My Closing Statements

     Our past, the unaccompanied baggage appended to our conscience, often comes prowling on us uninvited and unanticipated. It stays obscure as if seen through a hazy rearview mirror; distant, indistinct, doubtful, and almost impersonal. Many years of life along with all its trimmings, meshed like a canopy of fluffy clouds, embrace us and engulf our minds with vague judgments and no clear beginning or end. The sensation is often pleasing, at times poignant but mostly ambiguous and even daunting to an extent. If we attempt to gather them, sort them, and pack them to be bequeathed and passed on to posterity is akin to getting our dreams recorded onto a reproducible device; impractical, impossible. But the urge to assemble and bestow them on to the descendants who inherit the process could be an impending sword suspended over our scruples. And often, there is no holding back; it demands to be dropped.
     The need seeps in as an imminent thirst that needs to be quenched. Often it feels like a certain commitment that beckons our conscience to oblige. It is arduous and grueling to condense the experiences of a long lifetime, rusted and knotted 298 from aimless storage. Yet there is an element of joy along with relief waiting to be earned if we can have it dispersed and released. And irrespective of the results, it insists to be expressed before embarking on our next step, if there is any such a step.
     I am not sure; but was there a beginning to this journey or was it just a continuation, perhaps with a change of role and a different setting? Happenings in life seem to be imposed on us like an allotment from the available options. Do we have any say at all in the choices or it appears to be that way, just to entice and distract us, and finally trap us in the process? Even if one is not quite comfortable with the chore, it may eventually end up as a consolation, if we make an honest attempt to do it without resistance, conscionably and honestly. In making such a statement, rather a ‘closing statement’, shall we follow certain traditional guidelines, if there are any such customary measures? Whatever options we choose, the intent shall be to remain truthful, as dictated and guided by one’s own integrity and a cultivated sense of morality.
     An appropriate gesture would be to take an account of what we had and what we did; what we hoped and what we gained; what we aimed and what we earned; how we gave and were given. Declare with honesty and available accuracy our passage through the different stages of life; from childhood to sunset, education through professional times, and about our performance in relationships and dealing with obligations. Make an earnest attempt to tabulate our efforts and tally them with our expectations against end results. Indulge and scan our own prospectus of life with a purpose, to reach back and pull out from the remnants that our failing memory has stacked on its shelves.
     The measure is all subjective as it applies just to our conscience and to let us move on with the least burden as we can. The purpose, the intent in attempting to venture into such an effort is to let the future benefit in ways which it can from the performance of the predecessors. In doing so would be to guide them to improve upon our acts and thus let them avoid repetition of mistakes that we made in our lives. Such a feat must only be presented with the ultimate benefit of the followers gaining from it, in ways similar to improving the quality of a product or the performance in a multitude of arenas. As we do it, we should not lose focus on the reality that life from one generation to the next and the circumstances to deal with shall be entirely different, yet the basic precepts remaining similar.
     It takes a certain attitude, a certain humility, a stance attained through living, of being comfortable with and complacent about divulging our past; a sincere and honest declaration about our nature, our ability, and especially about our limitations and blunders. Through that submission comes a revelation that establishes and reiterates the modesty that we have earned through all the years of living. That ability may be the greatest asset that we have created as we lived. It certainly 299 would be greater than all the wealth we may have amassed, than all the pleasures we may have enjoyed. The exercise may take us farther into fulfillment and may endow us with revelations that we never considered possible. It must be a process to surrender our self-esteem and exchange it for an immense realization, to free ourselves of all the inhibitions and boundaries that held us captive all along. It is the permit that may release us to soar to altitudes we are capable of ascending and enjoy the freedom that our persona could carry us. For now, we have legitimately earned that status and thus a chance to grab rapture without the fear of being judged; that judgment is for ourselves to execute, and thus the judgment being irrelevant. One might wonder and hesitate, to what benefit such an exploit should be undertaken, risking a certain image, perhaps a façade we have tried to build around all our life. It should precisely be our purpose to honorably dismantle such a robe and shed the entire load if we have been dragging that burden all along so that we earn the privilege of respite.
