Every single day, the first thing that I do when I wake up is.. thank God for everything that he has blessed me with! There is a saying that the more you thank life, the more life gives you to be thankful for. However, of late, I’ve realised that life is not just about getting things and being thankful for them; the best way to be really thankful for all your blessings is to give back!
If you haven’t already watched this video, I recommend you do so here:
It is a wonderful, eye-opening, life-changing video that shows a man who feeds thousands of birds everyday. When I started watching the video, I scoffed a little. “What’s the big deal?” – I asked. In all brahmin households, we feed the crows first before we have our meal. And by feed, I mean keep a handful of cooked rice (sometimes with a little til and curd). Squirrels in the neighbourhood assemble at our balcony at 12 noon, and get ready to nibble on whatever is left by the crows.
The catch is, we don’t do it because we want to feed the crows or squirrels; we do it because our scriptures dictate us to do so, along with a bunch of rules. We do it because we are afraid of the Gods’ wrath. We do it when we think we’re pure (physically, of course!) This unfortunately means that if I was in a hurry this morning and prepared the rice before I took my bath, my neighbourhood crows and squirrels will go hungry today!
However, by the time the above video ended, there were tears streaming down my eyes. The video impresses you by the sheer effort the man puts in to feeding the birds, twice a day. The difference is that, here the goal is to simply not let the birds go hungry! It is an absolutely selfless act of random kindness, but one that makes a huge difference. I also heard about a girl (who is younger than me, by the way); she takes a day out each month to plant trees! In comparison, it made me feel really small when I realised that I was freeing up some time and money to look at HD TVs, so that I can decide which one to buy for my house! 😦
Another event that made an impact on me recently is a shoe and slipper drive organised by my employer, Elsevier. It is a deceptively simple, but brilliant idea! All we have to do is donate our shoes and slippers (even ones that require a little fixing-upping), for the benefit of the needy. As someone who owns at least 6 pairs of slippers currently, but wears only two of them regularly, this struck a huge chord with me.
I kid you not; I have a pair of sneakers (that I have worn exactly once), a pair of 3-inch Gladiators (that I wore once, and promptly decided that I’ll never wear high-heels again in my life) and a couple of other perfectly good pairs of shoes (I’m not a shoe-wearing person, you see). What I do wear, are two specific pairs of slippers – one for traditional clothes, and one for jeans and T-shirts. End of story. 😐
But why did I need so many pairs in the first place? God has indeed blessed me with a lot of things, especially financially. But as the famous saying goes, when we improve financially, we shouldn’t be improving our standard of living; but we should be improving our standard of giving. I’ve decided that I’ll indeed donate all my shoes/slippers, and retain only the two pairs that I actually wear.
These are just small examples; there is so much more that we can do, if we really look at the physical and financial capabilities we have to give back. I try too; I place a huge bowl of water in my balcony for the birds and squirrels everyday; I donate a sum to the CRY foundation every month. They make me feel good. At the end of the day, I feel happy that I’m donating; a corner of my mind nurses the hope that my next life will be much better than this birth (not that this life is bad at all; far from it, actually).
But I think we all need to wake up to the fact that we can, and should give back a lot more. My family donates an amount monthly to an old couple who don’t have kids, or a source of income. But I took up CRY – because that is the cause I truly believe in. All children, of all genders have a right to education and to have a decent life. Because when infertility is on the rise and so many couples go through rigorous treatments and spend lakhs to beget a child, there is also a huge community of abandoned children, and children who don’t have basic rights and facilities.
When it comes to giving back to the society, nothing is enough! We can all do much more physically, financially, and simply by contributing our time and effort. Now I would like to ask you –
What is the cause that you most identify with?
If you didn’t believe that you will be rewarded for it in an afterlife, would you still give back?
Something to ponder on..
Writer on the rocks.