learning

Dilettante’

Dilettante’

Dilettante’

‘Keep asking yourself; ’My future comes from where my time goes; so, where should my time go?’ :Mahatria Ra.

The above question is borrowed from the book ‘Most and More’ and another set of three questions the author posed for daily introspection are, 1. ‘Am I doing justice to my potential? 2.Year after year, in how many more lives am I becoming useful? and 3. Day by day, am I living my life in ways by which I am moving closer and closer to my God?’ Needless to say, the book is replete with wisdom and plenteous food for thought. I am forever cursing these learned people and their sermons; because I can neither leave them nor live by them cent percent!

The above question stood out because of it was not the typical run -of the mill question that I read in most self-help books. ‘Go with the flow’.’ Don’t resist’. ‘Things happen as they are meant to happen.’ This is the gist of all that most learned people have to say. They ask you to introspect, meditate, know your goal, rather broad – spectrum stuff.  But, here this person was asking me to track my time on a daily basis, because my life ahead depended on it. Today, I am on the doorstep of half a century and I am oblivious as to where my time went, (I was going with flow, remember?!) and where it is going to go. So, how do I aspire for a future for which I have no plan in place.  

All this learning I gently transfer to our son, in the hope that something will register, and he will have lesser hurdles on his life-path. He dabbles in everything (like me) loses interest before he has mastered it completely (partially excelling is the same as mastering, like me, again!) and he is already in search of something more exciting, challenging (unfortunately, again, like me). That brings me to the title, ‘dilettante’.  A single word, 10 alphabets in all and yet, it aptly describes me!  English Cambridge Dictionary gives the meaning for this word as: ‘A person who is or seems to be interested in a subject, but whose understanding of it is not very deep or serious’.

 A trivial example is a new app; ‘HABITICA’ which our son downloaded and egged us on to follow suit. Like with everything new, my daughter and I excitedly downloaded the app and set our goals, dailies, to-do’s and reminders.  First few days we called and messaged each other to keep a tab on our progress, Gold earned, levels crossed etc. The first one to slip was me, I could not make head or tail of the challenges, and the tasks I had assigned for myself seemed more like pseudo challenges, I succeeded every time, that became a bore. Our son suggested that I increase the difficulty level; but I had already lost interest and I noticed that the very next day our daughter forgot to update and that was that. Our son fell sick and he was forced to discontinue for a week.

So, in a span of 3 weeks we had downloaded an app, tried to inculcate a good habit and also had given up on it, that was the speed with which the habit made an entry and exit from our lives. This is a very inconsequential matter; the sadder revelation was that this was a recurring issue!  It was not just ‘Habitica’; many other activities (learn a new language, Skating, Keyboard) we had started everything with aplomb and dropped them with equal panache’.

This search for something new, this craving for the excitement has led us to have a very small threshold for patience, and sustenance. Mahatria writes; “Under the pretext of wanting to avoid boredom, monotony and repetition, using the context of change, variety and versatility and variation, you guys don’t stick to anything long enough.  When a seed stays rooted in the soil long enough it will develop roots and eventually grown into a tree. However, if I keep unearthing the seed every few days, and keep re-plating it in different places, it will not even become a plant.”

Another fable with the same moral is, a man dug 15meters deep in search of water, and upon some other person’s suggestion, tried his luck at some other spot. Like this he dug 15meter deep holes at some 20 places with no sign of water. A wise man smiled and said, “If you had listened to your heart alone, and not to every passer- by, you would have continued digging in one place and struck gold by now.”

This ‘gold-fish attention span syndrome’ is ubiquitous.  Rarely do we find a person who pursues his or her dreams and see them come to fruition. Rarer still is a person who waits and deliberates long enough to realise what exactly is their dream, every passing fancy is a temporary dream, half accomplished and cast aside. We have this fancy to be Jack of all trades, and have no patience to become ‘master in one’. Every child today is taught music, dance, some instrument, a marital art, some sport, drawing and all this is apart for regular school. We, as parent are as unsure as our parents were (about us) I think, we don’t know what choices the child may finally make and we want to cram everything, in tit -bits so that the child can pick up anything! And the bizarre irony though is that most children go ahead and pick nothing that they have already had a brush with; they seek something new! So, again all that half -baked knowledge, half -hearted attempts finally go down the drain to be replaced by some new fancy which has piqued the kids interest, temporarily.

