In life, there are times when life puts a sudden brake on the pace of our life itself, such as when we are forced to confine ourselves to the walls of our home, for example, in a lock-down during the current pandemic; or when we are not able to venture out of our home due to dangerous or inhospitable weather conditions; or for any other reason beyond our control. As a silver lining, such immobile, frustrating times present us with the gift of rare opportunities to sit down, watch our breath, enjoy our company and, if possible, deliberate and gain an invaluable perspective about the life and what it is all about.
In normal course of our lives — at home or at school or at work — most of us just go through our daily chores almost mechanically. Due to a relative brisk pace of our individual lives, our days and weeks and months and years pass by almost unnoticed.
Childhood transitions stealthily into adventurous teenage years — the most inquisitive and dangerous period of our life — and, before we even realise the trickery of time and the never-stopping motions of the earth, our life passes into mysterious adulthood.
The seduction of young adulthood makes us believe we are perennial and almost indestructible, beyond any law of nature or law of man, with defiance and ever ready to challenge the status quo. However, as the earth keep rotating about its axis and we all keep revolving around the sun without even being conscious of it, the earth’s gravity and the grind of life surreptitiously dry up our once-brimming confidence.
But life never stops seducing us. Our over-confidence and relative defiance in our younger adulthood are replaced by our vanity in our middle age. We fall to self-deception, as the fatty matter in the hollow of our skull transforms virtually into air and steam at times, and a complex fluff of ego and pride at most other times. Gravity never stops from pulling us back into the womb of Mother Earth; our body starts compressing and becoming smaller and weaker. Our younger looks gradually fade away, our shoulders drop and we start walking with a limp; we complain about mental pains and body aches and everything that we were not accustomed to in our younger years. Our hair starts greying and some start losing it altogether. We find ourselves in the same stage of existence where we saw numerous other (seemingly lesser) mortals before us in our younger days. We actually become them in our older age — sans teeth, sans eyes, sans hearing, sans patience, sans digestion. We start behaving as children as we age beyond our middle age years.
And, one day, some of us just wonder if it was an illusion after all. We miss our childhood and wish to get another lease of life. “Hey God, give me another shot at life“, some of us pray silently. We wish we had realised the mystery of life and the process of ageing when we had the time and then consciously slowed down the pace of our life and lived it more deliberately, fuller and a little fearlessly. But, alas, God never answers our prayers nor makes us return to our younger days! Earth never rotates backwards, nor does it stop going around the sun. We regret lost opportunities and missed chances, and having rushed through the motions of life in our younger days.
Unlike the motions of the earth, the pace of life varies from time to time. When life moves at a relatively slower pace, we are presented with never-again opportunities to live it full, soak every moment, reflect on its mysterious nature and gain realistic perspectives about what it is all about. But when it is fast paced, we just rush through it.
A rushed life is a life never lived.
What use is that long, past-paced life if one has not accumulated a proportionally large treasure of good memories from all earlier stages of life, interwoven with self-reflecting moments spent in the rich company of Mother Nature.
The trick to live a good life is perhaps in regulating the pace of one’s life. Life lived at a relatively slower pace, soaked and saturated with good, invigorating memories of each moment lived in the past and the present, and the vital lessons lesson learnt from Mother Nature, is a life well lived.
When was the last time you looked up to the sky and marveled at millions of twinkling stars or got mystified by the soothing beautify of a full moon? When was the last time you watched birds and envied them for their ability to fly high and fearlessly? When was the last time you talked to mountains, trees and streams in wilderness? When was the last time you enjoyed getting drenched in the rain to your skin? When was the last time you observed a poorer person happily going about the drudgery of his / her life, with empty pockets but wearing a bewitching smile on his / her face, flying on the wings of faith and hope?
Earn something worthwhile in your younger years to enrich and brighten up your life in your sunset years.
Look beyond yourself and connect with the wider world. Help those who are less fortunate then you and try to make their life a little easier. Enrich yourself with blessings of Mother Nature and marvel at its mysteries, try to unravel them if you can.
While you start coming out of your shell and looking beyond yourself, you also need to keep delving deep within to befriend and enrich yourself. A day will come when your inner-self will merge with the world outside you and you will be one with Mother Nature.”
This thought is deeply inspired by the illustrious life of Dr ARUN GUPTA, the Chairman of the MIER group of educational institutions of Jammu, who departed on 31 January 2021 after a brief illness. Dr Gupta lived his life full and fearless, dedicated to his work in the noble field of education, with a vision. He was an industry in himself; he envisioned, created and contributed, and made a positive difference in the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.
Dr Gupta’s sudden departure is a colossal loss to Jammu but his work and legacy will continue to illuminate Jammu and the lives of Jammuites for decades, possibly over centuries to come. He was a giant among giants, a legendary figure and a torch bearer for educationists and students, some of whom have been renowned public figures in India. He will be greatly missed by one and all but, undoubtedly, his rich legacy will live on.
Dr Gupta greatly inspired me. Under his leadership, MIER launched my first five (5) books at Jammu, in December 2017 and December 2019, in impressive book-launch events. I can’t forget his smile, a calm demeanour, forward-looking visionary ideas and intelligent humour. He was fond of good food, good clothes and good music. He greatly enjoyed traditional Kashmiri cuisine and delicious Punjabi food. Unlike most people, he remembered the names of song writers and music directors of most Hindi film songs from the golden era of 1950s to 1980s.
Dr Gupta had a good grasp over religious scriptures and his spirituality extended to all humans. He was an empathetic and passionately caring human. He is known to have helped tens of thousands of students on compassionate grounds; possibly, a book can be written to document numerous stories of his philanthropic deeds. A past student of MIER, Amit Parimoo, who is a fellow Perth resident and an engineer by profession, says, “He was a great human being. I still remember that during early 90s, he reduced the school fee for Kashmiri migrants, and without charging any admission fee.”
My humble salutations and deep reverence to Dr Arun Gupta, a soul from the future. Let us carry forward his vision and further build upon the robust foundations of his noble work. Lest we forget!
… Bill Koul (Perth, Western Australia, 01 February 2021).