WHO I AM – WHY I AM ADMIRED?

One of the absolutes of human life is, each human being is intrinsically designed and holds a definite purpose. This definite purpose designs their life patterns. It also becomes the compass of their ethical and moral belief system. Probably that’s instigated, the American Author, Educator, & Activist Parker Palmer to pen,

“Before I can tell my life WHAT I WANT to do with it,

I must listen to my life telling me WHO I AM”

Recently I was asked by one of my board members to help him with technical assistance in a 2days seminar. I was able to help him on the first day but on the second day I had to go on my family vacation, so much prior to the session, I compiled all the information, made the presentation in a couple of formats, and handed him in a thumb drive. But alas, due to some technical glitch he was unable to make the presentation. The next day when we met, he said, “yesterday, if Avinash would be that Avinash whom I admire, I won’t have failed.” Going further he appreciated one of my leadership traits which inspired me to reason his words rather than complaining him of dicing the blame-game. He said, “to succeed in your work, you always come with a three-fold strategy. If one strategy falls apart, there are two more strategies to succeed. That’s why I admire you. He was right! That’s what I ignored, I didn’t use my other two options and as a result, he failed to resolve the technical glitch.

To understand “Being WHO I AM” and “WHY I AM ADMIRED”, I had an imaginative visit to a Potter’s workshop. I found too many pots there, each of them was of different designs, different shapes, different prices. I enquired about the difference and all that the Potter pointed me was “each clay pots are designed for a particular purpose. It is for that purpose people admire them, for that purpose I designed them differently, for that purpose they are of different shapes, and for that purpose they are priced differently.

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.

COMING OUT OF THE DRIED BONES EXPERIENCE

I was called a self-obsessed person last year in 2020 when the Covid19 virus literally took the whole world under its control. The reason behind the person calling me self-obsessed was because I firmly held onto my own welfare in regards to my health condition. I had both genuine as well as self-obsessive reasons behind my behaviour otherwise as far as my knowledge is concerned, I am a very joyful and out of my own shell person who doesn’t like to dwell in self-obsession or self-pity. And I was at peace knowing that taking care of my own health and worrying about my own affairs momentarily while I am struggling healthwise is not self-obsession though I keep introspecting about it in my mind all the time.

When I was a kid, I struggled to live my life joyfully though I have a cheerful personality. I definitely, led a life with self-pity but once I tasted the sweetness of my God’s grace and realised how much He controls my life and the lives of everyone else in this world, I took a U-turn. And I started living a joyful life since then, doing justice to my original cheerful personality. But I would acknowledge that for the last three years since I had suffered Dengue in 2017 I have been struggling in life trying to tackle many things. Though I kissed failure in all attempts to get rid of my struggles. I became self-centred a bit but never suffered from the disease of self-pity.

A week ago, while trying to focus on God more when the whole world started falling prey to Corona virus once again, I came across a passage that made me think within once more.

Let me quote the passage:

No sin is worse than the sin of self-pity, because it removes God from the throne of our lives, replacing Him with our own self-interests. It causes us to open our mouths only to complain, and we simply become spiritual sponges— always absorbing, never giving, and never being satisfied. And there is nothing lovely or generous about our lives.

Oswald Chambers

Self-pity not only creates self-doubt within us, but it creates doubt about the existence of God and His might. I realised self-pity is not just a feeling which makes me feel pity for myself all the time, but it makes me behave and work in a certain way as well. Self-pity not only makes me talk about myself explaining my pain and problems to others but it also dries up all my God-given desires and talents which I should be using them for His purpose and for the benefit of this world at a large. We were created by God in a certain way to lead our lives using the talents in every situation – bad or good. Are we doing it? If not, we are attacked by the virus called Self-Pity.

I realised I may not be feeling and talking about myself and my problems and thinking that I am not suffering from self-pity but I am not using my talents but feeling low almost all the time. And that day, I called up many of my friends and relatives to know about them because I know I am good at encouraging and motivating people. I decided I will do everything to use my talent instead of feeling low all the time.

I know, my comforting words have always become a source of inspiration for many in the past. Many have been motivated and encouraged when I had prayed for them but recently, I have been feeling low and not trying to reach out to people. I decided to change my way of life and start doing what I do the best.

Trust me, friends, self-pity is such a virus that kills us from within and dries our bones as the Bible rightly says, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.” Let’s stay away from this deadly dried bones experience.

Stay Blessed!

MILES AND MORE

Surrounded by melancholy as I sat under the rock of my insecurities I was stuck hard by the lightening of chaos. And I was forced…

As I was forced to leave behind my shattered self and trend a new direction my hands held together the broken pieces of a painful heart and haunting memories.

