Music Or Chair – What’s Your Choice?

“The wheels on the bus go round and round, round and round, round and round; The wheels on the bus go round and round all through the town” and the music stops and kids fight their way to get a place on the insufficient number of chairs placed in a circular configuration.

And we call it “Musical Chairs”, a fun game we all have seen and been a part of. As the number of chairs decrease the competition gets intense. Some physical dribbles, some sulking faces, few sportive acceptances, few angry stomping – all for that coveted chair of winner 😁😁.

Well that’s all fun but have a close liaison with our life, just need a deeper look, let’s have a look then.

The fight for chairs isn’t just a game in the birthday parties but a reality of our desire driven lives. Comparison with fellow human being is constantly fueling the competitive streak (not always a good spirited one though) in us. Success, position, power – the Chairs we are fighting for and resorting to every tactic we could. These chairs are placed high and have a pyramidal structure beneath them, paving a way to reach them and have two directions for the summit – one a long one and the other obviously the antonym for the previous one.

If hard work, patience, strong will, perseverance, honesty, optimism are the stairs to climb and reach the “High Chair” then deceit & envy are the second direction we were talking about earlier that can place us in a jiffy in the place we are eyeing for (remember the dribble/push/pull in the musical chairs?).

The stairs we take to climb here are surprisingly the raw material for the “Chairs” we long for. While the previous list gives us a durable product with an added perk of Goodwill that aides reconstruction in case of an accident which is a norm of an uncertain life. Success, Position, Power – all might get wiped out but with a great character a human being is always up on his feet and starts head on.

On contrary if a person takes the other route then the termites of fear, ego, greed and arrogance enter the legs of the chair we rest on, corroding it to the core from deep within. When the chair crashes the hurt is deep and probably beyond repair.

A close encounter:  Talking about the choices we make, makes me remember a snack maker from my childhood in our neighbourhood.  When we moved to that particular neighbourhood it wasn’t a busy quarter. Provisions, services were scarcely developed there and slowly evolving. So a snack maker started a small business in that area. He used to make wonderful snacks that we loved to devour. He had a good market in the absence of a stringent competition.  He was comfortable in his “Chair”.  Since change is thy life, slowly other entrepreneurs started making their space in that area. In the wake of losing out market share to them this particular snack maker started the “business” deviating from the path he chose. His quality, quantity of food deteriorated, prices soared (which is still understandable in the wake of market changes and if had been the food was great). His greed to keep the position of a higher market share purported him to take the easy steps to attain the goal. Something close to the game of musical chairs we were discussing, isn’t it?

A recurring question: A strong belief that only losers preach or put it the other way round, preaching is only for the losers. I am no one to question or answer this – a candid confession! But the question that needs to be graced with deep introspection – Are Desires Completely Undesirable/ Unacceptable? Answer is NO. If desires of a person are acting as a fulcrum for his/her upliftment, if they pave a way for greater good and emancipation of many more then they are surely a necessary driving force. BUT ( noticed the emphasis?) if our desires are robbing us of sanity, peace of mind, values and inspire us to stoop to any level to reach the zenith (a mirage), then we better leave the game and enjoy the music instead.

There’s always another party and game to play and music is there anyways, so enjoy on a reclining chair with your hair down, what say 😁.

 

ARE YOU READY TO ROCK WITH YOUR SHOES ON?

I remember as a small boy when I hear my parents or elders announce a fun trip of my interest, I get ready within no time. And the usual comment I used to get from them was like, “Uhmm… Babu, Jota Ffotta Pindhiki ekdum ready (Aha! The boy is already dressed and ready with suit and boot). But I don’t used to get the same remark when I get ready for my school or was asked to visit a place that was not of my interest. They used to literally keep pushing me to make me get ready for the same. In fact, I used to hear shouts at my back, “Did you wear the shoe as yet or not?”

We always wear a shoe at the end after we get dressed fully before we start a journey leaving our comfort zone, our home. A shoe tied well around our feet implies that we are ready or prepared to set out.

So many times, in our life we must have been challenged to do something against our will or against our mental preparedness forcibly and eventually we fail to achieve or accomplish something that we were expected of. So, preparedness matters in everything we do, both mentally as well as physically.

In army fraternity, the discipline they follow from the day one, trains each one of them to stay prepared for an emergency situation inside or outside their country. That is why, when they are asked to leave their comfort zones, they do it at once, without hesitation, without asking any questions.

The Bible so appropriately says,

No one serving in the military gets mixed up in civilian matters, for his aim is to please his commanding officer.

