" Following our love is painful. Forgetting our love is painful. But not knowing which to do is the worst kind of suffering "
Said in Page 46,
Book : By the River Piedra, I sat down and wept,
Author : Paulo Coelho
It was around 3 a.m. on a rainy night. The moon was playing hide and seek in the dark clouds. And as a cool breeze blew melodiously to shave my face, I was there all alone in my room, by the window, with a novel in my hand.
“Following our love is painful. Forgetting our love is painful. But not knowing which to do is the worst kind of suffering ”, I read in the book.
Something about those lines struck me hard. Something about those lines made me feel uneasy. Something about those lines made me immediately close the novel without reading it further. And something about those lines took me into my past.
“Given a chance Sai, I would want a life of which I have no desires and regrets”, said one of my best friends during a casual talk. “I neither want happiness nor do I want misery. I just do not want to desire for anything. Whatever I have desired for, I never got it anyways. So, I will take whatever life has to offer and not regret anything. That is the best way to live”, my friend finished.
It seemed a beautiful thought. But then, Something about those words pinched me as soon as I heard them.
“ Is that possible ? ”, I asked my friend immediately.
“ What ? ”, asked my friend.
“A life without regrets.. Is that possible at all ?”, I asked again.
“Yes Sai.. All you need is a lot of mental strength and a bad memory ;)”, my friend replied jocularly.
“Hmm..”, I said.
We changed topics and life moved on. But then those words continue to haunt me through the years. And tonight, as i was reading those lines in the novel, they only served as a gentle reminder for the unanswered question.
“Heyy heart, are you there ?” asked my mind.
“ Yes dear.. I am always there whenever you want to speak to me :)”, replied my heart sweetly.
“Ya Ya, I know.. So, what do you think about it ?”, asked my mind.
“About what ?”, asked my heart.
“About that only yaar.. The regret.. I have suffered enough now.. I want an answer. Do you think by not desiring anything and by having a bad memory, we can have a life of no regrets ?”
“Hmmm.. What made you think I would have an answer at all to that question ?”, asked my heart.
“Because ‘regret’ is a feeling. And as you always say, ‘feelings are your department and only you know and understand them’ ! ”, replied my mind.
“You have become intelligent in dealing with me.. haven’t you ?”, replied my heart.
“Hmm.. Years of experience with you have taught me that there is no point in arguing with you. So, I am resigned to understanding and accepting your ways”, replied my mind.
“That’s lovely dear.. But then, I still wonder what made you think I can answer that question and moreover, even if I did answer, what makes you think it would be the right one ? !”, asked my heart.
“Would you answer it or not ? Leave the reasoning and judging of its correctness to me.. Just answer !”, commanded my mind.
“Hmm.. There you go ! :) You have already answered that question and that too just now dear ! So, there is nothing left for me to say !”, replied my heart.
“What ? !! Are you crazy ? When and what did I answer ? Heart, I know that you are mad. So, do not prove it to me time and again ! Just talk straight and talk the point please”, said my mind frustrated.
“Hmm ok.. Dear, as you said regret is certainly a feeling ! And so it belongs to my department. But unfortunately, when you and your reasoning, you and your judging, and you and your decision making skills use my regretful ‘feelings’, then things, life and attitudes change !”, said my heart
“I didn’t understand.. Can you be clearer ?”, asked my mind.
“Hmm, let us take the novel’s story for instance. The girl is in love with the boy. Love - a feeling. But she does not have the courage to stand by it. Courage – a feeling. The absence of courage and the pain of his loss thereafter led her to regret it all. Regret – a feeling. And thereafter, she only used regret to make a decision about how her life should be led ahead. She used her ‘regret’ - reasoned, judged and decided - how life should be led from there on. Right or wrong, She decided, based on regret, she wouldn’t love him anymore. She decided, based on regret, that she wouldn’t risk anymore. She decided, based on regret, that she would be strong to never think of her love again. She decided, based on regret, that she would change and want nothing from life because she never got what she wanted in the first place ! She decided based on the regret that she would forget her past. And she made and followed all her decisions based on that one feeling and to avoid that one feeling – Regret !”, said my heart.
“Hmm.. ”, said my mind.
“And as you see dear, while there were three great feelings involved in the story - love, courage and regret – in the end, she used only regret to make all her decisions and and changed her life accordingly.”, said my heart.
“Hmm.. So do you say it is wrong ?”, my mind asked.
“It is not for me to say that dear. To reason it as right or wrong is your department. But then, did you think as to what has she got so far for all the decisions she made based on regret ? She got “Silence”, which she interprets as peace and which she treats as “no regrets” anymore !”, finished my heart.
