RECAPTURING LIFE IN THE HOSPITAL

Someone said –

“Airports see more kisses than wedding halls. And hospital walls have heard more prayers than church walls.”

Indeed! Each of the hospital beds and walls has hidden many heart-wrenching stories. If we start jotting down such stories of our lives at the hospital, it would show us the real picture of human life.

Jotting down a couple of my hospital experiences:

While in high school, I met with an accident in which one of the nerves of my brain was badly damaged. This caused memory loss for a few hours and later on resulted in a severe headache. Mom took me to consult the Neurosurgeon. While in the waiting hall, a 70-year-old man was sitting by my side having the same neurological issues. But his condition was worse than mine. His head was twisted completely to the right and he had lost his speaking ability. His screams of pain were terrible. Honestly, I have never seen any human in such horrendous pain. Those screaming sounds and the scene is still alive in my mind.

After a few years, the second terrible experience I had, was seeing the death of my only younger cousin sister. It was the late night of 5th January 2010. My only younger cousin sister was on the ventilator. She was breathing with the help of a machine. We, as a family prayed for her fervently as we waited in the hospital. Mom asked me to go to the washroom to rinse a tiffin box. When I came back from the washroom, all of a sudden I saw that my beloved only younger sister stopped breathing. I ran to the doctor, but the doctor just covered her facing telling us ‘sorry’. She was the closest person to my heart and my secret keeper.

Though I have never been hospitalized, yet everytime as I try to recapture my hospital experiences it always reminds me of a Bible verse –
“As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; when the wind passes over, it vanishes, and its place remembers it no more.”

As we look at life through these stories the question that we need to ponder upon is –
“everyday we proceed to our graveside and we have no guarantee about our existence tomorrow, so think –
“FOR WHAT DO WE TAKE PRIDE OF OUR LIVES?”

LOVE – FORGIVENESS & JUSTICE EMBRACING EACH OTHER IN ONE PICTURE.

In my imaginative visit, I was in the shopping mall with my Dad and I got attracted towards the luxurious bone china made Nymphenburg Adonis dinnerware, as I proceed towards the crystal glass made dinnerware shelf, I thought to hold it and feel the touch but as a result, being a kid I was unable to balance the weight of the serving bowl and it fell from my hand.

The noise of breaking the bowl alarm the salesman, he yelled and took me to the manager. I was fined to pay the cost of the complete dinner set but I am just a kid, even it is impossible for me to have at least 50 bucks in my pocket, how can I pay Rs. 16,100/-.

At that point, my father had to jump into the picture to pay the wages of my mistake. He apologized to the manager, paid for my mistake and took me home. He was unhappy with my action yet he understood my weakness and absurdity.

As we drove back, he just smiled at me and said,

“SON, I EXPECT YOU WILL NOT REPEAT YOUR MISTAKE”.

IN THE MIDST OF THE FEAR OF LOSING SOMEONE

INSECURITY FEELING (the fear of losing someone/something) is quite apparent in human life. In fact, every now and then we wrestle with this fear. We all have noticed Mom always protects their babies putting pillows around them when he/she is alone in bed. We are advised to walk on the footpath because there is the possibility of the accident if we walk on the road. On a larger point, it would not be wrong to cap our 21st century as a “Password-Protected” generation. Whether it is to get some cash or login to our desktops or unlocking the doors of our posh houses, we all need “passwords”, but WHY? 

Well, the answer is too simple “WE ARE AFRAID OF LOSING OUR BELOVED PEOPLE AND OUR CHOICEST BELONGINGS!”

I strongly believe there are good replacements when we lose our choicest materials. A couple of weeks back accidentally I broke my cell phone and the next week I took a new one of higher configuration. All that the new device asked me to do is to sync it to my Google account to restore all of my data. BUT ALAS… THERE IS NO PROPER REPLACEMENT RELATIONSHIP.

Often in life, we come to such a place,

It becomes too difficult to make a choice.

Fear of losing people seems so grisly,

Our mind stops working repeatedly.

As we try to take one more step with courage,

Fear of losing people again surrogates.

Dear God, this is the place where I’m standing today,

Can’t You take this fear of losing people far away???

