Lessons from N

I’ve been having a particularly low one and a half months. On various fronts. Personally, professionally, spiritually. Today, at work, just as we were taking a breather after the first edition had gone to press, I collapsed on the couch thinking about the uncertainties of the future and how ominous a cloud looms large right in front of me. That’s when a colleague, let’s call her N, plopped herself beside me on the couch. We got talking and that’s when I caught myself smiling and laughing from the heart perhaps first time in 20 days. Here are the things that I inferred and which will stay with me for a lifetime:

1. Never hate anybody. Hatred is a powerful emotion often wasted on people who are really not important. You can love, like or dislike a person but hate should be used sparingly.

2. Your life is yours to lead. Life is not a movie where the action scenes would be done by a stuntman and a body double. No one will come and live your life for you. 

3. Only you and you alone are responsible for your actions. And you are answerable to only yourself. Not anybody else even if that person claims to love you.

4. If someone says he/she loves you and cannot reconcile the fact that you are not what he/she wants you to be, he/she doesn’t love YOU at all but just an IMAGE in his/or her mind that he/she has of you or someone else. The person who accepts you as you are with all your flaws (this doesn’t mean that he/she will overlook your flaws and not help you rectify your weak points) and good things and doesn’t want to change you according to his/her perception is the one who loves you the most.

5. It’s easy to go into confrontations. It’s tougher to let it pass. Choose the second option because that shows strength of character. But this doesn’t mean that you will hold grudges. What merits confrontation and what doesn’t – that’s the judgement that you will often have to make. 

6. Use what god has gifted you. If you are good looking, use it to your advantage. For girls, especially, power of good looks works in many situations. Here, good looks doesn’t mean being an apsara or Monica Bellucci. It means presentable-ness. Don’t be embarrassed to use your talents and skills. If you have the gift of gab, use it. If you are a great problem solver, use it. If you are a highly-skilled mediator, use it. And so on…

7. It’s never too late to begin. (N is pushing 40 and squealed like an adolescent at the fact that she’ll keep trying things to find out what she really likes to do even when she’s 60. This was when I told her that I’ll be 30 next year. Am I a tad too late?) And there’s nothing shameful in trying different things. Unless you try, you’ll never learn.

8. Sin is a judgement call that only the higher power can take. Whether or not you are a sinner or have sinned is for the higher power to decide. (Sin. here, doesn’t adhere to any Christian/Islamic/Hindu notion of wrongful act but to the act of making mistakes.)You may make mistakes but only you are responsible for it. You will answer only to yourself and the higher power. It’s a contract between you and, okay, let’s say ‘God’ for want of a better word! 

9. Confide in someone. If there’s no ‘someone’ write a diary, a blog or just key it on a word file on your personal comp. You need to let out steam. 

10. At the end of the day, blood ties matter. Only they will stand by you in times of crises. And if the tie ain’t strong enough, then the person who loves you the most (refer point # 4) will be by your side. 

11. This one’s for the girls. It’s important to have girlfriends. (This was a bummer for me. I have no real close friends who are women. Most of my pals turn out to be guys!) Girls may bitch but after a point (here, N mentioned ‘after you cross 30’) you need these women beside you. They are the same as you systemically. They would have gone/would be going through the same situations round about the same time. Their shoulders are stronger than the man’s rugged arms. Their hug is more heartfelt than the guy’s embrace. (Okay, I gotta work on this one!)

This is how I’d like to sum up my talk with her: I felt my cheeks hurting from so much smiling that I had to consciously keep my lips from curving upwards into a smile. My heart was suddenly relieved of all its load. Of course that was before another bummer. (More on that later) But I do believe in silver linings! 

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