“What if I knew that I would die tomorrow?”
I asked myself when I watched the movie “The Walk” earlier last year.
“Would I be sad? Would I be disappointed? Or feel satisfied and happy?” I pondered.
The year 2015 was a year filled with deep introspection and reflection for me. Many of my life’s decisions in the past have had inspiration from movies. But this time this thought was also fuelled by two other incidents.
First, I reached forty in August.
Second, the acquittal of Salman Khan and Jayalalita.
I was happy about what I had accomplished with NalandaWay and hopeful about her future. I was happy in my relationships. But can I do better in life with what was left?
I was in a slum in Chennai when I learnt of Jayalalita’s acquittal. The slum had all the signatures of everything that is wrong with our politicians and governance. But its inmates were celebrating her acquittal by bursting crackers and distributing sweets. They did not care that she was corrupt and justice had been murdered. That she and every other criminal who run this country will never be punished for their misdeeds. The poor will always be living in a miserable urban hell and no one will do anything that would make their lives better.
Who am I judge the poor? I have never lived their lives. I don’t have to negotiate the corrupt police and politicians to survive everyday.
And people like Salman Khan will always escape the noose of justice. They will always go scot-free. They will never be punished.
I was disappointed. With my country. With my people. With myself, that my work with children will not even make a scratch in their lives who are sorrounded by these scavengers and looters. I was wasting my time. Perhaps I should get back to working for a corporation and atleast make money for myself. If things got worse, I will atleast have enough money to run away. Or should I kill them all? Become an extremist? I was angry.
I started reading Gandhi again. I met my mentors and asked for advice. I struggled to find sense.
“You are worrying from a place of arrogance,” a stranger told me. “What makes you think that you alone can end suffering? Do your thing. Do more of the same. We all have the key to a small part of a much larger puzzle. Let’s all come together to make a mosaic,” he said.
He made sense.
“What if I knew I will die but had to make everyday count?” The question looked different after this interaction.
I decided to write down a set of principles that I will follow for the rest of my life.
So this is my list;
– I will deal with every person with, patience, compassion and empathy.
– I will be speak and act against injustice without fear of retribution
– I will not manipulate, cheat, or be unethical in my dealings with anyone.
– I will consciously reduce consumption and reuse or recycle wherever possible.
– I will respect my body, and take good care of it.
– I will consciously look for beauty and goodness in every person, place, or thing even in the middle of overwhelming ugliness and vulgarity.
I told myself if I just continued to be usefull to children and lived with gratefulness, I will survive the madness.
Life is beautiful again. Death will not scare me. I will not let politicians and villains rob my optimism. And everyday is a gift and I will make it count.