“If you feel it is a repetition then you are not growing through that experience. Only when you stagnate, you start viewing experiences as repetition. …. The mind needs variety. It thrives on new circus.  A time for everything and everything in its time; that’s what discipline is all about and it absolutely suits the body. But the mind feels suffocated by such monotony. “what is the point if today is just a repetition of yesterday?” the mind wonders. So, the mind pulls you into undisciplined indulgence. Th every desire of the mind to get away from monotony draws us towards intoxication.  The internal drama due to intoxication is entertaining to the mind, and thus it eggs us on towards more forms of intoxication.”

 “Expertise comes with time, but you need to stick to the job long enough, precision come with time, but one has to follow the process long enough; perfection comes with time, but we are happy with superficial excellence.” So, I reiterate, where is your time going? Because, your future goes where your time goes’.

Life is not about what you do, it is about the quality you bring to everything you do. 

My epitaph

My epitaph

“To live in the hearts you leave behind is not to die” – I read this line when I was probably 14 years old and it simply stuck; I could never forget it, I don’t know who coined this line, where I first read it or why I remember it even. It simply is there and keeps popping up now and then. This line has always come to me when I have a doubt or if something dissatisfactory is happening with me, around me and I am groping in the dark seeking a way out, searching for a ray of hope; light.

Most of my youth I frittered away aimlessly searching for a goal and my true calling. I joined courses thinking this is what I wanted to do, and this would be my last, I had finally arrived. And very soon boredom would sweep in and I would be searching again. Then for some time I would do job hunting take interviews and start working.  After marriage, my husband, poor soul, would be on tenterhooks whenever I used to get into one of these job hunting frenzies! He could not reason with me and I used to be like a woman possessed, just stomp off, step out and get a job.  I realise now that it took nerves of steel on his part to be able to cope and endure a spouse as crazy, wilful and dominating like I! I worked as an audit assistant for some time when my son was a toddler. My husband was on an easy timeline at that point in life and used to be home, cater to our child and see that one of us was always available for him. Probably one reason why my son dotes and idolises his dad so much till date, even though, nowadays they barely exchange a few words whereas I spend every waking minute with the kids!

When our son was 3 years or so, we both got busy with work and careers. My husband dissuaded me from getting into fulltime work; but my madness inevitably crept in and then nothing worked. One fine day I simply went, marched into a college, met the chairman and sought a demo session for the post of lecturer. I went on Friday and Monday I started working, appointment letter in hand! My poor husband said nothing at all, with great reluctance and heavy heart he agreed that our son would be dropped off at the crèche after school, and I would collect him in the evening on my way home from work.

This continued for a few months and my new job was taxing me, I was an excellent lecturer but the subject was not to my liking. Again my sense or boredom was approaching and I was getting irritated with the students, their lack of interest and easy going attitude towards the course. B.Com students are usually there just for the degree and most of them have a business waiting for them or are already pursuing MBA on the side. So this course and class, lectures are for them just a chance to have fun, be with friends and play mischief. It is very draining and discouraging teaching such a bunch. Invariably, I used to start fresh every day with a new resolve of gaining their interest and every evening my hopes would plummet. I used to be a very grouchy person when I picked up my son and in no mood to play or give him any good company. I was too full of the dismal day and simply needed a rest. Playing with my son, spending some quality time with him became rare, very rare.

One day I took an off and we spent the whole day together, just the two of us, my son and I and we were playing, happily laughing and enjoying every moment. During the course of the day he innocently made a remark, “Ma, I would always like to remember you like this only, laughing, and having fun with me.” I burst into tears that night, what had I turned into, I was not a good mom, I was so busy working that I had forgotten how to be a loving person. My son was cherishing this moment, imprinting it in his memory to remember me by! He has no good memories of me! I came home to him every day and got him what? My share of irritation, frustration, anger and spite! When did I become like this I don’t know, and that line came back to me, simply popped up – ‘To live in the hearts you leave behind is not to die’. And with a sinking feeling I realised I was dead already, and my son was hanging on to some shreds of the good me, to desperately continue to love his mom, remember her with some long lost good memories.

I never went back to being a full time working woman after that night. If that line was to be my epitaph, I was long way off the mark. Many messy memories needed to be cleansed and fresh loving ones were to be reinstalled. I would have to work really hard to make that line come true. I did work and I can humbly say I have achieved success too. My son is still very close to his Dad but I am his darling mom too, and he has many things to remember me by, in case I cease to be tomorrow. I am sure he will miss me and always feel my presence whenever he may need me.  He has been such a beautiful gift from God to us that I feel totalled humbled and grateful. He has taught me many lessons and helped me become a better person in his own simple, unassuming, innocent way.

