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Musings at 62

Dr. Krishnaja A.P. 11th April 2014

Musings at 62..
Each one of us is unique the result of meiotic shuffling of the genetic deck, leading to a genetic uniqueness never found duplicated in nature. There is no one quite like us on this earth. Our life stories are also unique, and the years gone by, lives well lived (or otherwise), expose us to a world of wisdom. Each life then blossoms into a legacy, a rare gift given to us, and the lessons weve learnt ought to be shared. The history of the world isnt complete until it includes yours reason enough to pen my thoughts. ***** I have always been very organized. I belong to a generation for which duties and responsibilities came first, gratification much later. Procrastination had no place in my life. However, as a trait that was nursed by the majority of our family, procrastination often became the mischievous initiator of our tussles and arguments. I was often the sole soul in enemy camp, guarding my (prompt) terrain like a wounded tigress. But the company you keep certainly affects you, and over time the same quality did sink into me as well. My daughters are happy; they feel I have turned into a normal human being, akin to them! This article, for instance, was tentatively planned around my 60th birthday. It was to have been called Reflections at 60 and been completed at least two years ago. But better late than never! Musings at 62 is an original, novel idea, I think. Well, at least it allows me entry into the prestigious procrastinators family club! *****

I came to Bombay almost 40 years ago, to pursue higher studies, not knowing that my future would lie here. It must have been a difficult decision for my parents. Looking back, I admire them for allowing us to make our choices, standing by us, enabling us to reach where we are today. I am sure their invisible presence had seen us through all the ups and downs of our lives. My brother Anand brought me to Bombay. It was my first long distance journey beyond the Vindhyas. My first impressions of Bombay were not very favourable: Rows and rows of matchbox-like houses in dilapidated concrete buildings, with clothes hung out for drying in the glare of the afternoon sun, was what I saw as the train left Kalyan on its journey towards VT, on that day in November 1973. It did something to my psyche. I thought I was entering a concrete jungle. I felt an overwhelming sadness engulf me, the feeling turning more intense as my fertile imagination tried to visualize the lives lived in those houses. So the first thing I did was cry, when we finally reached my uncles home. Thus began my life in Bombay. Today, Mumbai is home. I love this vibrant, magical city, and would rather live in Mumbai than anywhere else. The anonymity this city offers and at the same time, the comforting warmth with which it embraces you into its fold needs to be experienced to be believed. Christopher Earle said that time grants a unique perspective, which allows us to see events through a filter of accumulate wisdom. As I look back on the milestones of my journey, harking back to my early days in Bombay, Ive jotted down a few thoughts those I hold dear and those that have had a great significance in my life.

Ive often heard people say that blood relations are the most important. This is only partly true. They overlook that the fundamental unit of society the family is formed by two people who are usually not related. Thats where the blood relations, which we eulogize so much, originate from. ***** Change is the only permanent thing in life. Those who can adapt, survive. Like a blade of grass, the inexhaustible flexibility to bend around obstacles in our path takes us ahead. Slowly, the realization steps in that contained within every loss, is the potential for something new. Life continues to teach me to adapt to changing situations and the changing behaviour of people. The years have definitely mellowed me: Now I try to perceive the humorous angle in unpleasant situations, and have learnt to take things in my stride. The rude knocks of life made me develop an inner calm, and (to quote Osho) making a celebration of the mundane. ***** Ive learnt that relationships are the most important thing in life. The most important among these is the relationship you have with yourself. This in turn defines all your interactions and relationships with others. The idea that we are self-reliant is a myth. We are connected at every level. Friends exist at different levels, some intimate, others merely acquaintances. We are bound in a range of relationships that span these two ends of the spectrum. But warm friendships and meaningful relationships dont just spring up. They have to be cultivated and nurtured to be

