometimes even superceding family and friends. That which every individual yearns after wanting it to stay with them. Alas. Like similar poles, I always repel wealth. Damn. Why does that always happen with me ?!!

I once squandered an entire day pondering over two questions: "How do I enhance my prosperity?" and then, "How do I get my freaking bank balance to overflow?" I thought they were really interesting questions. From pondering this, I proceeded to have a daydream. There I was, this female version of Richie Rich, no! Uncle Scrooge. I was taking a ride on this motorised mini cart in one of my immense mine- like vaults filled with gold, old masters, immense piles of jewels. Everywhere I looked I was confronted by immense wealth. Hmmm.... it was soothing... refreshing... relaxing. Truly noble thoughts.

So... does prosperity really lie in waiting for everyone? In this age of lifestyle gurus many suggest that you close your eyes and visualise whatever you want and you're sure to get it. I wonder about this. How is it even remotely possible? Just imagine - I sit in a dark, quiet corner of my house, close my eyes and visualise that I am playing with snowballs on the Swiss Alps. Or that I am rappeling down the sheer Dover cliffs. No... I'm scuba diving at the Great Barrier Reefs. Just then this gigantic octopus comes up and grabs me in its tentacles. I grapple and fight with it and claw my way desperately up to the surface of the ocean gasping for breath. My eyes spring open ! Thank God !! Whew !!! I'm in the safety of my home safely ensconced on my sofa. No more closing my eyes and visualising ! Enough is enough...

So what went wrong with my dream? I realised that while walking along the positive path I tripped and fell on the negative one. So then, damnit, how do I achieve what I want? How does my bank balance overflow?!

Thinking is the first step towards achieving. The subconcious mind needs to be trained to believe that one deserves to be happy and successful. Often we only grouse, complain and remain morose so that is what is ingrained in our subconcious. Once it learns to be happy, man, there is no holding or turning back. To my way of thinking, leastways.

Happiness, satisfaction, success, prosperity - all of this is connected. Much like the cogs of my grandfather's wrist watch. And the winder is one's thought process. The task is to think about what one wants for the self. Once the thought is there, it pushes the next wheel which in turn pushes the next one. The entire mechanism is set in motion, gains momentum and soon you will be happy.

But the most important factor here is that one must have a totally positive outlook towards prosperity. If you're only dwelling on the thought on how empty your cup is rather than filled then only the negative wheels move. Prosperity is basically in our minds rather than our bank balances. Some people are happy with their meagre belongings while others have no peace of mind from running after more. You just have to feel happy about whatever you do have.

Yup! It's true. Everything that glitters is not gold. Yearning for more will just keep you running throughout your life, whereas counting your blessings will give you the satisfaction and stability to carry on with your lot. It is the key that makes you see the silver lining to every cloud.
So.... my bank balance is over flowing - with spiritual stability.