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Competition

 

 

            The whole semester was a frantic flurry to finish and maintain high grades. The mind was continuously bustling from subject to subject as the fear of failure remained ever so near and present. Always on the back of each student’s mind – the innate drive to compete and beat the others. Firing complex questions, one waited for the other to stumble in order to expose one’s Achilles’ heal. Weakness in intellect or theory exposes one’s downfalls, and makes the other more confident and vicarious. There is no room for mistakes for the one who carries the flag of victory is the one revered with success. There is no end for the world will keep on trying to get ahead.  

            From my peers, there was a respect for the high grades I achieved; however, with respect came an instinctual drive to destroy. Any ounce of uncertainty in my eyes became the chance for my demise. Although the pressure kept me strong to fight, it also led me to see those who despise. Expectations were blown in my face for they would say, “Oh he will surely get an A.” There was no doubt that it was my goal, but for others it was just another load for me to carry alone. I would remain composed as stone on the outside, but inside I was being swallowed by my own tone. The tone that harshly hushed me into submission for the burden of riding every condition.

           Men have always envied those who run in first place. They too have practiced for hours, conditioned in the blistering sun, and dealt with many hardships; however, that one man in front always seems to fly on ahead. May it be destiny or chance? Most men leave it to chance and wait for the other to descend. It is the intrinsic nature of man, from the times of primitive survival, to compete for ultimate success. We wear suits on the outside to appear civil, but the battles within are nothing more than that of primitive survival. The man who lives for himself will only help others for recognition and fame. Francois de la Rochefoucauld once said, “We should often feel ashamed of our best actions if the world could see all the motives which produced them.” Selfless men are hard to find for they may only be a concept to rekindle the light of hope within us all. Those men, if they even exist, are as rare as lost ancient gems that have fallen into the murky sea. For certain, I know that God is the only Being that illuminates perfection. Mortal men are merely looking for immortality through their outward actions. Few have made that ambition a reality, but those who have cut out a name in the condensed chapters of history are, nonetheless, never perceived as perfect. Our vices are our shovels used to dig our own graves. We have all dug our own, and are just waiting to be pushed in when the time comes. 

            I sit alone in my dorm in silence. The scurrying feet, running water, clanking bottles, turning pages, and banging doors have ceased. The quiet has left me without purpose. I have been longing for this moment – the light at the end of the tunnel. Through hard work I have arrived and the light has dimmed. I always needed my own space amidst people in my face for four months straight. No time to breathe without affecting someone else, I never sat in solitude. Time never permitted. I am now liberated in space – just floating. This is not the liberation I truly seek, because true liberation will come only when I have finished the journey and see land on the distant shore. Until medical school is over, I shall count my blessings which are many, and embrace the men who share words, but glare silently in envy. These men have taught me to sail forward looking ahead but never forgetting to glance behind. I am not completely innocent of this crime myself, but I am more vigilant of my feelings after I became the subtle target of conspiracy.

             The highs and lows of a university student are many, and the need to perform at one’s best can be draining. Nevertheless, the reward of achieving with humility and honor, the glow of success is the ultimate gift of an education. Admittedly, money has always played a rather big role in my decisions for the future but experience is beginning to make that shed. I still want to live a comfortable life through hard work, but I also want to reciprocally make a difference in people’s lives. As a young man, I am sick and tired of looking for leaders within religion or life itself, so I want to discipline myself to lead. I want to lead not on the pulpit but on the terms of my own actions. I want to bury my vices before they end up burying me. I desperately want to live my life without an ounce of guilt, so I have nothing to bow my head to other than God. My ambitions are many, but I want to manipulate them for the right reasons. Like a sculptor I want to chisel my mind into that of greatness by the grace of God and not by ego. I would rather be a mediocre man with humility than a man with money and arrogance. Being a student has taught me more than formulas and concepts, because I have primarily learned that learning happens until the last breath and heart beat. I am a Sikh, a learner, until the end.

