“What gives people the strength to face such insurmountable problems in life?” I asked Lulu, my parrot while he nibbled at chillies. “I was reflecting on choices we make in life. Tough!”
“That’s a tough one really” Lulu said as he looked up and took a bite. “Who are you thinking about?”
“I met a lady today. Her life story made me speechless.”
“You go speechless because it sets you thinking….” Trust parrots to read your mind like an X-ray report.
“She discovered soon after her marriage that her husband had a mental health problem. Later it was diagnosed as Schizophrenia. She left a lucrative job to look after him. She could have walked out of the marriage, her relatives advised her to do it, but she decided not to. That single decision changed her life and the lives of her husband and perhaps other family members too.”
“Kudos to her. Yes, walking out of marriage was an easy choice. As somebody has said – There are always two choices. Two paths to take. One is easy. And its only reward is that it’s easy.” Lulu hopped closer and looked at me with interest.
“I asked her why she did not walk out of marriage when the choice was open. She said that relatives and well-wishers advised her to walk out. They also told her not to give up the lucrative job which gave her financial security.”
“She did exactly opposite. She gave up her job to look after her ailing husband. She said that she followed what she felt was the right thing to do.”
“And she did not say she thought it was the right thing to do. Propelled by heart not by brain! The choice was to stay in the marriage and obviously it must have brought her extreme pain.”
“The issues which perplex me are these: What makes people take that step knowingly – that step which presents them with insurmountable problems. What makes them take that step – although they are aware that they are probably not even equipped to handle the challenge?”
“Those are difficult questions. There is no rational explanation. You can keep your life simple by moving out of the situation. But she chose not to. It is all about what your inner voice says. And also it is about whether you will listen to your inner voice.” Those who know Lulu are aware that he has attended several sessions of great philosophers perched on a tree nearby. “Listening to inner voice! Osho says that the Universe communicates through heart and not through head. One must listen to heart.”
“That’s what she did.”
“Marriage presents a peculiar problem. To you, human beings. You have to live with a person who is so different. The partner invariably has a personality very different from yours. You allow the person in your space as they say. It must be difficult.”
“In her case there was this problem was heightened. How to live peacefully with your partner is a problem to all married persons even if the partner has no mental health problem. Imagine her difficulty, her problem and imagine the enormity of decision she had to make.” I said while chewing my pencil which Lulu drew out.
“That too at such a young age. She must have been in her early twenties when she made the decision to stay. When faced with a problem like that people feel terribly lonely, not to mention the feeling of insecurity.”
“And Lulu, you say that she made the decision listening to her inner voice!”
“Where does that inner voice come from? Does parenting in early childhood dictate the choices you make in life?”
“We can only guess. Parenting is not the only factor that matters. Perhaps it matters least of all – there is something innate and the core of your personality – your being – it seems to dictate. I would like to believe that these are gifted persons, they are born with leadership qualities.”
“Oh, stop your HR talk on leadership!” Lulu tapped me on my head with his beak. It hurt.
“The extreme emotion-charged situation teaches them to take a dispassionate view of the problems in life. They keep developing as they climb their mountain of problems. The challenge before them develops them to handle the challenge! This is kind of circuitous!”
“Oh yes! We are creating ourselves every moment; the problem is that we are not conscious of it. It is like a postman walking seven kilometers every day; he never realises it while sleep-walking through performing his job.”
“The way we lead our life, the decisions we take, have a way of taking charge of our life. As they say, when an artist decides what to paint. When he begins, “the brush takes over.” Similar is the effect of our decisions on us.”
“We will never know what made her take the monumental decision.” Lulu said as he hopped on to my shoulder. “Perhaps she too will not be able to explain. That answer is irrelevant. Because the real lesson is: are we listening to our inner voice and do we have the courage to follow its dictates. That alone will decide whether we live life meaningfully or otherwise.” Lulu looked at me and hopped away to nibble at chillies again.
Vivek S Patwardhan
Pic courtesy: Osho News, Creative Commons