long-lasting. A feeling of affection and respect are essential to sustain a genuine friendship. You need to invest time to nurture friendships and relationships. Otherwise, like a seedling planted, but not watered, they will wilt and wither away. The best gift one human being can give another is time. Relationships take both time and effort. When you find time for someone, you are giving them a slice of your life, which you will never get back, and hence it is precious beyond measure. You can make more money, but time allotted to each one of us is fixed. Even in the midst of compelling professional demands, nurturing relationships has been one of my priorities. I think I did succeed, even if it was a tightrope walk at times. I have kept in touch with friends who Ive known for 30-40 years, in many instances, without having met in person for several years at a stretch. ***** Moving on to love and marriage, I think that its not about you. Its about the person you love their wants, needs, hopes and dreams. This may be a bit unpalatable. Marriage, the demands and pressures of life at times see love fly out of the window. If you have ever experienced true love and marriage, then youll know the truth of these words: Love like rain, can nourish from above, drenching couples with a soaking joy. But sometimes under the angry heat of life, love dries on the surface and must nourish from below, tending to its roots, keeping itself alive. Valuing family is an important part of love and marriage. One of the best

things you can give your children is a family filled with love, care, and joy, so that they learn to develop those values and attributes in their lives later. ***** Practise forgiveness for your own sake. I learnt it the hard way. It took time and persistent effort to get rid of the anger, bitterness and resentment towards people who had been unjust to me. But I decided to move on with my life, to set myself free. Certainly forgiveness is a journey, a continuous process that takes time, determination, and persistence. I was forced to deal with this issue at a time when we were not given what was rightfully ours. I was angry, bitter, and resentful. What finally brought about a change in me was reading a sentence that said Why do you give rent-free accommodation in your mind to those whove upset you? I decided to throw out the tenants whod taken up residence in my mind, bag and baggage. I freed myself. With it came the realization that forgiveness is something you do for yourself. It is the one gift you dont give to others; its a gift you give yourself so you can be free. ***** Live life with gratitude and grace. My life has had its share of ups and downs, at times its been a real roller-coaster ride. I do not take anything for granted. I am an incurable optimist: Like a rubber ball, which, no matter how hard it is hit, always bounces back. I am thankful for the gift of life, grateful for all the good in my life and graciously acknowledge all the small and big

blessings in my life. Gratitude reminds us we are all part of universe and are connected. Try to have an attitude of detachment, but be grateful for everything. Instead of focusing on what you dont have, be grateful for the amazing gifts you do have: Of loved ones, simple pleasures, of health, sight, the gift of music, books, of nature and beauty, the ability to create, and everything in between. Be grateful every day. There are few joys that equal a good book, a good meal, a good walk, a good hug, or a good friend and many of these are free. Lead a joyous life. ***** "Diversification is the asset to a joyous and blessed life." Creativity helps us to experience the magical and playful side of life. It lets us explore our passions and express ourselves artistically. My creative passion finds vent in cooking, gardening and few others. Cooking can be as creative as singing, dancing or painting. For me, cooking is creative, adventurous, relaxing and meditative, almost Zen like. Tending to my plants fills me with a sense of delight and satisfaction. It gives me immense pleasure to see a tender leaf or a bud. ***** Learn to empathize. We often judge people based on the little information available to us. Try to start with the assumption that what others do has a valid reason. We must put ourselves in their shoes, try to understand what they do instead. We have absolutely no idea what theyre going through. Life becomes much better if we learn to cultivate this art. *****

Shift gears. Slow down. Simplify your life. Know your priorities. Focus on what you love to do. Do it lovingly. Most people try to take on more than they can chew. Do not make life a calendar of checklists. Do less. Stop being a machine, learn to be human and learn to live this moment. ***** Be kind whenever possible. A great deal of strength is needed to be gentle and kind. Sometimes it is better to listen to the heart than an intelligent mind that speaks. Accept what is, let go of what was and have faith in what could be. Life has still more

lessons and surprises for me. Im looking forward to them all. Hope the best is yet to come. ***** Listen to your inner voice. There will be a few times in your life when all your instincts will tell you to do something, something that defies logic, upsets your plans, and may seem crazy to others. When that happens, do it. Listen to your instincts and ignore everything else. Ignore logic, ignore the odds, ignore the complications, and just go for it. I did just that many times. In all the crucial junctures of my life, I followed my intuition and have never regretted it. ***** I had a unique gift from the Universe on my 60th birthday. My family and I had a wonderful time at the Tree House Resort, an hours drive from Jaipur. It was a serene, lush place, with

cottages built around actual live kikar trees. Later, on seeing the photos from our vacation, a friend wrote to me, You are lucky, especially because you are happy with what you have and not sad about what you miss. Finally, Life is what we make it, always has been, always will be.