Last year, as I was navigating through the fear of losing one of my beloved people, this is what I was praying for quite a long time. Well, neither God answered in my desired way nor He removed the sting of fear. But as always He is mysterious in all His ways, He tried to train my mind through it. Probably, He is confident enough about the permanence and goodness of the fear of losing our beloved ones in our life.

In this good fear, the characters and situations are timely replaced but the fear is always punctuated to our life. Positively thinking, this good fear works as FENCE in all our relationships. It not only restricts us from crossing the ethical and moral peripheries of our relationships but also elevates the relationship to a glorious plateau.

Considering another side of the paradoxical nature of “INSECURITY FEELING”, we are easily victimized by losing the peace of our mind. In the anxiety of insecure feelings, we lean towards the unethical and inappropriate ways of gripping our relationships. Jealousy, harsh behavior, and abusive words start butchering our relationships which gradually results in losing our beloved ones.

IN THE MIDST OF THE FEAR OF LOSING SOMEONE, we need to adopt two basic ideas:

  1. CONTROL YOUR ANXIETY: Insecure feeling gives rise to an anxious mind and anxious mind always lacks peace and wild in thinking. Any decision that is taken in anxiety is extremely partial, self-centered and sinful in nature.
  2. TRUST GOD: As we realize a particular situation is beyond our control and the possibility of losing someone will be too costly, we look for help outside of us. Usually, we don’t seek help from a stranger, we seek only from trusted ones. When it is about ” TRUSTING SOMEONE” the best option I would prefer is “GOD” because He is not like a human who can change in a moment.

God is the source of PEACE & POSSIBILITY and WISDOM & UNDERSTANDING. And all that we lack in fear is exactly that! We run out of peace, we only see hopelessness and understanding seem impossible to us.

As we trust God in the midst of fear of losing someone and pray to Jesus instead of responding to our fears, the peace of God dawns on our minds. In the peace of mind, we got able to understand both ends of the situation – our own and our beloved ones. This understanding guards our hearts and mind to make the right choice.

That’s what in the Bible I learned,

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

A REGRET AND A VAGUE ATTEMPT.

Wish Life Was As Easy As My Computer Screen:

Made some errors?

No problem! Just UNDO and type again. But alas, no Undo button for Life.

I remember in the Spotlight series Saakshi asked me the same question: If you were allowed to go back and change one thing from your past, what would you pick and why?”

As I ponder upon this question, all that I see are my regrets and my fanatics. I regret days I wasted – I regret blunders I made – I regret the hurts I gave my dear ones – I regret the foolish decisions I made – I regret the wrong friendships I chose to nurture – and the list “I REGRET” goes on.

We often laugh away when our elders advice us: “One day, you will regret but you won’t have an option to undo your mistakes.” Isn’t this forewarning so fitting to this context!

Taking one such antic of my life into account:

One of my professional life demands is – ‘staying away from home’. Being well aware of my future reality, my mom used to tell me, learn to cook. Cooking has nothing to do with gender-specific obligations. Learn to cook now, you won’t regret when you will stay away from home. But with a manly swag 😎, I used to reply, “Oh, common, restaurants zindabad. We need to be mindful about the restaurant’s survival.” On 2016, when I settled in Kolkata, I lived with this swag for almost a year. But someone said rightly, “penny-pinching is a good teacher for men”. And that day came, ‘alone in my living room with half-burnt curry and over-boil rice for a meal, I wished, I could go back and learn that curry from Mumma and come back to cook for myself. But alas! It was too late for that.😔’

From the 13th of September 1997 to 27th of March 2007, there used to be aired ” SHAKTIMAAN” an Indian Superhero action show on Indian Television screen. Probably, that’s where most of we the 90’s kids were introduced to the unrealistic concept ” Time-traveling” (going back to the time to undo or do some undone works of our life). But our tender minds were barely capable enough to understand the disclaimers shown both at the beginning and end of the show – “All of these are ficious, it has no resemblance to anyone’s life. It is all the work of animation, IT IS NOT REAL.”