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Tonight after everything that has happened, I have reaffirmed my greatest intuition that God does, indeed, listen. Please no matter how bad the storm gets; do not leave God. He is always there and listening. Let Him lead for He will find.

– God bless

Life is unfair in many ways to many souls. No matter how good one tries to become, the world is still a very cold and contentious place. People morph into duality carrying faces that beckon more than two different sides. Everyone is doing their best to deceive each other and get ahead. The cliche that the world is a dog eat dog place is no lie as it sums up society as we know it to be. No one waits to help someone up when they fall for that becomes their time to quickly run ahead. The falling man becomes vulnerable and desperately alone, but within this time of despair a thick coat begins to grow. Indifference and numbness begin to severe life as one becomes slowly a stone. Other people are blocked from coming into our lives, and alone we wither away. Every friend, acquaintance, and person becomes suspicious as the world grows wary in our eyes. Adaptation to the environment allows survival in primitive beings as well as in humans. Evolution of adapting to harsher environments ensures that only the strongest survive and flourish. The same is true for life as we must evolve into stronger beings in order to adapt to any situation or environment, because if we do not mold ourselves we slowly begin to die within.

This whole week has been a harsh downward spiral in my life as I have been deceived and betrayed. I felt alone at one point, and I could not resist those strong feelings. However, I have come out of this whole situation a much stronger person. Every single experience in life is a lesson learned. My goals are high, my expectations many, my aspirations infinite, my heart open, my mind growing, and my soul still intact. I have everything I need within to succeed. Life will surely continue to hurl many thorns and obstacles in my path. I will be challenged, stopped, and tried at every step of the way in all my endeavors; spiritual, academic, and personal. If life were easy, I guess it would not be worth all the struggle.

My family has been a strong and enduring pillar throughout my many trials and tribulations. My peers are also always there to cheer me up when I am down, but family has its own special place. Speaking to my parents is a great gift from God as I see them every night appear on my computer screen. My mother is a deep sea of comfort within my life, and she is always there to share a good laugh or sad moment. I can shed a tear and a smile with my mom during any time of the day. She is always there for me. Her eyes speak a million words and there is no need to say anymore. She reads me before I speak, and knows my insides when they sink. On the other hand, my father is the type of man that commands respect with his graceful and calm temperament. He listens with an open mind and lays out ways to reach my goals without being sidetracked by the insignificant attributes of life. His words propel me towards the finish line in order to pursue my goals. He has been through many rough challenges throughout his own life and he is constantly there to remind me that I can do it. Struggle is a right of passage in a successful life and my dad and mom are a true testament to that. I am uplifted every night I see them by my side although I am thousands of miles away.

My older sister also guides me as a mentor who has been through the many rigors I now endure. She recalls growing up and going through college and all the ups and downs it entailed. I confide with her my heart and soul. We may fight and degrade one another more than an Obama-Clinton debate, but she is always there for me through thick and thin. Her rhetoric is strong and her stance unwavering. Her strong morals have kept us on the right track. For living the relatively few years she has lived, she has seen a lot. She has always been the warrior creating paths through the rough although the easier alternative was always near. A source of continuing inspiration and motivation for me to be driven by passion and ethic. Never does she blink an eye when the time comes to drop her own life down to help another. A strong willed woman, I really look up to.

The other night I was able to talk to my aunt and cousin from Canada over Skype, and memories of my childhood came flooding back. My massi has a strong presence and always instills lessons within me that she has learned throughout her own life. I have the utmost respect for her intelligence and grace unto which she speaks such inspirational words. She is a soldier and always has been in life, and I see her in no other light than that of another mother of mine. I miss those good old days when I used to sit in their car after a party, and rant to my uncle and massi about my future goals in life. They could have said calm down kid, life is not as easy as you assume. However, my massi always told me not only that I could, but that I would. I would sit next to her on her waterbed for hours before she went to sleep talking away the minutes. She has always listened and been there to support me. She taught me that there are no limits. I have learned from her that life is not easy and it will most probably never be, but the most important thing is to be true to yourself. One of the strongest women I have ever known in my life without an ounce of doubt. I love my massi and I was so glad to see her a night ago. Distance disappeared as she appeared on my computer screen. I felt I was home.