As I commenced my stroll with moist eyes and parched lips, with every mile I left behind the pain in my heart turned into bodily exhaustion yet prevailed a sense of solace.

As I continued my stride forward the strings of expectations entangled with my flimsy fingers broke apart getting my shoulders ready for new hopes and responsibilities.

As I picked up pace the heat that earlier filtered through my skin burning my very soul now seemed to have transformed into rays envisaging a path of possibilities.

As I fought my way through barriers I faltered and devoured by the depths unknown, an attempt to put a halt to the fall lifted my gaze opening up for me the skies.

As I crossed miles and more the soaring distances that rested behind me relieved me of my ambiguity, as my body could no longer feel the prick of thrones nurtured around me I am in a state of tranquility.

As I walked and walked and walked looking at a new horizon in offing I paused to pay homage to my journey so far and wondering what could have led to this agility which wasn’t me.

A realisation dawned upon me, I ran out of choices. Fear of losing has already battered me to death that my existence has already been charred to ashes. Had I not walked away I would have been trampled upon in the name of normalcy & formalities.

Its my fear of losing myself that instigated to retaliate with resilience, make a move, cover miles and more for I am Phoenix and not Icarus.

HAVE I EVER INSPIRED ANYBODY?

I once affirmed to myself that I wanted to be a possibility of Inspiration. What did I mean when I affirmed so? I meant that I want people to be their best when they are with me in whatever relationship I have with them. This was quite a huge aspiration. But this aspiration continues to drive me every single day. 

So did I succeed? That is really difficult to judge because I cannot really say that somebody in my life is becoming a better person because of me. That would be just unfair to everybody to take away the credit of somebody else’s evolution journey. I can know this only when people come and tell me that something that I did helped them in their own journey to be the better version of themselves. 

Inspiring my readers

I have received a lot of feedback from my readers’ time and again about my articles helped them in their particular situations. Even if any article that I have written makes somebody change their mindset from negative to positive – I consider it a huge success. 

Recently, one of my ex-colleagues called me after reading one of my articles. I spoke to her after really a long time and she mentioned how the lockdown was wearing her out and reading this just changed the her perspective. And now she was willing to explore this dimension a lot more along with me. The article was about something that I learnt while reading an amazing book. The article was this one.

Even this particular article that I got quite a few texts and calls on was this one.

There have been many such instances where people called me or texted me specially to let me know that my article made a difference to them.

Inspiring my students

I was a teacher for a very short span of time. I took up some volunteering work when I was working with GE Healthcare. As part of this work, a group of volunteers taught basic computers and spoken English to 11th and 12th standard underprivileged kids. These kids were studying in Kannada medium government schools and most of them could not communicate basic English and teaching them computers was mainly a language issue. 

I took up the challenge of teaching them English communication and stumbled upon one big obstacle. These kids didn’t know English and I didn’t know Kannada. So, there was absolutely no medium for us to communicate at all. Still I took up the challenge believing that this would probably be my path to learn Kannada as well. So I struck a deal with them – they teach me Kannada and I would teach them English. Initially, it was quite a challenge mainly because I am not at all a quick learner of languages. But we figured out ways to communicate with each other. 

We discovered and played different mixed language games. We learnt together in this journey and I really grew close to this class of not more than 10 students. So close that they started sharing the stories of their teenage crushes with me. 

One of the girl’s parents decided to get her married to a guy 10 years older to her when she just turned 18. I was furious because this girl was really smart and was quite determined to take up an Accountant’s job.

We volunteers met her parents and surprisingly after a few meetings with them – we convinced them to wait for at least 2 more years and give her a chance to pursue a job. This girl and her friends were in tears of gratitude when her marriage was called off. 

This whole episode turned out to be great inspiration for many other volunteers. This wasn’t just my job, we were a team of 4 volunteers that was working determinedly for the future of those kids. And I believe this was probably the biggest difference I have made at the community level. 

Inspiring the people I work with

When I was interviewed for an entry into the current organization that I work with – I was asked a very deep question by one of the very senior members of the panel. He asked me “Apart from your technical skills, what value can you bring to our team?” And I replied “I will make sure that my colleagues work at the best of their ability”. I replied so because I was coming from a team that was highly toxic and was a reason for me to move on. Later on this senior member became a good buddy and he told me that this particular answer made them sure of their decision to hire me. 

It is extremely important to have a calm atmosphere at work. As a junior developer, I have worked in toxic environment for a few years and I realize how crushing that workload is. I decided when I grow up to be in senior position, I will do my best to keep toxicity out. 

