Approximately six months back, I was sitting next to the bed of my father. I held his hand as he tool his last breath. Then I got up, wiped my tears and did all the rituals. At the cremation place, I stood and watched the flames carry him to the place of eternal rest.
At that point, where his journey ended, a different journey began for me. A journey in values. The fifteen minutes of carrying your father from home to cremation pyre imparts you wisdom of 10 years of normal life. When you walk back home, the world looks different. As they say, the soldier who goes on a battle never comes back. If he survives, he comes back home a different person. It was my battle, my life lesson in a way. I did come home as a different person.
In the book “Rich dad Poor dad” the author compares and contrasts the financial lessons given to him by his real father and another father like figure. If I were to begin comparing and contrasting the lessons I learned, it would be a book titled “Scared dad, Free dad”. And in my case, both lessons came from the same person, my real dad. For most of his life, he worked hard to inculcate the middle class wisdom in me. I must get education, get a good job, save money. On his death bed, without saying a word, he undid a chunk of that.
He had all the middle class props that helped him keep the anxiety away. But what made his final moment beautiful was none of the props. It was the fact that he loved and cared for all the people around him. It was what he did when he was not afraid. It was quite eye opening to see so many people cry over the death of a common man. Eye opening to see his real estate agent and doctor get teared up talking about him. The impact he left through his values was so powerful that it transcended his death.
What are my values? If I lived for 100 years, what is the test whether I lived a great life? No school education tells you how to do this reflection and questioning of values. And perhaps that’s the beauty of that journey. It’s your own. Unmarked trails, wide open fields, no set destination. You like to believe that there is a logical thread that leads to the correct answer by the methods of reasoning, deduction, elimination, analysis. But there isn’t. It’s the dance of emotions and thoughts in your head.
There is no end as such to this journey. But there are moments worth calling milestones.
For me, one day I hit one. It dawned to me what my values were and what mattered to me in life. A very simple and short list of three things.
- Doing good to others, making positive difference.
- Creating good experiences and memories and sharing them.
- Personal growth, becoming wise.
Not necessarily in any particular order.
It dawned to me that it will be the life of fulfillment if I spend more time in value based actions than fear based actions. Fear helps me create and maintain the infrastructure to live life. It has it’s place. But it’s place is not every place.
It dawned to me that the success of fear based pursuits have diminishing emotional returns. Success of value based pursuits have expanding emotional returns.
It dawned to me that if I am not there yet, I can progressively get there. I will not self-abuse me to get there. Self-abuse is battle with yourself. And of all the battles you fight, the ones you fight with yourself are the hardest ones.
It dawned to me that rather than an arbitrary and fictitious moment in future when I have more resources than I have today, I should be striving for a unconflicted, worry-free experience of the present moment with whatever resources I have.
It dawned to me that for living life based on values, money does not matter as much. Sure it gives you more flexibility, but it ranks far lower in its ability to contribute to happiness directly. A cheap wine drank with good friends tastes far better than expensive wine drank with no friends.
So here I am. Back to doing something I enjoy. Writing blog. Relishing in the satisfaction that my thoughts are out there and are changing lives. In computer programming, if you are learning a new language, it is customary to write a program that prints a simple message on the screen “Hello World”.
New thoughts, reprogrammed mind.
Hello world indeed!!