MY MOST PRECIOUS POSSESSION

I always laugh whenever I hear anyone talking about the Big Bang Theory.  Apparently, in the beginning, there was nothing – and then it exploded. The “nothing”, that is.

If we talk about creation, there is a creator, if we talk about life, we must talk about a life-giver.

So what is my post precious possession? It is the life I have. This is not a chance mixing of DNA when I was conceived – not a cosmic soup of protons and neutrons that formed me by coming together in a random manner.

I know that I am “amazingly and miraculously made.” I know that someone “made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb.”

The awe and wonder that is filled in life itself cannot be explained.

Do you know that there is a lizard species called the stone dragon? This lizard has an amazing way of drinking water. All it needs to do is put one of its feet in a water source, and a capillary action soaks up the water through the entire length of its body until the water reaches its face and mouth – and that too, against gravity! How amazing is that?

Life is beautiful, and the day we understand that – despite all the pain and suffering all around us – we will see that there is a meaning to it after all.

Here are four reasons why LIFE should be everyone’s most prized possession:

My life is purposeful and precious: Since my life is the work of a Creator, it has purpose and meaning.  I now know that “many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is my Creator’s purpose that prevails.”

No matter what pain and suffering I have gone through in my life, I know that my life is precious because my Creator has a grand plan that is already in motion as we speak. All the levers and pulleys of my life are inching its way to the ultimate reality, the reality of ‘who am I’ and ‘what am I doing here.’

The other day my husband and were drinking our evening tea and talking. We were discussing a certain turn of events that happened recently. Suddenly, I had a huge realization! Years earlier, a situation happened in our life that was so strange and uncomfortable that we wondered why it happened. And now suddenly, like a huge relief, I realized why I had to go through that uncomfortable experience – it all happened in order to experience the joy of our recent happenings.

This is just one small thing. Can you imagine the number of tiny situations that are all working together for good? Yes, for good. That is a precious life lived with purpose.

My life has a responsibility attached to it:  My life is not a lah-dee-dah scenario, when all I do is live it to the fullest and then leave this world. I have some responsibilities and some standards I have to live up to. My Creator has sent me to this world for a purpose, and my responsibility is to find out what my purpose is and then fulfill it. I also have responsibilities to the people who brought me into this world, my parents — and the person my Creator has appointed to be my life-partner.

I am also responsible for all the things that my Creator has put me in charge of. That includes what I own, and the rest of his creation – nature and all other living beings.

In the end, my Creator will ask me for an account of all these responsibilities I was assigned to, and I always want to be in the good books.

My life is joy overflowing : It is hard to explain – this joy! It is not something that everyone has, unfortunately, but it is certainly the kind of joy anyone can get, only if they look in the right place.

I am not talking about the LOL kind of joy – I am talking about the joy that comes from the inside. Most joy we experience and see others experiencing is based on a causality factor. I bought a new TV, so I am happy, I ate good food, so I am happy, I got a mobile phone as a gift, so I am happy. If we remove this causality factor, will the joy still be there?

The joy I am talking about is different – it is joy that bubbles out of my soul, even though I am sick, or suffering, or sad. It is not based on material gratification nor a partner’s reciprocation. It is the power to smile in the midst of my worries and sorrows. What a thrill to experience this kind of joy.

My life is eternal : And lastly, my LIFE is important because it is not temporary, it is permanent, it is eternal.

My Creator did not place me here on this earth, just to exist for about 60-70 years and then sink into oblivion, no way! My existence is beyond space and time. It may be outside the fabric of my understanding for now, but that is only temporary.  There will come a time when the secrets of this universe will made known to all, depending on which side of the fence you are in.

Value life, treasure life, honour life – this is a gift and a responsibility from your Creator. Will you live it to its utmost potential?

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HOW ABOUT TURNING THE TABLES ON REGRET?

When most people think about regret, they think about the choices that they make, the decision that they took, the career path they chose and so on. 

Unfortunately, that kind of regret is painful and keeps you stuck to the past. Sometimes, regret, if left to fester, becomes chronic, turns to bitterness, which turns into cynicism and ultimately, total apathy.

How about turning the tables on regret?

When I broke up with my ex of 4 years, I literally felt my life shattering around me. This was about 7-8 years ago. I could not see past him, and suddenly he was gone. And there was nothingness all around. 

But looking back at all that today, do I regret having him in my life those four years? Not one bit. I’ll tell you why. I don’t regret it because that whole phase taught me what NOT to do in a relationship.

I realized one important thing through my broken relationship – that LOVE is not a feeling, it is a choice, a decision that we consciously make. We make this decision to honour God, our partner, our families and our home.

When Rohan came into my life, I remember the first thing I did with him was to have an honest conversation with him about what I was looking for. Turns out, he was looking for the same thing. And everything just clicked.

