Santosh, a friend of mine, sent me an email a couple of days ago. I altered it a little (to fit the blog) but ensured the message was not lost in translation. The email:
The demise of one of my colleagues, whom I just saw yesterday evoked a fear as only death can and pushed me to think of what really matters to me in life? I went to the office in the morning, unaware of Maggie passing away, but when I saw tulips on her keyboard, I was taken aback. I wasn’t sure whether I was sad that she passed away or that it reminded me of my own mortality.
What matters? Is it money and the material comforts it brings? Or love and the warm comfort of relationships? Don’t we need both? But, can we walk the thin line in managing both? Devoting time to both? The paradox of life is, man misses one in the want of the other. Not all can, and I certainly can’t. It’s been more than 3 years that I came to the United States – the land of opportunities, just like everybody who ever dreamt of an on-site opportunity, which put an end to the monetary struggles that I have been through all my life; a life where tap water was my 3 course meal and I struggled to make ends meet, ever constantly worrying about the well-being of my family. Now, I have enough money to buy all the luxuries I dreamt of (those atleast from a middle class person’s perspective) and to keep my parents happy and give them that social status which only money can buy in society. But, it did come with a price — of being separated from them.
Today, though I have all the material comforts, I long for them. I feel empty inside. A sadness lives in me which I neither can express or suppress. I miss my mom’s warm hug, the security when I lay in her lap, the fights that I had with my brother, and my dad’s care. As each day passes by, I know I’m missing many such moments and no matter how much I earn, I’ll not be able to buy these moments off any departmental store. But, to keep them happy, to know they are safe & secure with access to medical care, I need to stay here with just loneliness as company. A necessary sacrifice? Or dream gone wrong? I don’t know, and a war rages in my day in, day out. Is it worth it? Looks like I was unhappy then, and I’m unhappy now.
Maggie’s demise only showed me this – that I have never lived. That, I postponed living in the want of something I didn’t have then & don’t have now. First it was money, now it is family. But, what if I die now? What if I come to the end of life still trying to figure out how to be happy than just being happy? Is happiness a journey or a destination? Do I need something to be happy? Or can I just decide to and be happy? In both the phases of my life, I had good times and bad times, I laughed, loved, won, lost, & cried. It’s just that I kept focusing only on that one thing I wished I had, that I forgot or worse sometimes sleep walked through all the moments that made me come alive. But, isn’t this life? The one which happens day to day as I write these words, as I make big plans or dream of the next venture? Maggie’s loss just made me realise that life happens every day and if I’m not happy with what I have and where I am today, I stand the chance to living a sad life. Have I lost perspective towards life?
I had a similar experience a year ago when a good friend passed away suddenly in an accident. But, just as Dharmaraja replied to a Yaksha (when asked what was the biggest irony of life) that “we see death all around us, but we believe we’ll not be touched”. I forgot that all our exits are marked. It’s just that we take it for granted that we’ll be here for long and live either in the past or the future, but never in the present. It only takes a wakeup call as such to remind us how transient our lives are and the importance to being in the present. So, I turn back from the email, with a renewed sense of determination to make the best of this moment.