It was September of 2008 in Dallas. I stepped into the banquet hall of Holiday Inn for my very first Art of Living Part 1 course. It was a very strange feeling. Sitting there waiting for the course to start, I suddenly remembered the crystal merchant in The Alchemist. The crystal merchant had a dream of going to a pilgrimage. But he never sets off because he feels that having the dream is more important than fulfilling it.
And slowly I thought about those last 6 years when I had thought of doing this course. In a certain way, I was doing what the crystal merchant did. I kept on postponing registering for the course. Over these years I had transformed from a happy go lucky, totally carefree (sometimes even careless) engineering student to a very hard(ly) working, utterly frustrated, disillusioned software engineer. The transformation was not sudden but very rapid. And I had no reason to be unhappy. There was no event which was causing me this unhappiness. But everything seemed stressed and the mostly smiling and joking around Anusha had given way to smiling wryly and joking sarcastically Anusha. Anusha was not happy about it at all.
Life after college usually makes you alone, specially if you are at work. You do not have friends with you to joke with. You have to be careful about what you say in office. Your personal life involves going to malls and multiplexes every weekend and cursing inflation and Bollywood, eating out at every opportunity and realizing how much you miss a decent meal, networking a lot in office to climb the corporate ladder and missing those cool college friends. All this was making me wonder, what makes us happy? I was happier with a lot less money and more physically challenged life in college. Trust me people, the result of all this thinking was some strain in every relationship I had. Not that this was the only thing happening to me. Luckily, I had Varsha with me and a few good friends still in touch. And that made every stress worth it. I could just live through. And I can never thank those precious few enough. They were the reason for some of the very good times I had in Pune. Now, I had heard about the AOL course in college. I wanted to do it for I had a curiosity to see what was in it. But for some reason (excuses really) or the other I was not able to. Sometimes I did not have a ride, sometimes I did not have time. By the time I was in Pune, I felt it had become a need for me to do it. And not doing it was causing even more frustration.
But strange are the ways of life. I could finally register for it here in USA when I had just left the thing to fate. Sitting in the banquet hall, I was looking back at those 6 years and wondering if I am dreaming. When Ram officially started the course, I remember saying it to myself. "So Anusha, finally!". And the rest, as they say in AOL, is all mystery.
It has not been a very long time. I am still taking small baby steps in this great path. But I know how much my life has changed. Trust me, I am more alone than I ever was. But I don't feel lonely. I have more work than ever, but I don't feel stressed as I used to, and every week I have a way to revive myself. I sleep less than I used to back in Pune, but my energy levels are much higher. I don't meet as many people as I used to, but I look forward to every human interaction and I smile like I used to as a teenager. And then those small things which just start happening. Miracles, magics, coincidences - call them whatever you want, but they start happening more frequently. Things are just taken care of.
I was bearing life (on second thoughts, it was not that bad) I was going through the motions of life, I am living it now. And you really need to experience that to know what I am saying. Really!
All this because of the grace of Guru. And all I want to do is thank the source and cause of all these changes. Fortunately for me, I can do it on this Guru Purnima. (Thanks RR for helping me overcome my small mind gymnastics). If you can make it to Chicago, please come. If you cannot, wherever you are, thank your Guru. They are just too good. If you think you are yet to find your Guru, keep praying and keep looking. It is just a matter of time.