The ground was rough, as it should be. The wind, that day, was kind, though. Sitting under the neem tree, the boy and the old man listened to the cool breeze for some time, paying attention to nothing but the kindness of nature.
The boy was pleased to be sitting for a while. His legs had carried him through long distances within the great school of nature. Now, it was time to give them their much-needed break, before he began to march forward once again. The boy felt that he would benefit from listening to the old man, who seemed to carry the wisdom of the world within him.
“The trees,” began the old man rubbing the trunk of the neem tree like it was an old friend, “have many great tales to tell. After all, they were here long before us, or other the beasts. So, every once in a while, it is wise to pause our wandering minds to pay attention to what the trees have to say.”
The boy nodded excitedly, hoping that there would be an adventurous tale in the offing.
“Adventures are what you make of your situations young fellow.”
The boy was shocked to hear the old man read his thoughts.
“The mind, my lad, remember, that it wanders. My mind, just wandered into yours.”
The boy sat stunned. He had heard of them, the mystics, the mind-readers. But he never realized something of such mystical proportions could have such a simple explanation behind it. Whatever, he told himself, it is never good to have a stranger read your mind.
“Or have you, read a stranger’s mind.”
“But I did not even try to…”
“Not consciously, child. But, sometimes, the mind wonders. And then, we take a sneak peak through our thoughts into our neighbor’s house, wondering what their lives would be like, are they really as friendly, or is it a pretense…and so on and so forth. The mind, is always chasing an interesting story. When your story is not interesting, then someone else’s should be.”
The boy bit his lower lip in thought. The old man was right. As long as the boy was in the wilderness, keeping himself alive, and sane, as long as he was focused on his work, he was busy scripting his story. The minute he grew comfortable, his mind exited his personal space, for it was not as interesting anymore. The boy patted the ground. He was glad that it was rough. A little bit of the right kind of discomfort, would always bring him back to himself.
“It is the wisest story the trees have to say,” the old man continued. “Look at them, tall and strong. They grow that way because they are rooted to their place. Just like how our own minds wander to make connections with other people, the minds of trees – their roots – they wander under the ground, making connections with other trees. And yet…”
“…their wandering is helpful to each other,” the boy said recollecting his lessons from schools. The roots of trees make connections with other roots, and share resources among themselves during times of distress. “We cannot help our wandering minds, because they are wandering forward to help. A heart at peace, is also a mind that is reaching out to spread this peace.”
“And the opposite too holds just as strong.” The old man pointed to a bush of plants in the distance. It was a growth of jasmines. And many of them were rotting. “All it takes is one disturbed mind to spread the disturbance around.”
There was a jasmine plant in the boy’s home. And it too, had caught a disease. The boy remembered watching his mother rub a healing concoction onto the plant. It had responded to the healing, and had thrived. He smiled. “It is very possible to heal a disturbed mind.”
The old man nodded, looking up at the infinite sky, riddled with a sprinkling of stars. “God willing.”
The boy rubbed his steady heart gently. “Yes sir,” he smiled a lopsided smile. “God willing.”
Connections. There is no running away from them.
On one hand, we have the teacher who knocks knowledge into our system. And on the other, we also have the bully painting over this knowledge with a brush of low self-worth. I have experienced both the sides. and it has taken me years to wash off this paint.
Everyone, leaves their impression upon us. Both knowingly, and unknowingly.
The guy who passes on chicken-pox without even knowing that he is carrying the virus. The woman who passes on her healthy attitude without meaning to. The creation of pity, the sharing of happiness or sadness – stuff, both known and unknown, connects and gets shared. Gandhi passed on non-violence, Hitler, passed on something else. I am blessed to be connected to the former through our motherland. Our connections, they make us, and break us. And there is no running away from it all.
What we can do, is learn to become aware, and manage our connections. What we can do is, remember to stay grounded – every time we wander into the unhealthy world, let us remember to get back home, to our well-being. What we can do, is call out to the divine within.
Take for instance, our connection with fear. We try to silence it. Fear silenced, is also fear stagnating somewhere, silently, within us. Fear, spoken to, is a connection that will do us good when we need it the most. That is why, the stuff about healing. And the stuff about inner divinity.
Imagine, if we are able to pass on the connection of well-being, you and I. I believe that the health of words can pass on the wealth of well-being into the world.
Here’s to making the most beautiful connections in the world!