Have you noticed how we can be so particular about the amount of salt in our meals? The texture, aroma, cooking, and all other spices may be perfect in your favorite dish but if the salt isn’t right, the whole meal is ruined. Too much and it’s inedible, too little and it’s tasteless. Our tummy doesn’t know if the salt is perfect or not, it’s just the tiny guard in our mouth, the examiner of all tastes, the stubborn sovereign, our tongue that determines whether we enjoy a certain meal or not. Surely, other organs play a huge role in sending a signal whether the food we consume is agreeable but as far as taste is concerned, the tongue reigns supreme.
For anything savory that goes in our mouth, the salt in it has to be just right. Not close, not good enough but just right. Just right.
“Just right” is also the greatest challenge we face in our lives. In fact, we spend our entire lives working out this balance. Life is infinitely more enjoyable when everything feels just right. Not too much, not too little, but just right. We want our loved ones around us, we love to socialize, but not all the time. We want solitude, we wish to be left alone, but not all the time. We want to speak and we want to be heard, though not all the time, for, sometimes we crave silence but that too, not all the time.
Our definition of just right is that we should have what and who we want in our lives exactly when, where, and how we want. Wishful thinking, if you ask me. So, is there a way out? Yes, of course. Main hoon na. (Smiles.)
A pupil of the Sufi master Junaid was very fond of good food. Junaid, on the other hand, lived like a true fakir. Once, a rich and staunch follower invited the master to an elaborate feast. Several of his pupils joined him and the one whose weakness was food sat next to Junaid. He was certain that the best of the best delicacies would be served abundantly to their master and sitting in close proximity to him naturally meant more food for the pupil too.
“Remember Allah and the Prophet,” Junaid said at the outset to all his pupils, “and eat in moderation.”
“Masha-Allah,” the pupil whispered to his master, “each dish tastes amazing. Food is so important for life.”
“But, why this moderation? Why can’t I eat more?”
“It’s simple,” Junaid said, “eat in moderation and the food carries you. Eat excessively and you carry the food.”
It doesn’t matter what facet of life you may consider, if it’s done right, it carries you. Otherwise, you carry it. Our feelings, thoughts, and things, when “just right” take us forward but when they are out of whack, we have to lug them around. That’s what baggage is. When one aspect of our life takes over every other, be it work or love, we are no longer treading the middle path. We are merely dragging around the burden of our tendencies and addictions then.
An excess of anything is like putting on weight. The first few pounds don’t feel like much but they keep adding up and before you know it, your belly has decided to go its own way, it’s literally decided to forge ahead of the rest of your body. We never quite get used to unhealthy weight gain, we complain about it, and yet we make it a part of our life and carry it around everywhere we go. Buddha once said, “Excess is a synonym of poison.” That, an excess of anything is poisonous for emotional and mental stability.
The strange thing is that the definition of what is “just right” varies from one person to another. What is just right for a 17-year-old is generally not what’s right for a 70-year-old. Hence, when I say, discover your own truth, I mean that you must find your own right combination. If you truly wish to enjoy life, you ought to strike a balance between your dreams and duties. Sometimes, our whole life slithers by before we realize what is “just right” for us. Your bank card has only one right pin, a combination of four digits that’s just right to operate it. Something that’s close enough is not good enough. It has to be the exact number. For me, it is empathy (samvedana), to put hope in hearts (sahara), to work hard (purashartha), and to lead a meaningful life (sarthakta). That’s what feels right to me. Your combination could be different.
And remember, no one has ever got it “just right” by clinging to their past. The wisdom of life requires that we plod along. The foods we eat or the clothes we wear in spring don’t suit us in winter. Therefore, “Just right” is a journey, not a destination or pursuit.
Mulla Nasrudin’s son said to him, “Abba, what do we call someone who can’t hear?”
“Call him anything, son” Mulla said, “it’s not like he can hear.”
And so it is with life. As they say, it’s all about mind and matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.
Find out what matters to you and put your mind to it. Your life will never be the same again. How will you know that you have found that balance, you ask? Well, your heart will tell you so. Such is the way of love, of the heart, it knows when it’s just right. The mind may grasp and understand, but the heart, it just knows. Oh, and what the tongue is to taste, the mind is to awakening.
Time to give this topic and my words a rest. The length of this post feels just right.
A GOOD STORY
There were four members in a household. Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody. A bill was overdue. Everybody thought Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it but Nobody did it.Don't leave empty-handed, consider contributing.
It's a good thing to do today.