“We live in interesting times”
There is an ancient proverb which goes – “May you live in interesting times”. Although it seems to be a harmless remark, it is also said to be an ancient curse. We live in interesting times, be it the turmoil that we face on the outside, or the inner turmoil that we battle with every day. “Living in interesting” times implies that our lives will be devoid of peace, and riddled with conflict.
As children, we used to think that our course in life will be simple and linear, with a happy ending. As we grow into our teenage years, and then enter adulthood, life becomes more complicated, and we realize one absolute certainty in our lives – nothing is certain.
Think of where you were ten years ago – did you ever imagine you would be where you are today?
Life throws challenges and changes at us, in terms of opportunities, losses, deaths, illnesses, new relationships. Despite our careful planning, we never reach the destination we set out to achieve. Whether for better or for worse, life has too many variables, each permutation creating a multiple of other variables, making life infinitely interesting, promising … and uncertain.
The fact is, everybody’s future is unknown, and unpredictable.
Occasionally, we achieve our short term goals in life. The high grades in school, the successful job interview, marrying someone we love. These are all the highs in life, which gives us immense joy, motivation and a sense of achievement.
However, there is also a counterbalance to it. Life also gives us a share of tough situations. Sometimes, these come unexpectedly, leaving us bewildered, miserable and unable to cope.
And the questions for all of us are –
How can I cope, when things don’t go as planned?
How do I maintain stability when the environment around me is shaky?
How do I find peace when something bad happens?
Fact – You are not in control of your destiny!
The reality is that nothing is within our control.
Just look at the small examples in our daily lives:
How many times have we had to cancel our plans because of bad weather?
How many times have we woken up with a flu when we were fine the night before?
How many times did someone react to us in a way we did not anticipate or deserve?
How many times do we successfully predict the outcome of an exam, a job interview or even the ending of a movie?
And these are small matters, what more major things like serious illness, job loss, life and death, and other large scale changes?
We cannot control life; we cannot change many of the conditions that we are exposed to.
However, what we can control is our reaction to adverse situations.
Going back to the basics
Today, we forget reality and the truth of who we are. We often forget that we are incapable of controlling events.
Hence, let us remind ourselves of some basic truths – truths which, in the rush of our demanding lifestyles, we have forgotten:
We are human beings. We are a creation among the multiple creations in this universe. We are mere mortals, each severely limited in capabilities. No matter our physical and intellectual talents, our abilities are inadequate. We all go through cycles of life, and at some point, without our choice, this cycle ends and life is taken away from us.
We are not the Creator We are incapable of creating. At best, we can reassemble and reconstitute things which already exist, but we cannot create something from nothing. We are all created beings, and in the context of all of creation in this universe, phenomenally fragile and insignificant. We are unable to create life, much less control our surroundings. We can attempt to change our conditions, however, once we have made the attempt, the outcome is beyond our hands.