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What’s ‘In’ There…?

Dr Navniit Gandhi Tuesday, November 9, 2021
What’s ‘In’ There…?

“DO not take any person or your own life or what you have, for granted…ever! You never know what’s just round the corner…” ----this dialogue in an ongoing web-series made quite an impact, though this simple truth is not completely unknown to any of us.

One small virus and its variants that shook the world hard in this past year and a half, re-introduced us all to this simple truth of life. The attacker was invisible and we didn’t know was lurking round which corner and who would be the next victim. After all, it is just a matter of one breath. In an instant, when one inhaling of air does not happen, we lose our loved ones forever; just like that…in a flash! It’s all over.

This time, the loss extended to jobs, businesses, social bonding and other simple factors in life that are crucial for sanity.

However, how many of us took that much-precious pause to learn invaluable lessons? The lessons were there; right there… Alas! We got too busy in online shopping and attending Zoom sessions/meetings/webinars. There was a mad scramble to fill our baskets and homes with the same goodies and stuff as was the case before the virus struck us. Not many even thought of a compromise! How many of us did not boast even once before others that: we got everything that we wanted---very easily. No, we didn’t miss anything. One click, and all that we needed was at our door-step??? (Though, the shortages and life without some items---could have been great lessons for the kids!) We wanted the same snacks----curfew or no curfew; the same drinks and fruits; the same mithai and footwear and clothes and the same lifestyle whether people were dying or suffering or not! We kept filling our shelves and baskets and in fact, decided to fill extra baskets----just in case…

Yes, our priority was: that our baskets and refrigerators had to be full! That was the yardstick of how efficiently and smartly we managed during the lockdowns.

Nothing wrong too with it!

Except that, we sometimes forget that we also have our own personal baskets which we carry on our shoulders from birth till death. Life is nothing but a simple journey, during which each one of us must carry our own basket of assorted gifts and challenges. Each one, trots along, with his or her own basket. And the best part is that no one can carry any other’s basket; each one must carry his own! And oh! We cannot even take a real look inside any other basket, except our own!

And yet, while merely looking at the different colors and shapes of the others’ baskets, we turn green with envy or we whine or sigh wistfully. No, none can see what actually lies in any other’s basket or even experience how much does the other one’s weigh! Not a clue we have, but a life-time often goes in envying others for the beautiful or colorful or glamorous baskets that they carry and in wondering what did we do to get such a plain and a filled-with-boulders one!

It was just a pause and a peep inside our own personal baskets, that was much required. That one peep could have changed who we are, and replaced the crap in our minds with serenity and gratitude. While all of us were filling our online and offline baskets, neither we---the adults, and nor our children, looked once inside our respective life- baskets and experienced ‘gratitude’. Had we done that and felt that, it would have been the real game-changer; the turning point.

How I wish that all those who felt dismay and depression and yelled at others or took their own lives---had taken out just one moment to take a peep inside their baskets and known: ‘what’s in there…?’

Sadly again, even when we take a peep inside our baskets---the thought that ‘what ought to be’ dominates ‘what’s in there’!!!. We have endless desires and advices: my skin oughtto have been smooth and fair; my dad ought to have been richer and cooler; my weight ought to have been less or more; more opportunities ought to have come my way; I ought to have more success and name… and so on!

But what about: what’s in there…? Who cares!!! Why care, since it is there! Human nature always has, in vain, yearned for what it doesn’t have! Sad, isn’t it, that an entire life is wasted feeling anxious and upset at what isn’t there…? The gifts which are all there already in the basket, such as: the hair on the head; the eyesight and ability to talk and hear; the ability to walk and run; food on the table and that too, daily; a straight spinal cord and a brain that functions flawlessly; a home and not an orphanage to grow up in; siblings and friends; mental abilities----do not make us happy unless and until any one of them is lost forever! To have food day after day; everyday on our tables; to be able to sit, stand, walk and eat at will and to have a couple of shoulders to lean on or hands to hold---sometimes, it’s all in there, and yet we keep looking faraway somewhere and sigh at the raw and unfair deals we have got!!!

Hey, over this next weekend----are you game for this exercise…?

Decide to sit together for 10 minutes with your family. Let each member sit with eyes closed and recall: ‘what’s in his/her basket?’ and jot down on a piece of paper. Jot down all the things and people which and who, if not there, would make life unbearable. Let each one spend 2-3 minutes reading what he or she’s got ‘in there’, in their own basket!

Anytime in the future, if one family member is sad or upset or anxious, the others can remind ‘what’s he or she got in there’!!!

Yes, we shall be happy to read what we have in our own basket and we may even smile more often with gratitude.

But, do you know, what would give us the utmost joy in this exercise???

It would be to find our name in the ‘what’s-in-there’ list of someone else!!! It would surely be something worth living for, isn’t it?

Navniit Gandhi is an academic since 25+ years; a feature writer (300+ articles), and has authored 9 books. Her write-ups can be read at
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