Shit happens

One of the inspiring stories I had heard was about this donkey who had become very old (like me). The Farmer had been served well by the donkey;  but now,  he could neither see very clearly nor serve as a beast of burden.  The Farmer was a kind soul,  and so allowed him to just carry on. One day,  due to his poor eyesight,  the donkey did not see the old dry well: and fell right in!!! It was a 14/15 feet fall and so obviously the donkey could not climb out of the dry well. Nor could the Farmer put down ropes and physically pull the donkey out. And pull out for what? thought the farmer. The donkey is of no use anyway (again like yours truly),  can’t pull his weight around the farm,  do any productive work,  etc etc. Yet considering the donkey’s prior committed service,  the Farmer thought he deserved a decent burial. In the  same dry well!!. So the farmer began shoveling some dirt and mud into the well: with an idea to cover up the donkey and let him die in peace!!

What did the donkey do? (again like me??)  With every shovel full of mud and muck thrown on him: he shook it off and stepped up. Shake it off and Step up. And as the mud kept raining down on him,  lo and behold,   there came a time when the donkey was near the mouth of the dry well : and could just walk out to life and liberty!!!

In every adversity: you have a choice. Do I feel miserable for the inequities rained on me? Do I curse the powers that be? Do I rive and rail at the uncertainties of life? Do I wallow in self pity and curse my stars or my past? Or do I emulate the donkey? Learn from him and say : “Shake it off and step up”  As soon as I learn this magic formula of Shake it off and Step up I soon find myself out of the woods and into a space of freedom and joy.

Unfortunately most of us are so upset with the closing of one door: that we continue to berate our fate and stare at the closed door : little realizing that so many other doors are opening up, and we can Move On!.  But we still get stuck and beat out head against the closed doors in our life: thereby not paying attention to the other opportunities that are open,  other doors which take us to a new realm.

Every area of human endeavor is replete with examples we can learn from! Take Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw. She did not rise to the list of Forbes’ Most influential Women Leaders by any wave of the proverbial magic wand. She chose to study  in Australia specializing in malting and brewing and topped her class. Despite this specialist  knowledge, she was told she could not be a Master Brewer as that was a “man’s job”. This closing of the door, encouraged her move abroad where she met Leslie Auchincloss,  founder of Biocon Ireland who happened to be looking for a partner to expand into India!! Rest is corporate history!! But few know that Kiran had negotiated with Leslie that she would get a Master Brewer position equivalent,  in case Biocon India did not work out. I think Leslie is still waiting near the open door: waiting for Kiran; while she has moved on.

Do we move on? Do we Let Go? Or we become a Narayan Murthy who speaks of Letting Go but at the first possible turn: wants to hold on and not Let Go!! If only Shri Murthy had stayed as the “chief Mentor” or a la Nandan Nilekani,  moved on to other pastures. Nandan moved from an entrepreneur to a corporate role; thence to a role as a bureaucrat and politician. His stint as the Chairman of the Unique Identification Authority of India was full of glorious achievements and putting India well on the road to digitization.   And yet again the skin is shed and he is now in the hot saddle vacated by Sikka, and vitiated by NRN. His wholesome smile and ease is open for all to see. We see a true karma yogi here.

Truly we see the live exemplification of :

वासांसि जीर्णानि यथा विहाय नवानि गृह्णाति नरोऽपराणि।

तथा शरीराणि विहाय जीर्णान्यन्यानि संयाति नवानि देही।। Bhagwat Geeta Verse 22 Chap 2

जैसे जगत् में मनुष्य पुराने जीर्ण वस्त्रोंको त्याग कर अन्य नवीन वस्त्रोंको ग्रहण करते हैं, वैसे हीजीवात्मा पुराने शरीरोंको छोड़कर अन्यान्य नवीन शरीरोंको प्राप्त करता है. अभिप्राय यह कि जीवात्मा सदा  ही निर्विकार रहता है.

How we all, who were worshipers of NRN in his earlier avatar, fondly wish Mr Murthy had shown this निर्विकार attitude. Or for that matter, wish so had Mr Ratan Tata. Or even Mr Cyrus Mistry. By their belligerent actions and public displays all these icons have shown their feet of clay. Shown that Letting Go was difficult for them. Carrying on seemed easier for them. and they were ready to cause enormous losses and harm to the organizations they lived for, the values they publicly espoused just because they were unable to Shake it off and Step up.

