We’re on this train called life and can’t get off or so it seems. Probably, you really don’t want to and I’m sure that is the case. Listen to John Mayer’s song by the same name. Birthdays are hard, they come so fast especially now. You pass them and later say, it’s still 9 months away until I complete another year. We’re always calculating time as it passes by and then it is upon us faster than any train. I am so grateful that you could remember me and lend importance to my life. It’s a gift to be able to do that and you have that. I, for my part, try to search for something inside of me that might open me up, that isn’t a critique or a condemnation (obviously) of what we see wrong with life, but rather words that evoke hope and make the heart feel good. I am living inside my own skin (again, obviously) and need reassurance that this train is good and that I don’t want to get off. Sometimes, I find something that moves me on my birthday or shortly thereafter; and as such, I’m trying not to be so critical with myself and maybe just for once, let things flow. Love to all of you.
Tomorrow I will leave these hills rising up from the famous river, the symbol of life for millions. She has always been there through the ages, moving into the valleys and past the towns where the faithful perform their devotions. The Ganga, the mother of all rivers, hardly existing one with more historic importance than her. As she winds her way from the Himalayan mountains to the delta of Calcutta, she gives of herself to the fields, the people and the animals and then carries what is left of a life in her flowing currents. She is Mata Ganga, the mother. Soon, I’ll come back and walk by her banks as she moves swiftly through the town of Rishikesh.
Rishikesh, the name literally means the hair or topknot of the rishis, the ascetics living by her banks asking nothing of life except to contemplate her divinity. Perhaps it has always been a means to escape, this living apart from every day working society, yet it has added color to life and another way to gaze at her. It is the life of the contemplative yogi searching for union in a conflicting world. Today, honest seekers for these same truths of a thousand years come from all over the world to experience the gifts of the river and of the town.
As I sit here and try to make sense of my own life, it seems that each day is filled with uncertainty as I move towards the unknown. That makes sense since I can’t possibly know what waits for me as I wake up to each new day. The days are teaching me and I am beginning to listen. They will leave their mark on me, of this I am certain. It must be that what I am learning is to trust in the magnificence of this divine play, as they talk about life and its unfolding mysteries here in India. At this age of mine, for I have reached the age when listening becomes very important; perhaps, it is the most important thing in life so as not to miss the silent teachings and the masterpieces before me. I no longer want to go against her swimming upstream constantly. Just the opposite, I want to gently flow with her currents as she carries me to where she wants to. Don’t you think that we all need to learn that life doesn’t conspire against us but asks us to trust and listen to her council? Parents and school teachers ask you to listen and pay attention to them, but we seldom listen to the subtle breezes of change as they brush by our face and disturb the hair on our head.
A dear friend of mine sent me a loving birthday greeting and said that may peace, love and compassion always be at my service wherever I may be. I want peace in my heart, there can be no doubt about that. And God, the Infinite Presence, knows that I am trying to live in love. Yet can I live in love without compassion? Compassion asks me to accept your life as it is, your strivings and failings, as you too try to navigate your own life. You are making decisions as you go along and some of them might go against what we have created together. I know of their force and their power to throw me into a tailspin, yet maybe they serve to do just that – to shake me up and ask me again to define who I am. We ask of each other signs of kindness and respect but we must be patient. For those things shall come as the seasons change and new understanding comes with the passage of time. Sometimes I think it only requires a deep breath and then peace comes to the heart.
So in my wanderings and the many moments of passing thoughts, I wish for you as we enter into a new cycle, a time of lightness of heart; a compassionate heart that remembers the good in everyone. As Kabir said, we are all in this together, this little boat floating down the rivers of life. It might be difficult to do so but remember that you were once like someone else and had those same thoughts that define us and eventually bring light to us all. There is unending hope, like the bright sunlight that touches these ever flowing waters of the mother river, of Mata Ganga. Her message is clear, “I will carry you though my waters are cloudy and muddy and even still you will find your peace in the journey.”