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Journalist, Author, Columnist. My Twitter handle: @seemagoswami

Saturday, February 8, 2014

The path to serenity

There will always be stuff in life that you can’t change; so just make your peace with it

“Lord, grant me the strength to accept the things I cannot change; the courage to change the things I can; and the wisdom to know the difference.” This verse, attributed to St Francis of Assisi and later adapted by the American theologian, Reinhold Niebuhr, is now widely used by Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12-step programmes, with the word ‘strength’ replaced by ‘serenity’ and called the Serenity Prayer. But you don’t need to be an alcoholic – or even a Catholic – to benefit from the sentiments expressed in this prayer. 

All of us would be better off if we could see the difference between the things that we can change and those we can’t. And we would be much happier if we could make our peace with all the stuff that comes in the ‘can’t’ category. Because let’s face it, there are some things in life that none of us have any control on. And the sooner we come to terms with that fact, the more content we shall be.

So, what are the things you need to make your peace with? Allow me to list, in no particular order of importance, just some of them.

Some friendships will run their course. This is not anybody’s fault. It is just the way things are. Sometimes people grow apart for one reason or the other. And when that happens, there is no point breaking your head over what went wrong. Or even trying to recapture that lost intimacy. The only option is to accept the inevitable and move on without any bitterness or regret. Tell yourself that it was good while it lasted – and yes, that nothing lasts forever.
Your teenage kids will hate you. They will act as if your very presence is an embarrassment. They will fob off public displays of affection. They will treat your every pronouncement with derision. They will spend ages in the bathroom, sulking and yes, hating you. Until suddenly, one day, they won’t. They will want to hang out with you again, they will ask your advice, and cuddles will once again be welcome. Just stay the course. Normal service will be resumed soon.
You will turn into your parents. It is only a matter of time. It’s not just that one day you will look into the mirror and find your mother/father staring back at you (though that will happen as well). But also that you will find yourself telling your kids the very things that your parents used to say to you (and which you swore you would never tell your kids). Come home before it gets dark. Get up early and study. Wrap yourself warm before you go out. Eat something, for God’s sake!
There will be more ‘doorway moments’ as you get older. If you are in your 40s, you probably know what I mean. Yes, the times you go through the doorway of your bedroom or living room, looking for something. But the moment you cross the threshold you forget what you were looking for. Recent research done by Professor Gabriel Radvansky of the University of Notre Dame has it that the act of passing through a doorway causes memory lapses. But we know different, don’t we? It’s the act of passing through several decades of our lives that really does the trick. You’ve just got to live with it.
The music of the day will begin to seem like senseless noise to you. And you will turn into the kind of music bore you always made fun of: the sort who listens to the same bands and singers over and over again because he or she grew up with them. As they don’t say, familiarity breeds contentment.
You will always have regrets. No matter what choices you make in life and no matter how right they seemed at the time, there will come a day when you start to wonder about the road not taken and whether you took a wrong turn along the way. Don’t freak out. This is a part of growing up and even – dare I say it? – growing old. And anyone who tells you otherwise is a lying sod.


Naresh said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
J.M.Manchanda said...

Very well written! Couldn't find a word with which I could disagree! Sign of growing old:-)
Let even that be. Who cares!

Vasudha.N.Jadhav said...

Hello Ma'am,
I am so enjoying this journey through your blogs...you just write...unlike some blogs on mycityforkids that makeup stories to promote colgate having undersea cut outs...
I was going through clinical depression as I was not happy being a housewife as I could not relate to anybody and had panic attacks and anger issues so went to a psychiatrist who dint hear me out just gave me some euphoria pills that made me go with the motions of life without questioning them for a week or two and my weight to 90kgs on a 5.7 frame where I was 70 kgs...So had to do with 3 Kurtas from ALL store as I dint want to get comfy with the new wardrobe.
Basically then I started feeling so Old that when I took walk in my complex what used to go unnoticed earlier took over a form of fear
There is this old lady prim and proper who sits at the centre lawn rain or sun
I started visualising my future in her...calling out to passing ladies for a chat...I have a kitty grp but as I have been born and brought up in South Bombay but had to shift to Borivali suburbs for affordability I find myself so out of place....
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Vasudha Jadhav