Random forays: Calmness amid everyday bedlam

  • Vivek Atray, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
  • Updated: Mar 20, 2016 11:38 IST
We are forever in a state of frenetic activity bordering on panic. There is hardly anyone who has time on his hands and the mindfulness to make the most of it. (HT Photo)

Life has a way of engulfing us with a humongous variety of pressing demands. It is only some indefatigable ones who can see the bigger picture and mull over the state of their existence oft enough. En effet in this era we just seem to be running all the time. The irony is that we have no idea where we are really headed!

Take for instance the frenzy surrounding the morning rush hour. Hardly anybody drives calmly these days. Each one of us leaves home with barely enough time left to get to work. Most mornings see madness and mayhem on our roads. We act as if there is no tomorrow! Breakfast has of course been gulped down moments earlier and arguments with unfortunate loved ones at home engaged in. A hurried goodbye has been followed by some conciliatory text messages which really do not make up for the boorish behaviour one has indulged in earlier.

If all this sounds familiar, it’s no surprise. It is the story of our times. We are forever in a state of frenetic activity bordering on panic. There is hardly anyone who has time on his hands and the mindfulness to make the most of it.

Thus a family that I know closely hardly meets and never eats together. A virtual group on the phone is all that keeps them connected to each other. Gone are the days when the head of the family used to kiss the others good bye before leaving for work. He now sends virtual kisses by the dozen throughout the day, but they somehow do not seem to have the same depth in them!

The people of Chandigarh and the region are no strangers to this globalised trend of shallowness. We are as if sprinting to a finish line that keeps shifting about. There is no attempt to savour the joys of life, only a craze to reach an unknown destination.

On the other hand, the yearning amongst the gen-next to be ‘something’ can be more easily understood. However, the reasons that they proffer are often topsy-turvy and misguided!

So much so that one youngster came up to me demanding to know if joining the civil services is still a good career option. I told him that it certainly is and that the nation needs bright diligent young people to serve it. He had a query for me though and it startled me.

“Sir, I’m only looking for a cushy job with status and perquisites. Does one really have to work hard too?” I frowned at first; then smiled a little. Then I nodded.

“Yes boy, one has to work hard too! And one has often to lead a work life which is far from cushy. But in the end, whatever one does is (or should be) in the larger public interest so that is extremely satisfying. The reasons for trying to make it to the civil services have to be the right ones though!”

He was the one to frown now and he also scratched his head. Finally he withdrew with a resigned look and the promise of pondering over what I had said.

Meanwhile, the blooms are out in all their glory. The great outdoors look like a bedecked bride, ready for betrothal to whoever is willing! The gorgeousness of nature is simply to be gazed at to be believed. The unending greens are surely the place to be these days. The weather is temperate enough and the flowers are just unbelievably glorious. So those who are indoor freaks and are already enjoying air conditioned comfort zones had better take a peek outside their windows and actually step out into the sun once in a while.

But in order to do so, we just have to give up our aforementioned habit of zipping through our days and our lives. Paramahansa Yogananda, author of the Autobiography of a Yogi, said, “Be calmly active, and actively calm.”

To be able to live life to the fullest and appreciate all its beauteous facets, we will have to endeavour to do just that!

(The writer is an administrator, author, and motivational speaker)

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