There comes a time in your life when you question the choices you have made and where they have led you. Had you chosen a different path where would it have lead you? If you hadn’t made fear and conforming your bosom buddies where might you have flown? And then you make regret your ally and that takes you nowhere. So why am I here? What’s the plan? Am I supposed be like the hamster on a wheel running endlessly with no purpose in sight? Or do I have a calling, a talent, something the world is waiting for and only I can bring into existence? The questions are endless and the answers go all the way to infinity and beyond.
Everything seems to be fluid and shifting right now. It’s like trying to find a foothold in the sea. It’s like trying to grasp air if you will, while you are plummeting down from the sky. Pointless. Sometimes I think God has a very sardonic sense of humor. Like he puts a bunch of us with acute amnesia in a place full of problems which we tend to aggravate and add to. He watches the whole drama unfold and probably chuckles a little.
The mythical churning of the ocean of milk brought forth nectar and I’m hoping the same is true for the world at large. Though what seems to be coming up is all the ugly and unwanted. Maybe we have to be purged of it before we can harvest nectar. It’s like alchemy, it transforms everything it comes in contact with but it takes years and many mistakes to master the art.
Why is there pleasure and pain? Is it because we need to experience one to savor the other? Can we only enjoy good health after a bout of disease? Can we only welcome rain after a drought? Why do we eternally live in a world full of opposites? Does pain have a purpose? To birth a new being into this world, every mother endures excruciating labor pains. The new born cries when it takes its first painful breath of air and opens its eyes to the glaring lights. Procreation on the other hand is an act of pleasure. Is it safe to conclude that pleasure and pain are two sides of the same coin? One precedes or succeeds another?
And yet we are told of this magical place where we feel no pain, where there is no disease, no hatred, and no competition. But to get there we have to shed this mortal manacle and must go alone. We are terrified, afraid of the unknown, even though we came alone and came from the very same place. Some are fortunate to get a glimpse of this blissful place that is better known as heaven. Comatose patients and those whose hearts stop beating for several minutes and are revived have spoken about such a place.
I’m not sure if I visited that place when I was born. But I’m pretty sure that I was not breathing when the ob-gyn thrust my lifeless body into Dr. Chacko’s hand. You see I was a breach baby and in those days when doctors did not have sophisticated ultrasound machines to tell the position of the baby, they relied on physical examinations which had a tiny element of human error. The ob-gyn mistook my behind for my head. So Mom was scheduled for a normal delivery. Imagine their surprise when my legs came out first! By then it was too late to do a C-section. I had swallowed a lot of the amniotic fluid, so they had to pump it out. My hip got stuck and when they pulled, it got dislocated ( I had to have it bandaged up for a month and no one knew if I would ever walk). But worst of all I was not breathing.
It so happened that Dr.Chacko’s granddaughter was born in the hospital 2 days before me and she was in the hospital at the time of my birth. The ob-gyn summoned her to revive me. Even today Dr.Chacko says it was a miracle that I came back to life. She prayed and did what she had to do and if it were not for her I wouldn’t be writing this today. Just breathing again didn’t do it for me. Every milestone was a big deal. I could have sustained brain damage. I could have been disabled. My hip may not have healed and I could have been on a wheelchair. My speech or hearing could have been affected. So Dr.Chacko celebrated every milestone. She never told my parents about her fears. She kept it all to herself and prayed every time I went to her for a shot. I’m guessing all those prayers worked (although my friends and family will swear my brain is damaged beyond repair!)
When I enrolled into kindergarten at Good Shepherd School, her granddaughter Shomita was also there. It’s funny but our lives have always been running parallel. We were born in the same hospital, went to the same school, the same class in college and came to the U.S. around the same time. She also shares a very special bond with my kids.
The first few months of my life on earth were hard, to put it mildly. But thankfully I have no recollection of it. The rest of my childhood was happy and carefree and I was loved and adored by everyone. Treated like a princess. But all pleasure and no pain makes a poor player of anyone in the game of life. Immature and green with no experience muscles. So I got some challenges thrown at me. Pow! Pow! Pow! All at once. I succumbed to them. Instead of facing them head on, instead of garnering the support of my friends and family, I just went into a shell. I internalized the anger I felt and got depressed. I festered in the hole I had dug out for myself, my sad story playing continuously in my head. I pushed away all my loved ones. My heart was like a black hole, sucking every bit of joy and love that was coming my way. I saw no way out of it. The only way was deeper and deeper, darker and darker, sadder and sadder. The only way out was death. But even death eluded me. Thrice.
Whatever it was that brought me into the world and revived me when I was not breathing decided that my time had not come. I had more to do here. I had to go on and get married to my soul mate, have two kids and be a mother. I had to write this! I did not know it at that time but every time I felt like giving up I remembered that this infinite being, you can call it God, Universe, Holy Spirit, Allah, Buddha or Jesus, has given me four chances at life. I can’t throw it all away now. I felt deep gratitude and a sense of disconnectedness from my body. Like I was not the body and I was not controlling the body. The body was my vehicle to accomplish whatever it was that God had intended for me. So I decided to give up the struggle. Give up the need to control everything and everyone. I surrendered. May your will (not my will) be done. Only then can kingdom come. Right here on earth. If we all give up the struggle we can create heaven on earth!
To some surrendering may sound like giving up, not being passionate, drifting along. But I am talking about surrendering to the master design, one who holds the master keys to a life you can only imagine. I think everyone is born with some talent or the other and these talents are revealed to us sooner or later. But instead of using these talents wisely we fritter away our lives chasing meaningless things. That’s when the struggle begins. When our souls, minds and bodies are pulling us in different directions, pain ensues. We try to cover the pain by working too much, eating or drinking too much, partying or drugging ourselves. Or simply by withdrawing from the world that is causing us so much pain. Instead ask what can I do? How can I use my talents to help someone today? When you find something that needs to be done and that you feel passionate about, go ahead and do it. If it is something that you are intended to do, life will throw you many more opportunities. Go ahead and embrace it. This is not to say that all the pain in your life will disappear. But it will definitely be overshadowed by the pleasure of helping someone and pain will no longer hold any power over you!