It was a busy Wednesday morning. I overlooked the tingling sensation in my legs, as my mind was racing towards the million ‘things to do,’ on my list. The topmost being, finishing some important statutory work for business expansion. I was also excited that I was buying a new phone for myself after 2 years.
I finished the work and headed towards the crowded street to buy the phone. While I was climbing up the stairs, my left leg buckled suddenly. It was as if I lost strength in my leg. I managed to pull through, bought the phone and reached back home. The next day I could not stand and was hospitalised.
It was Guillain Barre Syndrome.
It took a while for me to get the name right. Forget the rest. It is a one in a million condition that suddenly affects the nerves and weakens the muscles making you immobile. Starting with the legs, it moves up to the whole body including the lungs, which then can be fatal.
From wondering whether I will come out of this alive, what will happen now, to writing an impromptu will, I experienced an entire spectrum of emotions during my stay at the hospital.
Having pulled through, I was wondering whether I should feel lucky that it got restricted to legs or feel unlucky that I got it in the first place.
What a way to be one in a million.
I realised one thing.
This is here to stay. At least till my lazy nerves and weak leg muscles decide to wake up and smell the coffee again.
This is my new normal. Albeit for the time being.
From being a college cricket team captain, an avid badminton player, a budding golfer, a marathon runner and having my dancing shoes always on, to learning to walk again stimulated by gruelling hours of daily physiotherapy, it has been quite an adventure.
It’s work in progress. The first time I had learnt to walk, I don’t remember; the second time I am learning, I can’t forget.
My forced sabbatical bought along with it a new perspective to look at life. It gave a sense of calmness to my restless soul. This made my mind so strong, that I did things which I thought was difficult earlier or was just too busy for.
I handled my business remotely, which I never realised I could.
Even I, was not indispensable.
It reiterated my belief that having a loving family, a supportive and strong team is such a blessing. I understood that as a leader, the investment of emotions and empathy on employees gives the richest dividends.
This also led to putting more effective systems in place, to make the business run and grow on autopilot.
I came back to reading with a vengeance, gaining new insights which made me learn to unlearn; I enjoyed time with my family and friends like never before.
I realised my legs had stopped walking, not me. So, I smiled to myself and said, ‘Keep walking, not the Johnny way, but the jolly way, keeping the spirits high.’
I rekindled my interest in spirituality and it bounced back with new vigour, adding more meaning to my life. It was like the Spartan in me woke up a sleeping Zen. I started appreciating and seeing the benefits of their beautiful coexistence. My earlier flirtings with spirituality has now become a lifelong affair.
A smooth sea never makes a skilful sailor. Likewise, my challenges and the way I chose to respond to it, has made me what I am today.
As Oprah Winfrey rightly said, “Challenges are gifts that forces us to search for a new centre of gravity. Don’t fight them. Just find a new way to stand.”
In my case literally!
“Your life is your message to the world. Make sure it is inspiring.”
An intelligent insight, an engaging conversation, an inspirational message, a spiritual discussion – these are few of the things that tickle my mind. While I find inspiration even in simple things, these legends have had a profound impact on me in different ways.
Be it the divinity and the vedantic work of Adi Shankara; the energy and the clarity of Tony Robbins; enchanting and rich music of Frank Sinatra; the mysticism and humour of Osho; each one of them, in their own ways have been instrumental in shaping my personality, over the years.