My Nana, grandpa, is my best friend and almost like my highly respected elder brother. We talk for countless hours about the things that matter most in life. We can stroll together through the orchard while walking the dogs and allow silence to exist. There has never existed an awkward moment with my Nana. Over the years our bond has grown immense, and his constant encouragement and inspiring presence has uplifted me into a positive mindset hard to break. I have learned that age and time is a mere illusion, because every time I look into my Nana’s eyes I see a passionate young man speaking. The wrinkles all fade away and a best friend emerges only slightly older than me, but one who is a lot more wise. I love him so much and the gift of him being in my life is incomparable to any amount of money available in the world. He is priceless and the time I share with my Nana is the special time in life that is infinite.

I have truly been blessed by having so many great people to guide me in this life. It is nothing short of a miracle in itself. I have witnessed the world’s many colors and the dark tones of many fellow beings, and so I constantly remind myself that I have nothing to complain about, but instead only things to cherish.

Next time I tell myself that life is not fair, I will stop and think for a long moment or two. I will remember that I am breathing, and that my legs and arms still work. My mind is able of thinking logically and processing many complex tasks. I will remember all the great people God has blessed me with in this temporary life, and I will stop dead in my tracks. I cannot help but feel ashamed at that moment. I have been given too much in this life, and all I ask for now is happiness in everyone’s life because they have done so much to bring happiness in my own. I would never hesitate for even a slight moment to take all the sorrows of theirs and make them mine. I am indebted for all of eternity for all God and those I love have done for me. I have now forgot why I ever felt that life was unfair.


“Expecting the world to treat you fairly because you are a good person is a little like expecting the bull not to attack you because you are a vegetarian.”
— Dennis Wholey

Life is not fair; get used to it. Bill Gates

“Adapt or Die!”
– Andrew Grove (Founder of Intel)

“Life is tough. Life is tougher if you’re stupid.”
– John Wayne

Excuses are the nails used to build a house of failure.
– Author: Don Wilder

Opportunity follows struggle. It follows effort. It follows hard work. It doesn’t come before.
– Author: Shelby Steele

Unfortunately this earth is not. . . a fairy-land, but a struggle for life, perfectly natural and therefore extremely harsh.
– Author: Martin Bormann

There is so much to do, but such little time. There was an unsettling peace after midterms were over, but that peace was short lived in the inevitable eyes of the future. Soon enough the urgency of finals seeped into the mental sores created by the intense study and stress of midterms. There is never a break long enough where the brain may rest in serene tranquility unscathed by stress or work. Although the work is intense and the days packed with hard work, the mind is heavily rewarded with knowledge and purpose. The mind can no longer rest idle for when it does, the mind begins to wither.

Many exams have been taken this semester, but many more still remain until Christmas break. The stress of studying perpetuates work and hinders procrastination, thus acting as a motivational force to get up and work. Worrying has no place in college for action replaces its allotted time. Hours in the library are converted into letter grades that assess retention, concept, and memory capabilities. Like computers we are installed with new programs and softwares through textbooks and courses. Then during the exam we are asked to retrieve them from the limited hard-drive space we have in our minds. There is no room for error or mistake here for my future is at stake.

The whole day the mind is being overloaded by numerous subjects, experiences, memories, and tasks. Soaking material from chemistry to biology, English to psychology, and computers to chemistry lab. Remembering to get groceries, people’s names, interacting, directions, and new unexpected experiences. The mind is alive and breathing when it is forced to work, retrieve, and retain vast mounds of information. The knowledge becomes stored as in a warehouse for future reference. Every line I read in a textbook changes the way I perceive life.

