My grandfather (say G) and I had this conversation when he showed me the picture of his schoolmates.
They have their own whatsapp group. We were talking about the infinite number of Good morning and Goodnight messages he receives there, and then it continued to this topic:
He showed me the pics of his friends from whatsapp.
Then he started naming some of those people in pic.
G: So this is my best friend from school. We enjoyed eating snacks in classroom. It was fun. He used to hit many boundaries when we played cricket. He was so weak in running between the wickets. Now when I think of it, maybe, that’s why he used to score more boundaries.
We were laughing. He was smiling. I could see those memories running through his eyes. I could see the joy on his face.
I: Great. What did he do after schooling?
G: Oh! He is an IAS officer. He shifted to Delhi. He is living a great life.
I: Great, that is awesome. That’s a great way to build a career.
He showed a few more pics of his friends. They worked in Telecom, education, banking…. And one also started her restaurant chain.
My grandfather worked in ESIC (Employees’ State Insurance). He used to live away from family from Monday to Friday and spent weekend at home- with family.
He then showed two people with whom he used to compete in class for more marks.
G: Look at these. We used to have many competitions. I used to beat both of them in many exams. In a few, I got beaten too.
I: Oh yes. I too have such classmates. We have a constant fight going on. No matter what. Even it it’s essay writing or exam or even sports.
G: Yes. We too used to do the same. One time, we literally fought against each other. It was a stiff competition.
I: Yes. This happens. It’s like they are my enemies and I am doing my best to defeat them.
G: Well, guess what they did in their career.
I: They must have had similar careers like you. Maybe a banking organization or in insurance industry?
G: No. One started his own NGO. The other went abroad after college.
I: But, then all your careers aren’t comparable. How can we say who won in the long run? Who is more happy in the end?
G: Well, what do you think? You can compare and decide.
I: Tell me their salaries. Or where are they living? Maybe how big house are they having?
G: Is this the right parameter? Think more.
I: I guess that it’s probably the only way to see who won in the long run.
G: Well, let’s say they have a better house than me. Now?
I: I don’t know. You had a successful career. I know that you are happy. You got to live with your family throughout.
G: Then? What’s that parameter you are looking for? Are you able to realize where your understanding is going wrong?
I, after thinking a lot, still couldn’t find the answer.
G: Son, life is not a competition.
Life is like that long trip you always were planning to have. Enjoy each and every moment. If on the road of that trip, you keep racing against that car running faster than you- you’ll miss the view. You’ll miss the enjoyment that you always wanted to have.
All these people that you are looking in my school pic- they aren’t my competitors. I too used to compete with them. But that didn’t matter in the end. When I was of your age, I wasn’t given such an advice. So I missed many more moments that I could have enjoyed. You- on the other side- have a chance to stop considering every moment as a race. Let it be.
Keep smiling. Keep enjoying.
The happiness of your life is NOT counted on a weighing balance by putting other person’s happiness on the other side.
You’ll have a happier life the sooner you understand it.
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Till next time, Ciao!
– Arjuna@War (Parth Shah)