I think it is time we stopped making the same mistake twice. Learn from your mistakes, do not repeat it, and you will never have regrets.

But, if there is something to regret — regret hurting other people, especially people you love and people who love you.

All these years of “learnings” (won’t call them regrets) cannot take away one thing, the fact that I have hurt numerous people in many ways. 

And so, to my parents, my sister, my brother, my uncles and aunts, my cousins, my friends, my colleagues & bosses, and my partner for life, please forgive me for all the times I have wronged you. I may have learned from that experience, but I cannot take away the hurt I have caused you. 

Regret, folks, but for causing pain to others. Make the rest a learning experience. 

WHEN ANGER TAKES OVER

(Picture Source: livinganewthought.com)

…awful things can happen.

Take, for example, the woman who killed herself – why – because he had a tiff with her husband. In her anger, she wrote a suicide note, talking about her fight with her husband, then hung herself. This was in the news very recently.

When you think about anger, you think an outburst of rage, maybe a few days of contempt-filled silence. When did anger become such an extreme feeling? When did the line between anger and rage become blurred?

Why don’t we talk about collective anger? What happens when a mob goes into such a frenzied rage that they lynch members of a family, on the basis of just a meagre rumour that they were eating beef! (they were in fact, eating mutton).

When was the last time you were angry? Do you remember how you behaved? Was it justified? 

I believe there is no use of all the self-help books, all the talks and seminars (though they help), or all the therapy sessions – if introspection does not come from within.

Can we spend a moment today to think about how we get angry? How we react to anger, or how we retaliate? On a deep level, let us admit that we are at fault, and make a conscious change, today. If the change does not begin with us, we should not expect it from our near and dear ones, or from our society and the world.

WHY TECHNOLOGY SCARES THE HELL OUT OF ME

(Picture Source: “Energy Medicine Clinic“)

I read an alarming article in The Washington Post the other day – and it rattled me even more because not many people are talking about it.

Let me explain.

In an article titled, “‘Text neck’ is becoming an ‘epidemic’ and could wreck your spine”, writer Lindsey Bever writes: HERE.

The human head weighs about a dozen pounds. But as the neck bends forward and down, the weight on the cervical spine begins to increase. At a 15-degree angle, this weight is about 27 pounds, at 30 degrees it’s 40 pounds, at 45 degrees it’s 49 pounds, and at 60 degrees it’s 60 pounds.

That’s the burden that comes with staring at a smartphone — the way millions do for hours every day. Over time, researchers say, this poor posture, sometimes called “text neck,” can lead to early wear-and-tear on the spine, degeneration and even surgery.

What this essentially means is the farther you bend your head, your neck is responsible for holding that much more weight of your head, almost 30 kilos if your head is tilted at 60 degrees.

If that does not alarm you, I don’t know what will. What scares me even more is that most people (including me) understand this, and yet it does not make a difference to them.

This is, of course, just a tiny portion of consequences that being tech savvy brings. There are some other worthy contenders, the most recent being: Taking inordinate number of selfies is now a psychological condition. Another deep-rooted (and unsettling) dilemma is the increasing lack of physical communication that social media has brought about. No one wants to talk face to face these days!

See, it is obvious that no one can stop the technology tsunami age that we are going through. But instead of blindly going with the flow, are you one of those who will swim against the tide?

This is something I am thinking about today.

(How do you swim against the tide? Have ideas? Share them in the comments section below. Would love to connect with you.)

THE STRUGGLE WITH HEARTBREAK

Love is a many splendored thing, wrote Shakespeare. If you are a student of English Literature, you will know that one of the meanings of this line is that love, among other things, gives meaning to life.

However, does the opposite hold true with heartbreak? If love gives meaning to life, does heartbreak take away that meaning, thus ridding us of the will to live? It might seem like that, as I learned during my period of utmost heartbreak many years ago.

But having endured heartbreak and rediscovering life and love once again, I have become a firm believer that everything in life does not happen by chance. It is a part of a bigger design, a higher thought, a deeper more vast power.

In the beginning, it seemed like the forbidden fruit, and forbidden it was indeed. The cute guy sitting in my college classroom wanting to be my friend had virtual “stop signs” written all over him. I was confused, how could something that seemed so right, be so wrong? I enjoyed the adulation, the attraction, the connection. Yet, every bone in my body knew this was wrong. And I, went with the flow.

And there began the most twisted, toxic “relationship” there ever was. You could tell that he was using me; somewhere in the deepest part of my soul even I knew he was using me. But the heart, you know, is a strange thing. Even when the mind is trying to be rational, the heart will reason the opposite.