Every time I see a person walking no longer do I see a simple human being. Instead I see a trillion cells and the sheer miracle of life. I see a world of interaction between cells communicating and reproducing in infinite numbers. I see the probability of that person being alive as one in sixty four trillion as stated by the genetical probabilities of gamete fertilization. When I see the ocean out my dorm window, I now see trillions of hydrogen bonds constantly being broken and rejoined by the attractive polar forces of water. Everything changes as knowledge transforms the perception of life from the lens of our eyes. Thinking is no longer a task taken for granted, as I now visualize billions of neurons electrically carrying messages to different lobes in the brain. The processes are so advanced that it is impossible to realize the actual strength and beauty of just living. No computer created by man can even compare mildly to the advanced system of the human conscious and condition. The wiring of our minds, the sculpting of our frames, and the reactions of our cells are not put together by sheer material, but by living entities attracted by an infinite power and energy, God. The body in which we are given sanctity is a miracle to behold and realize. The might of God is so apparent.

As I lay in bed every night and try to go to sleep, I am stopped. Memories, experiences, and emotions take over my mind like a movie reel gone out of control. Childhood memories, present fears, people, life, the future, the past, and college all intertwine to create an unavoidable mental slide show. The imagery creates subtle emotional responses as the mind projects all sorts of thoughts in the dead silence of the night. I toss and turn in bed, and try to find the off switch in my mind, but I fail. I cannot stop my mind from running wild. All day I have been in control, because I have been forced to propel myself in the present moment to complete tasks of importance. However, during the night the mind finally takes over as I lay a prisoner to the rampant rants of my mind. I am no longer in control.

The next morning I awake to the annoying shriek of my alarm clock. Hitting the snooze button, I am oblivious to how the morning was ushered in so quickly, or how I managed to fall asleep through the minds disruptive unwinding. The dreams interrupted by the wailing alarm clock, are taken back with me into reality. I remember them for a short moment or two before sitting up right. Some are odd and most make no sense whatsoever, but I still would rather be there instead of here. In my reality, school starts again and the routine of being a premed student takes over another day. The stresses and studies of my life become real again and I move on. Until the night, I will continue working and ignoring my mind’s random invasions. Unfortnately, they soon will collect together and gain enough momentum just before I shut my eyes to sleep. I shall be a prisoner once again tonight.

 

              There is a cliff behind the library on campus where the ocean comes alive and the sky paints amazing sunsets. I sat there today with my feet dangling off the edge of the cliff as I just looked out toward the sunset. The light breeze whispered into my ears while it brushed a cool cover over me in the warm presence of a declining Caribbean sun. The sun’s powerful rays were just beginning to dip deep beneath the Earth’s visible horizon. The waves seemed to kiss the bottom of my feet as they bombarded the bottom of the cliff with an increasing rhythmic frequency. I was merged with the transient sea as my eyes and senses were immersed in its energetic vibrancy. The light’s reflection on the water created a powerful shimmer in the sea, as though the ocean’s surface was beaded with millions of diamonds enchanting man to hope. There is peace on the cliff as I sit in utter awe and amazement knowing for certain that all I know is nothing at all. I escape and forget about everything for some time. 

 The clouds transform into strong strokes of colorful paint in the presence of a glowing canvas background. Like a painter desperately trying to satisfy his critics, the sky puts on magnificent exhibits wooing the eyes of all who meet its pure wrath. Every second during the sunset, the changing hues of the sky soothe the sea in cool tones until the sea finally darkens to sheer coal in the dark stillness of the night. The unbelievable painting is soon stolen by time as the sun must attend elsewhere, leaving me stranded in the darkness – alone on a cliff.

 

Sometimes one feels the impact of just falling without a due course. Down a dark spiral of nothing. The pressure of gravity fighting past the air against the surface. The cold and pungent air acting as a buffer between complete impunity. Like a horrifying indoor roller coaster the smell of a lamenting circulation creates a snare, and reeks of superficial facilities. Falling in a bottomless abyss while fighting to stay horizontal in infinite space; one falls for seconds, minutes, hours, days, and years. The bottom ever so near.

