Friday, September 27, 2013

In The Driver's Seat



For years, ever since I could stand on my two, little toddler's feet, I have travelled comfortably ensconced in the backseat. And I was not a backseat driver either! That doesn't mean I had no voice, or that I didn't use the voice I had. However the fact that I had a voice and voiced my opinions didn't put me in the driving seat, simply because I knew what I felt, but I didn't feel what I said. No hypocrisy there, no double standards, just plain lack of confidence in my own abilities. Always an iota of doubt that kept me from taking the reins on my own. I needed a crutch all the time. Please do note, in my favour, I did not use the plural of crutch. I walked but with a limp. If I drove I would be a leg too short for the accelerator and the brake. It wouldn't be an ideal situation; I would be on a crash course all the time, literally. So though being in the driver's seat would have been the right thing, I lacked the right leg and the related right push to drive myself. My confidence limped!
 
 
I was and still am a dreamer. I dreamed big, I worked hard, and I fought harder to release myself from my insecurities; from my crutch. I lost every battle. There were only a few who encouraged me...my father and some friends. The ratio of encouragers and discouraging factors was certainly not in my favour, and didn't give me the requisite support I needed and I required more than an awful lot. I tended to see myself through other people's eyes, which is the worst thing to do, and there were more negatives than positives. Though I did believe the positive feedback, the majority's attitude always swung me back and forth like a pendulum between doubt and belief. My confidence was in place but it was fragile; handle with care fragile. It didn't take more than a tiny pebble to send it crashing.
 
 
There comes a time for those who dream to realize their fondest desires. There comes a time for those who wish to fly to spread their wings and jump off the cliff. There comes a time when destiny calls for you to step out of the boat and walk on water. There comes a time to strengthen your faith and put it into action. There comes a time when you have to pay dearly, sometimes, to walk alone without a crutch. My time came too.
 
 
My world crashed. My crutch with it too. I had two options; become fully lame or walk on my two feet. I was on the brink of something new, something unknown. Should I be scared and cower under the covers or should I take a leap of faith?  It was the worst nightmare of a fragile, china doll dreamer. I had a month to decide...a twenty eight day month...I didn't even get a thirty-one day month! I made my choice.
 

Within three months I was in the driver's seat. Ignorant, nervous, scared, anxious, incompetent and very insecure. I didn't know the rules, I lacked practical experience and I was totally unaware of unruly drivers on this highway called life. This is when the weaker me began to grow stronger. Through all the fears, one rose dominant and petrifying: the fear that I would not be able to protect, fend for and educate my children. This seemingly crippling emotion worked as my strongest motivator. All the hidden strengths surfaced: determination, perseverance, resilience, faith, hope and love. I was in the driving seat. My seatbelt was trust, the airbags were faith and God was my driving instructor! I had my share of bumps and dents, scrapes and near head-on collisions. I guess I had shifted gears too soon. I had moved from not confident to over-confident too fast and I became too self-assured for my own safety.  But I had a teachable spirit; one that learned lessons, sometimes the hard way! But all things considered I had an enriching long drive, in the driver's seat for twenty-one years, on the highway called life.
 
 
But all things come to an end, period.
 
 
Do all things come to an end, period? As it is written, God opens doors and shuts doors. So when one door closes another opens and vice versa. Well, my licence to drive has expired. That's a closed door. Will it be renewed or is it time to relax and enjoy the luxury of travelling in a chauffeur driven automobile? I am an incorrigible dreamer. I still have some dreams to realize, and whether this is one of them or not is immaterial, what matters is: I dream and I hope. I not only live, I am alive. This time round, sitting in the backseat will be different. It will be just that, a literal thing, not an analogy of my life!
 
I wouldn't mind being driven in one of these...I can dream, yes?



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Monday, September 23, 2013

I Forgot The Sugar...the tea-(cher) and the taught!

