Respond, Don’t React

How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours.
-Wayne Dyer

I read this quote of Wayne Dyer, an American author and motivational speaker. Initially, it seems like a simple statement about life in general. It, in fact, reminded me of another management lesson of how we should always respond and not react.

Both these quotes convey the same lesson, i.e., we should watch how we behave while responding to what is done to us. We should observe if our reaction is a knee jerk response to everything or if we understand the situation and reply accordingly. Many times, it leads to either resolving conflict or aggravating a simple misunderstanding into an all-out war.

Coming back to Wayne Dyer’s quote, when we are in a situation, there are several ways to handle them. Some are knee jerk responses, while some are strategic moves planned to build a brighter future. Some may be conniving schemes that create destruction. The situation we land in may not be our karma or our destiny. However, our response to this unforeseen situation will create our karma. If we handle it gracefully and peacefully, we build good karma. By taking out our anger and seeking revenge, we only create bad karma.

To better explain it, I will narrate a small anecdote. It occurred many years ago, but it highlighted this quote.

One day, my friend and I entered the bank and met an old acquaintance. This lady lived in our neighbourhood previously, and she was notorious for her unhinged rants at passers-by. I saw the same lady verbally abusing another person. This person was thoroughly embarrassed in front of all the bank employees and customers, so she ran out crying as we all watched in shock. Now the lady saw me and started abusing me. She recognised my friend and spoke ill of me to her. But I ignored her as if I had no recollection of her. As a result, I did not react to her abuses, turning my head and going about my business. My friend acknowledged her, and while calmy speaking to her, she led the lady out of the bank. Once the lady went out, everything went back to normal. Everyone in the bank praised my friend for handling the situation. They appreciated me for not fighting back.

The lady created a situation where three different people were embarrassed. We each responded differently. The first person reacted emotionally and ran out. I ignored her and carried on with my work. My friend intervened intelligently by removing her from the bank and stopping any further conflict. The lady’s behaviour was her own karma, but each of us created our own karma while we handled the situation. Thereby, one ended up in tears, and another (my friend) ended up as the hero. Isn’t this thought-provoking?

Guineps

These fruits commonly grow in South America and Caribbean countries. They are called Guineps in Jamaica, and elsewhere they are known as quenepas, Spanish lime, honeyberry etc., in different countries. 

Guineps are seasonal fruits. When they are in season, you can find them sold on street sides by vendors. They are very inexpensive and sold in bunches. 

The fruit looks like a small size green lime. Gently bite the fruit and crack open the thin rind, and you will find fresh fruit inside.

Be careful not to bite deep into the fruit as the outer fleshy part is not very thick. Just beneath the sweet and tangy flesh is the hard-shell seed. Suck the sweet juicy pulp and discard the seed.

Guineps grow on tall trees that grow to a height of about 80 ft. The flesh of the fruit is nutritious; even the seed is said to be beneficial. The ancient people of the Caribbean region roasted these seeds and consumed the pith. It is said to be similar to a cashew nut

The pulp of the Guineps is used to make juices, jams and sauce for desserts. 

Nothing Comes Easy

‘I wish this topic was easier’, ‘why do these exams have to be this difficult’, ‘why can’t all my problems just vanish away like the fairy tales’ and so on. Every one of us has complained like this at some point in our life. We all crave a smooth road with no bumps, blind turns or speed breaks. Such a turn of events is an impossibility, yet we dream of it. We even pray for it to come true.

Imagine, if life suddenly removed all obstacles in your path and it became a smooth ride for us, would we be able to enjoy it? This very thought made me think, and I had a fun discussion with my family about this.

If life suddenly became easy, I would not trust it for quite some time. I strongly believe in the saying, ‘if everything is coming your way, you are probably in the wrong lane’. I would be suspicious of everything that happened. I cannot enjoy something that I have not worked for because I have a constant fear that it will be snatched from me.

My mother said that if it happened to her, she would enjoy life for a little while. Finally, life would be an easy path after a lifetime of difficult decisions. Eventually, she would lose her sleep if she did not have anything to worry about or any crisis to resolve.

My sister said she would grab it with both hands and run. Considering how hectic her life is, I was not surprised by her answer. She did not believe in staring a gift horse in its face. She spends her day running around her two sons, so she waits eagerly for a slow day.

When I asked dad about his reaction to such a situation, he said it is impossible to get a smooth road. He would not bother to waste a thought on it.

My niece felt that if all obstacles were eliminated, there would be no learning. Since she is young, she believed that she would miss out on the experience and the fun in dealing with tricky situations.

Based on all these reactions, I can only conclude that most of us will not really be happy if life removed all the obstacles in our path. Complaining about our problems is a fun process in itself. We just wish life would go easy on stacking up problems all at once.

Going Back to Roots

This past year has been an eye-opener for many reasons. For one thing, it has highlighted some of the problems that globalization brings. We all speak of the economic and social concerns. This time, globalization brought forth a new health and science scare. The pandemic was exacerbated due to relaxed boundaries and free and easy travel. It has also strengthened the fight against it by creating a global forum for vaccine development and distribution.

Anyway, my post is not about globalization or the problems thereof. The whole conversation started off during a fun discussion between my friends and me about how the situation felt like an Indian soap opera. The year marked the return of the rebellious kid back to his parent’s home.

If you are confused, let me explain. Mankind and his best friend Science walked out of the family home after a dramatic fight with ayurvedic medicines, herbs, sheltered living and other such traditions. Mankind, with the help of its trusty sidekick, Science set out to carve a new and better future, away from their parents Nature and Earth.

When faced with the magnitude and ferocity of the pandemic, Mankind was stunned while Science was overwhelmed. They were inundated with too many variables that were out of their control. They were forced to return to herbal and natural medicines like ginger, giloy, neem, tulsi etc., to keep up immunity till Science found a cure or a vaccine. Like a rebellious son returning home with his tail between his legs, Mankind returned back to Nature to heal its wounds.

Covid-19 posed a risk too huge and widespread for Science alone to tackle. We had to use traditional techniques of isolation, herbal teas, natural immunity boosters and such remedies till we could find the vaccine. Social media was flooded with various recipes of health foods, natural sanitisers, herbal disinfectants and such.

Nature also got a break from all the interference that Science brought. Without any road traffic, animals started coming out and visiting us. With factories on break and road pollution at an all-time low, stars seemed to twinkle brighter. This has been a big boon that the lockdown has brought for us. People also stopped and took a forced break from their busy schedule to spend time with family.

By the end, my friends and I were joking that in true soap opera style, we could hear a fast-paced tune on sitar and tabla playing in the background to indicate a happy ending.