The hollow tube is nothing more than imaginary. The components of its existence merely alive in my own instability. A faint resonance of dripping water below signals an inevitable transition of state. Physics inhibiting my escape, I continue free falling.

Freedom is relative to my imprisonment. Each second becoming a sheer struggle in the complacent darkness of black. I feel the air I breathe suffocating me as I surrender. Hitting a terminal velocity, my speed steers constant. A new reality of unease is born. When I shall splatter against the bottom I will soon know; until then I fear.

 

“Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going” – Jim Ryun 

         As laziness and procrastination begin invading the mind, both have a tendency to systematically destroy the fortress of motivation. Like a dangerous and malignant tumor procrastination begins exponentially multiplying lethargic spurts of negativity. Pessimism and the thought of doing “it” tomorrow fuel the untamed growth of such a fatal epidemic within. It is easier to lay in bed, in front of the TV, or the computer and just passively succumb to such inviting dangers. The mind becomes a vicious dictator enslaving our thoughts and imprisoning our actions. This unsuspecting trojan horse lures the mind into complacency and surrender. A defeat of the mind and its motivation ensues to pillage our energy to be.

         Habit and routine are the deterrents and defenders of such attack. We must transform our intangible feelings of motivation into the physical form of habit. Exercise to release endorphins, meditate to relax, study to achieve, and socialize to decompress. Start this very moment – be happy. Create a schedule and follow it. The first seven times are the hardest, but then it becomes a habit. In turn, the habit crystallizes into a solid diamond of beauty and strength – unable to be broken. Determine your fate through your actions and not your thoughts. Do not live a slave to your constantly wavering mind, but instead mold your mind to fit a life deserving of happiness and self-content. The battles are constant, but subside with the self-determined might to fight. One must seek the infinite and omnipresent hand of God for then victory shall be sure, and defeat impossible.   

“Man Jeetai Jagjeet”  (Conquer Your Mind & Conquer the World)

The composition of life is the least finite and tangible experience in the human condition. Like sand, life slips through the cracks of our minds, hearts, and hands. Never can it be fully attained or appreciated. Our mind is composed of infinite memories, experiences, and emotions creating vast dunes of turbulence. The small grains that make up the desolate desert are constantly filling a deepening void within. The vastness of the empty internal desert sends us on an unfulfilled voyage in the outside world, forever seeking the oasis of pure bliss and happiness. Always empty within, we desperately try to grab as much as we can carry. The illusion of a mirage fools many, while propelling man to stumble and falter for a sip of sheer fantasy.

We wander the barren vastness seeking content and belonging. Constantly pondering about the various substances that make up the lustrous sand, man deceives himself with knowledge. The grains are much too small and unique to understand. Millions upon trillions make a single dune in the presence of many. The foot which sinks too deep will be stuck forever without direction, so we keep on moving. The minimal presence of the sun beckons light into the starch darkness, but it lasts only so long before the darkness sets in and the predators walk astray. Alone, in the still of the night, we lay cowardice to the unknown which during the day was so plain and apparent. Vulnerable we shut our eyes and pray for the light to burn ablaze for just one more day so we can seek another way. The gusting winds sting the eyes with sand, thus materializing images of the once so distant past. Each grain carries a memory lost to time and only awakens when the majestic winds wail in spite. The cycle is long, the day’s light brutal, the nights filled with fear, but we continue to strive for freedom in the midst of absolute desolation. There is hope to reach an oasis in the deceptive eyes of man, but the embedded dryness of our hands tell another story of struggle. A story where the journey prolongs until transient death; seeking until we become the sand in which we dread to stand.

We are alone. Nomads to our barren minds. Sifting through sand, making sense of what we have. Nothing makes sense, the journey is far too long, the escape always seems so near, but the scent of death makes us whimper and conceal our true desire for closure. We stumble to understand.

