What Life Demands From Us

What Life Demands From Us

“Interesting point” Lulu, my parrot, pointed out to an article on my table. “He speaks of primary greatness and secondary greatness; it is so obvious point that I wonder why it did not strike me earlier”

“Are you referring to Stephen Covey? Yes, I know what you are referring to. Covey says, ‘Primary greatness has to do with a person’s integrity, work ethic, treatment of others, motives.’”

“Right! In other words, it is all about one’s character”

(Lulu, my parrot)

“You said it, Lulu. Covey says ‘Secondary greatness has to do with positions or titles, awards, wealth, fame rankings or rare accomplishments. Almost by any definition, secondary greatness can only be attained by a select few’”

“And that is not always in the hands of a person. It is not about character”

“That’s true, it is not about the character of a person”

“Things are falling in place”

“What’s that, Lulu?”

“You had interacted with Dr Datta Samant who was a physician. He decided to organize workers and became a trade union leader when he saw the plight of quarry workers.”

“I know”

“Or take Baba Amte. He saw Tulsiram who was leprosy affected person in terrible condition. That was the turning point in Amte’s life, he set up Anandwan.”

“Yes, that’s a well-known story. What’s the point you are making?”

“Books tell you that life is determined by a series of choices”

“Isn’t that true?”

“Yes of course, but there is more to it. I know one lady, let us call her A. Within a year after her marriage, her husband was diagnosed as suffering from Schizophrenia!”

“Oh! What a situation fate presented her with!!”

“She had a well-paying job. Her family was okay if she had walked out of the marriage, but she did not. She decided that she would become a caregiver and left her job to look after her husband”

“Salute to her courage, salute to her taking the life head on”

“You said it! Life makes demands, and choices are difficult. Like a woman with a child becoming a single parent after her divorce. She can continue to suffer in a suffocating marriage or go on her own. Choice in life is so difficult to make.”

“Jean Nidetch said ‘It’s choice – not chance – that determines your destiny.’ I now realise the wisdom of that statement. You must focus on your self-interest.”

(Hospital at Anandwan)

“Nah! That’s not completely true. Dr Datta Samant did not set up his trade union in self-interest, he had a good practice as a physician. Baba Amte was a rich person, and he could have lived a life of leisure without setting up Anandwan

“Oh yes, I see your point. Two professors of Nirmala Niketan set up an NGO, Aroehan, when they read that 170 children died of malnutrition in 2006. It is not just about sensitivity. Life was making demands on them, and they realised it. They knew it would not be an easy task and it proved to be a road of thorns and spikes for a long time!”

“Unknowingly maybe, they further built their character. Your choices make your character.”

“That’s a simple five words statement, but making a choice is so difficult. We expect so much from life!”

“Viktor Frankl sees things differently. He says, ‘It does not really matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us! We need to stop asking the meaning of life, and instead think of ourselves as those who were being questioned by life – daily and hourly.’

“Questioned by life incessantly! Osho says life is meaningless, you have to give it a meaning. And Viktor Frankl asks us to think what life expected from us!”

“And he says that one could make a victory of those experiences, turning life into an inner triumph. Now you can relate to what Dr Datta Samant, Baba Amte, Ms A and the two professors of Nirmala Niketan did.”

“Hmmmm …..”

“Frankl says ‘Life ultimately means taking responsibility to find the right answer to its problems and to fulfil the tasks which it constantly sets before us’

Lulu fluttered his wings, perched on my shoulder and rubbed his head against mine.

Pic Courtesy: Greg Hill on Unsplash