If there is one thing that humankind takes completely for granted, it is life. Or rather, the denial of one’s mortality. A look at the anti-mask brigade and the partying crowds, in times of the Wuhan virus, will prove my point. Somehow humans tend to think that they have all the time in the world to live.
Of course, when a loved one passes on, one is jolted out of complacency and begins thinking of ways to make one’s life meaningful and useful. Unfortunately, it is a temporary realisation, and before long, one is back in the zone of one’s perceived immortality.
Today, we are surrounded by the spectre of death. The faceless numbers of the first wave of the Wuhan virus in 2020 are eerily turning into names, sometimes of close friends or relatives. It is a sneaky killer virus, and our best defences sometimes prove inadequate. But foolhardiness makes people ignore safety protocols and throw caution to the winds. The results are painful and sometimes fatal, and this time younger ones too are in the crosshairs of the killer.
For the spiritually evolved, death is not something to be mourned, but a transition into either moksha or another birth, depending upon the karma balance sheet of the person. For the rest of us, it is an end of the life of a loved one. It makes us inconsolable. The mourning brings in a lot of regrets in its wake – of lapses, missed opportunities to show our love, the avoidable fights and unresolved conflicts due to mutual egos.
All because we had not realised that each one of us is in that inexorable line. We don’t know when either we, or a loved one or a good friend or that pleasant neighbour will be at the head of the line — and it is too late.
People talk of making bucket lists — books to read, places to visit, movies to watch, skills to learn etc. etc. But honestly, those are trivial compared to other more important things one needs to accomplish before passing on.
For instance, how many might think of putting their affairs in order, mend broken fences with estranged friends or relatives, reach out to those who are going through worse conditions and extend a helping hand before it is too late? Or at the very least, pick up the phone and call someone who might be longing to hear a human voice? It would be wise to donate one’s eyes and organs while one is one’s senses. A living will is another important thing to leave behind, if you have specific instructions for one’s medical care in case of not being able to communicate one’s wishes. And a regular will with regards to one’s assets, even if one doesn’t have much of worth…
These are the important bucket lists to work on, before time ran out.
It was this grim realisation that made me try to change and act. Not that I have been completely successful, but I am trying.
The past year has taught me to stop saving something for an ‘occasion’, including my sarees. With no special occasions and nowhere to go, I realised that it was a pointless exercise. So I have been wearing my ‘going out’ clothes, especially those gifted to me by friends and family, during these months of lockdown, going jauntily from kitchen to drawing room to bedroom and back. For our morning cuppa, we use the good cups and plates which otherwise came out only when we had company.
Decluttering is important to create space, both physical and mental. My cluttered mailboxes are getting cleaned up, precious photographs are being uploaded to my cloud drive, sorted into relevant folders that would make it easy for anyone to look them up. And oh, my passwords are organised too and easy to access if needed. Likewise, by junking unwanted and negative thoughts that sometimes fill up the mind completely, it is possible to create space for more constructive things, helping one to move ahead spiritually.
I have pulled back drastically from social media, though I have not deactivated the accounts. Not only because of the negativity one finds there, but also because of the ‘toxic positivity’, which is even more dangerous and often too cloying. Moreover, a whole bunch of people I had once considered my friends have since ‘cancelled’ me for reasons best known to them. Fair enough, considering that even one’s offline and long-standing friendships often end or peter off with time. I have learnt to accept that some connections are best severed and that it is the best way to move forward. It has also made me more available for those who need me in real-time, which is a great feeling.
I am trying my damnedest best not to sweat the small stuff and lose my shirt over little things. Being non-judgmental, forgiving others and oneself, seeing the good in others and controlling my temper, are some of the things I am striving at.
We are all standing in a queue — young and old alike — to depart from the world. Who knows, whose place is at the head of that line? What if one had exchanged a harsh word with the friend who is at the head of the line and never said sorry? What if one’s ego had stood in the way to make the first move to normalise a relationship? What if it was too late do it all now?
It doesn’t make sense to put off something for the next day, which might never dawn. What is the point of regretting something one could have easily done, only if one had made the effort? The deadly ‘waves’ of the unrelenting virus have brought the uncertainty of life into sharp focus and made us aware of our mortality.
Let us not take life for granted.
Do read my dear friend Lata’s excellent post called Plan B, dealing with the practical aspects of preparing oneself for any eventuality.
Image: Lessons Learned in Life Inc