     Most of us should have a conviction, rather a confirmed assumption that to be born as a human is the most profound gift which a soul can be wrapped up with; and the most appropriate way, the most honorable way to repay that gesture is to make the best out of that donation. To live a life worthy of that magnificent bequest, to utilize the attributes of human life to its fullest, does not dawn on many of us until it is too late; or circumstances mercilessly create a mutiny to deny us of that opportunity. But to most, such a possibility is available and is absolutely possible, if we are guided correctly and are persuaded with good examples by others ahead of us.
     Scholars have classified the nature of human behavior as a spread of three types, each of us exhibiting a varied blend of any and all three. These are ones with goodness, balance, and harmony; another with passion, restlessness, and activity; and a third with dullness, inertia, and laziness. It is our upbringing that can significantly make an impact on instilling such traits in our behavior and it is for us to make a conscious effort to cultivate the best of these traits as we proceed in life. An ideal blueprint of the philosophy that we should aspire shall be to impart our full potential in any endeavor that we are involved in, to explicitly avoid being critical of others, and be patient and content with whoever we are and whatever we have. Our happiness and contentment are totally based on how we train our attitude towards and acceptance of others since the performance of others will be entirely beyond our control. If we have not been able to develop such a philosophy in life, it is never too late to make an attempt and cultivate the discipline to steer ourselves in that direction. It will also be a noble endeavor to positively try and impart such qualities to those who we are obliged to or are responsible for.
     Evaluation of how much we succeeded is simple. If we can do some introspection of our performance and do it truthfully, we can come up with some conclusive answers. Have we utilized the basic tenets of human potential to enrich our lives? Have we attempted to impart the best in us and applied it to what is expected of us and to those who counted on us? Can we justify our efforts that we have invested in our involvements to be the best that we were capable of? Are we convinced that we have paid the most we could to the ones who gave their best to us? Were we able to do justice to the gift of life endowed on us in carrying out what it was potentially capable of? If our conscience can live with the answers, then we may have done what we could as human beings.
     Perhaps the most legitimate yardstick to appraise the performance of life may be to reflect on the products we have created and nurtured; our children. As much as it is unfair to judge someone on something almost beyond their ability to control, as many subjective measures influence the final outcome of those creations, in reality, these are the most relevant indicators which can be applied as practical parameters. As much as one may justifiably be blamed for the blemishes in their progeny, it is appropriate to confer the compliments to the parents whose children exhibit values of merit and dignity. If I were asked to comment on the influence of my parents on my value system, I would give all the credit to them for anything and everything that are venerable in me, while I would blame a host of other factors responsible for all the negatives in my personal.
     It should be comforting to view the brightness as we glance back over our shoulders from the shadows that have consumed us; a distant past almost setting beyond our reaches, yet soothing and consoling to our senses. The times that linger in our memory when the abundance of love showered upon us and prompted us to be special! The sense of being singular inspired us with the motivation to excel, to exceed the expectations of the loved ones, that certain commitment propelling us to reach beyond the abilities we had. Looking back, we feel convinced that how one is brought up, how much confidence and love they were fortunate to have, the expectation they felt growing up, and the inspiration that was imparted in them are what decide how that someone is eventually going to grow up. The pride, the value system, the commitment, and the compassion as they grow up are planted as little seeds into their tiny psyche at a very early age. That element may be the essential impetus that protects them, the drive that propels them to stay focused all their life. On the contrary, the struggles of childhood, the strained relationships with parents and others, lacking friendship, murky environment, and all the negatives that imposed on us can suffocate and strangle our incentives. This may be the time to unravel our past and make an assessment as to how such influence played in our lives; and consequently and distinctly more importantly, how we could help our followers benefit from our input.
     If we are able to phase out and vanish into our next with just one deed of goodness, just one act of righteousness, it would be to contribute the experiences of our life to the advantage of the future. If the lessons that we learned can benefit the ones who follow, it will be meaningful, momentous, and worthy of all our efforts, submissions, and sacrifice.
(December 2008)

Author: Dr. Venugopal Menon

Was born and raised in a loving family in pre-independent India, became a doctor, served Indian army, got married, then came over to America with wife and a daughter, established as a successful Allergist, raised a family of three children, was involved in many social establishments, retired, and wrote memoirs, 'My Mother Called Me Unni, A Doctor's Tale of Migration'.

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