My mind told me, have you gone nuts? How can you not see how he is ruining you? My heart answered, get lost, mind! I know I can fix him, I know that if I show him more love, he will surely love me the way I love him.

My friends would call me, but I would not answer the phone – what if “the boyfriend” called and the line was engaged? I would not be able to speak to him! My friends would want to take me out for dinner, but I would not go. What if “the boyfriend” wanted to have dinner – I would not be able to spend time with him.

And that was just the beginning.

There was a time when he got a little too friendly with another girl. She’s just a friend, he would insist, but would spend hours with her.  I was slowly going insane.

After a year of this madness, my friends slowly stopped calling me.  And the list of “friends” (girls) in “the boyfriend’s” list slowly increased. And yet, I stuck around, thinking it will get better, it will turn around for the better.

It only got worse. This was year number three.

One night, I took him out to dinner. I mustered up all my courage to say, listen, this is not working out. I can’t take this anymore. His response to that was, okay. That’s it.

That “okay” was, I believe, one of the most cruel things anyone has ever told me in my life. Somewhere in my heart, I expected he would stop me, ask me why I was saying these things, repent, change. No, not really.

However, from then onward, began my journey of healing. I actually went through the 5 stages of grief that most psychologists talk about.

It started with denial, of course. I told myself, he couldn’t live without me. He’ll be back. He didn’t come back.

The next phase was anger – a better word to use here is rage. I have never felt more contempt, more disgust, more vengeful for anyone else in my life.

After that came bargaining – all the prayers, the requests to God and to him, didn’t work either.

Then came the longest phase of this healing process – the depression. I was depressed for more than a year. The joy and laughter had gone away from my life (it had actually gone much earlier, but this was the clincher).

By the time the last phase of the process came about, the acceptance bit, I began to find myself again. I began to love my single life. My friends, the sweetest people that they are, returned, and were so glad I gave up the filth in my life.

It was around that time – after two years of healing – that my now brother-in-law introduced me to Rohan, a man who would change the course of my life again, this time for the best. Here is the account of that tale.

Whenever I counsel anyone today, I can totally empathise with them – especially when a heartbreak is involved. I don’t know why God made me go through that pain and suffering for almost 4 years – but is it possible that God made me go through all that, just so I can help other young people through their pain? I’d like to think of that as a possibility. And I thank Him for that.

Through this experience, I have learned many lessons. Here are the most important ones:

  • Trust your innermost being, and what it tells you. This is probably God trying to warn you about the pain you are about to endure.
  • Trust your friends – if all of them have the same judgment about someone, it is possible that they are right.
  • Trust his/her words/actions – believe me, if it not for real, it will show in their actions. Does he/she seem far away even though he/she is in front of you? If the answer is yes, and yes all the time, then it is quite possible that this is not meant to be.
  • Don’t give up. A failed relationship need not be the end. There is always a light at the end of the tunnel. Things WILL look up, for sure. Trust in God.

I find it so easy to share my past with the world today, because of the loving husband God has given me. As I write this, he read the first draft and said, this is heartfelt, I am sure people will connect with this story.

Don’t think heartbreak is the end of your life – if love gives meaning to life, heartbreak gives the lessons.

Time to embrace both.

WHEN GOD GIVES YOU A LOVELY SURPRISE

What I love most about our love story? The answer is simple – it was unexpected.

It was like God was giving both of us a pleasant surprise.

I was introduced to Rohan by my sister’s then-boyfriend-now-husband. At the time, he was mourning the death of his beloved uncle, and I was surviving a massive heartbreak from the previous year. Neither of us were looking for a relationship. In fact, we were not looking at being friends either. It was a just a passing event, and a hi-hello was enough.

All in all, not great timing, one would think.

But when the plans come from up above, there is no questioning it.

We started off as friends, and as I think of it now – it was a perfect place to start. We met only as a group. Never spoke for too long (and never on the phone). Always greeted each other with warmth, and a listening ear. He was shy, I was wary, but we both were always friendly.

And that was seven months.

A chance lunch (not a date), just the two of us, changed the course of our lives. We talked, alone, in the restaurant, for three whole hours. As he went to use the washroom, I found myself smiling – and felt silly.

I must mention here – ALL this happened in just ONE day! Everything changed in one day.

As he dropped me off mid-way from home, he leaned in, and kissed my forehead – and I could not stop myself from smiling the entire journey back home.

Then, there was no looking back.

Our scriptures say in Isaiah:

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts,

neither are your ways my ways.”

Isn’t it wonderful to get a lovely surprise from God almighty? So if the timing seems wrong, or the situation seems impossible – just know this, He loves to give us wonderful surprises to cherish lifelong.

(This was Khristina’s version of the story – Get Rohan’s version 
tomorrow)

 

THE QUESTION IS, WHAT CAN YOU DO FOR INDIA?