Wrong Doing – Regret – Learning is the process of progress of morally equipped human being. Now, a Saint is not a superhero who time-traveled and uplifted his life to glorious standards. Rather, once he was a wretched man, whose sins convicted him, he realised his mistakes by the reasoning of his mind, repented from his wrong ways, looked upon God to strengthen him with wisdom and holiness to navigate life in our sin-centric earth, and after a lot of hardships he gained the experience to live life with holiness and lo and behold NOW he is an example to all.

C.S Lewis said;

You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.

Indeed, we can’t go back and change the beginning, even thinking about it is a vague attempt. But why do we do so? Often, we consider ourselves as the victim of our past. And if I am allowed for an exact interpretation of it, I would phrase it like this, “I am the victim of my tragedy and the perpetrator of the problem is Mr. X or Ms. Y, not I!”
Going little ahead with this mentality, we EITHER start idolising a successful someone with same/similar story and their way of coping OR we start pushing ourselves to live with our wounds which later bounds us to live another heinous and cancerous way of life.
Penning from God’s perspective, God understands our frailties and he never wants to see us in malady. So, in the uniqueness of our problem, God wants us to repent from our mistakes and learn from our malady and attempt to live life on glorious standard instead of mulling in vain regrets and pining over silly attempts to go back in time and set things in the right order.
As we trust His perspective and attempt His ways, He offers us His strength in His personality reflected in Jesus.

IN THE AMBIGUITY OF “WHAT PEOPLE WILL SAY”.

Being born and brought up in a middle-class Indian family, the warning sign I always received from my parents – “WHAT PEOPLE WILL SAY?” (In Hindi, Log Kya Kahenge?). The moment I hear this question, my mind starts singing the Old Bollywood song – “Kuch toh log kahenge, logon ka kaam hai kehena. Chodo bekar ki batton mein kahin biitna jaye reyna” (People usually talk behind others, that’s there very habit of doing so. But it is better to leave such meaningless matters before the night fall). Whenever anyone poses this question before me, my defense is – “By birth, every individual is Free to Think and Free to Talk. When God and our Constitution cannot put a barrier to people’s mind and mouth. Then who am I to do that!”

Since childhood, both my parents used to bracket down my thoughts and choices with this question – WHAT PEOPLE WILL SAY. Even today, my mom often quotes me the same anthem whereas Dad has gone one step ahead. He squares me saying – “Now, you’re grown up. You can make the right choice. What you sow, so shall you and your family will reap. Now, it’s up to you!” Mostly, this line slows my pace of decision-making and filters me through a set of questionnaires. One among those thought-provoking questions – WHAT PEOPLE WILL SAY?

Well, Is that so important to think about what others might think!

What’s wrong if I choose what seems me right!

If I listen to people, I might have to drop my choice. Will that be a good idea?

What has people to do with my life?

We all strive to attain good things for our life. Isn’t it? Hence, God has gifted us with the freedom of choice and to navigate this freedom He has empowered us with Knowledge and Wisdom. He had made us little lower than the heavenly angels. Alongside this strength there is a weakness – each individual is finite to his set of ideas and his strength for the execution of his ideas are also limited. In this finite state, as we are confined within our mind-box in the course of time our choices and ideas become irrelevant to our life at large. Probably, that is where we seek help from outside and look for ideas beyond our desk. But, alas. By then, the clock ticks, it’s too late!

In my professional life and at times in my personal affairs also I used to ask my trusted-ones to review my proposals and ideas. I do that because somewhere down the line I saw – “WHAT PEOPLE WILL SAY” was standing on my way. Every time I ask for the screening of my proposals and ideas, I have been beneficial. Does that mean, I am listening to people? Well, let me put my defense in this way – the Bible says, “Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil.” In other words, when I allow someone to interfere in my toiling of ideas, I will have a good return!

Everything in our life comes in mixed bags. I always had to choose for myself from the mixed bag. Optimistically, in the ambiguity of WHAT PEOPLE WILL SAY thought, our life is filtered from flaws and shaped to set an example. Alongside, it is people whose efforts give existence to Culture and Society. Culture and Society are something that give us an identity and distinguish us into a special category. Culture and Society are moreover a virtue for us.

My American friend Kristin always becomes an Indian in our midst. Just like our Indian moms and daughters in a family, she first serves us the food and then joins the dining. Even after our food, she collects our used plates to the washbasin. It is so blissful to find a foreigner respecting our Indian Culture and instead of complaining as a Westerner, she  tunes in as an Easterner. What made her to do that – the fear WHAT THEY WILL SAY when I am in their place and complaining about their culture.

To save myself from victimizing by the pessimistic side of WHAT PEOPLE WILL SAY, I prefer to stop at the juncture of my mind and do a quick checklist:

  • Is he a God-fearing man that I will trust his voice?
  • Are his words based on the Absoluteness of TRUTH claims?
  • What is the reference point of his ideas – his own or God’s Word?
  • What is his story – Does he have a similar experience like my situation?
  • Is there a logical flow of his ideas or just random ideas unfit and no link?
  • Picture the Consequence – In the long run, Where I will be if I listen to WHAT PEOPLE WILL SAY and Where if I follow my mind?

In the ambiguity of WHAT PEOPLE WILL SAY, our life is always altered and becomes exemplary.

“In conclusion, dear friend, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things”.  – THE BIBLE.

WHO KNOWS ME THE BEST?

Questions are imperative in human life. It is the questions of the human mind that instigates him towards the meaning and the purpose of life and defines the why behind its twists and turns. Questions are either raised by an individual or in reference to an individual. Behind every question, there is a Questioner! Ravi Zacharias in his recent book “THE LOGIC OF GOD” says, “The convergence of intellectual and existential struggles drives a person to a brutal honesty in the questions he or she has.”

One among the biggest questions of human life – “WHO KNOWS ME THE BEST?” Like every other question of human life, this question is always in reference to a human struggle. Because we question only when life’s millstone burdens us. As a matter of fact, since my childhood, I have been frequently juggled and altered by this question – WHO KNOWS ME THE BEST? 

When I was a kid, I complained – “No one understands my choices.”

When I was a teen boy, I was hurt – “Why should I be like him? I am who I am!”

When I was in the twenties, I argued – “Why should I do that? It’s my life-my choice.”

When I turned thirty, I find myself – “Being misunderstood and misinterpreted.”

Towards the end half of 2018, there were some family issues and when I had to raise my voice to sort-out the misunderstanding between my family members, I was misunderstood being partial. In the meanwhile, I find one of my best friends going wrong in quite a handful of matters, as I attempt to correct my friend, again I was misunderstood being unfriendly, arrogant and bossy. Being too sensitive to relationships, being misunderstood and alone in four walls created havoc on my mind. The only question that distorted the peace of my mind is – “WHO KNOWS ME THE BEST?”. Why no one takes time to understand me or questions me – why do you think so? All that everyone thinks – BLAME HIM! 

Often in professional life, we are asked to keep the personal worries outside the office door but that’s someway too difficult. One individual life with two parts – the Personal and the Professional has enough possibility to tilt.

Each individual’s existence is caused and causes “Relationships”. Relationships is not the presence of one individual rather it exists between two individuals completely different from one another decide to come together and form a relationship irrespective of their differences. The presence of differences in the possibility of confusion and misunderstanding. But these misunderstanding is NOT MEANT to the breaking of relationship rather IT IS TO educate and enhance the relationship. 

BEING MISUNDERSTOOD and QUESTIONED BY SELF – 

“WHO KNOWS ME THE BEST?”, IS APPARENT! 

DO I KNOW MYSELF? – How about that! 

Flipping the pages of history, wise King Solomon was garlanded with WISDOM, POWER, WEALTH & GLORY. Materially speaking there is nothing that he lacks in his life. But at the end of his life’s journey, he concludes: “I put my hands into all that my mind found good. I acquired everything I desired. I applied myself to the understanding of wisdom, and also madness and folly, but I learned that this, too, is chasing after the wind. Everything is meaningless”. The question remains – WHO KNOWS ME THE BEST?

In my imaginative visit to the potter’s house, I saw the potter’s house is filled with varieties of clay pots. 

I: Who designed all these clay pots? 

Potter: “I”!

I: Where did you got the pictures to design these pots?

