Mental Health

Let’s discuss mental health.

Also, let’s keep it short and to the point.

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So what is mental health and why is it gaining so much attention of late?

Mental health, per se, refers to cognitive, behavioral and emotional well-being. It is all about how people think, behave and feel.

However, when we speak about mental health, we – wittingly or unwittingly – imply depression, anxiety, stress, etc and these are the words which are gaining traction.

Well, to put it into perspective – these above mentioned terms are all issues, which adversely affect our ‘mental health’.

So what’s the solution to this growing menace, which has been exacerbated due to covid 19 pandemic, which has forced people to stay at home. Can you imagine – People, who used to be Hunter-Gatherers, who used to live in big groups, in whose DNA this group affinity still persists, these people are forced to stay confined in their homes. No doubt that they’ll be safe there from bodily diseases, but on the flipside- diseases of the mind have already started taking over.

Living in groups again surely won’t help. Going out and socializing wouldn’t help either (though, these are some of the most powerful tools otherwise). We can have hobbies, read books, keep ourselves occupied, but these are all superficial ways. From my limited yet fruitful experience, I’ve realized that we can always take some time out and connect with our family and friends. Just as we would like to be called and talked to, there’s no reason to point out that others won’t like the same – so :- do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Also, if someone gathers courage and reaches out to you, offer them your full support and encouragement. You never know that a few ordinary words from you, if the timing is proper, might help in influencing the entire life of another person (check butterfly effect) without you even knowing about it. Now isn’t that something!

To conclude: I know that I’ve not given some out of the box solutions, but these are some of the most beneficial ones. Social animals that we are, let’s cooperate with each other and help each other through this mental health crises, because if we don’t help one another now, it’ll soon be the doctors, who will be helping us. 😜

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Any topics for the next write up ? I, personally, decided upon butterfuly effect as an option. Though it’ll eventually depend on what you decide. So please do mention it in the comments section.

Caught Alive, Brought Dead

Yes, this is about the recent Vikas Dubey encounter case. A curious case, wherein people predicted an encounter ‘hours before’ it actually happened.

I have no sympathy whatsoever for this gangster, who killed 8 policemen a few days ago and had more than sixty similar cases on-going against him at the time of his death. Rather, I want to raise the more pressing topics such as the Rule of Law, failure of Criminal Justice System and abuse of power- and consequently Anarchy.

Now, I know that this is a very harsh word to use and that the main accused deserved to be punished with utmost severity, but is it not the prerogative of the Judicial System to mete out the sentence? Is our system so weak that even the police force itself believes that it is better placed to serve justice? The whole idea sounds preposterous and scary.

Public acceptance also doesn’t help much. Since when did we, as a nation, start rooting for police “hooliganism” – if it can be called so- notwithstanding the fact that people were relieved and happy at the news of his elimination. Has our Judicial System – one of the four pillars of our Democracy – failed so miserably that our society accepts such farce encounters (and that’s what this is), as Justice? Has it come to this, that Rule of Law can be thus mocked – so openly and so brazenly?

At this point of time, some might feel eager to question my sanity and argue that police has done the right thing and saved lots of time and funds, which would have otherwise gone into the accused’s trial. Yes, agreed that it does save time and money- but who is to guarantee that if not stopped now, someday this won’t come back to haunt us back. Rather than nipping it in the bud, we are allowing the seeds of anarchy to grow unchecked. We are supporting it, to say the very least. We have to understand that, what’s wrong is wrong and shall always remain wrong- whichever way we may try to justify it.

Another issue that comes to the fore right now is that if Vikas Dubey was such a dreaded gangster, then why wait till he kills other policemen? Are the lives of common citizens so useless that the man, who kills them, is not even put behind bars? Is this some kind of a joke that the police only wakes up when someone from the force is killed, but is ready to turn a blind eye otherwise ? I think, this is a question which each one of us needs to ask. Infact, these are the questions for which we should seek accountability.

Apparently, Vikas Dubey was a member of the Bahujan Samajwadi Party (BSP), which ensured that he could continue his illegal activities and yet get away scot-free. He is said to have direct contacts with the party office bearers and hence, most of the times, cases against him were not filed or were dismissed on the basis of farcical investigations. Conspiracy theories are abound that his encounter was as much a political move as it was an act of vengeance by the police department. Whatever may be the truth, now it has been buried as well and the case has been closed.

