These days I wake up and feel like starting my day on a fresh note Then I hear something terrible Friend’s father is in the hospital Classmates’ wife couldn’t make it Colleague’s 13- year old niece is battling for her life in the hospital A friend is traumatised because he couldn’t perform his father’s last rite I am constantly checking on people Sometimes I get scared to hear phone ringing at the odd time I am doom scrolling Sometimes I don’t want to Then I want to keep myself updated so that I will be ready to face any new challenge What will happen There is anxiety and grief When this will end When everything will be normal I am telling myself every day When this will be over, I will live each moment I will never take things for granted I will be grateful Just waiting for this to end Just waiting for the day when I wake up And breathe easy Hoping for this to end soon…
In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count, It’s the life in your years.
Recently, I had this feeling of what next I should do. And then I decided to create a list of 50 things that I want to do before I die. When I was thinking about it, I had so many things in my mind and for a moment it felt like, life is like a -to-do list.
Out of curiosity I also asked others. I got different answers from everyone but the interesting thing was that no one told me that they want to study or appear for some exams rather most of the people added that they want to travel or do some adventure sports, create a small library, build their own home and do something for underprivileged. I don’t know what to feel about this. Here are my 50 things I want to do before I die:
Want to work for the Government of India (Done)
Help and guide 100 underprivileged students to appear for Civil Services Examination
Want to write two books: one non-fiction and another fiction
Want to work for GOOGLE and TWITTER
Want to start my venture through which I can contribute to the society
Start a small café where people can come and hang out or just read some books. The café should be green, full of art and beauty
Do a degree from abroad
Give a speech to an audience of a hundred people
Visit all cities of India
Travel whole India by Train
Travel in a truck
Want to go on a road trip from Kashmir to Kanya kumari and from Gujarat to Arunachal Pradesh
Travel solo without any planning; just start from anywhere and go anywhere
Want to have a nice drink without any hesitation
Sleep under the stars on a road or a mountain without any fear
Build a small cottage home in Dharmashala (Himachal Pradesh) and also make it a homestay for tourists
Climb Mount Everest
Volunteer at Golden Temple, Amritsar
Adopt an animal
Adopt a girl and provide 100 % funding for her education
Travel at least 100 countries of the world
Ride a bike and go on a bike trip
Learn a foreign language
Go on an island and stay there for a month without any outward communication and internet connection
Sleep on the Beach
Spend a night in a Tree House
Participate in Floating lantern activity in Thailand
Want to go horseback riding
Want to do zip-lining, sky-diving, scuba-diving and par-gliding
Go on a hot-air balloon ride
Want to participate in cycling
Want to have a nice romantic dinner with my spouse on the Eiffel Tower
Jump-off a cliff
Visit a chocolate factory
Make chocolate from scratch
Buy a Mercedes
Travel to Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Bhutan
Talk to a lot of strangers and write their stories
Volunteer for ‘clean river campaign’
Participate in road painting/road cleaning exercise
Plant 1000 trees
Do something for my village located in Azamgarh district
Ride a bullet
Go on a girls’ trip with some of my close friends
Create/Direct a documentary ( A difficult one)
Write at least 10,000 blogs before I die (This is my 93rd blog)
Read 10,000 books before I die
Stay in Varanasi and Sikkim for sometime
Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go- T S Eliot
It’s been a while since ‘new normal’ is ‘actual normal’. Everyone is living a life that none of us had ever imagined. A lot of things have changed, and are changing along with each passing day, which makes me wonder whether or not this world is going to be better or the same.
Life in quarantine is difficult for many people due to various reasons yet for few this came as a blessing. People who never had time to live in the moment are realizing what it means to live in the moment. Students, who complained of shorter holidays are now enjoying a long break. Some are happy, but some are having second thoughts about the unforeseen future, yet each one of us is living, learning, or longing for things to be alright and back to normalcy.
A few years back, I met someone who gave me profound advice on how to be happy and grateful for everything you have, close your eyes and remember about a place, person or perspective that made you believe in something which you otherwise have never thought off, which made you smile even for a second or taken you somewhere, far away from your self. You are, what you make others feel about themselves.
And the big question is how to nurture your tree of happiness during this quarantine period? Why not all of us plant a sapling or bury some seeds and remember this lock down as something extraordinary, which happened to make us realize the importance of intangible feelings and emotions we have forgotten long back. I know, for some people this won’t be possible due to various constraints, but for those it is feasible they have this chance and can surely go for it and do it. Somewhere down the line, from now when we look back and realize what we did was something meaningful for the life and to mother nature, even when everything was gloomy and uncertain, the memory of our quarantine tree and its leaves would shine and beam through our thoughts and give us the feeling of sustainability worth cherishing.
Make a list of all the happy places you have been or planning to go gives you a sense of belonging to that particular place, time, and thought. Happiness binds you to the places you want to be. Rejoicing is a choice, a story which brings a tear of happiness in your eyes, a movie or play that makes you wonder, a child whose glimpse makes your day delightful, a cup of tea which brings the smile on your face, the smell of your garden, the fragrance of old perfume, the box of un-posted letters, the magic of invisibility of everything that you think in a day is amazing and is what happiness looks like.
The most important thing is to become “mindfulness of your thoughts and feelings”. If you are aware of your emotions and feelings, the process of being happy has started. There are no lesson plans, or theorems needed for happiness, or its learning outcomes, happiness is simply the treasure of your heart and how large it can be for others who can not do anything for you, a single stroke of happiness transforms everything in life, and the thread of happy feelings often weaves the best warmer to wrap around your thoughts. Taking examples of happiness are ways of telling you that nothing can deter your power if you decide What happiness means to you, and Where you truly find it, irrespective of its kind, that is Material, Behavioural, Intellectual or Experiential, based on Modal of Happiness as proposed by A. Nagaraj (1999). So the most important thing is to become ‘mindfulness of your thoughts and your feelings’
Humans have a significant capacity to transform their thoughts into invigorated learning and reach out to millions of others needing your help to be happy.