Gone are the days to only expect someone else to do something — today you, yes you my friend, are called to make a change in India. The question is, will you rise up to the challenge?

 You may ask me – what can I do, I am a simple citizen of this country.

True, I tell you. True, you are just one citizen. True, there are so many problems in this country that you may think you are miniscule.

But let me tell you this – India has not needed people like you to make a change before.  And this Republic Day, such a proud day for our country – a day when we made our mark in the world map.  Thanks to the hard work and sacrifice of gentlemen such as Dr Ambedkar and his team, we got our constitution and became a Republic.

Of course, we have not forgotten – but all that is history – the tales of sacrifice and service seem like a distant memory.  We are the golden generation of Indian history – living during a time when India is indeed the fastest growing economy. Today our culture, our business is spreading far and wide.

We, who live in the cities, live in this golden bubble of wealth and grandeur. Our daily discussions with our families revolve around which movie to watch, or which new restaurant to try.  We complain about the colour of paint in our homes, and save up to buy second (and third) cars.

Do we wonder about what is happening elsewhere in the country? Even in our own cities? Does anyone care? Well, these guys did.

Let’s talk about Sunitha Krishnan. And let’s talk about sex abuse and slavery. If sex slavery does not move you to tears, nothing will. Young children, girls, promised jobs in big cities, are snatched away from their parents (sometimes even sold by parents) and pushed into the prostitution business.

Sunitha Krishnan was in the news when unknown assailants vandalized her car. Why? She was protesting against a gangrape case, a clip of which went viral on social media. She was looking for the rapists, whose shameless faces were caught on camera. She appealed to the people of India to identify these men, so that action could be taken against them. Putting her own safety at risk, Sunitha singularly battles rapists, pimps and traffickers on a daily basis.

Take a look at her TED talk (Warning: Graphic images of abuse):

Now, let’s talk about climate change and rapid disappearance of forests. Can you do something about it? Well, this man did! Environment activist Jadav Payeng loved his little island in Assam so much, and was so affected when he saw the trees disappearing because of floods and deforestation, that he decided to do something about it. This man singularly spent 40 years growing trees on 440 hectares of land. Today his forest is flourishing – so much so, that the birds and animals that were long gone, are slowly returning.

Payeng was conferred with the Padma Shri award on the 25th of January 2015 in recognition of his service to society and the environment. We salute him and congratulate him for this recognition.

See his story here – it is moving to say the least:

How about sanitation – now? We keep hearing on the radio and television how the government wants to make more and more toilets, not just for the sake of sanitation and health – but also for privacy, especially for women.

There’s nothing you can do about this, you say? Let the government handle it, you say? Let me introduce you to the ‘Poop Guy’. Meet Swapnil Chaturvedi, a man who left his cushy job in the US, and returned to his country with only one mission – to build toilets for the urban poor.

See his inspiring story here:

Speaking of sanitation, all you women, having a sanitary napkin is as normal for you as sugar in your tea. You probably have one in your purse right now. But have you once stopped to think of all those women who cannot afford one – for whom a sanitary napkin is luxury? These women have to use extremely unhygienic cloth during ‘that time of the month’.

Meet Arunachalam Muruganantham, who, in a bid to impress his wife, started a revolution in India when he created a cheap sanitary napkin by himself. This sanitary napkin now is being used by thousands of women across the country.

This is his story:

Now, think to yourself, how many times have you thrown your trash out of the car, or on the side of the road. Do we stop to think about how ugly it looks, do we think of the next person who walks by and also throws some more trash, until it becomes a huge mound of trash? Then we complain that the government is not doing anything? Do we recognize that we could have been the first one to throw it?

These college kids from Mumbai decided enough was enough. They had enough of their beloved train station turning into a garbage dump. So they decided to act – themselves.

Take a look:

A true act of community service, we should be proud of these kids – who, in their act of service, inspired the people there to take up the broom and do their bit too.

And finally, let’s come back to human trafficking – THE most despicable act that can be done with human hands. Aaboo Verghese and his NGO Purnata, are working day and night, collaborating with the police, lawyers, other NGOs and rehabilitation centres, to cut this evil from its very source. As he mentions in the video below, the task can get very overwhelming most of the times, but he is determined to do his part, and we salute him for that.

This video is an eye-opener for all those who don’t know much about how trafficking takes place. Take a look:

On Tuesday, we will celebrate our glory as a country – we will celebrate our greatness – the French President Francois Hollande will be there as the chief guest and will witness the parade. All that is great – it is good to feel good about our country.

But this Republic Day, let us be burdened to do something, anything – it is time to give back to our country.

Author Bio:  Khristina Jacob, works as a Writer & Editor.