Now all we are left with is a dead gangster, who surrendered at first and then midway choose to flee, whose encounter was predicted hours before it actually happened and questions- lots of unanswered questions.

Reminds me of the old adage – justice hurried-truth buried!

A Letter to my 12 year old self

17th September, 2019

Dearest Shrey,

How are you doing? I hope you are in good health and enjoying the innocence and bliss that comes attached with childhood, oblivious of the vices and problems that exist in this beautiful and amazing journey we call life.

Today, I’m writing to you my first letter (I’m sure this won’t be the last) after qualifying as a Chartered Accountant, primarily because I thought that I must and lastly also because I though I must. So..Yes, ten years down the line, you will prove to the world and everyone in it, that you can and you will accomplish everything that you ever set your eyes upon (Be proud, but don’t let that turn into vanity).

Read the next part of this letter very carefully. It contains some of my learnings over the years and advices that I’ve received and experiences that I’ve lived. These are as much a part of me as they will become a part of you in your journey.

Right now, you are naive. You understand things but you don’t pursue them aggressively and looking at myself, it will be fair to say that the only things you’ll ever pursue aggressively will be those on which your life depends. You will fail in a French exam once and then pursue it aggressively to score an unbelievable 97 in an exam which will matter. You’ll have to listen to a lot of naysayers before aggressively pursuing and acing the CA final examination. While all this is good, it is my sincere advice that you’ll have to learn to pursue even the important things in life, not just those on which life depends.

You will develop a habit of leaving majority tasks midway and passing it on to others. I don’t blame you. I have always lived like a manager- possessing the art of getting things done through others. While it may not be bad to possess such a valuable art, but you’ll have to eventually understand the hard fact of life that before getting work done through others, one needs to know how to do it himself. I can proudly say that I learnt it, albeit the hard way. I can also assure you that you’ll learn it too, but it would be better if you took cue right now and start working over it rather than going down my path.

Discipline is of paramount importance. I was taught this at school. You have also been taught this at the very same school. The problem with me is that I didn’t realise it’s importance till recently. Look, in your future, there will come a time when you’ll have to sit at home for six months at a stretch and prepare- to turn a dream into reality. I have done it too, trust me it’s not as bad as it sounds. However, let me tell you one interesting incident- I used to do a major chunk of my studies during the night and sleep till late in the morning. Though this has always helped me while studying but there came a time when I was all jumbled up about the days of the week or for that matter, I couldn’t recollect whether a particular event had occurred a day before or two days before. Six months is a long time and I’m thankful that I faced such situations. It taught me one thing very clearly- Discipline is the keyword. I had to incorporate it in my life at all costs and I did. You’ll be surprised and happy to know that bringing my life into a routine helped me focus more, grasp a little bit more and also recollect a little bit more (okay, a lot more :p ).

My dear Shrey, there is one area in which you’ll suck. You will have a really hard time keeping in touch with the people, whom you love and care. Most of your friends will complain about this to you. You might even end up losing a few good ones. But the worst part is that you won’t find anyone, who will teach you the nuances of this art. I, myself, am struggling with it even now. I’m trying nevertheless and hopefully, in some future letter, I might even handover the key to you, but for now- you are on your own, buddy!

Technology is the buzzword right now and it’s highly unlikely that this trend shall recede anytime soon. Discoveries are made everyday and consequently, you’ll have to keep yourself abreast of the changes regularly. You will need to keep an eye out for new things and latest developments in this field. There will soon come a time, if it hasn’t already, when our very life- mine and your’s, will depend largely on technology. Also, this is my benign attempt to make you understand the importance of recognising which way the wind blows and adjusting your sails accordingly.

You have a very bright life ahead of you and in this, you’ll come across a handful of luminaries, who will have a lasting impact on your life. These people will inspire you, they will motivate you, but they will leave a big hole in your life too. You will desperately want to and try to become like them. At times, you will feel the frustration because no matter what you do, you will realise that you wouldn’t have moved an inch towards those idols among men. Let me tell you, the way is very simple and clear-Spend more time on growing yourself, on grooming yourself and practising. Everyone can touch those towering heights of greatness and fame but a very few people ever do and those are the ones who have understood the axiom that the body grows with age and time but greatness only dwells where there is uncompromised practise and a willingness to grow, not on a physical plane (over time this happens anyway), but on a psychological plane.

