Lapped by small waves, the beach looked peaceful. It was a perfect, hot day temperature. I felt that slightly saline taste on the skin and in my mouth. I was visiting the beach house of a friend. The collection of antiques there, was extensive and endearing. It was clearly a mix of the sentimental alongside the rare and valuable. I warmed to the acquisitive host, navigating his world as I do my own, by my own love of opportunities, things, sights and people. Surveying the display of wealth, the objective of the display being taste, to my eyes and intelligence, the host did rather well. While my host pretended to be humble, every square inch of this home screamed of excess.

I thought, "Are our excesses the best clues we have to our own poverty? Is it our way of concealing our poverty from ourselves? Do we hide something behind it?”

A father has no time for his children. He gives them excessively expensive gifts.
The lady had a poor childhood. She dotes on her poor relatives, helps them financially, emotionally, physically, medically even as some take her for granted and some exploit her goodness.
A husband berates his wife. Then, to make up, he takes her out to an expensive restaurant.
A boss screams at his employee for a fault he did not commit. On realizing his mistake, the boss makes up by giving them special treatment, makes an out of turn increment without merit.
A family spends a fortune on a marriage function when they have unpaid loans.
Another family does costly interiors while still struggling with the EMI's.
Once I had counseled a woman who was aghast at her husband buying a 1.60 lacs worth, unnecessarily big 52" TV for his viewing pleasure but shouted at her and bad mouthed her parents. Reason? She had left the lights in the bedroom on, for a few minutes.

Someone says something, and we excessively brood over it for days and months.

Someone makes a mistake. We bring the roof down with our excessive shouting.

Someone did not carry out our instructions. We tower over them, threaten them with dire consequences, till we experience the shrill thrill of dominating them. It is only the naked look of fear on their face that satisfies our lust for domination and compliance.

What are we hiding behind these excesses? Who is hiding behind these excesses? How does it help?

We want to win the approval of gossipmongers and character slayers? We are scared of their powers? We want to impress them. For what?

What are we hiding behind these excesses? Who is hiding behind these excesses? How does it help?

In its absence, will a part of me be invisible? Will my life look too modest and a small failure? Will there be polite impolite social blankness ? Will my superiority crumble? Without the world knowing I am successful, will I be able to enjoy that success? Without seeing in the eyes and raised brows of people, 'I wish I too had it' will I feel I have arrived? Do my excesses save me from facing my weakness? Without crushing others do I feel threatened?

What are we hiding behind these excesses? Who is hiding behind these excesses? How does it help?

As I cross forty, with the onset of the gravity-bound realms of middle age, marriage, family and 'no time for myself' kind of a punishing schedule, what will be my sense of self without the excesses of the present? Among the mental relics of the past, are excesses my identity in the rapid present?

Display of excesses is sometimes sad and sometimes funny.

On the lighter side, some excesses are harmless. Like hobbies......like collecting irrelevant things.

I thought of my own collections ----> my mentos undergarments ----> mentos = mint with a hole = my undergarments, especially my vests with holes. I have always wondered, when they still serve the purpose, why people throw them away? Any clues ???.

Besides that, 25 year old dusty hardcover novels, note books, pens with broken nibs and missing refills, black & white photographs of a gone-by era, thumb worn address books, some coins, greeting cards, and I wondered if they too reflected my unknown deprivations. I wondered, if I stop accumulating, give away what I have accumulated, what will I confront; whom will I meet?

Collecting unnecessary throwaway things is a simple quirk of the mind. To a collector of these things, mentioning these are throw away things, will result in incredulous 'you go to hell' looks. It means to indulge and softly rebel, or therapy and joy. It is a simple adrenaline rush, discovery and experiencing glee. Empty matchboxes, different types of nails, bottle caps, chocolate wrappers, locks, stamps, coins, all of them and many more belong to this category.

I once again looked at what I have collected and asked myself, 'Why?' Here are my answers....

I have a carefully preserved collection of black and white photographs from my school days. Why? I have always believed black and white have a spirit like quality that color prints do not have. My photographs of youth push me to have a fit body that will last well my entire life time.

I have a few old note books where I have carefully written down appointments, achievements, goals, lessons learnt, 'great quotes', as life met me in meetings, achievements, rejections, heart breaks, friendships, guilt, books, presentations and speeches. They are the map of my life. They mark my turning points, road blocks and landmark moments. As I go through them, in flashes, the journey of my life becomes alive, I feel complete. Sometimes, I have a surreal spooky feeling of invisible hand guiding me all through out.

Of course, as I write this mail, I realise, many collectibles are meaningless and will not survive the next cleaning of the loft.

Having expressed that, a few of my collectibles present me, the way a rare great picture presents a swimmer in full motion. Such a picture is 'poetry in pixels'. It articulates the metaphysical state of swimming and that of life.

The body, immersed, feels amplified yet small, heavier and lighter at the same time, weightless yet strong, free yet in control, in yet out, pushing ahead yet effortless, wordless yet it speaks.
When the head is immersed in water, the world around the pool ceases to exist. Every time, the head comes out, the world looks like a blur. Yet, I know there is a goal ahead of me. That goal I must reach. If possible, faster! And the swimmer gives his 100% and a little more. Water, is the medium. Yet water, is what slows me down too. Incredible. Mystic. Enigmatic. Exactly, like life.

I have just made a simple decision. I will scan my life, my collectibles, my excesses. What adds to me, I will preserve. What subtracts (people, feelings, memories, things, habits) me, I will let go.

For you, this mail may not provide answers. It is only designed to raise questions. Answers, you must seek. And do what I did. Whatever adds to you, preserve. Whatever, subtracts, let it go.

With loads of love, prayers and best wishes,

Narendra Goidani

As I Live...I Learn

Author's Bio: 

Narendra Goidani, the founder of Life School, has been conducting inspirational training programs for people from all walks of life, for more than 11 years. People who have attended his training programs vouch for the impact it created enriching their life.

In 2010, he has authored a masterpiece on life christened as “Keep Moving”. Each chapter of “Keep Moving” is life transforming. It covers topics and concepts from real life situations. It contains answers to the most common issues that people face in their day to day lives. It’s a book for anyone and everyone who believes in growing and living an inspirational life.

He endeavors to fill this world with ‘Forces of Goodness’. With this intention every Tuesday he writes an inspirational article named as LIFE SCHOOL MESSAGE (LSM) which has the power to transform lives. He believes a good human being can use this wisdom to transform his life as well as the lives of his loved ones, family and friends. At present more than 2,50,000 subscribers derive growth from LSM.

His call to every good human being is – “Together, lets create a place where we can and we will Explore, Expand and Enrich our lives. Lets create a place where we will lift ourselves and our loved ones.