“How do you know that its not peace, no regrets and only silence ?”, asked my mind.
“Because, peace, regrets and silence are all feelings dear :)”, said my heart.
“Hmm.. So what do you say ? A life of no regrets is impossible ?”, asked my mind.
“No dear.. It certainly is possible”, replied my heart.
“Huh ? !! How is that possible ?”, asked my mind.
“Sai dear, every human being is bestowed two critical abilities - An ability to think and an ability to feel. But then which of the abilities is the master and which of the abilities is the slave is what makes the difference between loving our life and regretting our life”, said my heart.
“Hmm..”, said my mind.
“Dear, When you use our thinking to follow my love, when we together exhibit strength & endure the pain of our love, when we show courage to stand up for what we love - We begin to experience, live and love life. And in that lovely life no matter what troubles come in our way, no matter how painful those troubles may be, no matter how humiliating those troubles can be, and no matter how many sacrifices need to be made, in the end – Our love will win. Dear, Right from a simple love to study higher, or love to work in a creative field, or any love that you are passionate about - you have to use your thoughts, your hardwork, your time, your strength and even your pain, humiliation and sacrifices to go after what you love. In short, if you follow me and go after what I want, I can lead you to a life of where we don’t feel any regrets. But if I were forced to follow you and do what you want, I am sure we both will regret in the end. And that is because to follow your decisions in itself is a great regret for me. It is, for me, equivalent to accepting that the love i hold in me is something inferior to the thoughts and decisions you make.”, said my heart passionately.
“How dare you say that ? ! You say following me makes you regret ? ! Remember heart, It is my mental strength that keeps you unaffected of failures ! It is my mental strength that keeps you away from feeling miserable. It is I who save you from getting hurt ! And it is I and my intelligence who get you the respect people give you. And you say you regret following me ?”, retorted my mind angrily.
“Hmm dear.. What mental strength are you talking about ? Strength is in following what you love. Not in running away from it. And it is not me who is afraid of failures dear. It is you. It is not me who needs other’s respect. It is you. Remember Sai, in the end, the people whose words you are following, the people whose decisions you are living and the people whose respect you are craving for will all leave the world. They have to leave. The only person who will be with you is me and unfortunately you are making me ‘empty’ & ‘silent’. And with an ‘empty’ and ‘silent’ me, all you can do in the end is regret Sai. On the contrary, if you were to follow me, not care about what people say or think, not care about the rules established for you to follow, not be scared of the challenges that come your way, then in the end when you and me are alone, I’d have love, you’d have memories and together we would have ‘lived’.”, finished my heart.
“Hmm.. Sounds romantic ! But totally impractical. Who on earth would understand that I was following you and that I was in love and for love. Who would understand that I am and I would in the end not regret anything that I do ? And who would respect me for it ?”, asked my mind.
“Sai, when you understand yourself and when you don’t regret what you do.. there is no need for anyone else to understand you ! But when you don’t understand yourself and regret not having done what you wanted, it doesn’t matter who else understands you ! Because their understanding is of no use to you then ! Also, any respect out of such useless understanding, is worthless too. So, as long as you understand yourself and follow your love, even if the whole world thinks you are crazy, it'll make no difference to you. But then if you don’t understand yourself and cannot in the end justify what you did with your life, even if the whole world respects and understands you, it’d make no difference to you !”, replied my heart.
“Hmm.. And how do I know that what you have said is all the right thing to do ? ”
“Hmm.. Sai, in the matters of the heart and feelings, there are no right or wrong decisions. There are only “Human” decisions. And yet inspite of it all, if you want a proof, you’d see that when you are born as a human child Sai, you are expressing and seeking love. When you are dying all alone or amongst your loved ones, you are again expressing and seeking love. Even in between, at all the critical points of life, you are expressing and seeking the love of the almighty. And yet every time a decision to follow your love needs to be made, you “think” ! And it is such a shame Sai that you even think before following your love ! It is nothing more than an insult to the very love that you are born, brought up and die in. Just remember this one thing Sai – Greatness, respect, obedience, name, fame, satisfaction and peace may all lie in liking what you do and making me follow you, but then LIFE lies in doing what you love and making you follow me ! Remember Sai, we – the heart and the mind - only live once together in this world ! And who is the master and who is the slave is what will make the difference between love and regret over your life.”, said my heart.
My mind didn’t speak after that. I moved to my table, calmly opened and began reading the novel again. And as i turned page after page to read out what the girl in the story has eventually decided to do in her life, there was a storm in my heart & rain in my eyes.