Potter: Their pictures were in my mind and I designed them accordingly.

I: Why each of them is entirely of different shapes and size. 

Potter: Because each of them is made for a different purpose.

I: Can this small flower vase be used to store water?

Potter: No, it cannot be. It is meant to give home to the flower plant.

I: Can your vessel explain why it is made?

Potter: Nope. Does it know how long it will exist? Where it will be tomorrow?

Potter: But I know where it will be tomorrow and How it will be used and What will be its worth.

The Bible says, You are like the clay in the potter’s hands, and I am the potter.”  – this is the message of the Lord.

WHO KNOWS ME THE BEST? – The Potter has the answer.

How about asking HIM? 

WHY DO WE WITHDRAW FROM OUR COMMITMENTS?

The concept of relationship exists prior to our individual existence! Before our existence, we have a relationship with the Creator God, since the time our mom conceived us our relationship with our family began and even after our death our relationship exists. But prior to the relationship, commitment comes. In fact, it is the COMMITMENT that initiates a relationship.

As growing kids in our family, we all love to be part of the wedding service at Church. It is truly a blissful moment to see how two individuals come together and a new relationship is formed. In such a blissful moment, the most enjoyable moment for we kids was – rhyming the marriage vow along with the Bride and Groom. In front of the whole congregation, the Bride and the Groom will stand along with the Pastor. The Pastor will ask both of them a set of questions and as both of them answer those questions, they will exchange their marriage rings and they will make this vow – “I take you as my Wife/Husband on my own choice. I pledge before God and people, whether it is the good or bad moment, whether in health or sickness, whether, in prosperity or hardship, I WILL ALWAYS BE WITH YOU. From now, let my heart be yours’ and your heart is mine and both of our hearts be the heart of God.” 

Finally, they give their signatures on the court marriage certificate and they were declared as Mr & Mrs __________.

Something very similar happens, as defense personnel finishes his years of military training. In an elite gathering, he swears the pledge and joins the defense force. After so many catfights and cutthroat election, our political leaders publicly swear the pledge and take their positions to govern our nation.    

Rick Warren says, 

“Nothing shapes your life more than the commitments you choose to make”. 

Switching to another picture, we see every year only in Mumbai and Delhi 40% of marriages are heading towards divorce (the rest of big Indian cities are yet to count). India is in the 78th position in the corrupt nations list out of 175 countries, according to the 2018 Corruption Perceptions Index reported by Transparency International. Corruption Rank in India averaged 75.67% in 2018.

Kenneth Blanchard says,

“There’s a difference between interest and commitment. When you’re interested in doing something, you do it only when it’s convenient. When you’re committed to something, you accept no excuses; only results.”

How our commitment ends is read and watched and followed by others. 

Commitments might have been made one day at a time but BEING COMMITTED is a life-time deal! Life is a mixed bag of easy and difficult times. Difficult time demands an awful lot of sacrifices on its way. Though sacrifice seems painful and too costly at times, it is the passion of our heart for a definite purpose that makes us dare to sacrifice. A Committed man is also a man of integrity. His thoughts and ways are always God-fearing and Sacred

Often, we lack commitment in our relationships and profession because we hesitate to sacrifice our comforts and pleasures. Our commitments are mostly made when we are emotionally driven rather than driven by the maturity of mind and wisdom. Well, one of the modern-day quotes very clearly reflects the attitude of our mind – “If you want me to be loyal, then hire a dog not me”.

So far in my life, I have walked closely with two elderly men. Both of them are in their 70s’. Both of the God-fearing gentlemen have always given me one counsel:

“Relationships are initiated with commitment;

Commitment demands Sacrifice;

Respect your Sacrifices, they are Sacred and Integral!”

And as I look upon the picture of the death of Jesus on the Cross, I see the confluence of Relationship initiated with Commitment – Commitment is fulfilled with Sacrifice – the Sacrifice is Sacred & Integral to the human race. Indeed, it is His relationship with us that kept Him committed, though we were not! It is His commitment for mankind that demanded Him His sacrifice, which we human won’t be able to do! Moreover, Jesus kept his commitment with the sacredness of His heart, WHICH WE OUGHT TO IMITATE.