That is called mental preparedness, stuffed with obedience and humility.

I am always reprimanded for my laid-back attitude. Being laid-back or sloppy is just the opposite preparedness. I know, I have suffered and struggled for being sloppy in my life, I truly regret it. But I am striving to stay read or prepared wearing my shoes around my feet well before the arrival of worst days.

Keeping aside the personal level of preparedness if I want to give an example of a larger scale then I would love to mention the preparedness of Odisha Govt. during different cyclones that the state faced in the past. I can proudly say, that the state of Odisha has always been prepared for any cyclone after it suffered a lot in the past.

There were reports, that before cyclone Phailin hit the coastal regions of Odisha, there was a record-breaking evacuation took place to safeguard human lives and the state Govt was highly praised for their preparedness. Even during cyclone Fani in 2019 the report says the same thing about the promptness of Odisha govt., unlike to the loss of human lives in 1999 super-cycle because of the unpreparedness.

This is just an example of state level preparedness but coming back to the individual level if we look around, we can find ample number of such examples that make us understand how preparedness can help us at difficult times.

In closing, I wonder, if I am prepared when I am needed to stand in the gap between a father and a son and be the agent of reconciliation! I wonder, if I am prepared to stoop down to the level of a poor and deprived and lift him up from down! I wonder, if I am ready to wear the shoes of someone else and understand the pain the other person is going through!

I wonder, if someone is still saying at my back, “Aha! The boy is already dressed and ready with his suit and boot”!

Stay Blessed!

IMPORTANCE OF PREPARATION

What does preparation mean, if we go just by the definition it simply means: “the action or process of making ready or being made ready for use or consideration”, but is it as simple as this definition – it’s much more than that.

Imagine how chaotic life would be without preparation for the day, be it home (cooking, cleaning, laundry), work (meetings, presentations, targets to be achieved for the day) or kids (getting their stuff done, packing their lunch box, preparing their meals, driving them for classes etc.).

Preparation however is not a skill that can be taught or given knowledge on. It comes with practice and experience. My dad is the most organized person I have seen, he would plan days in advance and do his preparations accordingly. An effective way of doing this is to note down all your plans and make a note of the preparations you need to do to achieve the same.

Preparation is not just a task, it can be helpful in more ways than one for the person:

  1. Self-discipline: when a person is prepared for things in his/her life, they drive their life towards achieving the goal, hence it becomes imperative that the person follows certain routine and hence in the process becomes more disciplined in life.
  2. Confidence: when a person is prepared well enough to achieve the goal they have set, it becomes easier to achieve the goal, and hence the more they achieve the results or their goals, the more confidence they gain in life and hence more self-respect as well.
  3. Maturity: The more a person is prepared, the more logistically their brain functions. They see life through different aspects and situations and hence prepare accordingly, hence they can handle the real life situations in a better way than the normal.

However, having said all of the above, it is also obvious that no person can always be prepared for all the situations in life. Human mind and emotions direct us internally to be prepared for the so called ‘happy path’, but destiny might have different plans for each of us. Hence, no matter how well prepared we are, we should always be ready to change directions and planning towards the instant challenges that life throws at us. So as they say-

“Plan for the best but be prepared for the worst”.

ARE WE ACTUALLY READY?

As we all know and so it is actually true that any great accolade demands immense strenuous preparation. What is to be reflected is the fact that preparation is not just about physical toil and labor but complete whole hearted mental indulgence in the task is equally important. Hence, it is very well said that we need to commit to the battle before it begins!

Even the smallest of the task to be accomplished requires some amount of speculation. Thus we need to have the clarity of our purpose and a reason for its accomplishment otherwise all our hard efforts will be haphazardly directionless that will bear no fruits in the end.

Each one of us wants to achieve great heights and so some of the questions need to pondered and they are :-

i) Are we ready to put in the required level of hard work and give our best?

ii) Are we ready to make the needed sacrifices that includes giving up all the pleasures for a while?

iii) Do we promise ourselves to be patient in this journey that we undertake and not give up irrespective of how much time it takes ?

iv) Are we prepared to face or suffer the little step downs or failures along the journey ?
Well all the questions above are not only for any great target to be achieved but also for any little achievement , they need to be pondered. Only the level and degree of hard work and sacrifices vary according to the goals.

All great people may not reveal their success mantra but one thing is common and that is that they all have a well defined plan of action and they stick to it!

