Morrie Schwartz wasn’t my Social Psychology professor. But this spring break 2022, he became my life coach, when I read his student Mitch Albom’s beautiful relationship chronicle Tuesdays With Morrie (TWM), as part of the bucket list stuff I’d lined up to do once my son left for college in February.
The ‘to-do’ was to finally read the many, many books that I had bought over years at random airports, book launch events, quaint bookshops and those that I had received as gifts from friends. I started with a light reading of vernacular short story anthologies before pulling out TWM or as I later discovered the key to some of the most meaningful bite-sized philosophies.
In February, I was in a place many generations before me have been, wondering ‘now what?’ after your child flies from the nest. Suddenly you have all this time that you craved for but your mojo just doesn’t kick in. Yes, I wanted my son to fly but yes, I was a little lost too. Yes, I wanted my son to chase his dreams but yes, suddenly I felt a little alone too, quite alone actually, pondering the meaning of my life by myself when serendipity happened.
…And suddenly you know it’s time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings…
‘New Beginnings’ – just the sound of it fills you up with hope and innate excitement. In psychology it’s apparently called the ‘fresh start effect’ defined as a person’s ability to disassociate past performance outcomes from their current or future goals. Wow.
‘To live a life with dignity, with courage, with humor, with composure’ Morrie asks us whether we:
- Have found someone to share our heart with?
- Are we giving to the community?
- Are we at peace with ourselves? And…
- Are we trying to be as human as we can be?
Hitting the reset button
Doesn’t the Gita, the Buddha, Taoism and most world philosophies ultimately resonate thus in a way prodding us to “celebrate endings for they precede new beginnings.” In fact, it’s said every “sunrise is God’s way of saying let’s start again.” Which means the beginning is today, right now. Go on, create your own self culture. I am hitting the re-set button every day, keeping Morrie’s words in mind, that the way to get “meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose.”
Isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?Be willing to be a beginner every single morning…
Among the many things that I have started doing now is going back to study. I am a student again and in one of my Feminism Courses, I came across another life-altering concept, something we all know but somehow do not mindfully absorb in our daily routine – the concept of ‘self-care’.
While studying about Mutual Aid and Community Care as a subject I learned about the three basic forms of care: self-care, community care and structural care. One of the assignments was to list the various ways we self-care. It was seriously an eye-opener. What are the ingrained societal conditionings preventing us from prioritising ourselves? How do we keep ourselves constantly motivated to be our best versions as Sadguru often emphasises? What is the toxic physical and psychological baggage that we lug around from our past? Can we motivate ourselves enough to clean the slate and start afresh with a new set of beliefs?
No goal is too small or too trivial. Every step towards self-care is a step towards becoming a better human being deserving of peace and life’s many blessings. Charu from my class decided to start solo travelling, Anita is currently busy opening her own library-café project, Tabu joined a yoga class, Ruby is taking a break from corporate life working on her novel sitting in a homestay in Kalimpong and Jill has taken up golf after retiring. Ritu, on the other hand, has since moved on from a toxic relationship while Desu started learning classical music at the age of 62 and 19-year-old Huma has mustered the courage to finally tell her father that she does not want to pursue medicine but wants to take up sociology instead. All are my classmates, all inspiring me and each other to collaboratively think out of the box for once in our lives.
New beginnings, therefore, equal new determination, new effort and tremendous courage. A commitment to yourself to embrace every change come what may. The uncertainty, restrictions and sheer grief that followed the pandemic also had a whole lot to do with the 360-degree shift in our collective mindset.
A kind of overall cleansing happened like Elizabeth Gilbert famously quipped “if you clear out all that space in your mind you would have a doorway.” A doorway to a new beginning I believe…