Freedom, Choice and Life

A lot of people have told me that life is full of choices. Is it really, or is it a combination of a lot of other things, luck, fate, spouse, children, parents, responsibilities, liabilities, duties and innate desire. Is anyone free, really?

I don’t think there is an easy answer to this question. We all perceive things as per our experiences. We all have baggage and our vision gets coloured while viewing any situation by those very baggage. If we look closely we will find we generally make repetitive choices. Man is a creature of habit and choices also become a matter of habit. To break out of that mould is a challenge.

Freedom is more of a mental state i guess. If you are bound by your own thought process your own prejudices, and your own limitations you will never be free. One cannot imprison a free mind for very long, sooner or later it will break out of the shackles that are outwardly imposed. The challenge is with the boundaries created by one’s own self. Where we try and limit ourselves we will never be free to make choices, we will never be really free to speak our mind.

It is when we are at crossroads in our life, where the choice we make becomes so important. It has been my personal experience that it is better to just go with the flow. Because however much you fight, and try and impose your choices on life, life will fight back and impose its will on you. So again freedom is just a state of mind and it’s better to feel free and live life, than be cowed down by the pressure of making huge decisions for ourselves.

Sounds like a mad woman rambling, but then this exercise is also a challenge, a challenge to not be afraid of expressing who i am

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Prisoners of our mind….

What would you consider as an accomplishment?

Is it when you reach a certain stage in your career, or is it when you get a desired degree, or when you buy certain things you wanted or when you marry the person you love?

I mean what is it really? What should be our driving force? How do we say that this is where I want to be. I am asking this because I always feel that no matter whatever you have accomplished, at the end of the day there’s always that little something that’s not there, something you desperately crave.

There is no end to the wants of a human mind and life; and it’s not wrong too as long as you are not stepping on someone’s toes or ruining their lives to achieve your dream. What is a problem though, is making your own happiness dependant on the fulfilment of those wants.

I have the finest education provided to me that I could ask for. I have a very prestigious professional degree. Something, I am very proud of. I also had a successful start to my career, but somewhere along the line, circumstances changed and now I don’t. Sometimes I miss that hectic life, but when I ask myself very honestly, deep down my heart, maybe I am not too eager to go back to a life, which will be so busy that I will not have the willingness nor the energy to do things that I like or love.

All of us are prisoners of our own mind. We all say that we know exactly what we want from life, but I think none of us really do. It is up to us to break free of the shackles and enjoy the moment that we are living. Life does not work on planning it, it work by living it, day by day, and moment by moment as it is handed over to us. As it has been said very famously “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade” as there are no second chances in life, well generally :).

Too corny??!!

Apne apne Ram…. each to his own

One of the most misunderstood characters in our Indian mythology is Ram. Who is Ram? The eldest and the most dutiful son of Dashrath, who was the heir to the throne of Ayodhya. Due to the evil scheming of his step mother, who wanted the throne for her own son, Ram was sent to the jungle for 14 years. For fourteen years, Ram traversed the jungle along with his wife Sita and his younger brother Lakshman. In this time his wife was abducted by the Rakshasa king Ravan and Ram fought a war with him to get his wife back. Ravan was killed in this battle and his kingdom was handed over to his youngest brother Vibhishan. When ram returned to Ayodhya after 14 years with his wife, his subjects started casting aspersions at Sita’s character as she had been abducted and was at the mercy of king Ravan. Thus after a test of her purity and her character Ram was compelled to leave a pregnant Sita in the forest, even though she was proven to be pure!!!

What I have narrated above is a very short and maybe a biased version of the epic Ramayana as I see it. I believe as a person grows in age, his perception towards a lot of things which have been constants in his life, change. He starts to see things differently.

Ram is perceived to be a god in our country. He is one of the ten incarnations of Lord Vishnu. In my own mind, I see Ram as a man who is trying to stand right by whatever his beliefs are. He is called the “Maryada Purushottam”, which literally translates to “the best amongst men who knows his boundaries and respects them”. when I was younger I saw him as a very cruel person who left his wife and couldn’t protect her just because somebody had raised questions about her character. What my young mind failed to see at that point was that Ram was supposed to protect his subjects as a king too. It was one of his supreme dharma’s or sacred duties. If the subjects could not trust him with their beliefs and their insecurities, and in case he was unable to take care of their insecurities, the kingdom that he had left for 14 years, would have become weaker than what it was when he inherited it.

