Not far from us, a passerby sat cross-legged on a sheet. He rolled a cigarette slowly and took long deep puffs as he gazed vacantly ahead. He took no notice of us as we lay on the ground near him.
This was the first day of our walk from Chennai to Velankanni. Errol, who was on the pilgrimage for the seventh straight year, knew every nook and corner of the route and gave me the experience of a lifetime. An early start to the unusual was sprawling out on the pavement along the GST highway while buses, lorries and cars went screeching by.
By sundown we reached Tambaram, enjoyed filter coffee at an Udupi Restaurant, then rested a while as we still had another ten kilometres to walk before we reached Guduvenchary, our night halt. Resting halts along the route were at convenient spots on the pavement, under shady trees or as in this case a quiet bus stand. We relaxed on the floor, looking up at the skies with a sense of peace, when the passerby settled down near us. He smoked his cigarette with equal peace and serenity.
After a while we took out the small packet of iddlies, that was our dinner, and eat it in silence. Our intriguing neighbour never looked once in our direction. He was in his own world with his sparse belongings and perhaps another night without dinner. All he wanted was a good night’s sleep. If he had cares in the world, he never showed it.
He and many others I encountered, the fellow pilgrims and those who selflessly came forward to help, made me examine the paradigms within which I lived.
My sense of well being, recognition and authority came from the corporate world and I was fearful of losing it. It resulted in stress, anxiety and preoccupation with career over most other aspects of life. The corporate world is a fickle source of all that I considered the prime requirements for satisfaction. True contentment comes from other quarters.
Enduring satisfaction and happiness grows out of the fertile soil of gratitude-gratitude for all the people who sacrificed so much that I could live life as I choose to. It grows from knowing who I am and happy to be who I am. It grows out of deep compassing and empathy for others. And it grows out of a desire to help others be happy.
I may have lost many years, but I am on this merry journey now.
A sense of well being and satisfaction require good health. It cannot also come if we don’t allow ourselves the joy of fresh adventures and unfamiliar experiences. We need to lean on resources that can help us get fit and healthy, experience fulfilment and a sense of purpose that spiritual pursuits bring us and the resources that provide the platforms where we can be of service to the community.
All these are essential ingredients of an active ageing agenda.
I urge you to build the agenda for happiness and fulfilment till the last days of your life as soon as possible.
#well being #wellness #active ageing #healthy living #retirement #healing