I feel physical preparation is completely dependent on our mental preparation. The mind needs to be energized and strengthened with power before commencing any physical task. For example, it can be seen that during the times, our mind is in turbulence, our efficiency also reduces and we are not able to give in the planned input. Hence all I want to emphasize is that we need to be mentally strong and determined as we undertake any Hercules task.

Building an equanimous state of working mind and focusing all our mental energies towards the goal which is unaffected by the setbacks is called mental preparation. It is not easy to do so but also not impossible. Powerful positive affirmations , daily visualization of the goal and falling in love with the journey are some of the ways to be learnt that makes mental preparation smooth! It is also true that “The possession of anything great begins in the mind.”

So I would suggest each one of us to start preparing our mind first for any upcoming war to make the struggle easy. As it is very well said  “The more we sweat in training , the less we bleed in battle.’’

HOPE FOR THE BEST BUT PREPARE FOR THE WORST

Life is beautiful, it feels like an adventure everyday. While all of it looks good, feels great, going in the right direction, there are times where we have to be prepared for the worst. What we plan for may or may not happen, and odds are bound to happen, putting us in situations we aren’t prepared for.  There are broadly two types of events in life, known and unknown.

Moving from high school to graduation, getting our first job, marriage, having kids, these are known events, the plan was laid and we have known these events would happen. Loosing a job, falling ill while we are on a financial set back, unwanted pregnancy, loss of loved one, breakups, we would have never known of these earlier than they could occur. 

Sudden change of plans due to unforeseen circumstances of life is a bitter reality. Everyone of us have setbacks, heart burns when such events happen. Most of us are wise to an extent that we plan for the expected, but we crumble when the unexpected happens. 

It has nothing to do with weak hearted or strong, it has to do with how we take what happens to us, how planned were we, more than plans how prepared we are.  Life has never been as they would have planned for any one who have ever lived. The reality of life is hard to accept, lot of people feel very apprehensive to even think that something wrong might happen, if we are afraid of thinking about it, how would we be prepared?

I have known a lady who is full of life, I was always puzzled at how amazing she is at handling the unexpected, she never even complains. She was an ace badminton player, in her academy everyone thought she would make it to international level some day, until she lost her left leg in an accident. A man fell in love with her, post marriage they discovered she can never have babies. An year and half after marriage she lost her husband in a plane crash. That’s life! Was she expecting all this? No… This is only one instance, there are many such instances all of us would have come across in family, friends or even in the news. Disasters happen, and often families are unaware of the future. The emotional drains of life are hard to handle. 

We will feel very stressed and fearful when such things happen. Often, it so happens that other people are busy with their own lives while we are fighting hard, our world has crashed down and everything else seems normal. It can be quite scary to think of the future. There are certain ways in which we can be prepared.

  • Be self-reliant: Soak in life’s lessons, when we raise kids we have to teach them everything. Like while we were in schooling, we have learnt so many subjects but we hardly put them to use, exposure is very important. Exposing ourselves to various skills, learning all that we can without being biased on how it is going to help us is very useful. 
  • Have a plan which has room for unforeseen: Life happens all of a sudden, leaves us with no time to react. When we plan we should always have a contingency or alternative plans, nevertheless we cannot plan for everything. 
  • Do not over prepare: While preparing is important, overdoing it is of no use. Some people continue to plan for ever and actually execute less. At times, we may feel we are not yet prepared to take the next step, it’s OK, there is a first day for everything and we would learn while we are on the job.
  • Live life as it unfolds: No amount of preparation can help some times, calm down, think through it and let life be. If it’s new, it is and the only thing we can do is to deal with it. We cannot run away or escape from it but face it.

I believe that everything in life happens for a reason, now we may not know it, but it has a definite place in the future.  Everything we go through prepares us for the next level.

“There is always a part of my mind that is preparing for the worst, and another part of my mind that believes if I prepare enough for it, the worst won’t happen.” 

― Kay Redfield Jamison

 

BY FAILING TO PREPARE YOU ARE PREPARING TO FAIL

“By failing to prepare you are preparing to fail” – These are the words of Benjamin Franklin which ring true for people of all walks of life. Whether you are a sports person or an actor or a mother or a lawyer or a teacher preparation is a must for all.

Taking the time to prepare and plan is an essential part of being able to execute your aims. I’ve become more and more convinced that mindfulness and planning are keys to happiness.

It is very evident in the case of a sportsman. For him winning a game or match is not only because of the performance he gave on the field that day. But it’s actually the culmination of the preparation he did for days, months or years. He has to practice his game, prepare his body in terms of nutrition, strength and endurance to win in the actual game.

I would like to share a poem I found on the net about importance of practice and preparation in a sports person’s life.

