PERSPECTIVES ON THE ART OF LIVING
Often, as we transit from childhood into adulthood, the general first impression is to perceive life as a sort of maze – with myriads of inexplicable happenings. But that is hardly the reality! It depends on who is seeing what, and with which eyes he sees. Childlikeness opens up the windows of the soul, and we see things clearly and deeply with the eyes of the spirit.
Below, we look at two very familiar perspectives that teach very similar lessons. These lessons are always there, but they are discernible only to those who seek earnestly.
Lessons from the highway of life!
1. Life is a journey :
Life is a journey and we are all co-travellers through space. We all have the same open space to endeavour freely, provided that by so doing we do not bring any harm upon others who like us are also journeying with goals to achieve.
It looks so elementary that one wonders how we still end up overlooking it! On the highway, we have a right to pitch our life’s sales, but the basic first lesson is for us to not only appreciate our little space, but to respect other people’s space as well.
Overtaking on the highway is allowed, but not at others expense. Even speeding is allowed, but we must know the rules and be prepared to keep them. Obey simple road safety guidelines. Tally this with our life experiences and we find that conflicts in our human relationships greatly minimizes the moment we learn to respect one another’s sacred space.
2. Life is no competition!
Even if it does look like a competition. Yes, in some ways, it can be looked upon as one great playing field. But the competition, as you play along with others, is with yourself and no one else. To start with, we do not all engage with the same type of vehicles( if we refer to our different talents as vehicles). Some of the vehicles are similar to ours, others are not. Perhaps, their engines are different, as are their designs. Here on earth, we realise we are all human beings of body and soul, but what defines us is how we use our God given talents. Some apparently are in control of one form of energy or the other more than the others. Everything lives, but everything is not equal, it depends on what energy waves we are connected to at the moment. Life is not a competition, like a punishment to be served. It is a joyful challenge, a song of being to sing, and master. Don’t envy others, simply develop capacity, and with time, you will be so happy doing your bit that you will have no time bothering about others.
3. You must be useful!
You must be consistently useful. This is no punishment, everything moves with purpose. Purpose is what gives direction. Thus, the only standard of value is the kind of activity we are engaged at any moment.
I observed a commuter bus on the highway, picking and dropping passengers. I noticed that as long as the vehicle was doing well, doing just its business of transporting people and goods from where they are to where they needed to be, everyone was happy. The driver is happy because he is serving a useful purpose, the passengers are happy because their needs are being met. But the moment the vehicle derailed from being useful, because the driver was no longer consistent, but instead was delaying either by stopping unnecessarily or moving so slowly, the passengers protested, got down and boarded another vehicle.
In this life, we are only as valuable as we are useful. Our lives must serve a steady, consistent purpose. Time is what life is made of, and we must not waste life by wasting time. Our desires must not conflict with those of others by wasting their valuable time. Our purpose must align with the overall purpose of life. The purpose of our life is the discovery of our gift, and the spread of happiness through giving out this gift.
4. What you see is what you are, and what you are is what you get!
The view from the top is always the best. This is what I observed several times on the highway whenever I rode or drove by a hilly point. You see the topography clearly. Life is like that too. Often, we do not see what others are seeing, or we see, but not as clearly, because we are not standing on the same advantaged position as them. Thus what we know is what we know; and what we do not know, we do not know. The real knowing doesn’t come through laborious study, it only requires a shifting of grounds, a change of perspectives. The man standing on the valley is useful, because he tells us from his low level how imposing the mountain really is. There are many things he sees on this ground level, which is no longer accessible from the top view. The man at the mountain top is likewise useful. He has seen a lot during his climb, so he can guide us with his knowledge of the terrain. The error is for those in the valley to try to make it a permanent abode, or for those on the mountain top to become arrogant on account of their impeccable view. Wherever you are, you are succeeding, so long as you do not stand still. Even at the top, there is ample room for expansion.
5. Enjoy the journey while it lasts! Some of the most awesome bits of inspiration I’ve ever had visited me when I was driving or riding alone. Somehow, the feeling of being free lends impetus to the already jubilant spirit within, and floods of happiness overwhelms us, as we swim in clarity. The simple lesson in this is that in movement alone lies life. When we move, we create opportunity. We become active, useful and happy. We do not solve a problem by sitting down and worrying. When we move out, even when there is no apparent reason, we are somehow encouraged to keep an open eye, and before we know it, solutions starts knocking on our door. The easiest way to create opportunity from nothing, is to move! So, by all means, enjoy the journey of your life. What you get is not nearly as important as what you become in the process.
(B) I planted a garden!
I’ve planted several gardens in the past but this particular one was different – it seemed to be filled with a lot of hidden truths! Or, was it I who this time around became different enough to perceive realities which have always been there all along?
6. Life doesn’t have to be fair, it can only be life!
We all seem to hold this strange notion that life, if it is to be seen as perfect, should continually pamper us, irrespective of the long term effects on our moral being. Yet, to live is far from being pampered. To live is to make effort and show through consistent earnest striving that one is alive.
Consistent effort alone wins! The volition to plant a garden is a good one but it is not enough. Having planted, you must be willing and able to water your crops when necessary, weed out unwanted and poisonous weeds, and tend your crops in many other ways.
Once, I observed that even after having done your best, life would greet you with another set of surprises – new challenges to grapple with! Although you tried your best and was only waiting to reap your harvest!
Pests attacked my growing and beautiful corn, as they blossomed. The pests were eating out the leaves of the corn plants, rendering them sick and weak and unfit for flowering. I realised that complaining wasn’t going to solve any problems here, but action might. I consulted and tackled the problem and was able to rescue as many corn plants as possible, just before their flowering time. I noticed that in no way does life return to you good simply because you have been good once or a few times. In order to experience any good on an ongoing basis, you must deliberately and consistently plant and nuture goodness. This shouldn’t apply only to a garden, but to all of our life’s situations!
Once you set out to be successful in life or to achieve something worthy of the human being, challenges would begin to visit you, invited or not. See these challenges as the necessary weeds and pests of life, testing to see how serious is your resolve. You must confront them calmly and purposefully, keeping in mind your main goal. What would you say of a farmer who, instead of weeding and attending to his farm goes about lamenting about his big misfortune? Would that even solve his problems by any inch? Would that annul the truth that weeds also grow in other’s farms?
Let us become weaned at last from the suckle-me, childish attitude that life has to be fair if you are to see it as perfect! The seeming warfare and chaos in nature is yet another version of life’s irreducibility and perfection. It engenders motion and vibrance within every known species. An absence of an impetus towards motion, and soon the creature begins to wither and decay both in content and in form, leading to the death and annihilation of the species. Everything is simply striving for an opportunity to thrive, whether wanted or not wanted is another issue entirely. So must we continuosly strive in order to be happy and successful.