I was reading a book by George Bernard Shaw. One of the characters says that left to himself, he would have put the following in his wife’s tombstone: “Henrietta Jansenius was born on such a date, married a man named Trefusis, and died on such another date; and now what does it matter whether she did or not?”.
One might say that that was unfeeling. However, I feel that is the substratum of every life – or death? Actually, it does not matter to anybody what I did with my life – excepting myself. That too only till I am alive. After that… well, there is no me to deal with it later.
I read a proverb somewhere, “It’s better to travel well than arrive”. We all know that that travelling well is what confounds us. We are afraid of… well! Let us just say we are afraid. Period. Afraid to laugh. Afraid to cry. Afraid to grab. Afraid to let go. Afraid to stop. Afraid to walk…..
What are we afraid of? In a journey there are bound to have bumps, certain pitfalls, perfect sceneries, joy of company… They are all part and parcel of travelling. We just have to navigate our way through them – whether we like it not. So why not just like it – liking is at least pleasant to us.
There is a story – there are Zen versions and there are Buddhist versions. Don’t bother. This is the gist. This man was going through a forest to meet his friend on the other side of a forest. When he was deep inside the forest a tiger starts trailing him. He starts to jog. The tiger also starts to jog. The man started running and the tiger also followed. Suddenly he reaches a cliff and falls down. He caught hold of a hush en route and hangs on that. He looks down and he sees another tiger down looking up at him. The bush he hangs on to begins to come out. At that time he sees another bush nearby which has one ripe sweet berry on it. He thinks, who knows whether he’ll get another opportunity to taste a berry. So he leans out and picks out the berry and eat it. One version of the story says: “if you are hanging on a cliff from a bush that is pulling out by the roots, and there is a tiger above you and a tiger below you, and you find a strawberry and you eat it, that will be the sweetest strawberry the world has ever known”.
So here I am. Ignoring the tigers around and enjoying the strawberries. It’s after all left to me, isn’t it?
In one of the books I read, there is this scene at the wedding:
“Well, lad,” he said, looking his son over from head to toe as he rubbed his hands together. “You look as fine as five pence. How are you feeling?”
“Nervous,” Reggie admitted. “I am terrified that I will drop the ring at the last moment.”
“Then you will simply bend down and pick it up,” his father said.
It can never be pleasant always because we have likes and dislikes. No matter what happens, we have to just pick ourselves up. There is no point in getting terrified at what will happen. What will happen will happen. We will do what we have to do – bend and pick it up. If we don’t, we are going to be the losers. As a character says in a book: “That is what sand castles are for—to build and to rebuild when they fall down. Like marriages.” Like relationships. Like efforts. Like dreams. We just have to try again and again. That was what Krishna also said to Arjuna: “Karmanyeva adhikarasthe. Ma te sango akarmani”. You have to get up again and again. When ever I get tired of going on, whenever I think I cannot go further, I hear Krishna saying “get your butt up and do what you’ve to do”. .Do not choose to lie down. You cannot. Simple.
Whatever I do, whether I eat that strawberry, whether I get up or not, whether I lived happily or not, whether I am a fool or genius, whether I live my life or waste it, my tombstone will read “bhagya was born on such a date, married a man named srinivasan, and died on such another date; and now what does it matter whether she did or not?”.