As I looked in the mirror before I set out for work, I noticed a grey strand of hair standing out… Ahh!! I have reached another milestone, I think to myself. Our lives are marked by a number a milestones, isn’t it? Most of the milestones are covered within the first few years of life β€” the first word spoken, the first step taken, the first tooth erupting out, the first birthday, the first day in school β€” these milestones achieved in childhood are occasions for celebration.

Then come the milestones in the life of a teenager β€” the first pimple, the first crush, the first love letter, (received or written, doesn’t matter 😜) the first boyfriend/girlfriend. Then come the milestones of adulthood β€” the first job, the first salary, marriage (am not labelling it as first, because once bitten, few venture into it multiple times😁), the first child. 

As we grow older, the milestones in our life seem to become fewer, and also less significant. As we get lost in the automaticity of life, each day seems to be nothing more than a repetition of the day before. So today, the appearance of the first grey hair served as a wake up call for me to take stock of the life lived so far, and to rethink the priorities I need to focus on in the days yet to come.

I have crossed 38 years of existence on this planet. That is all I can remember for sure! Most of these years have been spent in the struggle for acquisition. Being under the impression, that there is much to be acquired, I have been a part in the race for name, fame, wealth, love, and happiness. I have tried to acquire knowledge, so that it helps me head further in the race for name and fame. I have tried to acquire love so that it gives me happiness, and makes me complete. I have considered myself to be a special creation, whose worth no one seems to realise. I have expected people to treat me with respect, and acknowledge my superiority. Yes, I was doing well in the race, but then the question came in me, whom I am racing against? The more people I leave behind, still more people seem to be ahead of me. Why does this race never seem to end? And most importantly, why am I still not happy despite doing so well? So, that meant that something wasn’t quite right in the way I was living my life…

It’s only in the past few years, that the realisation came to me, that the mantra to happiness is not acquisition. Rather it is just the opposite. It is giving up the desire to acquire. With that, I changed my strategy in life. I withdrew from the race to go ahead. I slowly understood that I am not doing a favour by being alive, rather my being alive is the biggest favour existence has showered on me. So, it is not with pride, but with gratitude that I should look at the people around me. The love they give me is out of their kindness, and not because I am deserving of it. The conditionings which I have acquired over the years is what I proudly declare as my ‘knowledge.’ But when I patiently listen to elders and more experienced people, they are much more knowledgeable than I am. My inflated ego slowly realised that it had nothing worth to be really proud of. With gratitude, the ever elusive happiness has slowly started surrounding me. With not too many expectations out of the people around me, and very few desires to be fulfilled, life is no longer a race, but an enjoyable journey.

But nearing forties, there are still some areas in me I have to work on. One is my love for food. I love food so much, that at times I tend to eat too much. And the other is fear β€” fear of the world, fear of facing new people and new circumstances. This creates so much fear in me, that I try to avoid these, and hence always try to be in a comfort zone. Though deep in my heart, I understand that there is no need for fear, because everything is but the Divine play of our creator, and all that I need to hold on to is my trust in Him, I still have to learn how to deal with fear… After all that’s what this journey is about, meeting new challenges and overcoming them…

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Divya Pai

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