Chapter 9 - “Beggars can’t be choosers” - FALSE!

All my actions, my choices, and beliefs were a result of causes and conditions that led me to believe a certain way, to behave in a particular manner until the point that I started to question them. I’ve come to believe that everything can be taken from a man but one thing that cannot be taken from him is his choice whether he succumbs to his circumstances or he uses them as a ladder to move higher in life. This book, “Man’s Search For Meaning” by Viktor Frankl has left a profound effect on me and has successfully replaced some of the stale beliefs with new ones.

The movie “Unbroken” shook me to the core and left me awestruck. It forced me to question myself if it was my circumstances that made me a victim OR my own beliefs? Is there a possibility that I can get out of the victim mentality and adopt a new philosophy? “Starting on a clean slate” was really possible? But what about the people who have seen the earlier narcissistic, self-centered, gossiping version of me? I was so worried about “what ifs” that I completely missed the beauty of “what is”.

No matter who you are, a beggar or a millionaire, you always have a choice to change things around. Like Harvey Specter from Suits says, “What are your choices when someone puts a gun to your head? You take the gun, or you pull out a bigger one. Or, you call their bluff. Or, you do any of a hundred and forty-six other things.” I always had a choice, I just couldn’t see it through because I never allowed the mud to settle down. I would always jump the gun too soon and then blame the circumstances or another person. I don’t hate myself today for what I did back then. It was a version of me that was doing the best she could at the time, holding a grudge against my older version is not a healthy choice.

I learned that unpleasant situations shake us up and cloud our judgments. I read a beautiful story about Buddha asking one of his disciples to get some water from the lake but when the disciple reached near the lake, he found out that a bullock cart had just crossed through the lake making the water muddy and turbid to consume. When the disciple went there after some time, the mud had settled down and he was able to get clear water to drink. Our thoughts are like muddy water when we go through an unpleasant experience. We can either return empty-handed thinking that there is no way we could react differently in this situation or we can wait for the mud to settle down and get clarity on the situation.

~ Anila Andezhath

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