Dec 31: When 2016 started, I obviously had no idea what it had in store for me. Just like I have no idea what the year 2017 would hold. But now, standing on the threshold of yet another year of this miracle called life, I can say this much - every year teaches us a beautiful lesson, which we may realize or not, learn from or not, every year leads us to somewhere we have not been before or inspires us to try something new, every year leaves us with things to do and missions to accomplish, every year makes us hope for a brighter tomorrow.
For me, personally, the year 2016 was one of revelations. Full of suprises, struggles, and victories. Of moments that made me realize my inner strength, of moments where I was face to face with an 'avatar' of myself I never knew existed. Of moments of despair followed by hours of peace and contentment. Of moments when doubts whispered louder than conviction, yet, where my inner voice was the loudest of all. There were epiphanies of epic proportions, triumphs outdoing all other past victories, and now, at the end of it all, I find myself at a point where life has indeed become greater than all the petty everyday dilemmas of human existence.
I know I sound like a preacher, or like someone who has discovered the ultimate panachea for all worldly ills. I am neither. But believe me when I say this - the world is urgently in need of sanity. Or at least some semblance of sanity. We live in a virtual world where trolls are on a roll, where one random phrase is dissected into a thousand imaginary and extreme assumptions, where millions of people waste valuable hours of their lives abusing and debating over a celebrity baby's name they have no connection with, where patriotism is decided by the brand of mobile phone one owns, a world where human tragedy has been reduced to a Facebook post. With social media compressing the world into a so-called global village, even our minds seem to have compressed. We simply refuse to see what does not gel well with our own set of doctrines. We let ourselves be indoctrinated by anyone with a mike and a camera. All we need to do is take a moment, stand back, breathe, and analyse with an open mind. And if we disagree, to articulate our disagreement without resorting to abuse or personal attacks. Unfortunately though, jumping to conclusions has become the nation's favourite sport.
We need to realize that life is much more than our busy routines and definitely more than social media posts and forwards. Your life is about what you are doing with it, not about what others are doing with theirs. While you toil hard for a living (because, of course, you need money to fill your stomach and stay healthy), do not forget to make time for yourself and your family, and help out someone in distress. Life is about exploring, of learning new things, getting to know yourself and discovering, or rediscovering, the artist, the writer, the poet, the musician, the singer, the adventurer inside you. You may not be the best out there, but it is not about that at all. It is about being the best you can be, and giving the best you can give, of being in competition with no one but yourself. Sometimes the best may not be enough, but the important thing is knowing that it was still your best. Once in a while, let go of inhibitions, let go of the fear that holds you back. Years later when you reminisce, let 2017 (or any other) be the year that defined you.
I spent nearly half the year 2016 in and out of hospital, going through something I had never even imagined, sharing (for a few days, four times), the ICU space with patients who were barely conscious. I saw young people die in adjacent beds, families mourning for their dear departed, elderly patients grieving over the absence of their children, aged women looking after their young grandsons. I considered myself blessed, just because I was alive, mentally alert, and had my family around. When I finally emerged out of the storm, with a whole new life and a very different perspective, I began to give serious thought to exploring myself. While work continues to take priority, I also realized there are several other things that need to be prioritized alongside. I discovered new hobbies and new interests. I crafted and created stuff, went on walks and gave health the importance it deserved. I even began to skate, something I loved doing as a kid. Consequently, now when I come across trolls and nonsensical posts on Facebook or elsewhere, I don't give a damn and I definitely do not let myself be provoked, simply because there are more important things to do in life. I have learnt not to argue for argument's sake, for there is no point in indulging in something that leads nowhere, and instead only leaves you flustered and wishing you had said this or that. I am aware that many may not agree with my point of view, but that's okay. We need to allow dissent and discussion, for there are always two sides, or more, to every story and every line of argument. The world is not black and white, neither are the things that happen here.
So here's a parting thought as we welcome the new year. The world may not be a great place right now, but it is the only place we have. We cannot escape from the millions of problems and tragedies that happen every day, we cannot wish away things we don't like. But what we can do is make this world a little brighter and better, by being better versions of ourselves. By watching our words, our actions and our thoughts. By being quick to forgive and seek forgiveness. The past year may not have been the best, nor will the coming year be so. That said, no year is perfect, but with all its imperfections, we can still lead a perfectly happy life if we wish to.
So let go of the past, be grateful for the lessons it taught, and have a blessed 2017.