Game of Life

Game of Life

As kids, the most popular game at home was Snakes and Ladders. Most of the games used to be for two players or four; Chinese checkers was the only game for 6 people. Snakes and Ladders could be played by any number; we simply improvised with the chess pieces if the players exceeded four. Apart for this, the other reason why we played snakes and ladders was that we were always more than one inching our way to the top, neck to neck, and the others used to be way below, praying that a snake bite us and we slip down to join them! It was more a play of human emotions all the time and it was weird and different to see friends become enemies, pray for their loss and be happy when a third person won, instead of the contending winners. As we grew up, studies took precedence, most of the school friends went different ways and in our busy lifestyle Snakes and ladders was lost and forgotten.

Things took a different turn after my second one, our darling daughter came along. Contrary to her brother, she loves board games of all kinds and she insists that the whole family sit and play! And to our dismay she was not an avid television fan either. Even if we did put her in front of the idiot box, she would barely sit for 10 minutes, even her favourite shows, she wanted one of us to sit and watch with her and she would be explaining the story!! None of us could endure the story of Thomas the Engine, or Oswald or Cee-Bee Bees on a consistent level. Very soon we were taking turns sitting with her and gradually we all started dreading our turn! So a new game almost every week became the new escape route for us, and that is how snakes and Ladders got reintroduced into my life.

She and I used to play for hours and she would be happy winning always, and since I was her only opponent I used to allow her to win, it made her happy and I had a chance to sneak in a few other quick chores, multi-tasking was a feasible option for me only if she won! She used to play with her brother and dad at times and both of them also quickly devised a way to let her win. They soon escaped seeking umbrage of repeated loss or that they were no match against her expertise. She grew up never being able to accept defeat and also overconfident that this was her winning game, she was victorious always.

My daughter’s sand castle crumbled when she began playing with her granny. My mother in law is a very ‘play it fair’ always, kind of a person. She plays to win, be it her grandchild or anyone else, and unlike us she was their putting her life into the game. This became a kind of a tug of war for my daughter and a deja’vu scenario for me. The first time my daughter lost she took it sportingly and hid her shock well in front of her granny; she came and cried her heart out to me saying, “Granny cheats!! She is not a good person, she does not know that in snakes and Ladders I am the only winner, she won I don’t know how!”…it was a stream of epithets and wails, engulfed by abysmal sadness due to her first ever defeat! This instance set me thinking, and I knew I could not approach my mother – in-law and ask her to lose! After all it was a child, her favourite grandchild she was playing against. And even if I did convince and coax my mother in law, what after that? How is my daughter ever going to learn to accept defeat? Is she ever going to learn to lose or will she grow up with the illusion that winning is her birth right?

Somewhere along the line I had made a mistake; in my lethargy and escapist attitude I had passed on something which my daughter may have to suffer with for the rest of her life! I was unable to really pacify my little one that day, just hugged her and kept thinking what my next course of action should be. She obviously did not go back to playing snakes and ladders with her granny, not in that trip, and in a way I was glad. It gave me a respite and time to think.

We sat down to play after a short hiatus and this time I was conscious about many things, my alertness, honesty in playing the game, win or lose accept both with equanimity, her spirit and attitude to the game! Marshalling my defences and strengths we proceeded; and at every step I started talking to her, if a snake bite her she immediately looked at me askance that would I overlook like I used to, and it broke my heart not to. But I was smilingly firm and gave her a new story for every ladder and every snake! A ladder came when she was honest, able to compete, play fair, not feel jealous, and think that this is a game and every game is to learn, enjoy, win some, and lose some too! She lost to granny and she did not like it, and similarly I lose every time I will also feel sad and may never play with anyone again! And a snake bite was when she was getting angry, ready to cry because I was winning, she wanting an extra turn so she could win or even she teasing me if she was on 98 somewhere and I was miserably stuck at some stupid 10 or so, a snake if she could not cheer my previous win and so on and so forth.

It took time, few very patient, long drawn, exceedingly intense games before it finally dawned to her that she had to learn to play, enjoy the game, win or lose a game; any game had a lesson and was fun if the lesson was learnt.

She plays all games with the same ease and grit now, to win always, but willing to roll  a quarter over to the winning side and congratulate the opponent too! Snakes and Ladders had arrived with a bang in my house, teaching my daughter and I a game of life!:)

Ego- does it go?

Ego- does it go?

