People are falling ill, people are dying, people are dead.
Here I am, in a space that is most likely one of the safest in the world. We not only have three bountiful meals in a day, we have abundant fresh air, acres of land to walk on, the river to gaze upon and airy luxurious rooms to call home. No masks, no sanitiser, no social distancing, no precautions.
It is an incredible blessing. It is Bhagvan’s Home, after all.
But one of the overwhelming feelings I’m experiencing is guilt – guilt that I’m safe, sound and complaining about petty things while unimaginable sacrifices are being made out there.
Living in the ashram is essentially living in an insulated bubble – a bubble of serenity, devotion, contentment and the occasional dramatic shakedown. I often feel like the ashram is a Big Boss house with its own unique set of dramas, tears and torrents of emotion. The Big Eye is of course present in flesh and stone 😊
Being in this bubble means, however, that we are shielded from what’s happening in the world outside. Yes, news trickles in as it is now about the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. But it’s just that – a trickle.
People are stocking up once more, routines have once again been thrown haywire and the vaccine just can’t seem to go around fast enough.
Here’s an account I read a few days ago on an Instagram account:
I’m a first-year resident doctor; the first death I ever witnessed was on 30th March 2021 – a COVID patient was admitted into our ICU. He was critical, but since he was in his 40s, I thought he’d pull through. The next day, he succumbed – I went numb.
My seniors reassured me saying, “2020 was much worse.” But 2021 has superseded 2020. Now, five critical patients come in every day; 2-3 of them die on a daily basis.
In the first week of April, a 22-year-old was admitted; he had to be intubated in the emergency ward. I never saw him conscious – his chances were bleak. His 50-year-old parents would ask me, “Will he get better if we feed him fruit?” And they’d say, “Prayers can do miracles.”
But when you’re in the COVID ward, nothing works. On Day 4, he passed away. His parents cried bitterly; I felt dead from within.
Now, if somebody is critical, I update the family by saying things like, “Pulse rate is dropping.” At least I’m not giving them false hope.
And I’ve learnt to lie to my patients – when they ask me, “Will I be okay?”, I always tell them they’ll get better. I don’t want somebody’s final moments to be spent in anxiety.
In the past two weeks, I’ve witnessed the worst. The last words of one of my patients being taken into the ICU was, “I have a 11-year-old and 4-year-old at home… I want to live.” But a few hours later, I had to tell her kids that they wouldn’t even get to see her body for the last time. When the youngest one yelled, “I want to hug Mumma,” I didn’t know what to feel.
Looking at all the dead bodies, I sometimes wish I’d never been born. My mental health has diminished. What keeps me going is that every day I’m out there, the chances of saving somebody’s life increases.
I’m working as hard as I can, knowing that other healthcare workers would do the same if my parents are hospitalized. They are in their 50s and stay in Kerala. I reassure them that things will get better. Still, I wonder, “What if I get COVID? Who’ll take care of my parents?”
So, all I’m asking is that you understand how bad it is out here. Stay at home. Wear your masks and don’t crib about not going out.
It is a privilege to stay at home.
Reading this account, I broke down. It brought home how real this situation is. This is a person, an actual flesh-and-blood person, going through her own trauma while she works to save as many lives as she can by putting her own at risk. Why? Because she feels it’s her duty and nothing will make her stop – not her own mental health, not the fear of her family, not the fear of her own death.
Imagine that. When someone walks hand-in-hand with the real possibility of losing their own life as they save others from losing theirs, there isn’t a word strong enough for that type of courage and determination.
It is dharma. It is Bhagvan come to life.
It drives home the absolute incredible importance of values in life. If this woman, a young adult barely in her mid-twenties, didn’t stand for something, would she have made the decision to put herself in this situation day in and day out?
How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives. Annie Dillard.
Why are values important?
When we spend our time dilly-dallying, dithering over which route our life ought to take, we are doing not just ourselves but the entire world a disservice. And the reason is simple – we can’t look past ourselves.
We only ever oscillate between decisions when we feel that we are not making the best decision for ourselves. If we were to consider what would benefit the greater good and the world at large instead of what would benefit us – our choices would be instant.
Of course, it never is that easy. There are a multitude of factors keeping us tied to certain paths, certain decisions. The obvious route to helping society is volunteering for a social cause, being a doctor or a lawyer or a therapist or anything that helps one reach out to the masses.
But the obvious route is overrated. And it simply isn’t an option for everyone.
There is only one way then that is accessible to every single person out there, no matter your age, race, religion or marital status.
Work on yourself.
Aspire every day to be a better version of yourself than you were the day prior.
Rejoice in where you are and who you are.
The rest will follow. It’s the biggest service we could do for ourselves and the world.
Holding onto our values in life, even knowing what our values in life are is not a walk in the park today. We live in an information-driven world, bombarded by the latest breaking news, this explosive trend, that breakout voice every other minute.
It is so, so easy to drown in our global village. Because it is surrounded by an ocean of clamouring minds, each pushing out the other to get on top.
I learnt this lesson the hard way, because I based my values on the external. I would be the best teacher my kids had ever had, I would be the most transformational journalist the country had ever laid eyes on, I would be such a terrific therapist that my clients couldn’t imagine their lives without me – completely negating the point of therapy in the first place.
I didn’t begin asking myself the hard questions until I dove into the first point above – working on myself.
Eventually, I was forced to ask the question that changed the course of my life – what are personal values? What did they mean to me?
Why are values important, in the first place?
Well, I realized that if I didn’t have some core values for myself, something I stood for, I would stand for just about anything. And I would never learn who I really was or who I could be.
Without a set of principles, I would never know myself. And if I didn’t know myself, how could I set a goal, mark out a destination and start walking towards it? If I didn’t know myself, what of me could I lay down at Bhagvan’s feet? There was no me to lay down.
And there couldn’t have been a sadder reality.
In the midst of such a deadly, devastating pandemic, that young doctor stands for one thing only – a determination to discharge her duty with her life, heart and soul.
It is nobility at its finest. And to me, it drove home the next-best way to create our values in life. If working on ourselves and accepting ourselves sounds like too much work, all we have to do is give our best to what we are already doing.
When we plunge into what we already have with our entire spirit, Nature takes care of the rest. She’ll help us create our stance automatically, show us who we are and what we are capable of.
She will reveal our own magnificence to us. We truly were born to light up the world.
What do you stand for? Because that’s where your light will shine.
Nature’s waiting. Let’s go 😊
Many of you have written in, showering me with words of praise and requests to write more. It has been utterly humbling and an incredible honour to read your words that you so kindly take time out of your day to express.
For the foreseeable future, my series – Nature’s Play, Highway and My Truth – will be on pause. What is it they say about structure becoming a stumbling block? 😊 They will definitely resume at some point. But for now, this little lass must let her creativity flow. I will be writing more, but about anything and everything under the sun!
Thank you for your love, care and constant support 😊 The kindest corner of the internet truly is phenomenal!