March 12, 2014
I wake up early enough to go for my morning jog. Once I decide on the distance – today it is 14 km – everything falls in place and the rhythm is set and maintained.
I look forward to the morning jogs for the challenge I get to win, for keeping myself fit and for the thoughts that cement my intentions.
Thoughts come to me about the motor cycle that whizzed past me too close for comfort as I was nearing my home after my morning run, yesterday. I was thinking then about big and small chunk thinking, oblivious of the world around me. I remember telling myself – another reckless chap on the bike.
Then I remembered the words of Mondal, that pleasant, well-meaning driver who taught me driving on the lonely stretches of roads in Ganjam district in Orissa about 35 years back. I was a social worker then.
He told me in Bengali – I should train myself to think every driver on the road is potentially mad and it is up to me not to fall a victim of their insane driving, by being cautious. I believed him fully.
Only a few months later, in a class attending a session on Disaster Management at Indian Administrative Staff College in Hyderabad, one learned professor referred to public transport drivers as “murderers on the road”. I forget the context in which he said these words, but I remember he said – murderers on the road. I believed the learned professor fully, bowled over by his communication skills and clever twists of phrases.
These days, when I am at the wheel or even walking on the road there is this morbid fear about some crazy driver doing the unthinkable to me. I cannot figure out since when I have this fear. Neither am I sure whether my fear is connected to what Mondal and the professor warned me about.
Yet, as I am running, the connections click a passage into my consciousness, joining the dots – after 35 years – for the first time.
My observation is, fear or mistrust do not stay confined to one, two or a few areas. It has a nasty way of spreading like grey smoke from a damp fire, into various aspects of life. Nothing really is compartmentalized, in life.
And fears and mistrust can stifle the singing of life’s songs.
Probably, all because of one or two chance remarks! It is so true, words as I speak or write them make a path on which others walk.
I can create through my spoken and written words paths that lead to rainbows. Or to barren lands.
Sometimes, words not uttered or not written create powerful effects – of void. Or space for reconciliation.
I wish Mondal, the driver had told me instead to drive carefully as my life is precious just as the lives of others in various vehicles are also precious.
And I wish the professor didn’t paint one class of drivers with one dark brush, creating a set of enemies in my life.
I now exorcise the dark imprints from those chance remarks made 35 years ago.
Is it also not true, as I listen, I have the responsibility to sift the chaff from the grain?
Do I maximize the teacher at the expense of minimizing myself?
I have vague memories of having imparted these lessons to others, particularly to my daughter when she was learning to drive.
I hope I am forgiven and the dark residues, if any, from those innocent remarks are blown away – by thinking again.
It is frightening to imagine how in very small, unnoticeable ways I condition myself and condition others, to live in moulds and images of the past. Like a prisoner chained to the past.
That brings me to another dimension of this blog.
I started this just for myself more than two years back. Now there are friends reading what I write. So, an undesirable tendency creeps in once in a while to be a showman.
That robs the soul out of what I write. Then I sense a layer of falsity in my words. I have to beware of this.
Towards the end of my long run today, my left foot stumbles on a raised part of the road and I lurch forward. I catch myself from falling just in time.
That brings me back to the world around me. Almost all through an hour and a half of jogging, my mind has been preoccupied with unraveling mazes of the past. In the process, I miss looking at the foliage, the clouds sailing in the sky, hearing the occasional birds chant or even feeling the painful weariness on my legs.
Is it possible to be in a state of awareness of my surroundings, through all my senses, as also of the thoughts as they click open the interlinking mazes of my past?
There is a poem I wrote just about a year ago, meshed between a poem of Walt Whitman and a message from Neale Donald Walsch. It is about awareness, titled In the Isness of Now.
Ultimately, awareness it is that makes me mindful of the passing vehicles or the raised part of the road.
Awareness also guides me to choose the right words when I speak or write.
I am in the isness of NOW.