It was a long morning at the office. Many crucial decisions had to be taken. Most of the decisions had irreversible consequences and hence we had to look into every detail before the decisions were made. At the end of the meeting, I felt like going home for an afternoon nap.
I reached the portico of my office and I was watching the rain as I waited for my car. After several years, Chennai was having a good spell of rain this year. Enticed by the heavy downpour, madness struck me. I was consumed with crazy thoughts. I decided to walk back home in the rain. Much to the embarrassment of my driver, I asked him to take the car back home and began my walk in the rain.
People on the road kept gazing at me but I wasn’t in a mood to even watch myself. My hands gently moved into my jeans pockets and a profound sense of liberation swept over me. I was fully drenched and droplets of rain trickled from my hair through my forehead onto my lips only to be sucked in by my tongue.
My eyes kept blinking to clear off the dripping water. I gently began to hum a self-composed tune; something that I always do when I am engulfed in intense rapture. I was in ecstasy. I forgot all my labels and social identities. I was experiencing enigmatic freedom.
I was filled with inexplicable gratitude for life and tears began to ooze from my eyes. It was a moment that no one else could have gifted me. Only I could have gifted such a moment to myself.
The words of a wise man echoed in me. “Never miss out on the Costless Luxuries of life!”
If life is a series of such costless luxuries, then why are there so many miserable people? Then why do the rich, richer and the richest seem poor, poorer and poorest when it comes to peace and happiness? Why then is man getting more and more distressed in the midst of growing comforts? It all began when he was a child…
Long long ago, on one dusky evening when he was still a child, he went to the provision stores along with his mother. He was attracted by the chocolates displayed over there and asked the shopkeeper to give him some. To his surprise, the shopkeeper looked at his mother. Him, as a child wondered, “Why is this fellow looking at my mother, when it is I who wants the chocolates?”
The child did not know that the next few moments were moments that were to define the course of his life. His mother drew out a coloured paper from her purse and extended it to the shopkeeper in return of which he extended chocolates.
Having observed the whole phenomenon, the next time when they were at a shop, the child looked at the chocolates, asked the shopkeeper for it and immediately turned towards his mother, knowing very well that the coloured paper has to be given for chocolates to be got. By then, the child concluded that if he wanted chocolates, the coloured paper would suffice; mummy was not required.
From then on, the child observed that the coloured paper got him admission in school, had his birthday party celebrated, sent him on excursions and bought him the toys he wanted. He began to believe that this coloured paper could get him everything.
And concluded that the more coloured paper he has, the more he can get what he wants. From then on, the child decided to do everything possible to accumulate that coloured paper. From the education he pursued to the career he wanted, to the place where he wanted to live – everything was seen with the vision of amassing that coloured paper.
Sure enough, he did amass money in all possible ways. He pledged the happiness of his family, his personal talents, his sweat and sometimes, even his blood for the successes he got in return. The child grew not into just a man, but a man of affluence.
Ideally, his wealth, prosperity, riches and the enormous amount of coloured notes should have given him the greatest of security but instead it put him through a rude shock. These coloured notes bought him the best of cots and beds but could not buy him sleep.
It bought him swanky homes but could not buy him peace. It bought him sex but could not buy him love. It bought him the best of food but could not help digestion. It bought him seats in top universities but could not buy him education.
It bought him the best of the courses but could not buy him transformation. It bought him pleasures but could not buy him happiness. It facilitated an extravagant wedding but could not create a harmonious marriage. His coloured notes bought him the priest but could not buy him God.
When man has enough money, in fact only when man has enough money, does he realise that the most essential of his wants can never be transacted with money. The greatest of life’s experiences are available free; in fact, they are available only free.
They are priceless because we cannot place a price tag on them. When it comes to defining and experiencing the quality of one’s life, being rich becomes a fallacious concept. Irrespective of our materialistic status, for each one of us life can be a series of costless luxuries.
Abundance is not just affluence. Abundance is a holistic state. Abundance is about your well-being, bliss, love, peace, wonderment and of course also affluence.
Watch a child and he would validate this prophecy that life is a series of costless luxuries just by the way he lives. Let us remember that we too were that child just a few years ago and we can be that once again. We do not have to be childish, but we can always be childlike. Why else would you go to amusement parks and picnics as grown up adults?
I am not a fool to say that money is nothing. I am only saying that money does not define the quality of your life. Money just acts as means to your experience. Money can at best turn a costless luxury into a costly luxury.
Marvelling at a sunrise is in itself, a costless luxury. If I cannot afford it, I will enjoy the sunrise from the terrace of my house and if I can afford it, I will go to a mountaintop and experience the sunrise across the valley.
Treating myself with the melodies of Hariprasad Chaurasia and Zakir Hussain is in itself a costless luxury. If I cannot afford it, I will listen to the melodies from a public radio, if I have some money I will buy a personal collection of their melodies and if I am really rich, I would organise for their live performance.
Getting thoroughly drenched and dancing in the rain is in itself a costless luxury. If I cannot afford it I will dance in the rain, if I have some money I will visit the local water falls and if I can really afford it I will visit the Niagara falls.
I do not need to have the fortune to experience a Mercedes Benz. I can always rent the car for one day and freak out.
It does cost money to live in this world, but it costs nothing to feel on ‘Top of the World’.
Let us make this all-important choice to punctuate our life with these costless luxuries. Each one of us can experience a quality of life that not even the richest of men in the world can experience, provided, we choose to fill our lives with these costless luxuries. They are available to all of us in abundance, most and more… and absolutely free.
When you were born, God gave you this whole world as your birthday gift. Please do not die without even opening the gift wrap.
Singing without an audience, dancing without any music, to recline on the carpet of grass, to sleep under the open sky, a solitary stroll, wandering with a loved one, an unexpected kiss, a child’s giggle, articulation of air through the mouth of an old man who has no teeth, the lap of your mother, the stroking of your hair by a friend, the spontaneous tears, when something that was lost is found again, to sit on the seashore, the fragrance of a garden, the celebrative mood of people during festivals, a belly laughter at a joke, the making up after a fight, the night skies, the bliss of melodious music, the grasp of your finger by a baby, the early words of a child who has just started to communicate, the wait for a loved one, a smile between tears, silence… I can spend an entire lifetime only listing the costless luxuries that each one of us can experience from this bountiful gift of life.
Isn’t this very life gifted to us free? Then life is the first of costless luxuries. Golden moments and memorable experiences are available to all of us and yet, nobody can give them to us. Each one of us has to gift these experiences to ourselves.
Golden moments of life are gifts given unto oneself. Costless luxuries are gifts by the self, to the self and for the self.
At the end of our lives, we should be able to look back at the way we have lived our lives and say, “My happiness cost me nothing in life, and everything else consumed a lifetime of my earnings.”