Follow up thoughts

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It is not the chaos of thousands of thoughts that occurs to me; it is only this follow-up thought that defines me.

It was a Sunday afternoon.  My 10-year-old son, Abhay, and I were walking towards Tirpuati bus stand as we wanted to catch a bus to Bangalore and head back home.  Tirupati to Bangalore involves around seven-hour journey by road.  I wanted to catch the first available bus and reach home at the earliest as my son had to go to school the next day morning.

As we approached the bus stand, I saw a Bangalore bound bus coming out of the bus stand.  The driver was kind enough to halt the bus and allowed both of us to board the bus.  Only after boarding the bus, I realised that I had very little cash in my possession, in addition to my suite of credit and debit cards.

The conductor approached us for the tickets and told us to give `740 towards the cost of tickets for both of us.  As I grappled to count all the cash on hand, I realised that I had just `790 with me.  I was very happy that I had enough to buy the ticket.  But then I realised that the bus would reach Bangalore very late in the night and the balance cash on hand – `50 – was hardly sufficient to fetch dinner to both of us en route.  Abhay understood what I was going through and was keen to know how I would manage the situation.

With a bunch of cards in my hand, I was confident that I could withdraw cash from the first available ATM.  I requested the bus conductor to help me by halting the bus near an ATM for a couple of minutes.  Though he nodded for my request, very soon I realised that it wouldn’t happen.  The bus was going at a high speed and by then we were already in the outskirts of the town, on the highway to Bangalore.

Still I was hoping that I would somehow find an ATM so that we could have decent dinner.  The bus travelled for a couple of hours and still there was no sight of an ATM.  It was getting darker in the evening and the bus had reached a point and stopped for dinner.  All the passengers were heading to the restaurant for eating and we also joined the group.  My eyes went in search to find if any ATM was available, but couldn’t find one.  On enquiry, the manager in the restaurant informed that there was no ATM in that surrounding and they didn’t accept credit or debit cards towards payment.  I felt sorry for Abhay, who could only see the food, but couldn’t eat it.  I was embarrassed as that was the first time I had to put Abhay in such a difficult situation.  I felt bad because I always offered the best of food at the best of places for Abhay.  I told him that with the available cash on hand, I would fetch him something to eat.

What Abhay said was a revelation to me.  Abhay told me, “Don’t worry Daddy, let us buy whatever we can with this money.”  He did not throw tantrums or showed any disappointment.  He followed up what he said and came up with multiple choices of what we could buy to satiate our hunger with the money that we had.  In fact, he was very creative in coming up with choice of food – fruits, cookies, cake, candies, dosa and so on.  Suddenly I felt that we had enough money to satiate our hunger.  We picked up some stuff and felt satisfied by eating them all.

I was pleasantly surprised by the way Abhay had taken the situation and comforted me.  We went back to our seats and in a matter of few minutes Abhay went to sleep in my arms.  I was still digesting the entire sequence of events that took place at the restaurant.  The bus was again moving at a very high speed.  A few drops of tears rolled down my cheeks as I felt proud of Abhay.

That moment, my memories went back by twenty years.  I was studying in my eighth standard.  Our family was going through one of the worst financial crises.  Diwali was round the corner.  Earlier when we lived a comfortable life, we used to wear new clothes, burst crackers, eat various sweets and go and seek blessings from elders.  That year, the day before Diwali, except our home, the entire town was getting ready to celebrate.  The situation was so worst that we could not buy anything – sweets, crackers or clothes.  An air of gloom settled over the household.  When all my friends in the neighbourhood had already started the celebrations, I just confined myself within my home, without knowing how to handle the situation.  Seeing my plight, my mother convinced my dad to gather whatever money available at home to celebrate Diwali.  With all the efforts to search for whatever little cash left at home, they could gather only ten rupees.  This amount was just not enough for buying anything.  My mother gave me the option to buy whatever I could buy using this ten rupees.  I told my mom that I would buy whatever little crackers I could with that money.  Anyhow I didn’t have any alternative.  Even for that I had to travel for 30 minutes by bus to the nearest town.  I can never forget that journey of deep sorrow and sadness in me, for the situation our family was going through.  I felt so helpless and angry.  That Diwali left deep scars in me.  I still feel that nobody should go through such a situation, especially in the younger days.

Of course, life offers its bounties for those who sustain tough situations.  Our family came back on track in the next couple of years and afterwards there was no looking back.  As this incident had made deep impact on me in that young age, it keeps coming back to my memory to remind that I should never get into a financial crisis.

There was a sigh of relief and smile in me that today I am in a comfortable position that my financials are well taken care of.  Abhay was still in deep sleep in my arms.  As I was stroking his hair, my mind compared that day’s situation with what I experienced on that Diwali eve 20 years ago.  Of course the depth was much different as compared to my childhood experience.  I realised only then that the Diwali 20 years ago had actually laid the foundation for my financial prudence.  It had actually helped me to evolve so that I do not have to put myself or my family into a crisis.  But, the response that Abhay gave that day was much different to the way I responded as a child.  I don’t know how Abhay took the message today and what he will make out of it.  It may pass just as an experience, or may form a strong foundation to better planning for future travel times.  I actually didn’t know what it meant to Abhay.  However, one thing emerged very clearly out of both the experiences – my childhood experience and the latest one.  Both the experiences triggered a thought in me.  Every such thought is followed-up by another thought, to acknowledge it, accept it or reject it.  I would call this as a ‘follow-up’ thought.

We get thousands of thoughts in a day.  Most of our thoughts just vanish as they come.  Only a few of our thoughts get into our subconscious mind.  Before we respond to every such thought, our mind does innumerable calculations.  This is a very complex process and the beauty is it is given to us as part of the package – this human life.

To put simply, every situation triggers a thought (original thought) and this thought is followed-up by another thought (follow-up thought).  The follow-up thought attempts to validate the original thought by acknowledging, accepting or rejecting it.  Depending on the follow-up thought my further course of action is decided.  In that sense, the original thought is only a record of an event whereas the follow-up thought is my intelligence that shapes me by taking necessary action.  If I can take care of my follow-up thought with higher maturity and with heightened awareness, it opens up huge opportunity for me.  If my follow-up thought is negative in nature either due to helplessness or due to anger, or any such feeling, it only tries to analyse my original thought with such negative connotation.

For me to get the best out of my original thought, I need to get my follow-up thought in the positive direction.  Once I get my follow-up thought in a positive direction, every subsequent thought could only lead to positive outcome from me.  I have very little control over my original thought because that was caused because of the inputs received by my senses during a particular experience with the outside world.  Whereas, I need to watch out for the follow-up thought as I am the creator of this follow-up thought and I have full responsibility to get this right.  My follow-up thought shapes me as a person and gives me the direction.  In fact, it is not the chaos of thousands of thoughts that occurs to me; it is only this follow-up thought that defines me.  When I take care of a single follow-up thought, I take care of myself.  I will watch my follow-up thought.  I will ensure that each of my follow-up thought is born out of abundance and infinite positive possibilities.

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