Photo by zirconicusso, FreeDigitalPhotos.net


Some days back I forgot the sugar, the sweetness that enhances the flavour of my morning ginger tea. No big deal, really. I am absent-minded and do silly, even stupid things when I'm elsewhere in my mind than where I should be. What made it a point of focus is that I had put someone in the dock...yes, that early in the morning...and was judging and criticizing, not constructively but just to let off steam. Some emotions were festering within due to someone's overbearing nature, bad attitude and arrogance. I believe letting off steam is alright. One has to release the pressure, but without passing judgment and hanging tags around the offender's neck...and definitely not as soon as one's feet hit the floor at the start of day. I mean I was shocked that I was (unconsciously) carrying malignant feelings about someone, somewhere, who did not influence my life in a major way, or play even a minor role in my development and growth. And yet, here I was allowing negative emotions to give freeway to the person to steal my joy...take away the sweet enjoyment of my everyday life. In other words I was focussing on the person and not the act. Now that's a no-no where I'm concerned. To learn, I confine my thoughts to what (the act or words) rather than who (person) as focussing on the person doesn't benefit in any way. And this was highlighted by my own run-away emotions. My unbridled mind and a cup of unsweetened tea taught me a valuable lesson that day.

Life Point:
When you allow bitterness from resentment to poison your mind and heart, you forget the sugar. You lose your sweetness; in your nature, thoughts, actions and life in general. You lose your joy and peace. Like the ginger tea without sugar my thoughts were sharp, pungent and not me. The 'I' or 'what about me' attitude had overpowered my heart and almost succeeded in poisoning my day.


Another lesson was re-enforced too: "Take it to the Lord in prayer." By taking it to His throne, I was given insight. I saw how I could forget to add sugar when I concentrated on being offended. I had shifted to resenting a person rather than learning a positive lesson from a negative action or attitude.


On a lighter note I also learned that when life throws you lemons, add a slice or two to your sweet tea, it makes a delectable blend of flavour!

Photo by Marcus/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net
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Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Come September!





Come September, I can never resist humming the tune made famous by the Ventures, it was the theme of the movie, Come September. Well, not throughout the month, just when the 1st comes up on the calendar! Then there are days in the month that remind me of daddy, David, and my former students and colleagues. September is a month for reminiscing.


September meant cooler weather, perhaps a few autumn showers; a prelude to winter, but that was before I made my journey to the other side of the globe. It's a complete turn around where I am now. We're heading into warmer weather, longer days and yes, Spring! Summer will be upon us before we can say Christmas! A summer Christmas, is going to be a first for me. I am not sure I am too pleased about that. All my life I have celebrated Christmas in Winter. There's something about winter that makes X-mas so much more beautiful. Since I have no idea what a hot Summer Christmas is like, I don't fancy it. Maybe it's because I imagine an Indian summer in Delhi, which is so terrible. But I'm open to it. I am keen to experience a Christmas sans coats, mufflers, scarves, gloves, caps, heaters, warm fires, glowing embers and icy winds. I guess I'll be keeping cool instead of warm this Christmas. And that sounds cool!


September had always been a special month of celebrations for me. The 5th of September is marked as Teacher's Day. It commemorates Dr S Radhakrishnan's birthday. He was the first vice-president of India. As a student or a teacher, it meant grand celebrations and felicitations for us at school. The celebrations carried on at home as well with a big dinner party to felicitate David, it was his birthday too and he loved to celebrate it. On the 15th Daddy's birthday came up. For me these dates were and still remain very special. The men I celebrated have long since passed on to the other side, but their impact on my life has been so great that these days hold significance even now.


My father: Jason James (left) and David (right)



These two were the only men who mattered to me. They got along famously, like father and son: one my father and the other the father of my sons. They will be my heroes always. They weren't supermen. They had their flaws and were very human, but they played pivotal roles in my life. I was seventeen when I first met David. So, I literally grew up with him.  And Daddy provided the motivation and inspiration that spurred me on. So September is their month.

 


To my father, who was my first teacher, to my teachers in the various schools I've studied at, I say: Thank you! I cannot let any Teacher's Day pass without a special mention of Mr Mohanlal Kakkar and Mrs Jolly. I am eternally indebted to Mr Kakkar, my teacher and mentor in my senior years in school. He remained my model during the years I evolved as a mother, a teacher and a mentor.


Spring is the time for new beginnings. A symbol of hope, abundance, revival and rejuvenation. A time that signifies fruitfulness. So come September, herald of Spring!

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