Lesson 2: I have given everything I see all the meaning it has for me

The lights shimmered and glistened. The huge stage ahead felt so intimidating. Holding on to the armrest, I leaned ahead on my seat, waiting for my name to be called. My heart pounded in my ears. Would I be able to hear my name? Would I be able to get up and walk to the stage? There. My name. Standing up, I tried to walk in as dignified a manner as I could, even as my legs were shaking with nervousness. The Award for Excellence in Writing at the hands of the chief minister. How long had I dreamt of receiving awards! This was just the beginning…

The doorbell was ringing incessantly. Argh, the milkman. Rubbing the dream off my eyes, I rushed to the door to pick up the milk bags. The delivery boy had dropped the bags and rushed off to complete his rounds. Yawning, I picked them up and nudged the door shut with my heel. As I headed to the kitchen, my eyes were drawn to the award I had just dreamt about. In reality, I had been sick that day and had missed the ceremony. My dear husband had gone and picked the award from the Chief Minister. It had been a moment I thought I would hate to miss, but strangely it never bothered me that much.

The buzzing phone caught my eye. I noticed a message from the maid saying she won’t be able to come. Her kid was unwell. I knew she would not leave his side till he was fine. I felt a twinge of envy and irritation at her message. She rarely missed work. It didn’t bother me she wanted a day off. The envy was because I wished I could take a day off from my work, my home, my mind. The irritation was an advance response to the additional work that awaited me that day. By evening, everyone at home would be tiptoeing around a tired and cranky me.

With a warm glass water in hand, I walked to the couch. At least I could rest now. I picked up ‘A Course in Miracles’ to read the lesson for that day. “I have given everything I see in this room all the meaning it has for me.” I practised the lesson as asked. I looked at the award, at the flower vase, at the memento from London, at the slipper stand by the door, at the bird outside the window, the tree by my building…which people had been trimming the previous day. How angry I had been when they trimmed it!

I looked at the table, the phone and the message in it. I saw no maid as pain. It was the meaning my mind gave to her absence. “I have given everything I see all the meaning that it has for me.” The statement felt true. I looked at the award again. Once upon a time it meant honour. It meant greatness. Then after a while, it felt like a burden. An expectation of success that I would have continually strive to achieve. After the initial buzz and excitement from family and friends, I was treated by everyone in the same manner I was before. I found myself wondering, how often do I have to win awards to be continually noticed by all? Soon after that I dropped my journalistic career to choose a simpler peaceful life.

What did the award really mean as I saw it now? Nothing. It was a piece of wood and metal. As I closed my eyes, I felt a little free. Of what I didn’t know.

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