Joining the meditation Mission was a sequence of events in my life; everything, from the first 3 sittings to attending the satsangh; Bhandara fell into my lap in a very tailor made, comfortable way for me. The complete name of the Mission, its lineage nothing was known to me when I joined this system. I was in need of a respite and in search; I received this as a divine blessing. I accepted it gratefully, followed it dutifully and read voraciously to learn more and familiarize myself with the method the Guru and the tenets of the Mission.

Being a very dedicated and disciplined student I received many compliments from my preceptor and also had wonderful experiences during meditation the first few months. I was desperate to meet Master, my Guru about who I had only read for the last one month or so.

So, within a month I visited Chennai ashram wanting to see Master in person. My seeing Master in person is also a very strange sequence of events. I had gone to Chennai with big pipe dreams, armed with the permission letter from the zonal in charge; I also had brother Bhatter’s number for reference; push and pull. I was also told by everyone that new abhyaasi need not stand in any queue. Master simply goes up to them and meets them! I was kind of envisioning a state where Master would immediately call me, I would fall at his feet, seek his blessings and Lo, Behold! I would be a transformed person! I think my feet never touched the ground, I was high up somewhere in my own self created world where Master would come to me. I was the best abhyaasi, new abhyaasi, well educated too; Master would be more than happy to meet me!

The irony of the word Ego is that it has the word ‘go’ in it and yet it never goes. It only grows and the more one lives in this illusion of ‘I’ the more predominant is the Ego.  Such was my unfortunate state of mind when I went to meet my Guru for the first time.

The verity hit me rather badly; two days down the line, I was yet to get a glimpse of Master. I had spent the whole day sitting in front of the cottage. I sent in 3 chits or more I am not sure, and I had in my own urgency and desperation made calls to brother Bhatter, brother Satbir and to Shalini too! The children were getting weary and asking me to take them out, so I had packed them off to my cousin’s place casinomilate.info and spent the whole day in front of the cottage, sitting patiently waiting for Master to call me in.  By lunch time my thoughts took a plunge from the lofty ‘calling me in to personally meet me’ to a least let Him come out and I could have a glimpse of Him! That also I think was too much or too undeserving because Master did not venture out for two whole days! Which was rather unusual was what everyone voiced. The despondency of not being able to see him for 2 days; and I was to leave that very evening, I was a bag of mixed emotions. The other abhyasis waiting outside Master’s cottage kept telling me, “tell them you are a new abhyaasi, Master immediately calls in new abhyasis.”  Shalini gave me brother Bhatter’s number, asked me to speak to him, so that he can get me permission to go inside and see Master. I think, no; I am sure, I tried all my gimmicks and stunts that I could perceive and was told by everyone else. Nothing worked, He did not want to call me inside and I never got to meet Him in person. That is it, the sad truth.  So much for my lofty thoughts and bloated ego; got punctured and guttered in a flash. Master could not be bothered by people like me.

The evening I was to leave I began to despair; ‘Master, come out once, please, I beg of you. I will not run after you, bother you, talk to you, nothing, I just want to see you in person once’.  I did not want any personal introductions, I simply wanted a glimpse of that person about whom I had been reading for the last few months and who my Guru, my spiritual Guru is;  the guide who will light my path and show me the way. I was near tears, praying fervently, sitting in front of the cottage with a singular plea, ‘Master, please come out, just for a second, please.’

Finally, He did come out in the evening; He was on his golf cart being escorted to the medical center for His regular check up. The minute the cart exited the gate we were asked to queue up on either side of the road and greet Him or seek His blessings. I did what I was asked to do and my heart swelled up with many unspoken emotions. He barely glanced at me, not even a glance really and I involuntarily ran behind the golf cart following Him all the way to the medical center. Maybe when he comes out He will look at me properly, I can wish Him, I don’t know, many thoughts went and came and I just stood there in the crowd, waiting for Him to come out. On his return trip to the cottage also I ran behind the cart with the kids in tow, introducing the children to Him! He simply looked at me and blessed the children. He said nothing to me, He smiled at the kids blessed them with his walking stick, nothing for me, not even a glance or an acknowledgement, nothing at all! I was still happy that He has seen the kids and blessed them; that fleeting glance He threw in my direction was all that was my share and I had to do much better to be able to meet Him in person. I have never been able to meet Him or get a chance to speak to me up close till date, this is a wish unfulfilled till date.

