Happy Old Year!
The human mind is designed to focus on negatives rather than the positives around it. The ‘black spot on a white paper’ experiment concludes that everyone invariably notices that one tiny black speck and not the big white expanse of paper it is painted on! This tendency is possibly a survival mechanism, so that we spot the danger first and fast, and immediately react in order to protect ourselves from it.
But festivals are a time of good cheer and joy, of hope and happiness, and thus what better occasion than Christmas to curb this tendency for a few brief moments, park it in a by-lane and allow it to be towed away till we require it once again in less sanguine times.
In keeping with the above sentiment let us then try and concentrate on the nice things that happened to us last year which made us happy, and expunge the bad stuff. And since it is that time of the year where all of us will soon be either making or reading a list, the one perfect list I propose is a list of the many ways in which people were kind to us, so that we can rejoice that there is still goodness in the world, and celebrate the benevolence that came our way, in bountiful or in tiny ways!
So here is my list.
Though nearly 25 years have passed, I still remember that when my wallet got stolen in a crowded Mumbai local, a kindly auto driver dropped me home without charging a penny, consoling me all the while as I wept bitterly at the ignominy of being robbed and at my momentary inattention which had led to the theft! My heart overflowed with gratitude for him, especially since it was juxtaposed in immediacy with the sense of betrayal I was feeling at being robbed by a fellow passenger and thus all the more appealing in its stark contrast. So this one stays in my list regardless of its vintage.
My assistant patiently waiting till I have finished work and ensuring that food has been ordered when the stomach is growling with hunger and the mind has been too busy to cater to its demands, is another addition to the list; as is the kindness of my husband who unfailingly presses my back every night though he may have had an even more difficult day, and my son who holds my hand unobtrusively every time I try crossing the road on my own pretending to be self-reliant, since he knows that I am definitely likely to trip over that little pebble in the middle if left unattended! One of the lovely girls I mentor reversing the mentoring in turn, and advising me on wellness and stress relief, and ensuring I follow the advice by sending me a whole hamper of home remedies that she has taken great pains to put together, is a part of the list too.
The gentleman who allowed me to break the queue at the Bangalore check-in counter and catch my flight with moments to spare, and the guard in our building who rushes to help me with my overloaded shopping bags every time, get added with gratitude in my kindness list. Also my dentist who intuitively understands that I would rather suffer the pain than call him after his clinic hours have ended, and thus takes the effort himself to check how I am doing, is a definitive part of this list.
How can I not add my closest colleagues at work to this list, who shower me with their kindness by paying attention not only to what I say but equally to what I mean, so that they can make my work life easier by doing a perfect job of implementation?
And I will never ever forget the kindness shown at the Dinshaw Petit hospital for animals, when our beloved pet passed away. The respect with which the overworked staff performed the cremation cannot heal the wound but will remain as a salve on it forever.
The wonder of making such a list is that the moment your mind stops focussing on the nastiness, the ugliness and the pettiness around, you realize how truly insignificant they were in the larger scheme of things, and that surprisingly you had a far better year than you have been making it out to be!
So as the New Year rolls in and you gaze back at the year gone by, create this list, for after all what is a happy life but a collage composed entirely of memories of good times, whatever the reality may have been?
Happy Old and New Year and a very Merry Christmas indeed!