I have so many things to tell you and yet it feels like I’ve said enough for one letter. Also, I require some content for my successive letters too, right :p

So here is one final piece of advice before I end this letter with which I’ve become so attached:
Be inquisitive- be curious, in short never ever stop being You!!

And PFA your future self in the attachment which I’m adding herewith.

Keep smiling like always 🙂
Lots of love,
Shreylockholmes
[you will get this name somewhere in these ten years;)]

Fear

This four letter word has destroyed millions and millions and hence, today, I want to talk about this very subject. For ages it has acted as a lout and a curse for most of humanity. Tyrants have risen and Societies have fallen because of this very word. Peace has been challenged and Battles have been waged because of this four letter word. Worse of all, men have killed other men just because of this four letter word and sadly, the practice still continues.

Let’s leave aside these grave societal matters.. and talk on a personal level. How it affects us- you and me! In the end that is what matters, right? The world is changed by people like us after all. I would like to begin by bringing to your notice your biggest fears. There’s no point in denying that you have one. Our fears, weaknesses and insecurities are just as much important to make us feel human as are our dreams, joys and hopes.

The worrisome trend today is not that people have a fear of some thing, but that the people don’t seem to realise until too late (or sometime never) that they do have a fear of some thing. Again, it’s not my point to wheedle you into glorifying any fears- existent or non-existent, as if it is some kind of atavistic activity. No. I just want you to realise that you’re a human too and it’s okay to be afraid.

I know- accepting the fact that you are afraid may seem odious but believe me, it’s equally freeing. It allows you to introspect. You have already understood the problems and issues and hence, you can go about finding a solution for it. It is just the same as travelling in a vehicle on the highway and the best part is that you know exactly where you have to go- Makes life so much easier, no?

Now you might argue that writing it all down is all too easy but implementation is tough. Well, yes, agreed but all I’m saying (and which has been gathered from plausible sources) is that don’t fear FEAR! Face your fear. If you badly wanted to take that trip, just take it. If you want to feel the thrill of adventure sports, just go out and experience it. Why be afraid? Tens of thousands of people have been there and done that before you.

Remember the greatest amount of fear is just moments before you actually attempt to do something about it. And once you do it, all that fear fades away like a fart in the wind. That’s when you realise how idiotic you’ve been. You later spend hours contemplating how easy it was or how unfounded your fears were.

But next time again when you are pitted against some other thing, which you are afraid of, you go back to being your original fearful self. In such moments, I want you to remember the paroxysms of joy you felt, when you completed some thing you were just as much afraid of earlier. Obviously, it won’t take away your entire fear but it will definitely help you to face the challenge at hand. This is the unbending principle of the world. This is how everything works.

Always keep in mind that fear would only hinder your chances. It will eat away your opportunities. If you control your fear now, you will see the miracles later on. What’s meant to happen, will happen anyways and your fearless participation in the events orchestrated by the cosmos will ensure that what was meant for you, will eventually reach to you. So I would like to reiterate- don’t fear FEAR, challenge your fears and witness the miracles that are in store for you!

Slow Down

How you ever been in such a great haste that you have trampled over things and jumped over people just so that you reach wherever you wanted to reach in the specified time that you intended to reach in and then realised that you were counted amongst the early birds to reach there? All that energy and pomposity for nothing! The whole air of importance down the drain. Taking sheer stress for some non-existent great cause.

Often times, we lead a life full of rush. In the moment, we do believe that we are doing some important work. But if we reflect upon it later on, we realise that we were only coming from nowhere and going to nowhere. Funny, isn’t it? A few examples may hopefully clear my viewpoint.

Being a Mumbaikar, the best example that comes to my mind is of local trains. Countless people have lost their dear lives just because they decided to travel on the dashboard to reach their office on time and incidentally fell off to their imminent death. What’s the need to hurry? The next train was anyways going to arrive in a couple odd minutes.

Another example which everyone, irrespective of where you live, can relate to is that of crossing signal, when it’s just turned red. Most of times people get lucky, but not always and an accident, which otherwise could have been averted, inadvertently takes place. If there’s some emergency, then I’m willing to agree with the cause, but not contrarily. I mean, the world isn’t ending behind you that you can’t waste time waiting at the signal, right?