I don’t know how to put it in exact terms because I don’t have the words to correctly describe my feelings. Even that small interlude with My Master and I was happy, relieved. I had grand dreams of personal audience and a VIP treatment for the much awaited new abhyaasi; and here I was thankful that I had seen Him. My Guru is seeing me always, am I able to see Him though? My bloated ego was so full of me then; and in the years to come I realized that I never ‘saw’ Him for a very long time.  That oft repeated statement of Babuji’s, ‘Many come to see me, but no one really sees Me.’ started to make sense to me after three years in the Mission.

The mission has helped me battle my ego and keep it in check to a great extent. The mission and the method show us the mirror everyday and give chances for self improvement.  I am sure it has not gone totally; E-go will go only when I-go. My prayer to My Master is to help me use this for my good and betterment as strength.

My daughter says so…

My daughter says so…

My nine years old is very argumentative, wants a reason, logic and a viable ground to work with; it can be any topic from maintaining her time-table to the reason why I learn music at my age! There are innumerable incidents in our daily life and I can easily write a book narrating her thought process and logical conclusions. Every anecdote has some learning for me and I realised that I may have imparted very little of me to the kids whereas my learning from them has been unimaginable!

Their innocent, incessant cross questioning and maddeningly hair splitting examination of every word I utter has forced me to be vigilant and weigh my words with utmost care and caution; resultantly loose talk is out of the way completely in my house! It is full of intelligent humour, and quizzical play with words and topics.

Here I am citing the latest anecdote. We are going to music class together; my daughter and I. she is an amazing singer more like a child prodigy and I am just the opposite. To be brutally honest, I really don’t know why I am still in the class, because my vocal chords still seem to be the same and my voice worse than ever. During my courtship days, I used to confidently sing for my husband and he used to never tire singing my praises and the crystal clear quality of my voice. And I always used to think I am a good singer, just in need of a little practice and of course a good tutor for formal training!

When I joined I thought I would soon improve and my teacher would definitely appreciate my hard work. But with the passage of time truth showed its ugly face and I knew that I was simply kidding myself. For some strange reason I continued to go and never thought of quitting. It is such a contrasting scene in the class, once ma’am asked us to sing a particular Raga and the teacher complimented her saying, “It is the teacher’s good fortune and good karma that they get a chance to teach such and gifted natural and exemplary student.” I was all smiles and feeling very proud when she smiling added, “Sharanya, you don’t feel bad, whatever you lack and can never achieve; God has bestowed on your daughter in a double doze!!”

I said nothing; simply smiled. My daughter chipped in on my behalf saying, “No ma’am, Mama wants to sings only for Her Master. She wants me to become a famous singer.” I was very grateful for her support and congratulated myself on raising such a loyal, devoted child, my good fortune and blessings of Almighty.

Recently, because of unprecedented guesting / hosting I was too over worked and decided to skip a few classes. The first 2 classes the teacher did not ask about my whereabouts and my daughter also never bothered to find out why I was not accompanying her. Third class the teacher asked her and she very innocently replied, “She just dropped me off and returned ma’am, don’t know why!!”

When she told me I didn’t know what to say!! What would the teacher think? I was returning from her door step the last 3 classes!! God!! This silly girl, she could have lied or made some excuses on my behalf!!

And as fate would have it I could not go for the next class either. But I carefully coached my girl and told her to ma’am, in case she asked, that I was unwell. That is why I am not attending the class.

I eagerly waited for her return that day, totally restless and praying that she would not mess up. The minute she returned I asked her if ma’am had enquired. She was very upset and took off like a rocket saying, “Please give me a complete reason next time!! What exactly has happened to you? I don’t know!”

I asked, “what exactly occurred, baby? What did ma’am ask?”

Daughter, “She asked me why you did not come and like you said I told her that you were unwell!”

I , “Then?”

“Then what! She asked what exactly happened to you! And I don’t know what is wrong with you, so what could I say?”

“Then, What did you say?”

All I could say was, I don’t know what is wrong with her, but I heard her taking an appointment with the doctor now and I know that she is going to a doctor in a while, and she continued very sweetly, Please give full details next!! I hate lyingL”

I felt very bad for her and totally ashamed that I was uselessly forcing her to lie. What was a casual habit for me, making excuses, became a grave lie for her and could not cope with it! I apologised to her and promised myself that I would never repeat anything like this again.

That incident actually brought a change in me; I am regular for class, no excuses. I practice at home with my darling and I have challenged myself that I will surely force the teacher to compliment my voice too, someday in the near futureJ. And my daughter loves my spirit and encourages me!

The change these little incidents have made in my life, the learning I receive from children, their innocence and purity is very humbling always.