I remember visiting a colleague of mine, who was to undergo a surgery for some complication related to her heart. She had only joined our office just about a year back, on compassionate grounds, after her husband died while in service. Though I was many years younger to her in age, since I was the one who taught her the first steps in the office, we shared a very good rapport.
When she developed the complication and was advised by her doctors to undergo immediate surgery, she was devastated. I went to visit her at home. When I met her she was very much tensed and in tears. Doctors had suggested the surgery for the following week and she was really worried about its outcome.
When I saw her crying, I didn’t know what to say. But then it is better to speak from the heart, when you don’t know what to do. I did precisely that.... I asked her as to what is the worst that she think can happen to her. She promptly replied she might die. She said she is not worried about her own death but of the future of her three unmarried daughters. She was willing to take the risk and avoid the surgery so that she can live for sure, till at least one of her daughters got married.
Then I asked her, “Did you ever consider what would happen to you and you children when you husband was alive and what were your thoughts when he died?” She said she was scared at that time about their very survival, without her husband, but she somehow managed their life to this stage. Then I told her, “When your husband died your children were much younger and you all were in need of each other. But now, they are relatively grown up and can take care of themselves. As for their marriage- that too will happen as per their destiny irrespective of you are dead or alive. So instead of worrying about the future, go ahead and do what is necessary to do today” (While I am not a believer in fate, destiny etc, sometimes such words come handy for convincing people).
For the first time since she fell ill, my words forced her to deal with the issue of her possible death and its consequences openly. She spoke about it; rather confronted it. To cut the story short, she underwent the surgery in a much more relaxed mood, survived it and continued to work for many years before she retired. Close to a decade later, she is now visiting her elder daughter’s family in Europe.
Thereafter, many a times she praised me for the talk on that day. She says everyone else only sympathised with her situation and that in turn made her feel worse. But the talk with me made her see the worst, then relax and be ready to face whatever was in store for her.
I often think that 90% of our tensions and problems are of our own creation- a result of taking our life rather too seriously!
Come to think of it... what are we? How big is our role in the overall scheme of things? If I die today, how much impact will that make on my family or the society? OK, I am too insignificant you say? I agree and I am thankful for that. But, then let us consider more significant people who lived in this world and then died.
Is it true that like one of our former Prime Ministers infamously spoke, “When a giant tree falls, earth below shakes”? I do not think so... This earth has much more resilience than we give credit for (hasn’t it survived abuse by generations after generations of cruel and selfish human beings?). It was not the fall of giant tree that shook the earth, but the deliberate actions of unscrupulous human beings who arrogated the power of retaliation and revenge on to themselves!
Each time a great personality, real or propped up, dies we hear people speaking about the unfathomable loss to nation/humanity etc. If we consider all those cries for all the great but dead people, humanity should have closed its shop long back, from the accumulated losses. But the world moves on- with or without the human induced shakings of earth.
One of my all time favourite quotes says it all “Graveyards are full of those who thought they are indispensable”. How true...
If there is anything dead sure in the life a person that is the death. Yet we worry about it so much. Well, we might say that we are worried not about the death itself but its effect on the family etc. While I don’t deny that there could be some adverse effect on the immediate family, it wouldn’t stop the world even for them. Memories fade, life picks up.
In my opinion, we can only be happy and contended when we stop taking our life and ourselves seriously. We must understand the bottom-line; dead and gone. With our death, this universe ceases to exist for us. What happens to anyone or anything after that is not something that we can control and therefore need to worry about.
I am not suggesting that one should not plan and make provisions / arrangements for family etc, for the post-death scenario. What I suggest is that we stop worrying about that and just do what is necessary (like getting some insurance?) and continue to enjoy one’s life.
Leave the ultimate loss- death, aside. Let us look at the other things that keep us worried. Career, wealth, status, children- there are many things that we worry about. But more often than not, it is the future of these things and not the present that we are worried about. In the process, we even forget as to how we can manage our present, so as to make the future brighter.
We forget that happiness is a state of our mind than a result of any external factor. No career, no amount of wealth or no successful children can make you happy. It is only you who can make you happy. But do you have the time to even consider that, while struggling to chase so many external factors that you think will bring you happiness?
The image that you create for yourself or the image that others create about you- none of these matter in the final analysis. One more promotion or some more money in the bank is not going to make much difference in your happiness quotient. By all means go for them, but not as a struggle. Enjoy the process as in, say playing a computer game? If you can’t enjoy it then better give it up... there is no point in mere struggle.
Take the life easy... you don’t matter so much as you think... you are just one among the billions and billions who lived (and died) in this world... and we don’t even know how many such worlds are out there in the universe.... so, you carry no burden for this universe... stop acting like that house lizard who thinks he is carrying the burden of roof...just go ahead and make the most of this one and only life that you have got.... only make sure that you don’t cause any damage to the world, through your actions!