And finally we settle down. All of us do. The calm, even-toned equanimous types. And the effervescent, animated, ebullient variety. We weigh our options, the odds as it were; narrow our eyes, take a deep breath purse our lips and then, make peace with the situation. It is as it is, we tell ourselves, and like much else that is unsavoury albeit around, we need be "wise" here too. And accept. Not grumpily but stoically and go on as though nothing happened.
And nothing does happen. For the above is hallucination. It never takes place. We merely block the unpleasant. Distance ourselves from it — person, situation or experience. And believe we've risen above. Made our peace. Endured without resistance… Zen masters all. Only, we are lying. And tragically, to ourselves. Turning your face from the disagreeable is non-acceptance. Not, acceptance. Not Zen. Not achievement.
And if you so settle — Block it. Bury it. Bear it — you aren't going anywhere. You may go far by worldly standards. Celebrate your 25th wedding anniversary. Debut in India's Highest Paid List. Stride into that office that is the zenith of a lifelong slog. But happiness (inner joy/fulfillment) will not make it to your anniversary. Endorse you in that coveted list. Nor chaperone you in the power office.
And then you feel cheated! You lived selflessly. Saw your "responsibilities" through. Never resisted. Never questioned. And yet life accords you emptiness… ? Well, you've been had. Acceptance is not the epitome of goodness. Neither is it compromise. Or denial. And it does not have to be complacence. Nor is whatever you've "accepted" karmic. Karm is a verb. It is to do. Not, not do. Endure... Karm is not a shield. A refuge of the silent sufferers. You are your own storyteller, says Karm, when rightly understood.
Pic for representation only
Similarly, acceptance is actually the power of change. For change begins with acceptance. Shake off that denial or the God complex — whatever be your fallacy. Confront the issue. Accept that something is not okay. Or even that "okay" is not okay by you and needs to be okayed. Now, usher in change. You could change the context or then, change yourself. You change context when you change the external. Change the job, end the marriage, move homes… And sometimes, you decide to be the change. Work on the self.
Only, how do you decide. And more critically who are you each time you saddle-up either. Am I a quitter / failure / calamitous personality each time I seek to change context. But then, am I compromised and complacent when I choose to make peace with the situation? Is calling it quits on an unsatisfying job "giving up" but dumbing down for the corner cabin prudent. Are you capricious when you end an unfulfilling, perhaps loveless, marriage and conscientious if you suffer it uncomplaining?
More fundamentally: is accepting the good boy and resisting the problem child? The world celebrates endurance. Rolling Stones gather Grammies. Moss, the nudist Kate. And life, we've oft been told, is about working on ourselves. Others before self. Acceptance over resistance...
And yet, there's evident dichotomy. The final aim of all we do — gymming, eating, not eating, working, aspiring, corner-cabining, loving, giving — is happiness. Self-seeking happiness. And the other who we are conditioned (determined) to put ahead? Well, her joy follows yours. Must follow yours. Being selfish, read taking care of yourself, is not the same as being self-centred. It's what they call "positively selfish". A philosophy that takes the bad out of selfish. It advocates, rather simply, that only when you are happy can you make the other happy...
And now that changing context has lost its fangs; what's the path? The answer lies within. In your unchanging inner compass. Your core values. My core is a quartet: goodness, equilibrium, karm and inner joy. If you too are in touch with your core allow it to determine your sense of self. And in turn your purpose, and your journey. Juxtapose the unsavoury vis-à-vis your core, and the answers will dawn.
And now whether you change context or change self is immaterial. Because all change is fulcrum-ed on the permanent unchanging you. The situation no longer determines you. You determine it. Have you read your inner compass? Who are you… Your job. Your position. Your marriage. Your children. Your hemline. Your car. Perhaps, your Twitter handle? Take a tutorial. You can't compass.
Nupur Mahajan is a sum of many parts. Ideas are her business even as her creative streak sees her straddle television, advertising, publishing, radio and brands. Reach her at email@example.com
The views expressed in this column are the individual's and don't represent those of the paper.