Now, I believe that everyone is busy or atleast try to be busy so as to assume some importance, so as to beat the monotony of their life which is utterly colourless when they compare it with that of their peers. Let me tell you one thing, all are leading the same life, though it may manifest itself differently, but in the end everyone is unsatisfied by their own and amazed by that of others around them.

I don’t want you to live perfectly. No, that’s not what we were ever meant to do. I’m asking you to live it fully. Next time, if you have reached the parking lot and your favourite song starts playing, take some time out for yourself and enjoy the music. No one cares if you reach your desk five minutes late, but on the other hand, you will sit down at your desk with a renewed spirit, which will help you to work optimally. Even your boss will not say NO as it saves his cash, which otherwise would have gone into motivating the employees.

Again I would like to reiterate that I am not asking you to stop living life in the way you are accustomed to do, but just imploring you that for a day try slowing down your pace a bit. Feel the moments as they pass. You will end up feeling less exhausted, more ebullient and in general, a bit more zestful. And that’s the whole point of being, won’t you agree?

Two Parts Hydrogen, One Part Oxygen

Water- the quintessential liquid required for survival of anything and everything. It’s one molecule is chemically composed of two atoms of hydrogen and one atom of oxygen. It’s no wonder a miracle, how these basic elements, when combined, are powerful enough to start and sustain the whole chapter, which we humans call as “Life”.

In the prehistoric era, water was formed due the reaction of these two aforementioned gases, which combined when they were released from below the Earth’s crust. Can you believe it, that once approximately 250 million years ago, it started raining and it rained for not one but 2 MILLION years, shocking Right?

Earth has been very lucky to get all the correct permutation and combination. Perfect distance from parent star, presence of water, balanced atmosphere, just the required amount of rare earth and heavy earth elements, etc.. the list is long. But it has also received a bane, and sadly that bane is us- Humans.

Let’s do a reality check before we move further. Who are we? Just another species of animals with a higher level of intelligence than the rest. Who do we think we are? Yes, undisputed rulers of the entire universe (mind you, not just the Earth). It’s so funny that if you think about it without bias, you realise- how man, in his greed to acquire money, has robbed his own self of basic amenities such as clean water and basic standards of living.

In this post, I want to address the former- Water. Again, time for a reality check. What do you think is common between Sao Paulo, Beijing, Bengaluru, Cairo, Jakarta, Istanbul?

Yes smarty, you’re right. Each one of them is facing severe water shortage. The reasons are various, but they all point to the same cause and consequence, which we shall see later on.

Imagine a hot, sunny day in Karachi. People going about their business as usual. But there is something amiss. Most of them look dirty and smell as if they haven’t bathed that morning. Shockingly, they haven’t bathed the morning before or the one before too. And why so? Yes, you’re correct again. There is not enough water to drink, let alone save some for bathing. Bathing for these people has become a luxury. And Karachi isn’t alone. There are so many cities across the globe facing similar crisis.

In many countries, you can find colourful cars moving on sombre highways dotted with brown tress all along. Barren fields on either side. Everywhere you can hear locals complaining that as less as five years ago, the whole area was one with nature, greenery all around. Rains were cyclic and consistent. Not anymore. And this is worrisome.

In many South American countries, citizens wait for hours on end for fifteen minutes worth of water supply, barely enough for a couple of days. What’s more alarming is that this has been a way of life for many years now.

Johannesburg, the famous South African city, is having almost no access to fresh potable water or ground water. As per reports, the water quantity in their main reservoirs have dropped below 4% which in itself is a big reason to worry, considering that it’s population is almost 4.4 million.

This makes me wonder what is the reason of all this. On a planet which comprises of 75% water, how is it even possible that this otherwise abundant resource is so scarce. The main reason is unequal distribution. But ofcourse, that has been the case since time immemorial. So what happened now?

The simple answer is climate change. Everyone knows the causes, namely pollution, industrialisation and the ilk. Everyone also knows the solutions, I.e reuse, reduce, refuse, etc .

