Tuesday, September 10, 2013

An Illusion we call Control

It is said that to make God laugh, tell him your plans. So here goes God, chuckle away....

Yesterday's plan- Office + surprise Sanil at his school field trip in China Town. 
Yesterday's Reality- MRI at Mount E

Weekend plan- Satyagraha or Shudh Desi Romance followed by a nice meal with mum and dad
Weekend Reality- Homebound and walking around on crutches

Thursday's plan- New business meeting + coffee at my favorite cafĂ© (recent favorite as the Barista is quiet cute and a charming flirt) 
Thursday's Reality- Rude visit by an old injury. Followed by paramedics and ambulance

When you read in books or hear people say how their world turned upside down in matter of seconds, you know how it could happen, but you understand it truly only when you go through it yourself. Till then you blissfully feel that you have control over your life. Well some aspects at least. Like I never worry about recession, earthquakes, critical illnesses, death, war in Syria. I really don't. Because these things are too big for me to control. So I simply leave them in hands of God.

However when it comes to 'smaller' things, like my own health, my work, my family, my weekend plans, my meetings, I believe I can control the process, if not the outcome.

So when an innocuous routine moment changes the course of your months to come, it's a rude awakening on how powerless we really are. We only have the illusion of control. An illusion that is blinding as it makes us believe that we are the directors of this blockbuster called Life. When in fact, as Shakespeare had said ages ago, we are merely actors and we have our entries and our exits. 

Like in Singapore we say, "So how?" How do we go on with our lives knowing things may never go as we desire them to? And we may never reach the destination we are planning for. We may not even exist the next minute!

So how?? What do we do now??

The key words here are "desire", "destination" and "exist"

1) Desire- The core philosophy of Vedanta is 'You get what you deserve, not what you desire". I have been trying to imbibe this for a few years now, but keep failing. Especially when I feel my desires are very ordinary. I am not asking for life's riches, fancy cars, cool yachts (though that would be on the nice-to-have list), stunning penthouses or even designer hand bags. My desires are simple, at least in my head they are.  

I am slowly coming to grips with this. My simple desires would be ambitious for many others who have less than me. So what makes me think I even deserve what I have right now? I must have done something right to get all what I have. I need to learn to appreciate that, while working towards what I want, but not clamoring after it. No easy task! But then if self-actualization were easy, then the world would not be such a screwed up place.

2) Destination- Since childhood we have been taught to reach a certain goal. Be it being at the top of our class, or getting in the school play, or winning the Gold medal at sports day. The end or the destination was the focus. Some of us who were lucky to have the right influences or it was inherent in our nature, learnt to enjoy the journey. We understood that it was more important to love what we learn (history and geography for me), rather than our grades. We learnt the joys of being a part of something big, as opposed to playing the lead. We relished the thought about bonding and having fun with friends and team mates instead of merely competing in sports. But somewhere in the practicalities of life, we lose these precious lessons. It's time for a refresh.

If we don't enjoy the journey, it's very unlikely we will savor the destination. Because we would in all likelihood be irritable, bored or worse still disappointed with the journey to bask in the destination experience.

3) Exist- As I have mentioned in my previous posts, we don't know where we come from, we don't know where we are going and we certainly don't know how long we are here for. So it's time to stop existing and start living.

As for me, I have to realize that blips in life can be guiding lights for the changes I need to make to lead a much fuller and more content life. I intend to put this into practice, slowly, but surely. 

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