At the threshold of a brand New Year I always send out a special message to my friends and family, a message that reflects my mood-of-the-moment and encapsulates some of the lessons I have learned in that year and before and that I wish to share with my immediate, larger and virtual family. The message goes out as New Year greetings and to my mind serves to fill the time slot and opportunity that ending of one year and beginning of another present.
The time between Christmas and New Year brings in mixed feelings and conflicting emotions. There is that inherent sense of festive cheer which is balanced by hours of introspection about where we were, what we have lost and gained and what lies in store. The excitement of making new resolutions, kick starting the New Year on a positive, dynamic, successful note is peppered with pensiveness about the resolutions from the past years that we failed to keep up with and dropped along the way.
The biggest of all human traits has to be hope as we pick up our fallen faces at the thought of failure, failed attempts or fewer accomplishments in the time gone by; paste a radiant smile on the visage reflective of the gung-ho spirit within as we ready our mind and mettle to face the time to come with resolve and promise, energy and enthusiasm.
A few days back I put out my strongest wish into the Universe underlying how I want Twenty Twelve to turn out for me. I said, “If 2011 has been a good foundation-laying year then let 2012 be the year of deliverance.” But the wish would remain embedded in rhetoric if I did not learn from the lessons of Year 2011 and the earlier years and tied them in neatly in the tapestry of my thoughts and the fabric of my fortified actions.
Here are the lessons, in no particular order, flowing out just as the reflections reappear on the horizon of my mind and the thoughts take form. I may have learned much more, either consciously or subliminally; so why just 31 lessons? I did the simple math of adding 20 and 11 together. Perhaps I could do a part 2 to the ongoing process. But here are my 31 cents worth whatever they may be in the lanes of life, aspiring to be important milestones on its meandering roads -
Lesson 1 – The most important guest that you should usher in is Opportunity. Opportunity, nay, opportunities knock on the mind’s door – loud and clear. You must be ready in your Sunday best to greet them and be hospitable towards them. You must always be fitted out in branded clothes to welcome this VIP guest and the brand must always be of hard work, calibre and perspicacity.
Lesson 2 – You must believe in yourself, your ideas and your skills. If you do not believe in yourself then how will others; after all you know yourself the best. What’s more, in times of doubt, complexes and depression it is this belief that helps steer your ship towards the shore.
Lesson 3 – On the days when your belief in yourself takes a beating, there will be a providential sign through a friend’s comment or a reader’s remark or family’s know-all declaration that will help you put back the belief in its place and carry on with zeal and zest.
Lesson 4 - The Universe, through its forces and elements, reflects your spirit. Sunny, solemnly downcast, stormy, sizzling, barren, breezy, peaceful, passionate, pouring, parched – the Universe and You are mirror images with the former feeding on your innermost fears and feelings, emotions and thoughts.
Lesson 5 – The online Social circle of friends, connections, tweeple and the like are a far more charitable and philanthropic lot. They will not think twice before sharing information that could save a life, collect funds or help to eradicate hunger in the third world.
Lesson 6 – The very same group of people are also excellent networkers and active information-sharing community that thrives on adding to the knowledge bank, posting interesting features and tutorials, passing on useful links in general. It is because of them that there is so much to know, learn from and re-share in the dynamic world of web where nothing is beyond one’s reach any more. To be a part of this community is an enriching experience.
Lesson 7 – When the idea lights up like a bulb or when ideas flow, you must capture them on a pad or iPad, note it in your diary or save it on your desktop and get to it as soon as you can. If the a-ha moment of the idea is lost then it either flows away or stares you back as a boring piece of balderdash that is not worth your time any more. The point is to seize that moment and make it into a meaningful exercise. You will never ever regret this. Ask me! I have for proof a large pile of beautifully written pieces – prose or poetry depending on the idea and mood and a larger pile of half-written words and sentences that I do not know what to do with now.
Lesson 8 – When things go wrong with you, as they will many a times, it is family and then friends that rally around you. Nurture your inner and outer circle well, invest in it and see what a big difference they make to you and your life.
Lesson 9 – The best antidote to seasonal flus, moody blues, fevers, shivers, disease, moments of mental freeze, depression, feelings of oppression and anything else that you can think of are dogs. Period! Really so! Much more than rest and medication! Not much can stand up to the cheerful demeanour, wagging excitement – always, the unconditional licks of love and adorable hugs of attachment, the desire to be by your side at all times no matter what; it indeed is a formidable bond and friendship that can help you withstand any concern or calamity.
Lesson 10 – The pet children do have a fantastic vocabulary and understand all the languages you use rather well. Their vocab seems to be growing with every passing year just as your need to spell out more and more words instead of speak them out in their presence.
Lesson 11 – You have the power of making a difference to people’s lives, sometimes by your pre-meditated actions of kindness and sometimes by the unplanned, sudden acts that bring a smile to a stricken-with-grief face, that lift the heaviness off a sorrow-laden heart, that relax a reverberating-with-worries mind.
