When I was returning to my room from a friend’s house a few years ago, I noticed an elderly lady struggling to carry some luggage. She was huffing and puffing while carrying them. So I came to a halt and asked if I could assist her. She graciously agreed. Her house was close to Kuvempu Garden in BTM, Bangaluru, where I used to walk and saw her multiple times. Since then, she has remembered me, and every time we met, we smiled and greeted each other.

She was always dressed in a saree with a huge bindi on her forehead and wore canvas shoes whenever I met her. Her height varied between 4’8″ and 5’1″. She walked with a half smile on her face and her neck and shoulders held up like a former soldier, but she was actually a retired teacher.

When I encountered her in the garden one day, she was sitting quietly on a bench overlooking the lake. That was unusual. I didn’t notice the same passion or happiness in her face or demeanor. “Good morning, Aunty,” I said as I passed. Looking at me, she replied, “Good morning,” and then returned her gaze to the lake

And the next day, I didn’t see her in the garden. And this went on for a week.

I spotted her in the garden again after about ten days, sitting on the seat and watching birds in the lake. When I wished her, she smiled and looked at me. I wondered where she’d been for all those days. I got the feeling she was depressed. “Aunty, how are you doing? Is everything all right?” I was curious. “Yeah,” she replied and then went quiet. I then sat quietly next to her on a bench nearby. After a few moments, she then begins to talk about her son.

She raised her son on her own for many years. And she saw him grow and served him as best she could. But, over time, he got attracted to a number of negative things that she was unaware of over time. He befriended the wrong people. He formed bad habits. As a result, his life was deteriorating. When she found out, she tried to bring him back, but he refused and began insulting her with nasty language when she attempted. She tried everything she could to persuade him that this was not the way to go, but her words had no effect on him. Then he started blaming his mother for all of his flaws.

She was such an innocent woman that she sincerely believed everything her son was blaming and accepted full responsibility. She was doing everything she could to get her son’s life back on track, but this fat big man was too lethargic to do anything to make his life better. This made her feel guilty and helpless because he was the only one in her universe but this fat tall man is manipulating his mother’s innocence and affection in order to escape his failure. The truth is that he is lethargic and incapable of doing anything other than whine and argue.

Many of us, I feel, carry that elderly lady and that fat son within us and summon them whenever we we want to hide out our mistakes and failures. Many similar situations may have occurred in our lives, ranging from the workplace to our social circles to our families, wherein people purposefully blamed others in order to mask their own failings and wrongdoings.

It reminded me of a story you might be familiar with.

A man and his daughter once went to a fair. His daughter noticed a red balloon soaring in the sky and insisted on purchasing a red balloon. So they went to the balloon seller and requested a red balloon. However, the seller was out of red balloons. The toddler, on the other hand, insists on the same red colour. Her father questioned why she only desired a red balloon. “Because it flies through the sky” she replied.

Her father laughed when he heard her. He asked the balloon seller to blow a few balloons of multiple colors with helium gas. To that child’s surprise, all of the balloons began to fly. Then he turned to her daughter and explained that it is not because of the colour of the balloons that they are flying, but because of the stuff inside them.

It’s not just a balloon narrative. It is also relevant to our life. I’m short, I’m taller, I’m slim, I don’t look good, I’m severely overweight, I’m bald, I don’t have good family, I don’t have a decent education, and so on. Such views and concerns are sure symptoms of a downward spiral. Such material within us makes life miserable and causes us to live a low life.

If you truly want to improve in life, ask yourself these questions.

Is there anything unique about you? Do you have faith in yourself? Do you want to advance in your profession? Are you ready to take on your own responsibilities? Do you like your job? Do you have the necessary talents for your position?

And if you have attributes like good skills, self-confidence, a passion for what you do, and dedication to your goals, you will undoubtedly fly high in life like those colourful balloons. 

Developing these qualities is not difficult. With time and little effort anyone can fill their balloon with such stuff and fly high.