Reflections on Three Experiences in a Day

In yesterday’s Zen Habits, Leo Babauta wrote about the importance of writing a diary every day. He says that keeping some part of the day apart for this activity will do a world of good.

I used to write down my thoughts once in a while and when I was in Loyola College, one Professor Raja belittled the practice of diary writing, saying it was almost like going back to one’s vomit. I did not realize then that people in positions did not speak sense always.

Writing clarifies things and it helps you to reflect in solitude. Writing answers a lot of questions. More significantly, writing poses a lot of questions – which are more important than the answers. Answers are finite by nature, but questions have infinite dimensions, going beyond set boundaries. Also, one becomes better at expressing and communicating to the world outside.

One would normally think that finding topics to write about daily would be very difficult. Perhaps this is an excuse one finds for not writing. Yesterday I encountered two experiences which caused some mild tremors in me.

I was not able to sleep very well and got up around 5 am and decided to go for a jog. As I was walking towards the place from where I normally start my jog, I encountered a strange sight on the over-bridge near my house. A man was on the pavement, fully covered in a sheet and he was masturbating. He was unmindful of the vehicles passing by or the occasional walkers like me who could watch the act from close quarters.

It is the first time I have seen anyone masturbating in public. Why not? People do it in the comforts of their private rooms. The poor man’s home is the pavement and the sky is the roof above him. So, he feels at home to do something which causes no harm to others and perhaps this is the only pleasure he has in life.

Then I started jogging. Normally my quota of running is about 7 km. Yesterday I had the desire to do twice that, though I was not sure whether I would cover that distance. Somehow I convinced myself step by step, to run about 14 km. I felt elated at the end of the run. I can aim for more.

The group activity conducted in IITD last Tuesday, where we had to lift a bottle of water using only safety pins also left me thinking that there is nothing called impossible. We keep redefining our boundaries when we are open to various possibilities in life. It is funny, how a simple game can alter one’s attitude to life.

The third experience happened as I was driving down to my office. I saw a physically challenged person on a bike, trying to help an old man who seemed to be in terrible distress. I thought I would be a good Samaritan for once and decided to help out. I stopped the car and came out to the scene.

The physically challenged person on the bike said that the old man was all curled up and shriveled when he first spotted him and so, alarmed, he had already called 108 Ambulance service. Just as he was explaining to me the situation, a man came on a cycle and explained that the old man seemed to be using his infirmities to collect money from the public. After making this contribution, the man on the cycle went on his way, suggesting that we too do likewise.

It was then that the first Samaritan on the bike sprouted doubts whether he would be put to trouble for calling the ambulance unnecessarily. So, he told me that he was going to his office nearby for getting some money – just in case it was needed.

The good Samaritan did not turn back or come back after that. That left me, the second good Samaritan to fend for myself when the ambulance arrived after about 10 minutes.

I explained the matter to the driver and nurse who came in the ambulance. They decided that there was nothing major with the old man, it was only a matter of malnutrition. They decided to take him to the hospital in the ambulance.

I thought long and hard about the first Samaritan. Only a smile washed my face then. He, an unknown entity scooted from the scene not to get into trouble. Sometimes courage stops midway and it is sad.

I have seen worse in life. People desert even deep relationships.

I have to keep walking. And not blame anyone else. And be mindful about inferring the wrong lessons – like it is risky to stick one’s neck out while trying to be helpful.







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