But what I want to ask is that how many of us truly adhere to those norms and solutions. Honestly, till recently, I didn’t. I always felt that how could one person’s contribution matter in this huge, vast world. And yet, when I saw first hand how different classes of people in the same city having same issues tackle it, it would be an absolute understatement to say that I was shocked, appalled rather.

On one side of the city, the poorest of the poor scavenge for water as the taps run dry and the hoi polloi wait for days to fill their drums and cans. But on the other side, the pools of the rich are overflowing but the house is devoid of its populace, run only by servants.

They say true face of human cruelty is visible at times of war, but I’m certain that even that must be better than these scenes.

Again, I’m sure that in this hoo-ha of water not being enough for citizens, we all must have definitely forgotten the animals. They have the same right over the endowments of nature as we do. Yet, somehow we don’t care a dime about those right. Some days I wonder that the dream of a just and equal land, is just that..a dream, a utopia which exists only in theory.

Today, I won’t urge you all to save water. No. That has been done before so many times, by so many people and the results are out for everyone to see. Today, I want you to just imagine that there are people somewhere on this planet who are facing severe ill effects of actions done by us- me as well as you. Today, I want you to visualize that mother, who is dying of thirst because the last cup of water was gulped by her children. Imagine that farmer, who is contemplating suicide because rains have failed yet again.

At this point, I don’t know about you, I can’t even imagine anything more. The despair and hopelessness on the faces of so many people, while those who can actually matter- sit in their comfortable houses and relax. It is too disheartening to imagine.

Every year, more and more fresh water is getting destroyed as glaciers melt and the sea levels keep on rising. I reckon it’s high time that we wake up collectively, if our leaders can’t and take some firm steps in the right direction before it’s too late to turn the tide in our favour again. I’m sure that if the correct steps are taken now, we can surely save our future generations from an otherwise imminent extinction.

Leave a mark

Life is supposed to have some meaning. We all come into this world to do something, atleast we all come into being with the capability and the capacity to do something. Yet it is surprising that most of us actually perish without doing anything remarkable. 

In the words of the great teacher Swami Vivekananda, 

Get up, and set your shoulder to the wheel – How long is this life for? As you have come into this world, leave some mark behind. Otherwise, where is the difference between you and the trees and stones? They too come into existence, decay and die.

And though I know and understand all of this, yet here I am without having done anything. For days I wondered why wasn’t I able to do anything worthwhile. Why have scores and scores of people died unceremoniously. 

One day it suddenly struck me. It is simple- because we are afraid. We are scared of venturing into uncharted waters, well most of us are. The few spirited souls who navigated through those rough waters were the ones who eventually succeeded. 

Having realised that we are afraid, I soon began wondering- what is it that we are afraid of? More so, what is it that I am afraid of? Right away, I began making a list of what all things ailed me. The one gargantuan thing, right at the top was – what-would-others-say?! 

This what-would-people-say has ruined lives. Rather, I would say, destroyed lives. But now, what to do about it. How to overcome​ the monster that is staring at us, laughing straight on our face. How much ever I tried, I was unable to find a way to cope with it. And this remained so, till one day I heard a wise man speak. 

He said, ” Ever since our birth, we have seen, heard, felt, etc. But all this has been done within. If we have seen anything, it is merely the image that has fallen on our retina which the brain comprehended. Any sound that we have heard thus far, has been a sound wave perceived by our brain through the vibrations it caused on the eardrums. And this goes on for everything that we have felt or smelt too” 

I deduced one important meaning that day. Life is really simple. We tend to make it complicated by trying to see, hear or feel what others might feel. Infact, we don’t even know whether they might feel the same way. I mean, do you clearly remember each day when your best friend ended up in a situation looking like a fool. I don’t. 

If we can’t remember what follies our best friend did, then why do we care so much about what others, whom we barely know or don’t know at all, might remember when we do something. The truth is – nobody cares. Everyone is too busy with themselves. They might just laugh at the spur of the moment but afterwards, nobody remembers. 

Still if some of you readers disagree with me, ask your selves the times you laughed at someone because of a certain act of theirs, which is considered as absurd. I bet most of you wouldn’t be able to remember 10 times, when you laughed at a ridiculous situation. 

When you yourselves don’t remember such incidents, then are you not a fool to believe that others might remember your each mistake. And are you not a greater fool, to not participate in activities that might actually be of some utility, fearing a negative reaction from the public.

