Stepping Forward

Recently I witnessed a gruesome car crash right in front of my eyes. Two drivers collided at full-speed, while another car careered off the motorway flipping over three times in the process. Within minutes there were dozens of police, ambulances and fire-engines. It reminded me how life sometimes changes its course in such sudden ways. We’ve all experienced those surreal and dreamlike moments – a car accident, the death of a loved one, a misfortune or some unexpected news. In a few short moments, everything seems to have changed. Our plans fly out the window, and we’re left completely disorientated. What next? As the reality of the situation dawns, the natural reaction is one of anger and frustration.

Once, Mahatma Gandhi and a friend jostled their way into to a crowded Indian carriage. As the train departed, Gandhi suddenly looked down and realised he only had one slipper on. He and his friend peered out the doorway and saw the other slipper lying on the platform and disappearing out of sight. Gandhi simply smiled. He then took off his slipper and hurled it down the platform, where it perfectly met its pair. He offered an explanation to his bemused friend – “keeping the slipper would have frustrated me, and whoever had found that other slipper would have been similarly annoyed. Now I can forget the incident and move on, and someone else can benefit from some free footwear!” There are two very important lessons to learn. Whenever we face some reversal in life, we have to come to a level of acceptance as soon as possible. Secondly, we have to move forward with positivity, optimism and progressiveness, making the best of the situation.

Easy on paper, hard in practice. I know. But what other choice do we have? Accepting the plans of providence liberates us. You don’t have to fight an inner battle any more. It’s futile to invest excessive emotional resource in that which is never going to change. Furthermore, the acceptance should give birth to an attitude of embracing challenges. As they say, you can’t direct the wind, but you can adjust the sails of your life. We must learn the art of finding opportunities in every situation. Beyond physical and emotional pain, the Bhagavad-gita explains that we are indestructible spiritual beings, empowered and equipped to face anything. As we become rooted in the eternal wisdom of the ‘greater purpose’, we become more and more aware that this life is just one chapter in a much longer story. It’s a chapter which inevitably has numerous twists and turns, and doesn’t always turn out the way we expect. 

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