The person who tends to respond to a situation instead of react to it – makes the best out of the situation no matter how negative it is. I have seniors who inspire me in this act of responding wisely always. When my team performs at their best and are full of appreciation for each other and me – I know that responding to the situation wisely works always. 

Inspiring my family

There is a lot that I want to write in this regard. I have seen my family members transform from very negative to very positive when I have been practicing responding to them instead of reacting. 

I know my behavior has inspired them to change their mindset. Unfortunately, I cannot allow myself to write more on this area without giving out the details of their lives. So, I will keep at it. 

Possibility of being an inspiration

As a child if somebody would have asked – how can you become an inspiration for people? I probably would have replied that I need to be somebody like Indira Gandhi or APJ Abdul Kalam, maybe I will have to do some great acts and have my biography published or maybe I will have to write many books. 

But now I realize, that all of us inspire each other in many different ways. It is a continuous transaction that happens in our lives with every other soul. A simple act of kindness or compassion can trigger a wave of inspiration in somebody. I get inspired by many and I do inspire many. We just need to notice these little things in life. 

One need not be a VIP to be an inspiration. A mere common person of this world is capable of inspiring by the little acts of humanity. 

AN INSPIRATION TO LIVE LIFE TILL ITS PURPOSE IS OVER

The air looms heavy with sickness and death. Smiles seem to have faded away. Uncertainty of the next moment gives sleepless nights. Safety of loved ones has gained immense priority. With emotions running wild, sanity seems to be under a humongous threat. For those who have lost their loved ones or have managed to save their dear ones at the expense of a lifetime’s savings, the future looks bleak.

Words are not the best comforters in times as these. Talk of ringing in positivism with rich thoughts, well, that’s a momentary denial of reality as it stands. The world is not only grappling with a pandemic with an ever-mutating virus at its helm right now, it is also dealing with earthquakes, cyclones, typhoons, mice plagues, locust attacks, volcanic eruptions, bombings, shootings, rocket attacks – most of which have escaped mainstream coverage and viewer attention owing to the focus on the pandemic. Added to these are the rapidly dwindling jobs, steep rise in unemployment and poverty and a proportional increase in crimes – all of which already existed in a pre-COVID world.

Coming to crimes, what shocked me this week was the news of the clothes of deceased COVID patients being stolen and sold by a racquet, that was busted!! Even infectious clothes are not spared by obnoxious minds!! The organ trading industry has been flourishing discreetly behind closed doors since the time COVID deaths rose in numbers. Ghastly rapes continue.

When the picture is so gloomy, what can keep us going?

I’m sure each of us has an inspiration that helps keep us upbeat and moving. There are two things that keep me going:

  1. Life has to go on till it stops. Remember Atlanta from the Greek mythology who lost the race to Melanion as she got distracted by the golden apples? You and I are running individual life races. No matter how much the pain and suffering around, we have to continue to run. While we need to pause and ponder where we are heading, we need to continue to run. We need to do all that we do till the last breath. We cannot sit with folded hands and wait for the tempest to calm down. Melancholy need not reign over us. This keeps me going!

2. Life will be over when its purpose is over. When we hear of young people dying in this second wave of the pandemic in India, it sends shivers down the spine. Just before I began typing this blog today, I got the news of a school batch mate (from another school in my city) who lost her battle to COVID. She was a bubbly lady – full of life and all of thirty-five. Such and other similar news over the last few weeks captioned ‘Gone too soon’ over social media often rattle the mind. But, the bottom line remains that the Life-giver takes away the life once its purpose is over. So, I know that when my purpose is over I’ll be gone – whether early in years or in ripe old age. Hence, the questions – Do you know your purpose in this life? Are you fulfilling it/ them?

Preachy though it may sound, this is what keeps me going. The assurance that whether in life or in death I am in God’s plans – in His hands, gives me the gushing energy from within to retain my joy and peace in the midst of the mayhem and continue living and encouraging others to live – one day at a time.

THERE IS HOPE…

This pandemic and the resulting lockdown has turned us all into hassled adults. We all have that air of stress, tension and sometimes dread around us. And rightly so. We are all living in dangerous times. People close to us are dying, businesses are already dead. The whole burden is too much to carry. My day starts with asking the well being of all the relatives and friends affected by COVID and reading with despair and helplessness the desperate SOS messages from people for either bed or oxygen or other help. Makes me so anxious.

The other day I stepped out of the house with the full gear of mask etc. and from the neighbouring house the 4-year-old twins called out. “Aunty don’t go outside. Corona is sitting outside. It will catch you.” This sure brought a smile to my face because I could picture some cartoon character kind of monster sitting outside the lift door ready to jump on me the moment I step out.

