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Winter is the time for reminiscences, old memories, poetry, music, heaters, or more recently, inverters. It is a time for self-appraisals, insights, thinking, and contemplating. In the long, solitary nights, our focus invariably turns to our own self. Everything else emanates from and connects with ‘Our Self’.
Let me present a beautiful poem by the famous Mary Oliver to set the scene.
One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
their bad advice–
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried.
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world
determined to do
the only thing you could do–
determined to save
the only life you could save.
The only life we could save is our own life, our self.
We traverse through life in a highly connected manner. Every moment of our time is attached with others. How do we save our self in this challenging environment?
Our connectedness is a great gain, and a great pain. It robs us of our solitude, and our relation with us, hence the need for “Saving Our Self”.
What do we need to save our self from? Is it right to save our self? Is it selfish to think about our self?
These may be taken as philosophical questions on which I am not qualified to comment. However, I would like to comment a little at personal and professional level.
Our social system is a complicated fabric of said and unsaid customs, considerations, and traditions. We understand because we have grown up here. Our system is designed on few tenets. One of these is self-denial. We promote that we should only live for others, and we should give others preference. We should think less about ourselves, we should think about life in the hereafter, not life in this world. We should not entertain ourselves liberally and so on. Though we do not practice such high values, but we keep thinking about these. We are likely to be suspended between what is, what is not, and what should be.
We are taught to live our life for others, and we do. We try to make our parents happy, our teachers, our siblings, our employers happy, at the cost of our self. With growing age, we become more and more disillusioned and disgruntled. During the last years, we are bitter and a pain to be with. We are shunned by our own families, and we pass away miserably.
If we had saved our self, our life course would be happier and more fulfilling.
At the professional level, saving our self would mean keeping our integrity intact. It would mean raising our professional bar constantly, learning and improving, and growing. It would also mean making us a source of giving and nurturing for others. We would make great, high morale, high quality, high performing teams and shall achieve big targets.
Saving Our Self is the way to ensure we shall last longer. It is therefore extremely important to save our self.
About selfishness in saving our self. The safety demonstrations at the commencement of an air travel have this standard feature. “In case of loss of cabin pressure, your oxygen mask shall automatically fall in front of you. Pull the mask, put it over your nose and mouth and breathe normally. Put your mask on first before helping others with their mask” The last part is what I draw your attention to. It is not an act of selfishness; it is an act to be better able to do things for others.
Save Your Self. Help yourself. Help others. Be useful. Be happy.
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