Today on Facebook, I saw a picture of a little tot with its little toes all pink and rounded gleefully pointed towards the camera. Peeking out next to it was its mother‘s not very pink and tad tired sole sticking out. Our feet, like our hearts, were soft and un-calloused when we were born. Our mothers gently counted our toes and often kissed them while lovingly cooing over us. They couldn’t have done the same with our hearts without being gruesome. However, they imbued our hearts with love. But as we learnt to walk and then to run and then to trot, our feet hardened and grew calloused. They perhaps even started to look very worn out. However, amongst us are many women and some men who care for their appearances and have kept their feet maintained. Clean and smooth. They kept their nails trimmed and their soles crack free. Some of us adorned our nails with sprightly colours or we left them blissfully bare but we know deep down that they have been pampered and loved. The well loved feet look cared for because they have been, well, cared for. Like everything in this world a thing of beauty is never by fluke. The concept of nature and nurture plays out in mysterious ways.
Such is the matter of the heart too. For it to look loved and cared for it must be given love. And not just along ones childhood but at every stage of our lives. True enough we grow up and our calling beckons. We take up jobs; we marry and have our own kids. We leave jobs, change places and at times even unfortunately get divorced (better that way than being stuck with a jerk). But we still move on and get about the business of living. These practical and at times clinical ways of life leave patinas of cynicism and distrust in our hearts. And soon our entire aura and persona get drenched in a vast cloud burst of negativity.
Often I wonder what helps me from slipping of the edge. My scant tryst with travails of life has shown me what can keep our hearts feeing loved so that we give back and God knows every little love counts.
1) Someone’s gotta give: Yes, that someone has to be us at times and not the other. Giving in to an argument with our spouse, parents, siblings and colleagues can be quite liberating. “I said so, I told you, I am always right” are giddily strong statements but “You may be right, Yeah I botched up” are so much more liberating. This stance manages to knock the ball to the other person’s court. If the person is graceful there is a truce and a feeling of mature bonhomie suffuses us and if the other person is blind with sass and narcissism, still a triumphant feeling of elevation creeps in. You figured a way out. Congratulations!!
2) Equal and fair transaction: How many of us take loans from a bank and are lucky to get a 100% waiver? Next to none. The world is a complex place of more takes than gives. Yet all’s not lost. If you are lucky and smart you will realise there are many who “give” us. Some give us time, some lend us a listening ear, some cook us a good meal, some offer a fun companionship, some a way to have fun, some just offer us peace by their simple way of life and what not. Don’t take all this as an entitlement. These are ways to soul cleansing. Receive such gifts magnanimously and have the good grace to return them in time. We all have received help from unexpected quarter. I honestly feel, without trying to get Biblical, that God works his way through people. So at times we also could be that unexpected quarter for someone.
3) Charity begins at home: So does the lesson of love. Remember all the time, money, effort and dreams your parents expended on you? It is payback time buddy. Your parents are your roots. How can the tree be strong and sturdy if the roots are not? I see around me huge gaps and chasms that get stretched over the years. I do believe it takes two to tango. Our parents need to be loved back, please give them all the love that you can. Most of us earn well. An expensive gift is a nice way to show appreciation. But is it enough? Definitely no! Give them your time. Your voice. Your smile. At times just obey. You lost out on nothing when you listened to them as a child. You for sure will not lose out on much even now. Of course everyone has to be cognizant of basic rationality and in this case both the parents and the said child in question must toe the line of mutual respect. When my parents smile back and sigh in peace because I spent a week with them doing all the crazy nothings, I am charged up and ready to take on any bloody one. As my mother once said “There is no point in crying at your parent’s grave-side. Celebrate them when they are still alive”.
4) Marry well: Take your time and cherry pick your mate. And once that you have picked your partner, celebrate him/her. You may fight. Scream. Cry. Huff off in temper flares. Like Coldplay croons “Nobody said it is easy”. There are bound to be ripples. Two thinking and sentient beings cannot resonate in the same frequency all the time. However, like all stirred up chaos, things will sort out. Just find a way to reconnect. For me food (for the belly and for the brain), books and travel and not always in that order keep me in love with my husband.