It got me thinking… We, adults, are all caught up in our problems and how our life has gotten topsy turvy. But look around you and see how the kids are coping with it. They are my inspiration these days. Maybe children are more adaptive to the changes around them. As they have moulded themselves to the new lifestyle so well.

Coming back to my neighbours – the toddler twins. They started schooling in lockdown in Nursery class and this is the second year in a row of online learning. They have reached JR Kg without putting a step inside the school building. Which is hilarious. But still, if you speak to them they will tell you about the activities they did at school (online of course), the homework (which is uploaded every day), the friends they made at school. Their excitement about their teachers and notebooks and colours etc. is the same as any other toddler was a few years ago. 

Then there is my sister’s son. He is so diligent about wearing a mask. He makes others follow the rules if by any chance others become a little relaxed. His father had travelled recently and had to be quarantined. He was the one who was the strictest to see that no one steps into his room or he doesn’t step outside.

What do they know about the virus or the lockdown? Everything from their study to leisure has changed but still their sunny disposition and excitement gives me hope.

Let’s move on to a little older children. The pre-teens and teenagers. If you have ever been into an online classroom. You will still be able to recognize the eager beavers – who answer all the questions the teacher asks and the backbenchers who now hide behind switched off cameras. They have plays online, debates and elocution online, they learn music and games also online. These children have adapted so well to the new way of life. 

I will give you a funny example. The schools had no other option but to conduct online exams for their students last year. The school tried all the ways possible to be as strict as possible. But the mischievous students came out with such ingenious ways to cheat. Technology and devices were put to good use. The stricter the school became the more creative the students became. I know it’s not actually funny but ironic. 

But what I mean to say is that they did not leave their usual mischievous ways. They found other outlets for it.

Recently the board exams of Class 10 got cancelled. I was feeling so worried that how my son will get a good score. With this score actually mean anything… How will he get admission to the next class etc? And my son oblivious to my thoughts comes and says “Everyone was scared of Board exams all their school life and look when it was our turn to face the boards; the board exam got scared of us..” I couldn’t stop myself from laughing.

My elder son is busy editing a video with his friends. They all log in from their residences and record video and audio. Sit together online and edit it. They are still finding a way to talk, chill together, come up with ideas and collaborate. 

Seriously when I look at the children of these times I feel sad about how much they are missing out on the normal childhood. But then just look at the smile on their faces and think if they can cope up with such a humungous change in their life… So can we. There is hope…

HELPING HANDS DURING THE PANDEMIC TIME

During these trying times, all of us have experienced the severity of the pandemic. Some lost their jobs, some suffered because of the financial crisis, some suffered because of sickness and some lost their loved ones. There are many other difficulties that people went through which I have not mentioned even. And finding out inspiration among all these situations were really difficult.

In these most difficult times of my life, my eyes straight away go up to my God, the father in heaven and I try to draw all my inspiration from His word, that is from the Bible. But as we decided to write about those inspirations apart from God, I would like to mention them here in this article today.

I stood out to be the most vulnerable person to this virus being a congenital cardiac patient and became invalid from the very onset of this pandemic in March 2020. And moreover, I had just recovered from Pneumonia so the doctors and my family members strictly prohibited me to go out. I even could not go out of the apartment gate to get a biscuit or snacks packet right from there itself. And it has been almost 15 months since when I am being quarantined or isolated or restricted from the outer world.

I had stayed at home a lot from childhood so this isolation really didn’t affect me for the last many months but now I really want to go out though I know I can’t risk it by adventuring out of my house. But I really thank God for those helping hands that helped me and our family in these difficult times. They truly inspired me as they kept risking their lives for me just to help me and my family out.

Asmita went out all the time for marketing, buying things and managed the household chores along with her tuitions but there were things like going to banks, buying medicines urgently, buying stuff that was not available close by were done by those helping hands which I can’t ignore. Those office boys who stay on the same campus in our office apartment helped us all the time. One of them, who went ahead the extra mile by bringing things for other apartment dwellers as well. And his name was in everyone’s mouth, even the old man who works as apartment guard also praised that boy.

We all know how Sonu Sood helped many in this time of need and became an inspiration and a hero for many people in India who were in trouble. Trust me, I see another Sonu Sood in this boy who literally became the only source of help in this trying time.

I also get inspired by Asmita who had helped many people by giving away her money to give them comfort who had been going through financial difficulties. She has a lot of fear and insecurity concerning me and my health yet she never back out when it came to helping someone in this time. And I watched all of these amazing people helping others as I sat helpless and unable to help anyone. But I also thanked the Lord for all these people around me whom God used to be the inspiration for me and all.

May God bless them all!