The other day while watching Voice of America (VOA), the
news reader said, “The following is the list of American soldiers who died in Iraq
yesterday”. It was followed by eight screenshots, each with a soldier’s photograph
along with his age, native place and position in the army. Out of the eight, six
were in the 20-24 years age-group; the other two were 27 and 45. At that moment
I thought to myself, “Am I not lucky?”; lucky to have seen the dawn of a bright
new day; lucky to watch the news; and lucky that my photograph isn’t in the obituary
It’s just another
reminder of the fact that life is short. Here are young boys who have just crossed
their teens getting shot in the battlefield and here we (the privileged) are thinking,
“I wish I were rich. I wish I had a body like Arnold. I wish I was smarter. I wish
I were as famous as Sachin Tendulkar. I wish I had a lot of girlfriends”. It doesn’t
stop with the wishing. It can play like a broken record repeatedly in the mind and
develops into a kind of jealousy, “Look at that guy, he’s so smart and intelligent.
See, that girl likes him a lot but not me etc.” Obstructions to desire creates jealousy.
If the dying soldier were asked what he wished for, he would
definitely reply, “I wish I could live”. We fail to realize that life is the most
precious gift given to us. We long for what others have ignorant of the fact that
there are millions who barely have what we have. The very fact that you are now
reading this article means that you are lucky; lucky to be living and lucky to be
literate. Aren’t the less fortunate supposed to be helped by the more fortunate?
It is true that human nature is to ‘never be satisfied’. Once we get something
we desired for, we either want more of it or we get fed up with it and want something
else. There are parents who say that all they want is for their kids to earn and
get married. Once the kids are married, they then want to have grandkids. Once that
has happened they long to see their grandchild’s marriage!
If a student scores 60% in a test, the parents say, “See
the boy next door; he got 70. He’s also like you.” In the home of the 70% kid they
would say, “70% won’t fetch you a good college. Average score itself is 75%”. In
the 80% kid’s home they say, “The topper of your class scored 90%! Why can’t you
also score more marks?” And in the topper’s home they’d say, “You should get a centum!”
The story is never-ending and is present in every facet of life. So, is this attitude
of “yeh dil maange more” (this heart wants more) bad? You need to set higher goals
for yourself, that’s good but don’t ever forget that you are fortunate to be in
the position you currently are in. Be thankful for what you have and try to provide
what you can to others. A very common human trait is to avoid encouraging others
(and many a times discouraging others). Why do we do this? Perhaps a fear that the
other person might rise to a higher position than us. A friend of mine recently
told me, “You know; I don’t like these junior guys in office. They are younger than
us and they’ll know more than us. And they’ll climb ahead of us very soon”. I could
sense the slight bitterness in his tone. The more I thought of it the more I felt
that this attitude is present in most of us; a sort of envy. The difference is that
the degree of envy varies- and when it exceeds a particular threshold it can lead
to self-destruction of character. A little fine tuning in the positive direction
will do a lot of good (to others as well as ourselves). To envy someone is natural
but to try and degrade them is wretched and a sign of poor character; instead endeavor
to achieve greater dreams than them.
Anxiety, tension and pressure have a negative impact on
our body. Have you wondered about the things that make you tense or anxious? Some
of them are: the build-up to exams, taking a major test, facing an interview, talking
to your boss, making a proposal (official as well as personal), public speaking,
group discussions, sitting under the dentist's drill, waiting for scans and X-ray
reports, worrying about the future, worrying what will happen next! The list is
quite huge but are these things really worth worrying over; it is fine to be a little
anxious but most of the time we get deeply involved in the anxiety and the tension
gradually builds up. Even in the worst case scenario you are less likely to lose
your life in any of these situations; the dentist might cause a lot of pain by touching
your sensitive nerves while filling but he’s not likely to kill you.
So, what does it all come down to? Simple; strive to achieve
more in life but be thankful for what you have. We rarely are thankful for what
we have except when we come close to losing what we have. The following sums it
Recently in an interview (after a major calamity) a father
in tears said, “I thank God that my family and I are alive”.
And life is the greatest and most precious gift that we
have in this world. Be thankful for this gift and do as much good as you can with
this gift because you never know how long you’ll have it.
Copyright © 2016 Sethu Subramanian All rights
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