Politics also gives us so many examples. The Gandhi family since Indira have never felt like Letting Go and we have the 3rd generation of Gandhis being foisted on an unsuspecting Indian populace. Admittedly, Rahul baba takes the joke on the Indian voters to a really new abysmal level. Look at Lallu and Rabdi. If you wonder what was Rabdi Devi’s legitimacy: you might as well question even what was Lallu’s claim to fame??!!  Nitish in Bihar, Jayalalitha in TN: how many names we need to recount to conclude that the people in power never want to let go: they believe and act as though India  is their jagir which they can pass on like the cattle, hearth and chattel much like the British Lords and gentry.

Looking at all this evidence I conclude: Letting Go is important if you need to grow and move ahead. It is only in shedding the past will you learn and master the future.  Others who give you dollops of sympathy: are not your real friends!! You only need to focus on your own actions. Move on in life. There is miles to go. Let go: rather than carry the past as a burden which will slow you down forever.  Learn from the donkey: Shake it off and Step up. You will soon see a new robust future.

That is why possibly Swami Vivekanand says: “Men, Men.  Men- these are wanted. Everything else will come.” { For my emancipated lady friends: here “men” includes women and vice versa. Remember Swami Vivekananda most illustrious disciple was Sister Nivedita}. Imagine the world if Rudolf Diesel was not able to Let Go of the conventional wisdom of the time and develop an engine that could be ignited without a spark, but just by pressure!. Imagine if Bill Gates was not able to Let Go and move forward as he incorporated so many path breaking ideas in nascent computer operating systems.  Imagine Steve Jobs not being able to move on when he was sacked from Apple, a company he founded, by a Board he incorporated , and a CEO he had chosen. Letting Go, Moving On, and Shaking it off, he set up Pixar and that was his calling card to reenter Apple for his second glorious stint. Can our NRN and Ratan Tatas and Cyrus Mistrys and Yogi Deveshwars and Amol Naiks learn from Steve Jobs to Let go and Move On? Or will Nagavara Murthys and Rahul Gandhis and Roshni Nadars and Isha Ambanis continue in our public life as evidence that Shit Happens!!


Remember, Life is a four letter word.: Love it and Make it: despite it all: vikas


13 Replies to “Shit happens”

  1. In good times people don’t let go. Bad times compel them to let go, otherwise they won’t survive. Nothinglessness is more meaningful and every thing will conspire to show you the way. ‘Have’ feeds ego of entitlement and so the belligerence.


    1. Alex well said indeed. I love the last line and the insight it contains. Indeed “have” feeds the ego. The attitude of entitlement finally leads to angst and self justification creating walls between people. If we remain aware and conscious of this we can save many an outburst!!!


  2. Dear Mr. Shirodkar, Letting go is difficult as one does not want to give up the comfort of the existing life situation and, secondly, fear of the unknown. What will be in store for me! Here, teachings of Vipassana help as these stress there is nothing like a permanent ‘I’. Then, who is the entity that is seeking continuance? A solidified I’ is an illusion but all of us cling to it and, hence, so much of personal and social suffering.


    1. Shehnaz
      you nailed it well when you talk about the “solidified I” – an illusion to which we cling . That is why in the Parable of Nachiketa he says that what is most surprising is that we all know we will die and yet we still act and behave as though we are immortal.
      I have always being intrigued by the I which distances us from others and and curiously from our self also as we let our self concept interfere with what we really are.
      Vipassana does let you shear away all the layers and allows you to see yourself more clearly. But how many of us are ready to take that effort consistently. Instead we wallow in self pity and feel the world does not understand us: when actually we do not understand our own self.
      The challenge continues. But possibly that is what makes this journey so much fun!!!


  3. Amazing insight. Also Ameya’s comment and example of the song adds a totally new dimension to the thoughts expressed in the article. I have never seen the song in that light earlier. What I also enjoyed reading was how simple things like your waiting at the platform and toying with the idea of going to Gujrat or not led to such a great succinct piece of writing and reflection on everyday dilemmas – outwardly complex yet simple and vice versa.
    Was an absolute pleasure reading this article.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mimi
      thanks for your comment. The content of the blog was really formed at the platform. After reaching home I just poured a stiff drink though it was just 530 pm and let the words flow as the old monk flowed though my veins. Glad you liked the piece. I liked my rum. He he ha ha
      Love you vikas


  4. Very nice thought, and expressed so beautifully…
    … just makes one see how clear and simple it really is (or rather should be). Much like the recent mutual fund ads “Haan yaar, Sahi hai”… or in the great da Vinci’s words “Simplicity is the height of sophistication”.