Ram surely could not keep Sita with him due to the social pressure, but he made sure that she was safe and under the care of an ascetic whom he trusted. Unlike the king of those times and Indian gods too, Ram chose to remain faithful to his wife. He never married and never entered into any alliance with any other woman. He even performed a sacred ceremony with a gold statue of his wife kept by his side. Such ceremonies are considered inauspicious if performed without a spouse. Such was his devotion to Sita. Ram was also a very dutiful son. Ram’s stepmother had made his father promise that Ram would go to the forest. He could have refused to go the forest as he was not bound by the promise he father had made, but Ram chose to honour the words of his father as was expected from a future king and a duty bound son.

I have no intentions of portraying Ram as infallible. He had his own flaws. What I do believe is that he had a choice between Ram as a husband and Ram as a king, and he chose to be a king rather than a husband. This choice may not have been  a prudent one, but it was what he thought was best at the time. That is what i admire, to make a tough choice and then to stick by it, because it makes sense for greater good.

He might not be one of the most colourful characters of our mythology but he was one of the strongest. He is one of the foremost examples of my belief that the test of true strength is not how much a person can make the other suffer but it lies in enduring and braving the odds to emerge victorious.

From Ram I have learnt that to maintain a position of responsibility one has to sacrifice one’s own wants and attain a level of patience. To inspire the trust of people you want to live with, you have to first repose your trust in them, even if it is to your personal detriment.

Ram teaches us to be multi-dimensional; to develop humility. If only we all could try to adopt even one dimension of his character, the world would be a better place.

Perceptions

I love surprises. small ones, big ones. they just make my day.

When I was younger I used  create these surprises for myself. I would never ask my mother what she had packed for lunch in school. the moment when I opened my lunch box was my own, filled with anticipation and excitement. My own daily dosage of surprise. The sheer joy that such a small action could give is unparalleled to many big things in my life. Those were some pure unadulterated moments of being happy. I still do it…. I save the best for last and am feel happy to “open”or “reveal” my surprises at the end.

I have noticed as children we used to simplify things, if the opportunities were not there we would create them, not whine about them. if surprise were not possible everyday, make your own surprise. We were not dependent on anyone for our happiness…………. As we grow up we forget to create such opportunities of happiness for ourselves,we forget that it is better to simplify things and be happy about them rather than being in your own complex mind web and depending on others to remain happy.

We spend our whole life in the fear of perceptions. We are busy in trying to project ourselves as someone we think we are. Most of our life is spent proving the same to ourselves and others around us. Sometimes I feel that I am not the person I think I am or the people around me see as “me”. Now at this juncture, when I am not too old and not too young, not too naive and yet not too wise, I would first like to stop for a minute and try to figure out who really I am.  Is the person I think I am, only in my head? I guess, parts of me only exists in my head. And this is true for most of us.

Also, perception of an individual also varies from person to person. for some I may be a very sincere, honest and trustworthy person; and someone else may find me the biggest snob around them. It all really is in our head.

We have forgetten who we are and what we really want from our life.

This photo, “Perception” is by Felix and is made available under a Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

 

Austen and me

I am a self proclaimed Jane Austen lover. I got hooked to the seemingly idealist romances written by Austen at a very young age, thanks to my mother, herself an avid reader. I would like to believe that I am an Austen purist. I have devoured hundreds of literature discussing the nuances of her writing. I have seen various movies adapted and inspired from her work and still my thirst for her stories remain unquenched. It always seems that she has so much more to say and we as audience so much more to listen or read through. Its never enough. She is the romance queen after all. I doubt there has been another writer who inspired so much of longingness for a Victorian era England and perfect romances, elsewhere.

The time period that she lived in was fraught with social issues. There were so many changes going on in the society and none of these were mirrored or expressed overtly in the novel of Jane Austen . The beauty of her novels, her writing was, I guess, the way she portrayed and understood basic human emotions. Emotions and needs like the need to be recognised, the need to be respected, the need to understand and be understood in return, and in addition to the all encompassing need to be loved. What Austen succeeded in doing was capturing human emotions that have remain unchanged in the ever changing social fabric. they remain unchanged through continents, generations, time and race. That is where people identify with her, they love her and they adore her. that is why she remains timeless.

Whether it is famous Mr. Darcy’s pride or Mr. Elton’s stupidity and vanity or for that matter Anne Elliott’s stoic acceptance of life as it passed her by, they all carry an easy familiarity, that we, as humans, generally relate to. We have all met people who have similar characteristics. She through her portrayal of such sentiments and her idealism gives hope that humanity still lives and will be there forever.

I salute you austen. You shall always be my ultimate heroine.