Sastang Pranam at your lotus feet Swamiji.

Disclaimer: I am not commercialising any brand and do not endorse the same in this post. It is just a description. Yes, if the brand pays me handsomely, I may think of taking up its endorsement 😉

On 31st December 2022, I bed adieu to my first pair of Skecher shoes. It was a pair of black coloured shoes with light white pattern. The sole was white and had a trendy look. The pair of shoes was with me from Dec, 2020. It was worn out; the grip was gone and the bottom of the shoe was near flat. One of my office colleagues was hell bent on me to discard it since October, 2022 due to safety reasons as I might slip due to lack of proper grip.

My wife, Sanghamitra, was also telling me to get a new pair of shoes. She even insisted and justified for a new pair of shoes as our marriage anniversary is drawing closer on 28th Jan. But I had an emotional attachment to the pair of shoes. You might ask why?

Few days ago, Kirtee Om ji asked a question on forum “have you ever fallen in love with inanimate things like chair, wall etc.?” The answer for me is ‘yes’. I was nostalgic about the pair of shoes. It was my companion during my last days of low phase and the subsequent recovery phase.

From childhood, I had an inferiority feeling. ‘Using some items are only meant for them who are eligible to use them and I am certainly not one of them’ was a belief sitting deep inside my subconscious. There is nothing wrong in the thought except when it starts interfering with your day-to-day life and start affecting you. During the marriage ceremony of Sangamitra’s elder sister, (who is now a permanent resident in the US), a lot of ‘smart’ guys (their Indian friends who were in the US) came from the US to attend the marriage back in 2007.

That time, I was studying MSc. Physics. By looking at them, I felt as if I were a ‘pappu’. I was not ‘up to the mark’. I was not ‘smart’ enough to be eligible to enjoy life the way they were doing. Somehow, it took a toll on my mental health. This is just one of the examples. There are numerous other examples / occasions in which I felt like not deserving the commodity / material desires or service like a hair cut at a reputed parlour. Basically, I was not in harmony with my inner self, I was not able to love me, I was really hard on me strangulating and suffocating myself depriving of a blissful life.

One of them were using a pair of branded shoes. My mind was always tormenting me that I did not deserve to have a pair of them. These types of thoughts are generally developed during the upbringing or a type of mental conditioning in which one sees himself / herself in poor self-esteem, tries to deprive oneself from using a lot of material things or availing services. Over a period of time, these beliefs became stronger and stronger. I never bought shoes costing more than Rs. 1500 before this one. I was going through my severe low mental phase. Sanghamitra was trying her best to bring me out of the phase. In December, 2020 on a Sunday morning she declared that we were going to get a pair of ‘Skecher’ shoes for me.

I was not in approval of the same. But I don’t know how we landed up at the shop. I tried very much to carry myself properly among the English speaking sales persons. Finally, a pair of black shoes was shortlisted and we purchased the same for about Rs. 3500 /- ! At the time, I was laughing at myself thinking that how many days would I survive with all these conditions to wear the shoes: “I will be out even before the shoes are worn out 😉.” But reality had other things for me in store. I had to dispose the shoes now and go for a new one as I am ‘addicted’ to the comfort by paying inflation adjusted value of Rs. 5300 /- 😉.

But the mark it left on me is immense. It supported me when I was imbalanced. It carried me to places which taught me how to face life and its challenges. It tightened my grip when I was slipping into unknown bottoms. It helped myself get stabilized, then walk, then run and then fly! Seems, quite emotional. But it deserves the perfect adieu. It carried me to Swamiji’s Ashram. Also I marked a remarkable thing while roaming around in Chandigarh, several people who make a livelihood by cleaning shoes would approach me and tell me, “Skecher chamka doon sir, ekdum naya jaisa lagega.” Afterwards, I came to know that they were using the generic ‘Skecher’ word to mean any branded sports shoes.

So yes, ‘Skecher’ has its own significance 😉. On a more serious note, it infused a sense of worth to me or may be the vice versa! There is a paradigm shift in my view point since then. I am not advocating for usage of costly or branded merchandise, what I am insisting rather is that it was a feeling of being liberated from a stereotype. It was a case of breaking the shackles. It was the feeling of self worth. It is not the case of self importance, it is the feeling of self acceptance and love. It taught me the following virtues / lessons

  1. We all have our own worth. Nobody is inferior to other in a vast sense.
  2. It is not a crime to pamper yourself and love a little. Unless you love yourself, how can you practice the same for others after all?
  3. We can let things go. The hard core belief of self deprivation reduced to a lot of extent after this incident. So our minds can be reprogrammed provided that we give it the proper input.
  4. A kind of self esteem appeared and I was able to hold my head high. The inferiority feeling subsided a lot and I started openly interacting with people (even who were wearing Skecher shoes much before than me😉) as well as the people who cannot afford to have even a normal slipper / flipflop. I could see both the category more clearly and am able to interact with both the categories suitably.
  5. I understood that life is not about binding our emotions, rather a healthy exercise of some innocent pleasure (without harming other’s sentiments) can change you much faster than exercising restrain in each and every requirement. Kabhi dil ki bhi sun lo, dil aur dimag dono khush ho jaenge aur aapko aaur bhi behtar banayenge.
  6. I am not advocating material aspect of life. But a detached attachment as emphasized by Swamiji is really powerful. From the pair of Skecher shoes, I discovered the deep embedded meaning of how we can have materialistic life with detachment.
  7. Whatever amount of gratitude I offer for the transformation, won’t be enough to thank the universe. Offering gratitude has its own powerful cascading effect on our lives.
  8. When you embrace life like this, it will embrace you even tighter and open the doors of happiness which were unknown till date.
  9. ‘Hope’ is the perfect antidote for any kind of bad situation and it has the potential to flip the situation towards more favourable direction.
  10. Life deserves enjoyment, so have your share of enjoyment without any guilt. Just a word of precaution: your enjoyment should not be others’ punishment 😉.

Finally, I would like to conclude the post with the following lines

“Kaun kehta hai ki aasman mein surak nahin ho sakta hai, ek pathhar toh tabiyat se uchhalo yaaron!”

Happy Makar Sankranti to all the readers.

Thank you and Jai Shri Hari…