Sometimes life, instead of giving us lemons like it is supposed to, becomes sadistic and hands us acid in pretty bottles. It then stands back and watches while we burn ourselves and those around us. With lemons we could have at least made lemon pickles, but what do we do with acid other than gulp it down like vodka shots?
It could be a strained marriage, financial insecurity, family crises and fussy children, debilitating pain, depression or other such woes. These problems keep you up at night, tossing and turning in bed, yet the next day you plaster your face with the brightest of smiles and face the world anyway. But on some days you don't have the energy for that. You just want to create a blanket fortress in your bed and curl up inside its protective warmth with a steaming cup of tea and a box of chocolates. You don't want to see another soul or hear another voice. And then, when your soul has gained back a little of its shine, you slip the mask back on and dive head first into the world again.
Our heavily curated and filtered virtual lives would have us believe that every single person we know is better off than us. Some are getting married, some having babies, some jet setting around the globe, some breaking glass ceilings and conquering the corporate world...midst all this you feel like you are the only one left out. The only one life did not shower with blessings. Was I asleep while the lotteries were being handed out, you wonder. Crippling doubt becomes the constant companion of your inner voice and makes you unable to keep one step forward without moving three steps back. So you live life like you do a chore on your to do list, mindlessly.
What we fail to realize is that everyone in our friend list, every one on Facebook, every single person on this planet is being tried in some or the other way.
Your friend who just got married might have just sacrificed a promotion she really wanted. Your neighbour's new baby is adorable but a fussy child who doesn't let his parents sleep a wink. Your cousin with the great job is spending every waking hour tracking deadlines and lives between her meetings. That person whose instagram looks like a travel magazine feels horribly lonely no matter where he goes, he has been escaping himself all this time.
The pictures, the statuses, the videos are just glimpses of people when they are at their absolute best, when they have climbed the peak after a long time uphill. That is NOT regular life for anyone. Everyone around you is drowning in work, family commitments, financial obligations, illnesses. We are all drowning in this ocean- at different points in our life- and are desperately holding breath. You look up and see others from underwater in the few brief moments they go up to gasp for air. You envy the oxygen they are breathing and think you will never get there and inhale sweet air. But you will. Oh you will and you already have before! And in those few seconds, remember that there are others around you wishing they were you.
So the next time you emerge from the murky water that is life, to get a few seconds of rest and inhale some sweet air, be present. Be grateful. Know that while this pleasure is temporary and this moment fleeting, it is yours to seize. By embracing mindfulness it is for you and only you to decide how to live and love and lose. Others' successes or failures don't have any impact on your life and its trajectory. And by God what freedom and power there is in that realization! For then, when you are eventually pulled back into the water, your lungs are steadier, your breaths are measured, and your mind is at peace, knowing that when the time comes, you will be back up again. Till then, like Dory, just keep swimming. Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming swimming swimming...
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