“Choose happiness above everything else, not because you have better things to do but things will be better, if you are contented and truly happy from within. Seeking happiness leads you to yourself and virtues of life which gives you clarity of thoughts and rationality of emotions.”
Stay happy and preach happiness. Be fortunate enough and thankful for your happy thoughts which travels all through you. Show gratitude, when you can not do anything else. Stay humble and choose kindness. Be buoyant. 2020 will bring out sanguine hope of thinking.
Guest Post: This blog is authored by Minaxi. She is a research scholar in education. She is a very close friend of mine. This blog has been edited by Ritambhara. All views expressed are personal.
The year 2020 has turned out to be the worst year in recent times. There is so much sorrow in the world these days that I can’t remember the last time things were normal. A celebrated actor Irfan Khan died today and It left me heartbroken. I felt like losing someone from my family. I couldn’t concentrate on anything for the whole day. He was an actor par excellence. His acting was effortless. I will always remember him for his magic created on celluloid. May he rest in peace.
People are dying because of the dreaded Coronavirus disease. Migrants are walking for thousands of kilometers to reach their homes. Some died due to hunger and exhaustion. Many people are stuck in different cities away from their parents and family members. Some want to visit their loved ones but they can’t, because of the severe lockdown imposed in our country. People are depressed and lonely these days.
This crisis has turned people’s lives upside down. I am sure many people have lost everything because of this crisis. We might be able to build our economy but we will not be able to bring back this lost time and people’s lives. If you listen to experts, things are not going to be normal so soon. This epidemic is going to be a long haul. Physical distancing/Social distancing is going to be the “new normal”. The world is not going to be the same again.
When people say time heals everything, I feel they say it to console others. We never forget our loved ones who lost their lives. That pain never goes. Just that we don’t want to show it to the world and we want to look strong. We remember the person at every moment of our life without making any sound as if everything is going on smoothly. We don’t even want to tell ourselves that something is broken inside us. Sometimes we are angry with the person who left us in this cruel world to survive. We try to find out his/her mistakes so that we can say that this person was not good enough to deserve our love just to console ourselves.
But nothing really stops in this world. As someone said, ‘no matter how bad your heart is broken, the world does not stop for your grief.’ We have to move on hiding that pain in the darkest and smallest corner of our heart so that no one else can see. Death is the truth. It reminds us almost every time not to forget that this life is ephemeral. We should live this life fully and we should move on and be hopeful in life. I will end this with Imran Khan’s dialogue:
“I suppose in the end, the whole of life becomes an act of letting go, but what always hurts the most is not taking a moment to say goodbye”
This post is for all those people who sometimes feel a bit low because one of their friends is having a great time with her partner/spouse/best friend, cleared a top-level competition, got a high-paying job, having a great love-life or got selected to some Ivy League University or having a great time in their life. It seems that they always look good and they are quite fit or they are visiting exotic destinations(though not these days because of corona epidemic and lock down).
Almost everyone has a story to tell. Everyone feels incomplete in their own way. Everyone has some painful moments in their life. But you know what I feel, people feel more comfortable in sharing their happiness than their pain/sorrow or painful moments or their problems. You need a lot of courage to share your pain, your guilt and your problems to the world. I also don’t dare to share my pains but I can easily share my happiness.
So don’t worry. Don’t overthink. No one is perfect. No one is completely happy. As Oscar Wild said, “Be yourself, everyone else is taken”. Accept your flaws because they are beautiful. It makes you a soul. Lastly, have a lot of courage and strength to say what you think, to express what you feel, to do what you love and to become what you want as Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment”.
I don’t know how many people remember this picture but I did not forget till today. This picture is almost two years old. He is a three years old Syrian migrant/refugee who was trying to flee his country so that he can live a good life any where else. But the destiny had other plans for him. And just to inform others, in fact, I also don’t know, Is he a refugee/migrant? Countries have given different definitions for both the terms. A small child can be segregated in various ways.
I was totally frustrated after seeing this picture. Why a small child has to suffer due to Geo-political wars. What happened to the sacred “Human Rights”? We have ignored that we are humans first . As Sapiens’s author Harari says, nation/country is a figment of our imagination. We created the nations, countries, religion, corporation, United Nations etc to bring about more cooperation and betterment of the humanity. But we just didn’t realize that day, these imaginations are going to hurt us so badly.
Syrian war is going on since 2011. The crisis started when the Arab Revolution was sweeping the Middle East. Western Countries wanted a ‘regime change’ in Syria by removing the President Bashar Al Ashad but Russia and China supported Syria. In this complex game of “power politics”, people of the region are suffering. We can also debate about various causes of these conflicts-some will say-Colonial legacy is responsible, Others will blame “religion” and some will say “ethnic differences”. We can find innumerable causes responsible for this horror. But the problem is that How to punish someone when perpetrator and victim are the same i.e. Human Beings.
Why do we need a shocking picture to realize that something needs to be done to solve the crisis. Loosing your loved ones is very painful experience. Every single person is important. And we talk about innocent children, every child is valuable. We can’t afford to hurt any child.
Just look at this picture: The boy is alive but his facial expression reflects the emptiness in our ideas, our beliefs and our humanity. We need to realize that things can’t go like this. We as a humanity must come forward to do something. Until when we are going to run towards chimerical ideas for the sake of humanity.
I am just leaving here with another moving picture created by famous sand-sculpture Sudarshan Patnaik.
Please see some links to know more about the issue: