Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Of the souls that are UNSINKABLE

So you thought the air we breathe is the only thing we take for granted, as the saying goes? The truth is we take almost everything for granted, with the exception of those we have not yet achieved and those we have lost. I finished reading 'chicken soup for the unsinkable soul' a few days back and have ever since wanted to shout over the rooftop that I feel myself blessed to have a near-perfect life, or I should say perhaps a perfect life, and that having realised it to be so, will no more take anything, anybody in my life for granted.

 This book, like all other chicken soup titles, has real life stories contributed by its readers and does an amazing job of living up to its billing. Every page speaks of the human ability to endure, get up, fight back and get going again, however hard one might have fallen. The power of the human soul to persist and soar towards one's dreams, defying all odds perhaps has no limits, with only strength of character or mental toughness being a requisite.
All the stories and poems have been divided into many sections viz. taking the challenge, living your dreams, the power of love, the power of support, insights and lessons, on courage and determination, on attitude, a matter of perspective and eclectic wisdom.

Among other things, what really struck a chord with my heart was the amazing courage and fervent desire to live displayed by the young boys and girls suffering from devastating disorders like down's syndrome, cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy etc. No less remarkable did I find the way their parents bring them up, with all the love and support a child can dream of. Yes there were instances of one of the parents not being able to accept the'tragedy' but in all such cases, the innocence and unconditional love flowing from the child worked their magic eventually and the true worth of God's gift was recognised.

Swimming in the sense of awe while going through the stories, umpteen number of times did I feel my eyes moist and head raised upwards, at God, questioning why somebody had to bear so much of agony and misery. And umpteen number of times again I have felt myself smiling, wiping a tear, taking pride in being of the same species as that such unsinkable souls reside in. Children suffering from the disorders I mentioned earlier have a bevy of unfortunate disabilities. At times even breathing is a difficulty, speaking one word a chore and moving one's limbs excruciating or impossible.
There was nothing much to do but pray for courage for the mother whose child had spoken only once, much much later than when 'normal' children are adept at making their own sentences (he had Down's syndrome), choosing the word apple and subsequently had whispered, to his gaping mother, 'I love you'.
That was the first and the only time he spoke. 
The most remarkable part indeed, of such stories is, again, the way the parents of such children go about parenting, always cheering up the child n celebrating every moment of his existence as nothing cud b more special. Reading about the joy of a father when his teenager son correctly spoke a sentence, asking for a bouquet of violets, his repeated rehearsals finally bearing fruit, I could not but feel ashamed at the remembrance of how early into teenage I had made the whole household worry about my pimples. No wonder when you find out that there do exist such people in this world who profusely thank God for the opportunity to be alive one more day, the wonder at being able to say a particular word, the joy of one night of peaceful sleep, one does feel ashamed of one's vanity. How long is it since you had a day in which you were not angry, not worried, not depressed? Perhaps that day is lost somewhere in the childhood album.

Yes, this is the grim reality for all of us. As we grow up, we lose the constant sense of wonder and gratitude that characterizes our childhood days. We start taking things too seriously, forgetting to appreciate the little little things that make life beautiful. Just think about the rickshaw waala ferrying you to college in rain, without a raincoat, drenched to the bones, his feet dipping in muddy waters as he peddles forward and your worries of sticky feet will seem trivial. Just have a look at those kids on the street, standing all day long, sending odd tid-bits that nobody seems interested to buy and you won't worry about having to wait for your bus for too long. Getting my point? Yes, it often happens that we withstand very stressful incidents in life but give in to those trivial matters like the ac not cooling the room as much as you feel it should and likewise. So from now, the next time you realise you are in a fit of anger, or you want to drown yourself in your tears or else you desperately want something that you can't afford right then, think about the millions who will not dare to even dream about what you have, who would take you to be the model of perfect happiness, the hundred thousands of those who have infinitely less than what you have, be it in health or education or lifestyle, and you will realize the folly of worrying about petty matters.

Nobody will want to have something taken away from him to realise its value. Better feel grateful now. Let your day start with being thankful for all that you have and let your day end with the same blissful moment of counting your blessings. Life is short. You want to achieve everything that you think you deserve, no problem with that. But if that going up is stealing from you your moments of being close with the firmament, of showing gratitude in thought and word and deed, then there is little substance in that growing up. An easy way would be, to prepare a list of things one feels grateful for-it could be anything from being able to breathe, having one's parents alive, to being in a good college....include everything that you can think of. And think about this list while you take a shower or while you walk to the college. At anytime in the morning. Believe me, it will set the tone for the entire day. A feel-good feeling will envelope you all day long. And at night, when you think about what could have been done better, how certain people could have behaved better, do also think about what all went right, however tough the day might have been.
Let yours be a soul that is unsinkable. God bless.