My grandmother taught me one dictum: “Acceptance is the answer to all your problems.” It did not make sense to me when I first heard it.
One day long after she died, I was lying in a hospital bed after a troubling surgery, and it finally dawned on me: Distress occurs because I find somebody, some place, some untoward situation unacceptable to me. There is no tranquility until I accept that person, place, thing or situation as being exactly as I desire. Absolutely nothing happens in God’s world by mistake; and unless I accept it completely on life’s terms, I cannot be happy. I needed to understand not so much about what needs to be changed in the world as about what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes.
God provides resting places and working places; let us use it.
It reminds me of another story. A marvelous African diamond was gifted to the king of England. He duly dispatched it to Amsterdam for cutting. The expert lapidary cut a notch in it and struck a hard blow with his instrument, and behold! It was cleft in twain. What criminal wastefulness. But for weeks the lapidary had studied, planned that blow; drawings and models had been made with the minutest care. That blow was in fact its perfect redemption. God strikes a blow and our nerves wince, it seems an appalling mistake. He is our Divine lapidary.
I grew up in my grandparents’ villa in Hyderabad. We had a beautiful vineyard with luscious grapes. Once when I ran to indulge in my craving for the fruit I was aghast at what I found. My grandfather was quick to say, “The new gardener said he would have nothing to do with these vines until I allowed him to cut it clean down to the stalk.” Sensing my dismay he quickly added, “Be patient, love, for the result.”
We did not have grapes for two years. One day, I strayed into the backyard—what I saw took my breath away. Clusters of grapes were hanging on every side.
There are blessings we can enjoy if we are prepared to pay the price in crossing our hurdles.
One of my friends, an avid traveler, has given a beautiful description of nature’s miracles in her letters. “… The most brilliant colors of plants are to be seen in the highest mountains … the brightest lichens, mosses, exotic wild flowers, abound far up on the bleak storm-scalped peak. The richest display of organic coloring was near the summit of a hill about 10,000 feet high, above the great Bernard Hospice. The entire rock’s face was covered with vivid yellow lichen shining in the sunshine like the golden battlement of an enchanted castle.”
The ensuing words struck me: “I have two specimens of the same lichen, one from the great St. Bernard and the other from the wall of an ancient Scottish castle, amongst sycamore trees; a striking difference in form and color! The one nurtured in the mountain peak has a lovely primrose hue; smooth in texture and complete in outline. The other specimen nurtured amidst the soft airs and the delicate showers of the lowland valley is a dim rusty hue—scurfy in texture, broken in outline.”
Our life follows the same pathway resulting in similar patterns.
I taught my daughters of happiness that is inside us. Reach out and capture its essence. In stressful work situations when nothing goes right, keep still; do not react. There is a hidden divine path in every man. Cherish fond memories of childhood, not pain. Sadness is past and gone forever. The future belongs to God. But we certainly own the present to enjoy. Even as I write the present is fast vanishing.
So hurry; and reach out to your happiness before you lose it again by fretting.
Viji Varadarajan is a well-known cookbook author. She practices yoga, loves reading and aerobics, and is fond of swimming and classical dance. Three of her cookbooks have won the World Gourmand Cookbook Awards in four categories. Visit www.vijisamayal.org