In the end (RIP Cheston), I would just like to add that to create a mark in this world so that you and your deeds don’t become oblivious in the annals of history, you have to do something worth remembering and not let the fear of what-others-might-think make your existence similar to those of stones and trees. They decay and die! 

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The Journey Within

We are all travellers in this journey of self discovery. Some realise it early in their life and take a sort of head start towards their their destination. However, with passage of adequate amount of time, each individual does rev up his engine and moves towards his calling.

There is nothing more to life than taking the first step- For what you dream and believe, is what you eventually achieve. You may not know what lies ahead but with just the right amount of faith, you will conquer it all. 

Imagine you want to travel from Mumbai to Delhi in your car. The road is challenging, has sharp turns and it is a moonless night. You don’t even know what lies 200 metres ahead because your headlight can only go that far. But that doesn’t prevent you from taking the trip, does it. 

You are travelling along with the faith that you can perceive any kind of danger from a distance of atleast 200 metres and act accordingly. And with this faith, you are able to cross the entire distance between the two places.

 Life is not a bit different. You may have grand plans for yourself. However, you fear to take the path towards fulfillment of that plan because you feel that you lack the proper way. There is no bigger lie that you can say to yourself than this.

Surrender yourself to the magnificence of the universe and set out on your path. The universe will conspire such that you reach your destination. Just remember to keep looking for the signboards on your path just as you would while travelling from Mumbai to Delhi.😉

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The Road to be taken!!

Rumi once said, ” It’s your road, and yours alone. Others may walk it with you, but no one can walk it for you”.

This road is a metaphor for your life- the essence of your being. 

Most of the people today,  wake up in the urban jungle, filled with concrete buildings and glass offices. The location of the same, defines the stature of these people. People are so lost, that material achievements have gained stupendous value and the real needs of a human being have begun to get lost in time.

As far as I am concerned,  stars on a moonless night fascinate me more than the presidential suites of luxurious hotels. And till the time this holds true, I know that even if God himself tries, he won’t be able to persuade me to stop loathing the animal lifestyle which has become the new cool.

Hordes and hordes of people get up each morning- just to catch that train to reach their posh offices in the self proclaimed upmarket area of a concept called as concrete jungle. The interesting part is that people are content with such mediocre life. 

To such people, I have a loud and clear message- WAKE UP!! We are free humans and not prisoners, bound to live a routine life. Explore this interesting planet called Earth. Go to new places. Meet new people. Create new memories. As a bonus, you already have a free trip round the sun every year ;).

Remember, each day brings with itself 86,400 seconds. Even if you can spend 14,400 seconds from those for pursuing what your heart desires- I will consider your entire day well spent.

We must all remember that when we are on our death bed, it is not the things we did that we regret but the things that we didn’t do. And this regret is a very sad place to be in. It kills you on the inside, only the breathing continues. I remember reading somewhere that death should be such that even angels are sad for taking your soul away.

To conclude, life is a precious gift given to us. It is up to us to direct it in whichever way we want it to go. We can always take shortcuts, but true happiness is derived only when we take the correct path and travel it fully till the end of the journey. 

Remember Ralph Waldo Emerson, “journey and not the destination, is what that matters!!”


Adieu !

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Purpose of Life

Every so often we ask ourselves – what is the purpose of our life? And however hard we try, we are never clear about what we want. People not only want what they don’t have, but also want more of what they already have.

Different people have different requirements and thus their purposes differ too. For example, a poor man has the main purpose of earning more money. Similarly, the rich man yearns for that extra hour of sleep. 

The fundamental defect of mankind is that there are very few people who aim for a balanced life. A life which encompasses comforts along with sensitivity towards needs of others and a spiritual bending.

However today, majority of homo sapiens are engaged in the rat race. Race which begins from when they are born and continues right until they die. This race traverses through school, college, work, family, oldage- inshort, everything that you can think of under the sun.

But, this is not our purpose. We are all destined for a greater calling. And despite being trained for the rat race and the rat race alone, some people have dared to train their ears(minds) to listen to their calling. This calling is faint but it is very clear.

It is imperative that we realize our potential and focus on our goals and priorities but not at the expense of our joy and happiness. We need to strike a balance between what we have and what we want. And, that I think, is the purpose of our lives.!

Do you agree?!

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