5) Treasure your friends: I simply love my best friend. She has helped me in my most trying times. She has laughed with me and cried with me. She may be a wife and a mother yet she has had time for me. And I am glad to say that I have been there for her too. I also happen to be very lucky to have some other god gifted friends, sane and rational. They have come to my rescue more than once and I know I can count on them as they can on me. As one very good friend who I met at my ex-work place said “Girl, if I meet one sane person worth being friends with after meeting a thousand buffoons, it is worth it”. When I lost my little baby,some of my friends flocked down to offer moral and physical support. I cannot thank them enough for being there for me but from them I have learnt to be just there. Just. Be. There.
6) Laugh and cry: Laughing is healthy. Positive. So is crying. I see many people take great pride in declaring “I don’t cry” “Strength lies in not crying”, etc. Bull. Shit. No one is going to give you an Oscar for stopping those tears. I am not telling you to be a tantrum throwing diva or a spoilt sport Steffi Graff who always cried when her game of tennis went kaput. No. But in the face of terrible tragedy or seemingly impossible times a private bout of tears or tears in front of people who love you and understand you shall remind them and you more importantly that you are not a robot after all. You are as infallible and as vulnerable as everyone is. And you too have tear glands and a heart that can bleed. Cry and let someone lovingly wipe those tears for you. It shall bring you close to that someone, be it your partner, friend, sibling, parent or offspring. You may feel goofy but then look at the brighter side… you and that special someone may even have a good laugh at your expense when times get better!!!
7) Learn to receive gracefully: Many of us are afraid of receiving. Advice, help, solace, compliments or gifts (from loved ones not the ones that shall land you in jail). Come-on surely you are not the most capable hence advice will come your way. You are also not omnipotent so you will need help every once in a while. As Buddha said sorrow spares no one so solace will one day knock at your door after you are left bitterly sad. Don’t be too arrogant to think that you shall get the “worst-person” award in your lifetime (have you forgotten about Hitler and Osama?) so compliments in some way will tap on your shoulders. Gifts are a tangible proof of intangibles. People you genuinely love will offer a genuine advice, help, solace, compliment or gift. Please accept all of it gracefully. Please don’t try to share it with the one dishing it out and please know that you get what you deserve. Nothing more or less. Smile and accept. You will learn to give as well.
8) Spend a little on yourself: Why are you earning? Surely not to prove that you are capable and worthy and smart and scored top marks in school. You earn so you can pay your bills. Sometimes those bills can also be the ones that need not be your monthly dues. Sometimes those bills can be something that you bloody well don’t need but you just want them nonetheless. Spend on yourself. You may not need it but if you want, buy it man!!! There are many who find me a spend thrift. I have heard a few say, on my face, hinting at me (can you imagine their temerity all this while sipping tea in MY house?) “Oh!!My wife is very particular on how she spends. She will always weigh out her options and generally shop during sales!! ”Good for you buddy, you may need a kidney transplant at 60 and she is saving it for you so you can live longer and she can get these lovely compliments…. Not suggesting here to be like the stupid grasshopper that never saved for the rainy days at all…but saving every damn dime that you earn, are you crazy? Life’s short. You will never be young again. You may not cruise in a Maserati but if you can upgrade your car and or even so mush as just add a kick-ass music console to your old car, and feel grand about it, do it!
9) Talk with the very old and with very young: The very old have lost their marbles or so we feel. Wrong. They have gone through what we are going through now. They have their idiosyncrasies but they are wise. They can be grouchy or friendly but they can sure open our eyes to things we are blind to. Similarly the very young have a fresh insight to the world. They have still not learnt the trick of the trade and that is why they are naturalists. They can be embarrassingly candid and spleen-damagingly hilarious. They have taught me humility, informality and have refreshed for me the ability to un-abashedly ask 20 questions at a go, much to the chagrin of others. I love talking to the very old and the very young. They are fun.
So there, these are my tried and tested ways of life that have helped me keep my heart feeling loved and pampered. Still at times I despair and frown and rave and rant. After all I am a human being. But I have a few ordinary people around me that dole out extraordinary lessons sans tarder whenever required.
Walk on mate, just remember to pamper your tootsy…. and your heart!!