Breathing the Air of Freedom

My morning runs give me enough thoughts to munch on. I set out rather late for my run on Independence Day and it was a blessed run. I was in the right frame of mind. Therefore the thoughts that surfaced that morning had the colour of my mind. Happy minds produce happy thoughts.

I thought about how blessed it is to be alive. And how fortunate I am to be in a country where I can breathe the air of freedom. Being free is something I have always taken for granted, in the past.

We tend to want what we do not have instead of wanting the beautiful gifts we have. This year fortunately, I love and want the things I have.

As I reflected, it hit me that I valued freedom we have in India, a lot more this year because of what Ramesh Prasad told me about my writing skills yesterday. He told me he is very gung ho about my writing skills.

What on earth is the connection between recognition of my writing skills and valuing of our freedom in India? It is like the invisible thread between Zen and the art of motor cycle maintenance. Just as I had taken my writing skills for granted in the past, I also took this gift of freedom in India for granted all these years. As I mulled over what Ramesh said and what nine others on his facebook page had written about my writing, I felt grateful and immensely good about myself.

Yesterday, for the first time in my life, I saw my writing skills in a new light. That very light also shone on the idea of freedom in India, as I reflected on it. We see the world as we are, not as it is. When we hold certain things at the core within us as sacred and precious, things outside us too become sacred and precious.

Yet, there were also regrets. Regrets for not valuing my writing skills when an Irish priest, Fr.Long, praised my writing excitedly, when I was around 22 years old. He had told me then to write and publish my articles in various publications. Yesterday evening, Ramesh Prasad too told me not to confine my writing to this blog. He said there could be a wider audience for my writing, if I tried.

In another month, I will turn 61. It took me nearly 40 years to feel the pleasure of cajoling ideas out of words grouped in some particular order. It took all these years to hatch new dreams and wait for their fruition. I experienced prosperity and good times as also scarcity during these years. Yet when I look back at even those years of abundance, I sense I was trudging through parched lands.

When I received and read Neale’s message on August 15, my eyes nearly popped out of their sockets because his message based on a quote by Honore De Balzac was almost like a punch on my nose for those parched years. The quote is:

Vocations which we wanted to pursue, but didn’t, bleed, like colors, on the whole of our existence.

Everything happens for a reason. I saw a quote of Swami Vivekananda a few hours back which conveys this idea – when one is successful, one leads and confronted with failure, a guide.

Gripped by the patriotic fervor this year, I was moved to sign a petition sent by Aruna Roy to the PM not to amend the RTI act. I posted the petition in my facebook page and only two people liked what I did. In two weeks, 75,000 people from all over India signed the petition. Contrast this with the Kolavaridi rage which had more than 16 million hits in 19 days.

It speaks volumes about the sense and sensibilities  of my fellow compatriots. We are all the same, we chase shadows and leave orphaned those things of substance.

As a people we do not burn with the passion for causes close to our hearts. We have become numb inside us and wake up for a few days only when something sensational happens. Many of us Indians are 7 day wonders. We fight with Anna Hazare for 7 days to wipe out corruption from the face of India. When Nirbhaya rape happened we were also there for about 7 days. The seven day wonders are event centric people, flitting from one passion to another.

The rest of us are on the hunt for another kolavaridi to be rid of the dreary, blank existence we lead. Chasing shadows, comforts and ephemeral pleasures.

It is time for people who would rend the air with a clarion call for finding meaning, purposes, goals, dreams and the ‘why’ of their lives.

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