Life is a strange experience not only because of its brevity but also for the disproportionate sense of importance that people ascribe to their own being

Assuming that the average life of an individual is about 80–90 years (at an optimistic level) the proportional level of work experience may not be more than about 40 years or so. This calculation is difficult to derive empirically but is common meniscal if you consider the following: One spends about one-third (1/3) of the 80 or 90 years simply sleeping or taking rest; another 1/5 is spent eating, dressing, commuting, and all that goes with it. The first 10 years or so before adulthood are part of growing up. A rough calculation like the one in the preceding lines would show that even the figure of 40 years of operational active life is a generous projection and assessment of the years allotted to ‘experience’. Of these 40 years’ a substantial part is spent preparing for life, such as studying, searching for information, and more. Hence, the conclusion is that roughly, only, about 50% is the active man-years in a human life of 80-90 years.

To spend this on feeling jealous, being petty, or simply idling would be such a waste. There is a need to be constructive, positive, and joyful. Anger comes easy, and dissatisfaction even easier. People pack in these 30 years or more with a lot of other sentiments such as envy, hate, pedanticism, showing off what little they have, or simply displaying power in the limited space that the Almighty may have given them power.

 A simple reflection would ask a basic question of whether this pedanticism is worth it or not. All said and done, power itself is a passing phenomenon. Nobody does or can stay in power forever. Then why the pedanticism? Qualities of humility, helpfulness, understanding, and supportiveness are not meant for saints only. They are meant for normal, everyday people who go through the grind of life. The vicissitudes of everyday life can be quite demanding.

 Whether we like it or not, we all have our share of disappointments, emotions, and some experiences of not having achieved, not having received enough, or getting nowhere near where we wanted to get. This happens in interpersonal relationships, in family environments, work environments and almost everywhere else.

It is amusing, to say the least, that people gloat at their few successes and feel so bruised, hurt, and unhappy about their setbacks and disappointments. This is an unusual feeling because nothing lasts. Life is as simple as having it. There is a constant feeling of change in the experience of the individuals. Because of this, to see joy or pain larger than in a temporary frame would be unrealistic. However, life is a testimony to the fact that many have the illusion of permanence when, largely speaking, the concept of permanence is itself an illusion.

There enters spirituality and religion. The spirit is accepted as a continuance in most religions, and the body is a passing phase. Some religions believe that the body will come alive on the date of judgment, and then eternal life will follow. Other religions believe in Atma-‘soul’ and Paramatma-‘supreme existence.’ This need not be a place to get into the details of the philosophy of the other world. Suffice it to say that those who do not believe in the day of judgement believe that ‘Atma’ must ultimately merge in the ‘permanence’ and, therefore, the cycle of birth and rebirth. Be that as it may, it is true that there is an existence of the spirit, the soul, or whatever phraseology one chooses to use after the body runs its course. The body, therefore, becomes a passing experience. It works through sensory life. Embedded in this body is the experience of joy and happiness, sadness, or melancholy. It was so worthwhile to reflect that all these are passing experiences, as enumerated above. They should not be taken too seriously nor should they be taken to heart.

Accepting things as they come and acting on them with a sense of fulfilment seems to be the way forward. This is being facilitative. The relatedness and relativity of life are reflected in the seconds, minutes, hours, and days, and it is that which one tries to live with such intensity! A sense of support is all that one needs to lead a healthy, fulfilling, and complete life. This can be stated simply, but it is a lifetime struggle, let alone fulfilment, to achieve.

(The writer is a well-known management consultant. The views expressed are personal)