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Present is a Present

गतं न शोच्येत्, भविष्यं नैव चिंतयेत्। वर्तमानेन समयेन कालो गच्छति धीमतां ।। Or गते शोको कर्तव्यो, भविष्यं नैव चिन्तयेत् | वर्तमानेन कालेन वर्तयन्ति विचक्षणाः ||

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This verse in the Chanakya Neeti tells us not to regret about what has happened, nor to worry about what will happen in the future. Just as spilled milk cannot be reused, and if a failure is caused by a mistake, it cannot be erased. So one needs to correct that mistake and take the next step for one’s progress. Also, it is not wise to worry about what will happen in the future, because the future is never in our hands.

A great philosopher and thinker J. Krishnamurti says, "Don't live in the past, don't think about the future, live in the present". Wise people live in the present. The present moment is like the reward you received. There is nothing wrong if we say, "Present is a Present". The time you have is valuable and should not be wasted. Now, if something did not happen as intended or as you planned, or something went wrong, there is no point in mourning. Instead, find out the reason why it happened and make sure it doesn't happen again. Learn from the experience.

Happiness and sorrow go hand in hand in our life. Happiness is always short-lived, but the repercussions of sad events are lifelong. It is a common human nature to live the past. The human brain is a web of memories, which are "hard wired". So if a person has such a habit, it cannot be broken easily. Stephen Covey states in his book "Seven Habits" that "Habit is so hard wired in the brain, that if we remove ‘h’, a bit remains, if we remove ‘a’, bit remains and when we remove ‘b’, it still remains." so if you want to break the habit of remembering bitter things from the past, you have to inculcate good habits such that this habit will be covered up automatically, or will be ignored by the brain.

The memories of pleasant events make us happy even today. But if we remember the instances when someone has insulted us, or if someone has mistreated us, or the tragic events that happened in our life, we feel bad. Of course, it is not possible for us to forget all the bad things, then at least make a practice not to revive them in front of others.

Future Planning is Important

It is said, "Those who fail to plan, plan to fail". So one must plan for future. However, there is no point in thinking what if things do not go as planned? Keep a second plan ready with you for such events. Remember, rain comes after every summer and the spring comes after every winter. Nature does not sit idly, as the leaves fall off or the trees wither, but welcomes the new season with renewed vigor.

There is a famous story of a farmer. Drought was predicted to occur in that year. Yet this farmer did not stop ploughing the field. His children asked him, “Why are you ploughing the field? There will be no rain this year”. The answer given by the farmer is very thoughtful. He says, "Children, it's okay if it doesn't rain, but if I don't do my job, I'll forget how to do it. So I will not stop my work”. To everyone’s surprise, it rained that year and the farmer's field was ready to sow the seeds. Thus, he could take the crop. This is the importance of future planning.

A very recent and inspiring example of this is Mary Kom. A world-renowned boxer, who received many honors. "Each of my medals has a different struggle," she says. In the 2017 Ulaanbaatar Boxing Championships, she failed in the 51 kg weight category. Regardless of the setbacks, she began to prepare for the 48 kg weight class instead of the 51 kg in the next competitions, realizing that her physical ability and fitness had diminished. Practiced eight hours a day to lose weight and maintain the same strength. Made a strict diet. She was an MP at that time. Despite her family and social responsibilities, she won a medal at the Asian Games. We must learn how to make the best use of time and opportunities, so that we do not have to repent on the circumstances. I remember, when I had just entered tenth grade, our school hosted a felicitation program for the meritorious students of that year. While addressing the gathering headmistress of my "primary" department, Joglekar Bai, mentioned in her speech, "We can predict what kids are going to achieve by observing their behaviour in childhood. I am sure that Anjali’s name will appear in the Merit list next year." Everyone started looking at me, I did not know how to react to this, I was not prepared for this.

Till that time, I had never missed First Rank in my school, but now the competition was going to be with a very large number. I think Maharashtra Board should have at least 15000 schools that time. I started thinking, how many students will there be in each school? Now I must be in the top 30 among them, which is a very difficult task, though not impossible.

It was my last year of school. The school annual social gathering was very important for us tenth graders this year. So, I took an active part in it. Our school used to organize long distance trips for us, this year it was a ten-day trip to Mumbai, Raigad, Konkan. Since it was the last opportunity to go for a school trip, I did not want to miss that too.

After all this, I started studying hard, just forgetting everything. I used to study, listening to songs being played on radio. Surprisingly, my exam center was in a residential area. My seat was by the window, and outside the window there was a house. The famous radio program "Madhumalati'' would start on Vividhabharati at eleven o'clock and I happened to write my exams listening to music. I had written my exams quite well. I was sure I would get good marks. The results came as expected, and I came fourth in the merit list from Maharashtra.. My hard work and planning had paid off. But Just dreaming about future without action will not lead to any gains!!! Some people are beyond everything. They do not mourn for the past nor worry about the future, but just dream of the future. I remember a poem written by famous Marathi poet, B. C. Mardhekar,

"गणपत वाणी गणपत वाणी बिडी पिताना चावायाचा नुसतीच काडी;

म्हणायचा अन मनाशीच की या जागेवर बांधिन माडी;

which ended with this....

गणपत वाणी बिडी बापडा पितांपितांना मरून गेला; एक मागता डोळे दोन देव देतसे जन्मांधाला!

The grocer, used to dream about building a big house, but used to sit idle in his grocery shop just biting a stick. Finally, he dies, there in the same shop and the poet says sarcastically that God has given him much more than he desired. (He has directly gone to heaven) Our Sanskrit subhashit does not tell us to follow Ganpat’s footsteps. He dreams big but does not make any efforts to fulfill it.

There is a great example of how to dream of the future. A luxury car comes to a stop at a traffic signal. A poor boy selling peanuts comes near the car, requesting the driver, "Sir, please take some peanuts". The driver ignores. The boy is fascinated by the car and touches it. The driver says to him, "Hey, don't touch my car, it will get dirty. You know, my friend has gifted me this car "The boy becomes sad and moves on. The driver feels bad that he has hurt the feelings of a small boy. So he goes a little further, stops the car, and calls the boy, purchases the peanuts from him, and asks him, "Do you think you should have a friend like me in the future?" See what this little boy answers to him, The boy says, “Sir, I would love to be like your friend". That shows a great attitude. Our country is currently facing a "Corona" crisis. In this situation, there is no point in worrying or just thinking about the daily death toll or blaming the government for insufficient services. On the contrary, we should think about how to face this crisis, how to help the victims. Disasters like earthquakes, floods, famines are a part of the natural cycle. In such situations we should think of contributing and helping the society. One recent example of an IIT professor, who worked on a pilot project of converting Nitrogen Plant to Oxygen Generator to tide over the current emergency. Salute to such efforts!!!

- Dr. Anjali Deshpande


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