Saturday, February 5, 2011

Getting over hope

A friend once told me, “It is bad to be 29.” She was jokingly fussing about how age was making it difficult for her to stay in shape and run fast. I remember replying something like, “You are right, 29 is bad, but 39 is better, and 69 is really good. You should aim for those numbers.” I don’t know what my friend will say when she turns 30, because for many people, there is a virtual ten years difference between 29 and 30.

I thought age was something which only women worried about, but then I was in for a shock recently when I found myself brooding over my age. I was never really conscious of my age. If anything, I was proud of it. After all, I was taking up stronger mental and physical challenges in my thirties than I did in my twenties. So actually, my age made me happy. But then, few days ago, certain events (or more accurately, non-events) in my life, suddenly made me feel old. From being an ever-optimistic man, I turned into a man who could only think of how miserable his current life was. I just could not believe that I had practically spent 36 years of my life on this earth living a single life. Of course, I had fallen in love before, and even got married one and a half years ago, but the truth was that I was still living a single life. To me it seemed like nothing could be more unfortunate than that. I felt like a complete failure. None of my achievements, good deeds, and the positive influences I had made in people’s lives mattered. They all seemed inconsequential in front of the reality that I was still living a single life.

Now, some of you, who don’t know a whole lot about my personal life, may wonder about the cause of my living a single life. That’s a valid question, and if you are my friend, you definitely deserve to know the answer, at least the summarized one-paragraph version of it. And I am sorry for not having shared this before, but I wasn’t just ready before. I am living a single life because of broken promises…because of lies… I’m living a single life because my arranged marriage turned out to be a clear disaster. Divorce proceedings are now in court, but I don’t know how long it will take for the matter to get settled.

Dreams are powerful; they inspire us. But then dreams get shattered, and when they do, they are extremely painful. If dreams energize us, then shattered dreams leave us completely dejected and defeated. If dreams give us a sense of hope, then shattered dreams leave us hopeless and helpless. It was this feeling of utter despair that engulfed me a few days ago. I felt like my life was an utter failure. It was as if my years had surreptitiously creeped into me. It seemed like I had lost some of the most precious years of my life. The energy with which I had started the doctoral program had got lost dealing with the emotional turmoil in my life. I was now behind in my dissertation, and many of my research papers still remain in half completed state. The most irritable thing for me, however, was that I was still living a single life! I kind of find it funny writing about this now, but during my state of despair those were my real thoughts.

Today, as I am writing this blog post, however, I am no longer depressed. My problems are far from solved; I’m still living my “single life” and will for a while; my dissertation is still not complete, and I still do not have a job. But these things don’t bother me anymore. I now have faith that I will weather all the storms. That’s because now I feel Shakti back in my life. I had lost most of it somewhere along the way, but with the discipline of meditation, I’m being able to re-experience it now. Yesterday, I finished a 40-days discipline of meditation, and it has renewed my faith in my values. I almost feel transformed from a man of hope to a man of faith. As Aeschylus said, all men in exile feed on dreams of hope. Hope is surely better than hopelessness, but it still focuses on external circumstances to improve. If I take the analogy of a card game, hope focuses on getting a good hand after you have been dealt with few bad hands. But good hand, you may or may not get, and even if you do, it may be too little too late, and so you may still end up losing your game. So, the point is to not just hope for better cards in the next round, but to play each and every round with dignity, whatever the cards. I needed a 40-days discipline to realize this wisdom. Call me a slow learner, if you may, but I am glad I am more inner-directed now than I was before. I am happy that I am over my stage of hope. And I vow to the divine grace of Shakti for helping me through this process.


  1. Paresh,
    This is so powerful. I always enjoy your blog, but today's entry was very meaningful. I wanted you to know that you have definitely made a difference in my life and I thank you for that. I wish you future success in your next set of endeavors.


  2. Angi, Thank you very much for your kind words. The marathon running that you introduced into my life helped me a lot with my coping. So, I'm really grateful to you. Thank you again.

  3. When I read your blog, feel like going through it again and again..It is so inspiring and touching.
    You will get over with these disaster very soon, this is my faith on God and your deed.

  4. 'single'ness follows a cycle - impersonal single (it always happens to others & not me), fearful single (what can I do being single), courageous single (plunge into being single and battling to stay afloat) lonely single (enuff of being single), experimental single (trying different combinations with cats, dogs, hobbies, humans, but still very much single)single ecstasy (realizing that only you have the power within to make yourself happy, everyone around is a prop in your life at different times and ages. Cheers to that power within, Paresh! Strange to be 'single bonding' with you!

  5. @ Linu, thank you. I don't need to say this, but you have been one of my strongest pillars of support during my tough times. I'm a very lucky brother.

    @ Sumitra, thank you for your kind comment. Thanks also for enumerating those different types of singlehood. It's as insightful as it is funny. :-)

  6. I have no words to say. Only think I want to say is someone has to learn from you how to handle stressful situations and depressions in life.
    I wish God help you taking you out from this situation soon.
    I feel PROUD to have a brother like you.

  7. shiva gauri agarwalMay 10, 2011 at 7:26 AM

    I wonder how U gain so much of patience n courage to deal with such situations in life....May u always have that faith in yourself....n keep imparting your values to others.

  8. Dr.Mousumi BhaumikJune 11, 2011 at 2:11 AM

    Hi Paresh, I am holidaying with Cherry at KORBA in Chattisgarh. Read ur blogs after a long BREAK. Liked the one on "Beauty", basically Happiness is within You, it takes man to identify it toooo late. Blooming FLowers in Spring at Bloominton is like HIS company is with you..means not a single life.I enjoyed reading this blog of urs...Surprized to Hear "Enjoyed"...yes I enjoyed seeing a buddy is able to transform life and able to admit self.Hey, thoz 12 tips of happiness were mere a joke...coz I see some1 getting over/happy without those, ha ha ha,reading u means as if sitting with u over a coffee/tea (which none of them I take now..ha ha ha. Again Liked the blog..coz"Wise men speak b'cos they have something to say. Well others, they have TO say something." Our Experiences parent us n all of us are bound by our instincts, which is to avoid pain n embrace pleasure.My dear, A 'Take Diversion'= 'Single Life'signboard cannot stop the journey. When u look beyond,Ends become Bends. Pothole and speed breakers can slow down the journey, but do not have the power to STOP the journey.The Journey of love to live lIFE is the greatest survival instinct by HIM. Purpose identified must be purpose served.Retreat isn't a possibility....So keep going...Keep on Going.This didn't an answer to ur blog rather a sharing on that chat..and it can go unending..n ur comment space doen't allow that ...i don't want that u need another break to read just take care...n everything will be in shape...JUst don't give up....its our outlook of experiences not us so it is an event which u played noe the next..

  9. Thank you all again!! :-) It's really your love and care through which I get the will to live courageously.