One morning, with a friend, we were discussing a dilemma she was facing. In the teachings there is a saying “Say Yes to life“. But in the situation she didn’t feel it was her dharma to do so. And we were wondering if it was okay to say “No”. We concluded that if for her it doesn’t feel right, then that has to be honored.
While the situation was settled the topic stayed with me for quite some time.
I have been living in Delhi for the last 10 years or so. The climate here is extreme. Harsh winters, equally harsh summers and a very brief period of spring and periodic showers just to allow those living in this area a minimum breather.
I loved the very short lived spring. But then I realized, I can’t escape this. I can’t not enjoy 10 months of the year. So I decided I must like something else. So I chose winter ! Winter became my “other” favorite. And it was very nice. Foggy mornings with hot chai/coffee, chilly evenings with bonfires. If you are dressed properly it was indeed enjoyable. But the winters here are also short: another couple of months. So though I had improved from 2 months to 4 months of enjoyment.
A big portion of my year was still in distress. So I decided I will change the season I like. And I chose Summer :).
It wasn’t easy to like summer, but in time I was able to find a few things, like long days, Sun ever shining and pleasant mornings for your walks, milk shakes. I had progressed to 8 months a year !
I remember an essay competition from my college days. The organizers would give a sentence and the participants were asked to begin writing their essays with one condition: it should include that sentence. Every half an hour, they would come and give another sentence. The participants were supposed to adjust their essays and continue their story to include the new sentence.
I remember, everytime the organizers would announce the next sentence, there would be a loud uproar from the participants : “Oh no”. As you can imagine, the sentences rarely have anything in common with them.
But there was one who would respond differently. Each time he would hear the sentence, he would respond “Excellent!”. It was very interesting, as I am sure the sentences were just as inconvenient to him to continue his essay as it was for the others. But he chose to look at it differently. He won the competition!
From the roof top of my apartment I could see a tree I liked : “Silk Cotton Tree”. I saw her in winter, I saw her in Summer also in spring when she was in her full blossom. She looked very different in these seasons. But somehow I like her no matter what. It felt she was equally alive in every season. Indeed, her response to the seasons was very different. But she wasn’t waiting for the blossom, she wasn’t resenting summer or winter. She lived every season to her fullest. She knew her blossom is just an occasional outcome of her being herself throughout the year. She was not living for that season alone but she was living: Fully!
“Saying yes to life”, has little to do with choices. But more to do with “how” we live the choices we make. Sometimes life makes choices for us. The tree teaches us to drop our preferences and to tune into what life is bringing to us. And live whatever is in front of us with an attitude of a big “Yes”.