There comes a time when one is forced to shove one’s anger and negativity underneath the bed. The threshold is reached as self-destruction beckons forth its fatal face. Negative energy engulfs our minds and lives through a continous stream of malicious thoughts throughout the day. One fateful day all of lifes’ stresses, worries, frustrations, and unknowns are left behind in the early morning as one awakes. They had gathered throughout the minutes, hours, days, weeks, and months previous but now the mind could no longer handle the barrage. We are then forced to detach, not completely, but somewhat from the overload. The baggage still exists under the bed, but now it is not visible although growing. We hide the mental mess to forget and pretend it never existed. Life forces us to fall but then get up, and continue at a certain point. The cycle soon begins again, as one is now allowed to begin accumulating a new dosage of life’s toxic stresses to carry throughout the day and unload at another time. That time has come and I, for one, must let go. I need the peace, the surreal eye in the middle of the storm, to calm me. The security and serenity is real, but the mind warns of it being temporary. The time will come when the storm rushes back in with an intense gust of wind, but by then hopefully I will be ready. There comes a time…

             As I sit here typing these words with my dorm window overlooking the Caribbean Sea, I must say this storm I brace myself for will not be broad-casted on CNN and it will not be riling the ocean’s merciless waves. Instead this storm is going to be a mental stirring of my emotions as they accumulate into fierce clouds of stress. Indeed, a fine test for my mental stamina. This week is saturated by premedical exams that would have once looked like old scare tactic lectures straight out of an average high school teacher’s playbook. However, this time it is a reality and a harbinger of what is to come in the further reaches of my studies in medicine. 

           The material is fascinating and I have so many feelings and insights about how it all makes me feel being a human, and knowing that there so many reactions occurring in each of my trillion cells every second. It is a monument to the complexity of life that we all we take for granted. An organized and intricate system so vast within each of us causing a mind boggling introspection within oneself, and it genuinely testifies to the great omnipresence of a higher infinite truth. A universal and infinite Being beyond comprehension fighting off entropy and disorder within even the smallest atomic particles of the universe. Knowing all of this is inspiring and humbling, but retaining every single process, biological name, and medical jargon gets overwhelming at times fading the majestic odds of our existence by a little bit of frustration and confusion.

          The electron microscope pictures of our cells resemble a foreign and vast galaxy in the the far depths of the universe, but it is within us all. The problem arises when one must memorize and retain everything. In the beginning I read in utter amazement, and then it turned into disbelief seeing the sheer volume I must comprehend and consume. However, the brain is a powerful tool and the information it can store is just another great testament to the might of conscious and intelligent life. I just hope I have been exercising my brain enough for it to function efficiently when the test finally comes in the multiple choice form of numerous data drenched chapters.

            I have been staying in the library for a good portion of the day when classes finally are over and the profesors have nothing more to say about their most important relative courses. I also have a chemistry test and a psychology test coming this week before the biology one. I am aiming to get the highest grade and expectation can excel one’s stress and multiply it into a compiling hoard of fear and frustration, but I try to see my workload as a learner, a Sikh, trying to learn the physical form of the miracle called life, so one day I can apply my limited knowledge to help other people who are in pain and anguish. 

           Mediation and listening to the five banis and kirtan keep me moving in the right direction with the bigger meaning of life always by my side. The purpose of my life seems to be straight down the path I am venturing, and that feeling of belonging and knowing one’s purpose is a great aid in times of doubt and stress. Waheguru gives me the power to be, learn, and overcome even the biggest challenges. The ambrosial nectar in every Kirtan and every line of the Shabad instills a strong foundation of humanity, love, and a peaceful existence in my soul. Although the clouds may thunder in my head with stress and the waves of my anger and frustration may be crashing on the surface of my mind, I find peace beneath the water where it is peaceful as I forever sit serenely drenched in the light of Waheguru and his forever forgiving mercy.

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