Lesson 12 – It is possible to lose weight at any age – before 20 after 40, pre menopause or post. Yes it is. You just need to keep up with the effort. Just as anything else in life – when the stakes are high and the task tough, the efforts must be as intense – the same with weight.
Eating right and healthily is not for a season or two or for the period of time in which you wish to lose weight. It is a life-long process and should be part of your perpetual life-style.
Lesson 13 – More than anything else, more than wealth, fame, happiness and prosperity, what is really limited and reducing constantly is TIME. After every passing year, at every decade of your life, the truth is going to hit you even harder. The time to do something about it is NOW.
Lesson 14 – Just as you dive into the ocean of life and dig out bounties from the depths of the Universe, so should you be putting back into it - to whatever extent and with as much ability as you can. Make no mistake about it – it IS a two-way process.
Lesson 15 – I first saw my parents live that kind of life; then years later I heard Oprah say it on her show. And I DO believe that you do not need money and certainly not large trunks of it to do charity. It should come to you as easily as your need to breathe and eat. It has to be a part of who you are.
Lesson 16 – In whatever profession you may be, you must read – extensively and widely. There is no better education than that.
Lesson 17 – Whatever your craft – you must practice it every day. If you are a writer or wish to be one – you must write daily. I am enamoured by Stephen King’s passion – who wrote even on Xmas Day, Independence Day and his Birthday.
Lesson 18 – You must have a hobby – developing and maintaining a garden, taking photographs, travelling, singing, painting art, buying art, cooking, drinking wine whatever does it for you – you must have one or two or more.
Lesson 19 – Be dogged with your good ideas. People may call it pushiness, I call it perseverance. If you keep at your good ideas for long and strong, there will be a chunk of people who will see those things the way you do. The article that you think has mass appeal, the book idea that you believe is saleable, the job that you feel you are really best suited for, the strategy you have thoroughly thought out and are certain that it will reap the benefits – hold on to them, reinforce them amongst the significant publics and Voila! you will find support from the same quarters.
Almost in the same breath, I hasten to add, be ready to drop the bad idea at the drop of a hat, without any thought or emotion that may ride with it.
Lesson 20 – Age and the experience you gain with it are the best, lifelong teachers you could ask for. Be thankful for all of your life’s experiences – good or bad, trying or stimulating – they all leave important lessons behind.
Lesson 21 – Be grateful for what you have. There are hundreds of others who are not as privileged be it with money, cushy life, family, unconditional love, sound mind, healthy body and a lot other parameters.
Lesson 22 – Have a daily dialogue with The One Above – in whatever shape and form you see Him or Her. Yes you heard me right – it is a dialogue. You just need to be tuned enough to receive His or Her signals.
Lesson 23 – There may be thousands of people writing on food, or travel or PR or whatever - then should you be adding your two cents too? Yes, without any doubt; because yours would be a unique take on the subject, shaped by your unique set of experiences.
Lesson 24 – It IS possible to spend the whole day doing nothing of value, whiling away your time in inane, absolutely useless activities; but the huge sense of guilt thereafter is killing, brutally cruel and crushing. So, it is much better to accomplish your goal or at least a part of it every day.
Lesson 25 – Remember what all the Management Gurus have been telling us for long? They ARE telling us right. You must learn to divide a huge task into smaller, manageable portions and get cracking on those parts. In time you would be reaching the end of the big job itself.
Lesson 26 – In the same vein as above, I have realized that I must tackle the most difficult job of the day first and then scale down to the simpler, easier, more fun tasks. It helps me be more efficient and effective and gets me to accomplish more in the day.
Lesson 27 – Just about anybody can become your teacher for a moment, for the day or for a long period of time. Over 2011, I picked up valuable lessons from my caretaker, the Gardener, my young soul child, my old mother-in-law, the peacocks that came to eat their daily stock of grain in my garden, the rude neighbor and of course my two pet children. Specially the last two, as their intelligence, kindness of heart, clever ploys and playful antics did not cease to amaze me.
Lesson 28 – With us celebrating a decade and a year of marriage, I realize that it is important to have an extremely understanding, kind and thoughtful soulmate who respects you for who you are and what you bring to the union. In today’s world of chaos, confusion, comparisons and conflict this is one of the most significant and sanity-maintaining aspects of my life.
Lesson 29 – With age and experience, I must keep learning to laugh a lot – at myself, at situations and generally in life.
Lesson 30 – Health is the most important asset that I can have. It can help me move mountains or compel me to stay withdrawn in the confines of my bed depending on which side of health I am standing on. Along with the physicality of it all, it is as important to have a beautiful, brilliant and sound mind.
Lesson 31 – Finally, I have learned the importance of developing role models – not just the towering figures of our times but also common people in our circle going about their commonplace lives with all that grit, gratitude, dignity and diligence. It helps me not get bogged down and pick myself up fast if I crumble down at times.
Have a wonderful, inspiring, fun-filled, love-laden, hope infused, intellectually brilliant and healthily sound 2012! Go on; create your own miracles in the New Year!!!
Note - Pic. courtesy - www.deviantart.com