I live in a small city.
Small by population standards, I mean, of course. I also live in a very laid back state in which agriculture is still the main occupation. In other words, there isn’t a frightful lot of industrial development or commercial progress. Particularly in my city.
Though I do get irked with the lack or resources and the somewhat restrictive commercial activity, the advent of the Internet- and online shopping- has much alleviated my marginal woes. Now I seem to have the best of both worlds. I get to live in the ease of a small town with the world just a click away. Can anything be better?
But no. There IS a fly in my ointment too. All ointments have flies no matter how brilliant the ointment or how minuscule the fly. But I digress, as always.
I live away from the town but close to the river- which is perfect. When we bought the house we live in, I chose it particularly for the vast open space behind the house. This space lay between the house and the eastern horizon. For many years- when sadly (and typically) I had no camera- I was able to see the sunrise in all its unimpeded, spectacular beauty. I am convinced the purity of the air lends a powerful magic to the sunrise.
While I was not able to record these superbly dazzling moments, they left subliminal traces of their allure in my consciousness. So deeply ingrained is their call within me that I wake up automatically well in time for the show to begin.
At this point, dear reader, you will be spot-on if you conclude that I am was favored of the gods. I felt that way too. For years I was convinced I was specially blessed.
And then, as they say, landed the fly.
Why is patience so important?
Because it makes us pay attention.
~ Paulo Coelho
Right outside the boundary wall of my house was a vacant strip of land. After that strip is a ‘nala’, a run off from one of the huge lakes that supplies water to the city. This nala empties into the Narmada ultimately. When the river is in spate during monsoon, this nala is where the excess water from the river flows backward.
But I digress, again.
Beyond the nala is empty land… with just some solemn old trees. Then there is the horizon which is the canvas for the sun.
When I bought the house, the vacant strip was marked as wasteland. I was assured that the land belonged to nobody and would remain vacant because it gets flooded during monsoon so, naturally, why would anyone want to buy it? The thing was so obvious that we were thoroughly convinced. Dumb, dumber and dumbest.
Yes. Out of the blue, someone bought the land. From whom, we have no idea. He erected a whole row of poky little houses all down that strip. That they are eyesores need hardly be said. That they house some impossibly noisy people is perhaps not so obvious, but equally the truth. They are. And they seem to have left to open spaces in their house at all. Their windows peer uncouthly into my windows from across my garden. I shudder to think what would have happened if I hadn’t left over twenty feet of land between my plot boundary wall and my house.
A waiting person is a patient person. The word patience means the willingness to stay where we are and live the situation out to the full in the belief that something hidden there will manifest itself to us.
~ Henri J.M. Nouwen
Which was bad enough, but bearable. There is a sequel though; didn’t you know there would be?
Even with those houses- undesirable though their presence was- I was still able to enjoy my moments of magic with the sun. They were thankfully abed when the most brilliant moment of the day happened. And I was very fine with that. But more was comin’!
One by one, they all constructed the first floor. Now I only get to witness the sunrise when I go to the terrace for my morning walk. (Yeah, that’s where I go secondarily to walk, primarily to watch the sunrise.) But even that, is denied me fully. My view is blighted by their shapelessly bizarre stairwell roofs. The water tanks perched on top of those roof add the final nail in the coffin.
As I was huffing and puffing today trying to clock some significant mileage on my pace counting mobile app and cursing (yet again) the manner in which the water tanks of my neighbors ruined the magical moment for me, I was struck by a thought. It made me grin in sardonic self-deprecation.
People living in those houses can enjoy an uncluttered view of the sunrise. They would not find sagging clothes lines, ungainly masonry and strangely shaped water storage contraptions ruining the magic for them. And yet, none of them were about at that hour. There was absolute (and oh, so blissful!) silence in their houses. They were all in la-la-land catching their eight hours with both hoary hands.
If you desire healing,
let yourself fall ill
let yourself fall ill.
I, to whom even the presence of all that ungainly masonry was not deterrent enough, was up before dawn to be able to catch the slow lighting up of the eastern sky all the way to the appearance of the golden orb. It is always thus isn’t it?
Those who have, don’t care. Those who would give up their right hand for it, are rudely denied. But that’s not all. They are also allowed compelled to see people being absolutely indifferent to that which is most precious to them. Torture, yes. And so dreadfully unfair!
Then I was stuck by another thought.
Was there a lesson to this strange (and unfair) phenomenon? It is bad enough not to be given what you crave for with all your soul. But to see it being given- not sparingly but in a veritable deluge- to someone who has no need, no appreciation for it… can there be a bigger torture?
You fight for your rights when your rights are being denied. When the building is on fire, you don’t stand by and let the building burn down and say we’ll fight the fire another day.
Is it to teach us thirsty souls some patience? Is it to square a karmic debt- to desire but not to be given? Is it merely a a coincidence- in all its senseless, purposeless glory? Or is to to hone our love and passion for that denied fortune to a pitch from where we would be launched into compelling action to bring it into our lives?
Those who give up on the thing they love when they are denied prove that their passion is not yet the raging fire it needs to be.
It all comes down to gumption, doesn’t it?