We actually have no control on what the future holds.
All we have is the moment. The now.
And we must learn to live in it.
Aarti David begins a new column.
I met a childhood friend recently, who is struggling with a terminal illness. She has been very brave about going through her chemotherapy and radiation with a smile.
Accepting the hair loss, the weight gain with all the medication being pumped into her system as a way of life. And trying to lead as normal a life as possible.
But due to a sudden development she has lost sensation in one side of her body and she's unable to perform the easiest of tasks on her own and for which she now needs an assistant.
This has struck her by surprise and she is still coming to terms with it. Life has suddenly come to a halt for her.
We were just discussing if we were to choose amongst being successful, having great relationships and good health, which would be the thing, we would most want for ourselves. And while everything else seems very enticing, the most important amongst the three is health.
As the age old saying goes 'health is wealth'. If we have that, we can overcome any obstacles that life may bring our way and find success and work on our relationships.
It also made me realise how we all seem to be in an endless race and a fight to the finish line. Going about the humdrum of life without so much as considering how blessed we are to be alive, to be healthy, to have all our organs and limbs function well.
While there are so many others on the planet who just might not make it to see another day, some who struggle to manage their life every single day.
How we just get up and set out to start our daily regime, while it could be virtually impossible for someone else to perform a simple task such as getting out of bed without assistance.
We feel that ill health is something that befalls us only when we are older or if we have given into some vices.
But that is not always true. Life is unpredictable and when you see someone your own age or younger than you trying to deal with it on a daily basis, you realise how truly nonchalant you are about things that work for you seamlessly.
Yet, when the pandemic came out of nowhere and brought life to a grinding halt, it also brought with it a wave of anxiety, incertitude and a whole lot of fear. Not a single person on the planet has remained unaffected by it.
Having been infected with it twice over (once at home and once far away on a work trip overseas), I can confirm that it can be a very isolating and depressing experience, the effects of which could carry on for months after (considered to be long Covid).
I lost my dad in the first wave when all of us in the family got infected with the virus. It was most unexpected and yet the loss was real and most confounding. It still is.
The knowledge of the cycle of life and death is good in theory, but when you have to confront it and learn to live with it, the acceptance is not that easy to come by.
The change is so sudden and abrupt that you find yourself in a void.
There is just so much unfinished, so much left unsaid. I can only best relate it to the feeling of inertia, where everything around you continues to move and yet you find yourself unmoved.
It dawns on you that while you are making grand plans for tomorrow. We actually have no control on what the future holds. All we have is the moment. The now. And we must learn to live in it.
Cherishing each moment, making memories with those who matter, letting go of the anger and the grudges. There may not be time for a second chance or an opportunity to say good bye.
What I wouldn't give to have a conversation with my dad, to just hear his comforting voice, his warm hugs.
The last we spoke we actually had an argument over a WhatsApp chat as we were both isolated in two separate rooms and then he was gone.
I never got a chance to clear the air with him. It haunted me for days on end. It's close to two years now, but it still seems like yesterday.
The impermanence of life has only taught me one thing that leading a life of 'what if' is not worth it.
It's better to stop and make time for what needs to be done now. Because time slips out like sand from your fingers and can never be turned back.
A favourite dialogue from Kungfu Panda, a movie I absolutely love is when Master Oogway says 'You are too concerned with what was and what will be. There's a saying: Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That is why it is called the present.'
A similar philosophy was ingrained in us from an early age at our alma mater by the founder of our school, the late Mrs Rajni Kumar (she left for her heavenly abode just a few days ago and lived till the ripe age of 99) who used to sing a song at most school functions Que Sera Sera, whatever will be, will be, the future's not ours to see, Que Sera Sera, what will be, will be...
We are all where we ought to be. No one is ahead or behind or losing out. This race to the finish line of life seems futile to me.
As the poet Robert Frost has fittingly said 'In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life: It goes on' and so must we.
Feature Presentation: Ashish Narsale/Rediff.com