Practice like you’ve never won,
In everything you do;
Success isn’t made overnight,
Let it be well done by you.

Perform like you’ve never lost,
Do all the best that you can;
No need for wasting time,
Show that you are the man.

Practice like you’ve never won,
Losing shall pull you down;
Exert extra effort to prevail,
Becoming a talk of the town.

Perform like you’ve never lost,
Don’t be scared to make mistake;
Learn lessons from failures
To taste the icing on the cake.

Discipline is all you need,
Days of negligence are gone;
Triumph tomorrow shall shine,
Practice like you’ve never won.

Bernard F. Asuncion

Another aspect of preparation is to be prepared to face any adversity or disaster in life. Plan ahead and don’t wait for the axe to almost fall before taking any action. Like the famous saying goes “It wasn’t raining when Noah built the Ark”. He anticipated the approaching danger and started preparing for it. If he had started the work only after flooding had started then the whole mankind and animal kingdom would have been doomed. Preparing ahead is so important.

This kind of planning is a must in every routine work also.

  • Like it’s so much easier to face an exam in school or college if we have started studying or preparing for it many days in advance.
  • Early morning rush and routine is so much simpler and sorted if the menu of the school tiffin is already decided by the mother and preparation for the cooking is already done.
  • The office executive makes such a good impression in front of his boss if he has worked out all the facts and figures and the supporting documents for them. His preparation for the meetings goes a long way in helping him climb the corporate ladder.
  • If there is a cyclone warning in your area it makes life much easier if we are already prepared for power outages and got all the essential things stored with us.

This list is endless. Every single work we do needs some kind of planning, preparation and attention for details from our side. Otherwise it ends up being a sloppy work which no one appreciates.

Being a mother there is another kind of preparation that I have come across. Preparing someone emotionally to face the changes in their life. I think most mothers will relate to this. When the second child is about to come into this world the mother has to prepare the elder sibling emotionally to accept the new baby. Otherwise they end up considering the baby as their adversaries who are just hogging their mother’s attention and time.

Or when the child is going to join school for the first time the parents try to prepare the child for what to expect and also to be able to stay away from home for a few hours without a tearful meltdown. And I must say these preparations make the life so much easier for the toddlers their mothers and the teachers.

So in short I would just say “Fortune Favours the Prepared.” So be prepared.

THE BEST WAY TO FACE DEATH IS TO BE PREPARED FOR IT

To emphasise on ‘preparation for death’ would be an unexpected topic to speak about. But yet, today I would like to share about my personal view regarding death.

I’m brought up in a family where I have been hearing from my childhood about life and death not only physically but spiritually too. I was a girl at my teens who always tried to enjoy every single moment of life happily and uncared of the further consequences, follow my daily schedule of life, enjoy performing my hobbies, going ahead with my passion and so on……But yet the matter of ‘Death’ was of much significance to me, it was a silly thing always neglected by me. Until the day came i.e 9th April 2006, when my Grandmom passed away leaving us in grief. On seeing her lying dead on the bed, my heart was shattered and was over-grieved with so much pain and sorrow. At that very moment I felt as if I have lost something very much precious and dearer of my life.

This incident led me to a traumatic situation and I quietly sat in the corner of my room and wondered why she left us. It took me some time to be out of this unstable situation. I was praying for some miracle to take place so that I can get my Grandmom back but then, I suddenly realized the fact that every individual has to die someday or the other. Sickness, accidents….etc. are just matters of reason but the fact is that we need to bid adieu when our time approaches. My Grandmom’s death was a turning point in my life and I started focussing on this very matter. Now I’m aware that I too have to face death one day, so I feel the best way to face it is to be prepared for it beforehand.

Death is of course an inevitable thing which every individual has to face one day. But the matter is how prepared are we to face it? In our enjoyment of life we forget the fact that we enter a new world after death where we can make a choice i.e heaven or hell.  It is something untold and unseen which we are unaware when to face it, so we should always be prepared for it.

I still remember before my Grandmom passed away she was so excited and ready to face death. Her last words to my family was an encouragement not to mourn over her death, but instead rejoice for she will now abide with the Almighty God.  I felt more encouraged when I recently read a poem  titled “May Be” by ‘Monalisa Changkija’, where she too reflects on the fact that death is to come in our life all of a sudden with no notification. But the best way to face death is to be prepared for it. According to the poetess ‘to be prepared’ is the only way to accept death readily with no grief and sorrow in our hearts to bid adieu to this world.

— Arpita Dutta