    Having said that, letting go, moving on is still one of the toughest things to do for most people, common folks and the elite alike. Moving out of one’s comfort zone of the familiar into the uncertain terrain of unknown, untried, unfamiliar is a big hurdle in itself, more so mentally than anything else. On a lighter note, we can blame it on Newton baba for his “Every body (read everybody) continues in its state of rest or of uniform motion, unless acted upon by an external, unbalanced force.” wala law.

    But yeah, when the moment of truth arrives to let go/to hold on, most of us if not all find ourselves in a big time dilemma. What comes to mind in this context is this beautiful poem by भा.रा.तांबे…

    नववधू प्रिया मी बावरते
    लाजते पुढे सरते, फिरते

    कळे मला तू प्राण सखा जरी
    कळे तूच आधार सुखा जरी
    तूज वाचूनि संसार फुका जरी
    मन जवळ यावया गांगरते

    मला येथला लागला लळा
    सासरी निघता दाटतो गळा
    बाग बगीचा येथला मळा
    सोडीता कसे मन चरचरते

    जीव मनीचा मनी तळमळे
    वाटे बंधन करुनि मोकळे
    पळत निघावे तुजजवळ पळे
    परि काय करु ? उरी धडधडते

    आता तुच भय लाज हरी रे
    धीर देऊनि ने नवरी रे
    भरोत भरतील नेत्र जरी रे
    कळो पळभर मात्र खरे घर ते

    And the beauty of this thought is that we face it in so many things big and small, everyday or once-in-a-blue-moon, material or spiritual…

    “Shake it off and Step up” is indeed a very helpful and powerful mantra for such times.
    Thank you so much once again for this insightful, thoughtful and thought-provoking article! 👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼


    1. Ameya
      one joy of writing has been the richness of the dialogues that happen. On site. As well as on my cell.
      Your use of Nav vadhu priya me bawarte at this point casts a totally diffrent perspective and adds richness to the debate.
      Simplicity is another sidelight that needs more plumbing : am sure that line f questioning will also reveal a lot of insights. The da Vinci quote is superb and I think all successful people I admired were people who were able to live their life at the LCD of simplicity .
      Thanks for all the value add
      This blog got inspired when our train to Valsad got delayed and cancelled and we were waiting at the Borivali railway station for 2 hours plus amongst blinding rain. After 30 mins I realized the hopelessness of the situation. But I had to wait for the realization to dawn on my better half. She was very concerned about our hosts who had arranged a big event where I was to speak today.
      That was the time I told her in my characteristic crude ishtyle: Shit happens!
      Fortunately when time was ripe she accepted that retreat was a better option and we came out of the station.
      No OLAs/Ubers No Buses which had space. Taxi drivers were still sharpening their shylock knives.
      Sddenly I remembered Raj Kapoor’s romantic baarish songs and told V that we will go back by rickshaw.
      Water was coming in droves as the rickshaw caught speed. And whatever was left dry was drenched fully by every passing vehichle who shot sheets of water into the rick
      a more enjoyable ride I have not had in ages
      And so the second part of the insight
      Shit happens because it wants to set you free. Teach new things. Help you enjoy
      Take care bro and dont ever not get into an open rick in rain: Majja nu life


  5. Very insightful and interesting article. And you have truly touched upon something that we face so many times- our reactions and behavior in situations/adversity/crisis. I believe the doors we open and close each day decide the lives we live.
    I am reminded of a short but profound saying by Lao Tzu ” To hold, you must first open your hand”. But I wonder how many of us do this? I wonder if I do? When you let go you create space for something better, and you have narrated several motivating instances of the same. Shake it Off and Step Up! These words in itself are inspiring! So much to learn here.
    Lao Tzu puts it so well and I quote again “When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be. When I let go of what I have, I receive what I need”.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Deepa thanks for your comment.
      You have added value to the debate. Both the quotes of Lao Tzu are very appropriate and eye opening
      Our Vedic philosophy also tells us to move on: but it easier said than done.
      But when you do every change brings new opportunities and take you on totally new paths
      Letting Go comes more easily if you are confident that future will be better
      Chevrolet had created a new slogan just before I left GM : Find new roads.
      I think that sums it all


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