Sunday, February 1, 2015

For my son

I wrote this to my son on his 13th birthday. Cleaning out my files, I found it today. I think I could as well have written it for him on his 16th, a few months ago.

As you grow, remember:

The World Owes You Nothing. 
You were born with enormous blessings – a healthy body, a fine mind, a family which is happy, wealthy and wise; and above all, with love. From the day you were born, you have been showered with love. Count your blessings every day of your life. Whenever you feel sorry yourself, just look outside your own little world, and remember how much you have to be grateful for.

You Can Be What You Want

Religious people say God made us in his own image. I don’t know, because I don’t know much about God and his image. But, what I do know is that we are blessed with the ability to shape our own lives. 
Want to be a dancer? 
Then dance - today, tomorrow, and the next 1000 days, and I promise you will be a good dancer. 
Put your all into it, and you will be a great dancer.
Want to be a Physicist?
Study physics - every day, for the next 2500 days, and you will know, really know physics.
Your Dadi had only one ambition – to have a happy family. She worked hard at it, and you know how that felt!
Above all, don’t look for excuses outside yourself.

Find Yourself

In your adolescence, you will want to ‘belong’ to groups or gangs. This is normal.
You will look for love and attention outside the family. This is hormonal. 
If the groups or people from which you seek attention don’t give it to you, you may go through periods of feeling low. You may, in turn, feel like rejecting the family. This, too, is normal.

But it is a mistake. 
Family ties give us an amazing amount of stability in our lives, and they are the ones that strongly abide. Home means “the place where, when you knock on the door, they have to let you in”. Whether we live in Delhi or Satoli, Bangalore, or Bangor, Maine, your parents’ door, and heart, will always be open to you, to your thoughts, and to your concerns. 
But the most amazing tie you have is to yourself. It is the one tie you carry wherever you go. Find joy in your own being, in the wonder of your own creation, in the inner workings of your own mind. Find satisfaction in your life, and you will never be lonely or depressed.

I am not suggesting you become a hermit. But remember, the most attractive people are those who cherish themselves. The most loved people are those who have found a way of living comfortably within themselves.

Find Good Friends

One of the great joys of growing up is the exploration of friendship and intimacy outside the family. Be free with the first, more discriminating with the latter. 

Cultivate discrimination. The Sanskrit word is ‘viveka’. It is one of the most valuable concepts I know. If we have viveka, we learn to tell good friends from hangers-on; true value from surface sheen, and the abiding from the temporary.

Good friends are an amazing strength – they are powerful mirrors into our life. They tell us what is best about us, and kick our ass when we are screwing up. Like every aspect of our lives, they need to be cultivated, nurtured, and valued.

But, when something excites you, truly grabs you, don’t feel scared to go it alone. Each of us is unique, which means that we will often have to walk alone.


Life offers amazing opportunities for discovery, enjoyment and abandon. Seize those chances, and grab the day.

Carpe diem

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