By Anil Bhatnagar May 2004 Don’t let the train of life pass you by. You are meant to board it… even if it means having to run passionately just to get in. With passion, the obstacles, the challenges and the adversities only make the journey more exciting and accomplishments even more thrilling. God made the life eternal not because he wanted us to take it for granted or consider it without much value, or postpone it to tomorrow. He made it endless, so that we could dare to take risks, make mistakes to learn from, and live life to the hilt in the top gear. Life is not forever… there are no tomorrows in it…all that we have are this today…and more precisely, this moment! If you miss it, you miss it forever. Wake up… Allow yourself to be taken over by the storm called passion…and start tasting the joy of living! What would you do with your time if you were passionate about life? Fritter it away? Kill it somehow? No. Time would become extremely precious for youWith passion, blood finds new joy in circulation, mind receives more oxygen, alertness level touches a new high, each cell of body displays happiness and gives rise to a more tolerant and caring attitudeGenuine passion takes you out of the confines of your narrow personal achievements and inspires you to contribute more to the larger self. This kind of passion makes you feel that you are a humble servant but with a heroic missionPeople who lack passion feel that if they could get this promotion, or get rid of that physical problem, they will be happy. But those whom they find extremely happy usually have similar problems, if not more serious onesBetween the two zeros of what you possess at your birth and death, you have only one thing with you: the adventure of playing the game of life with utmost passion and with a progressively bigger heartValue of your own life comes not from your achievements, but from the quality of passion with which you are still making ceaseless efforts today to make it shine furtherParadoxically, whenever we wish to hold on to life we lose it and when we tend to give it away to others we live on. Whatever and whenever we give, we, in fact, give to no one else but to ourselves only There was a deafening silence… seemingly an endless one… till it finally broke, a few moments later… by the feeble words of Ujjwal’s father whose head was in his lap. “I had seen only others dying. It is very different on this side of the experience. In the midst of several funerals that I attended, life always appeared to be an endless stretch to me. Forty-seven is not an age to have one’s last breaths… to leave you all behind… it is indeed painful,” he tried to purse his lips in an attempt to suppress his cry, and then resumed: “What I regret is not this death… it had to come… it is inescapable. Initially I thought that my pain is because I am going a little earlier…but now I realise that, honestly, it would not have been much different, had I been dying at 97. My pain, in fact, is because of a guilt… yes, it is guilt!… I am getting crushed under the weight of this regret…” He paused and then burst into an uncontrolled wail of cry. “I just allowed the life to pass by me like a train. I never boarded it… I never lived it… and if you don’t care to board it, you don’t board it… it is immaterial whether for 47 years, or for 97 ye…ee…ee.” His head dropped dead abruptly in Ujjwal’s arms. It was all over! Isn’t it ironical that how few among us remember to board the train! Most of us just allow life to pass us by, as if it was not meant for us… as if we have another one in the bank. Many among us merely exist, as if doing a favour to life—only to arrive in life tomorrow at a place that may closely fit, at least emotionally, the above description. A few examples follow: If his friend had not introduced him, seeing his demeanour I would have taken him to be anything but a police officer. Dhiren (not his real name) walked into my room listlessly with a stoop. As he settled down in the chair in front of me, his posture evoked sympathy and he reminded me of a robust machine gathering rust and dust for want of repairs, having gone bad in its early years (Dhiren was 32). It was really hard to believe that he was once full of life… madly in love with and passionate to the hilt for volleyball. Surrounded with kids from the neighbourhood whom he coached too, he spent his evenings playing volleyball. Today, Dhiren finds nothing interesting or joyful. Every day brings a burden of having to carry on with activities that he is least interested in. The volleyball court at the back of his house wears a deserted look. When Dhiren recalled how he was expecting to be selected into the police team but could not make it, anyone could easily see the pain in his eyes. It was a setback hard to take for Dhiren, and he, indeed, never touched the ball after that day. The little kid in him still yearned to play. But his ego, the senior and stronger boy in him, having been denied the label it was hungry for, wanted to punish the little kid by confiscating his object of joy—the volleyball! Bhakti Madira, 49, wife of a busy executive, had everything a woman of her age would dream of—a big bungalow, a chauffer-driven car, children settled in the US and everything only a wish away. Madira, however, felt nothing but a void in her life that was growing with every passing day. Earlier she managed to run away from this void by finding escapes in the kitty parties. But the very shallowness of the events had dried up all her willingness to attend them. She had probably arrived in life where she wanted to, only to discover its hollowness! She had visited almost every doctor she was referred to, but her depression was there to stay. Aarti, 27, was intelligent, ethical and creative, and worked for a company that dealt in brassware exports and other gift items. When she first met me, she appeared to be full of joy, at least till her mask fell off. She confessed how her job and her unpleasant interactions with her boss were killing her slowly. Faxes, emails, files, notes, meetings, favouritism, backbiting and office politics—she was sick of it all now. Beneath the apparent neck-breaking speed of activities, things were actually moving at a pace that could be frustrating even to a snail. She felt that there was a lot that needed to be changed but despite suggestions, there was hardly anything substantial ever done. Aarti found life abysmally hollow and a practical joke that was too dirty to take. Luckily for Dhiren, Madira and Aarti, I could give them much in advance a glimpse of the end like Ujjwal’s father’s that awaited them. Dhiren called me up only a week later to share with me that he had resumed playing volleyball… and though he would still continue to contest for a place in the police team… a rejection would only feel like a bad shot… nothing more. Passion and joy had returned in his life and so had the children. Today, Madira, with the help of like-minded ladies, runs a free school for the children from slums in day-time and for the illiterate adults in the evening. Once a year, she visits her children in the US and sometimes even without her husband. She says she showers love on them as if there will never be a second time. Aarti, a few months down the line, surprised her boss by walking out of the job. She began by selling her paintings, artefacts, ideas and guidance to several gift-item galleries and big brassware exporters. Today, she herself owns a rapidly growing export business. She admits her courage came by meeting her cowardice head-on. Initial setbacks and failures did not frighten her… she had mentally prepared herself for them. “Tough times don’t last, but tough people do!” is the phrase that she often repeated to herself.What has brought life back to these people? It is obviously passion! And it can bring life back to you too! Why passion?Index of life: Whether you are an ordinary person or a celebrity, you can do without passion only if you can do without life because it is passion alone that determines the extent to which you are alive. People say every cigarette reduces your life span by an hour. That could indeed be true. But truer is the fact that an hour spent doing something unwillingly has already subtracted an hour from your life. Life is not a collection of days you manage to live through, but of ‘todays’ that you live passionately to the hilt. People who lack passion feel that if they could get this promotion, or that kind of a bank balance or get rid of some health problem, they will be happy. But the fact is that those whom they find extremely happy usually have similar problems, if not more serious ones. We human beings, like any piece of iron, can propose to finish ourselves in two ways: we may rust ourselves out or we may simply wear ourselves out. Rust looks ugly; wearing out brings shine! Value of life: How valuable would diamonds be, if they were as common as pebbles on the road? Their value is only because they are rare and need the ceaseless effort required to mine and cut them to shape. Value of your own life, in a similar way, comes not from your achievements, but from the quality of passion with which you are still making ceaseless efforts today to make it shine further. Musicians, painters, scientists, inventors, authors and others who are creatively living their lives are cut off from thoughts of any monetary concerns, like “how much will this fetch me?” or “is it worth the royalty I am going to eventually earn?” The mind is instead focused on enjoying the excitement of respondin
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