Tuesday, June 30, 2009

bonus years

My mother used to say that there is a day in everyone’s life when their past is re-enacted in the minds’ eye in a lightening flash, revealing in uncanny detail all the joys and jerks, beauties and blunders, lowliness and loftiness of character and conduct through all the long years of life. (Forgive the TV induced alliterations!) That moment descended upon me last week, climaxing months and months of internalized pain over a paradise laid waste by my own follies. I stood atop a hillock watching the last struggles of a setting sun against a landscape which had suddenly turned a debris of hopes and dreams. Snatches from my past spanning moments of divinity and base desires, mystical joys and boredom born of lowly pursuits of lowlier goals like worldly fame; intense loyalties and sordid betrayals ( by me and others) – all this went racing past my mind “in a fine frenzy”. A life that started out as a romance with beauty – human and divine –seemed to flounder on the wreckage of ambitions that answer nothing but mediocre vanity. I had once stood at the same spot with an exceptionally brilliant, and more importantly, good girl whom I so much loved and respected – still do – and the landscape had sung out like a mystic in trance then. In between, there was a montage of memories of acts inspired by nothing but a desire to love and help, and be of use to those I came across, regardless of their identity and worth. (We are no one to judge who deserves our love. Everyone and everything that deserves to exist deserves to be loved, said my mother.) The sublime bliss of these moments was enough to lift the despair. But all said, life still seemed to hang out there like a fractured vision, a tapestry of wasted years and shattered dreams. No longer. In a flash, the landscape has been sorted out, transformed – suffused with the glow of love, compassion and humility. I suddenly remember that in my golden adolescent years I had been consumed by a mixture of fear and fascination for sudden, premature death. There was no way I was going to live beyond thirty five. Suddenly now, I realize that I am well past that dead-line already. I should have been gone centuries ago! With that realization has dawned another. I regard every year, every month, week, day, hour, minute – in fact, every breath as a bonus, something which the economists perhaps call “consumer’s surplus.” I now realize that the universe keeps giving us everything we seek. It keeps smiling, patiently waiting for the day when we would say, “This is enough. And all I seek now is a heart full of love for everyone I meet, forgiveness from everyone I have hurt (knowingly or otherwise) and a freedom from the self that has so imprisoned me all these years. And above all, I may stop envying those who absolutely refuse to be embarrassed by the goodness of others. And I may wait for the hour when death will walk over me without malice. Till then, life is a long, beautiful prayer in gratitude."