Advance Course, Art of Living, Ashram, Bangalore, Boone, Dinesh Ghodke, Guruji, Happiness Program, Michael Fischman, Oldage Home, Silence, Sri Sri Ravishankar, Teach For India, Vishalakshi Mantap, YES!+
And then, I have come across people who are pleased, even though they don’t have as much as the people mentioned above. Who are these people? What do they do? They are the strong, independent and willing souls that have landed on this planet as a result of God’s creation, and in them they are heroes who not only smile, they in fact, conquer and from within, they conjure glory.
I was more like first ones.
Couple of years ago, round about this time year, I was working for probably the biggest sports analysis company in Asia as a soccer analyst, the world’s most read soccer website as a soccer journalist and the most well managed professional soccer club in India as a soccer marketer, but I can say, I am doing better now. Working in marketing and sales, we had to sell tickets and get people for our soccer games. Having volunteered for almost three years as a social activist, I remember approaching this non-profit organization that took responsibility for teaching rural kids in India. As a club employee, I had these students come to the stadiums to watch our club games for free. It all worked out well and the kids made it in time for the East Bengal game, which in fact, was one of our first few games of the season.
The head personnel for the organization’s Pune branch, Arhaan, got about one hundred kids to the stadium and having spoken to my boss, I made sure that the kids made it to the sidelines as the players walked out for warm-up, only to be later seated in the VIP section. As the little rural children, who were dressed in their uniforms, got to the sidelines, their excitement was unbelievable. Some shook the hands of the players as they were walking out on to the fields, some shouted out their names and some whispered, “Hey, look at their leg muscles…oooh,” or, “This is the first time I have ever met a football player!”
As the game went on, they made the maximum noise and chanted the PFC theme, “Who are we? PFC!” It was great to see them have an experience of a life-time. The entire incident shook me and made me realize that it’s these moments that people remember. You are not going to remember if you ever failed in a test 36 years on, but what you will remember is meeting a football player who appears in the newspaper the very next day.
After the game, Arhaan thanked me and the club for everything we had done for their organization’s kids. As I was walking towards the parking, just seeing the look on each student’s face, I couldn’t stop smiling and later, I went to Arhaan and I asked him what I had resisted for a long time. I questioned, “So, are these kids really happy?” After which, he looked at me in confused manner and said, “You know, our kids are always happy, but today was definitely something special.”
They come to school because they love to and because they want to learn. They really love to learn. Unlike most kids, who are forced to go to school, they have an easier option: they can work in restaurants to support their family, but instead, they come to us because they want to learn. They too have big dreams.”
That moment was the moment when everything started to seem very different. Who were those kids? Well, they certainly are born in the richest of families. In fact, their families can’t even afford to pay for school, but they still go to schools because they want to learn and such non-profit organizations do a fantastic job in making sure that these kids get everything from books, to pens, to uniforms. Most of us are blessed enough to be born if upper/lower middle-class/rich families, but we are always not happy for something or the other, whereas, kids from lower financial backgrounds love everything that life gives them and their respect for it is insurmountable. It was a real eye-opener for me.
An year later, sometime in late-November/early-December, I was in Atlanta and visiting a homage for mentally infirm people. It was like being in Forest Gump or Koi Mil Gaya but only ten times of that. It was a scary but a very pleasant experience. Imagine yourself being surrounded by people who have been left at the centers by their families, who don’t know where they are at and why are they there, who don’t know what they are doing and on top of it, who have a misconception of who they are.
Maybe they live though a child in them or maybe they live their past over and over again…I don’t know, but one thing that could easily be inferred was the fact that they were all childlike and not childish. Their smiles, their joy, their excitement and their love for us was astonishing. I remember when one women from the mentally infirm home called me to her side and told me to stay safe, and also, blessed me to stay happy. I couldn’t believe it. In spirituality we talk of a ‘shift’, which refers to the shift in the thought process and it was exactly that. I don’t know what has happened to me since then. When I want to cry, I cry; when I want to laugh, I laugh, but I make sure that I celebrate life every moment like they do.
Those people…they were playful and joyful, (you talk of a girl dumping you, these people were dumped by their families to rotten) and also knew that life is difficult, but by then, they had also realized that every moment deserves to be celebrated. For me, it was even tough to imagine where they were and what each of them had gone through, but the startling thing about them was that they all were happy, and loved our company. It was a massive, massive shift for me.
You know, you must take a little time out of your lives and go and visit the homeless shelters because you must meet them. You must meet these people. They will teach you a lesson. Small worries of your life would disappear and dissolve, and like them, even if a little thing brings you happiness, you will celebrate it as if it is your salvation. Moreover, you will be grateful to God for what you have got.
In this post, I have talked of rural kids and mentally infirm people, but there are thousands out there waiting for you to visit them. Take your first foot forward. Visit these people, who live in this moment; that moment which passes as you snap your fingers. They aren’t the Jordons or Will Smiths of this world, but what they do, they turn into Morgan Freemans and Rajnikants because deep down they know, “Every single time that you are challenged, God wants you to come out as a hero.”
To me, I take my inspiration from these people: people who don’t have as much as others but their belief, strength faith and smile carries them past every single day.
"When you have done everything possible possible, He makes the impossible possible." – Dinesh Ghodke