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30 and Learning…

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Life lesson

Choices

 

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Destiny or free will?

I daresay that’s a question as old as humanity itself. Since man developed the cognitive prowess to think and reason, people have wondered why things happen to us the way they do. Is it all preplanned or do we shape our own lives? Some people believe in absolute destiny – that our lives follow a fixed blueprint that was created by some higher power long before we were born. Others, mostly those who do not believe in the existence of such higher power, believe that we create our own destiny by the choices we make.

I’ve never had a firm opinion on the matter, instead still searching for an answer. One thing that I do firmly believe in is that there are no absolutes in life. So I guess I neither believe in absolute destiny nor in absolute free will. I came across a piece recently that seemed to resonate with this idea (wish I had the link to share). What the author said was that there is a plan for all of us but it is up to us to make the choices that will allow us to follow that plan.

To look at it in another way, my life is supposed to be a certain way and yet I can alter its course by making choices that deviate from that course. Since I talked about my nameless relationship recently, I’ll use that as an example. At every step, I had the choice to either continue or run away. My heart said continue and my head said run away. There are very few times when my heart and head are in conflict but I’m a person wholly led by my heart. So I continued, and I am so happy I did, regardless of the pain I feel right now. Because knowing this love was my destiny, it just feels right. I wouldn’t have it any other way and I’d do it all over again if I had to.

That’s the other thing with choices and destiny – if it doesn’t feel right, it isn’t. And that is why I feel that it’s important to think with the heart and not head. Now obviously I don’t mean the literal heart, but what I mean is the instinct, the gut, the intuition… Whatever you want to call it, but there’s always a voice inside that lets us know when we make a wrong choice. So maybe that’s our cue – if that voice inside is not in agreement, maybe we have chosen an option that doesn’t align with our destiny.

But what if someone keeps making the wrong choices all throughout? What if someone completely silences the voice inside? Honestly, I think that happens all the time. The world we live in forces us to be logical, practical, rational – all that manmade cerebral fluff – and ideas like this are considered absurd, even loony! Yet we hear stories all the time about people on their deathbeds, breathing their last, reflecting upon the life they lived and regretting the choices they made, regretting not following their hearts. When in doubt, I wonder that if I died today, would I be happy with the life I lived or would I have regrets? As long as the answer is the former I know I am following my destined path.

And finally, someone might say that what if there are no choices. But I doubt that’s ever the case. We always have choices and whether knowing or unknowingly, we are picking an option each minute. When I had to leave the US, I thought I had no choice, I was forced to leave what had become my home and move back to India. But I had the choice – to marry someone and stay. I wouldn’t have been the first one to do that. Logical people do it all the time. But I’m not logical. My heart wouldn’t even consider that as an option. So I chose to leave instead. Leaving Izzie and Milo behind was not an option my heart would ever acknowledge either. And I am so thankful that my inner voice is so loud and clear because if I made either of those choices, I would’ve regretted them immensely. So if I die today, I would die happy, knowing that I chose love each step of the way.

Maybe that is how souls get liberated from the cycle of rebirth. Maybe people who die with regrets have to come back. I don’t know, I have no opinion on that subject either and I’m open to be convinced either way. But that’s for another time; let’s not get too hyperbolic now!

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A Lesson in Detachment

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It’s been a while since I last wrote something and that made me think why…

There was a time I used to write more or less everyday, as a habit. But that’s because I always had something to write about. I’ve generally only blogged about existential matters, no stories or fiction or other specific subject matter. So why suddenly I don’t have much to write about. I wrote my last two blogs within a space of 3 days and now it’s been 3 weeks since I felt like writing, or had the time to do so.

I think I have reached a point where I am completely and truly living in the present. I don’t think about the past and I don’t worry about the future. I feel grateful to have what I have today and I don’t feel entitled to have it tomorrow. I don’t feel entitled to anything for that matter, and so each moment that I get to live is a blessing. In a lot ways I think of that as detachment.

I was talking to friends about detachment today and somehow during the conversation I realized that my writing is generally driven by attachments. My last two posts were driven by attachment too, because a friend was going away. But as much as I love him and would like to have him around, I am happy knowing that he is doing well for himself and is exactly where he needs to be. The post before that was driven by my attachment for my cats. And again, I am content with the knowledge that they are safe and well-loved, and I don’t have to be with them to love them. Detachment does not mean absence of love, it means being able to let go while continuing to love.

During our conversation, a friend said something that made being detached seem the same as being unattached. I don’t think that’s true. We don’t have to be unattached to be detached. In fact, I think true detachment can only come from being attached and acknowledging the fact that no matter how deep our attachment we do not own anything or anyone. Everything is transient and what’s here today may not be there tomorrow. To be able to invest in something without the desire of an outcome is true detachment to me. The detachment, then, is not from the object of attachment but from our expectations thereof.

Someone else asked me today, in a separate, unrelated conversation, that how am I always happy. Now, I wasn’t always this way. It’s been a long, grueling journey getting here. But the answer to that question is this same detachment I daresay. If I were to expect, I would either have things my way or not. The former would make me happy and the latter unhappy. But since I have no expectations, my happiness is not driven by external forces. The source of my happiness is within me. It’s a kind of contentment that is hard to put in words. It’s like whatever I get is already more than what I could have asked for because I don’t ask for anything to begin with. That’s not to say that I don’t have hopes and dreams, I do; but they are my fuel, not some sort of an arbitrary benchmark for success and consequent happiness. I am happy just working towards my goals irrespective of whether I achieve them or not. My happiness lies in each moment I get to live and continue this work. These moments may cease at anytime, no one knows when their time’s up. So my happiness lies in the here and now with no expectations of tomorrow.

To sum up, I write out of attachment, and the process of writing helps me regain my sense of detachment and the happiness that comes from it. In a way, the less I write means the happier I am… not sure if that’s a good thing but that’s how it seems to be!

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