21 years into this world and I already feel like a decade old. Life has not been exactly like a roller coaster ride for me, it has been somewhat more profound. Roller coasters don’t exactly make you grow do they? Life is exceptionally beautiful if you consider the adolescent process more like a journey; a journey past heartbreaks and tears, a journey of learning. After all, we are all here to learn. 

21 years and 21 lessons learnt. 

Lesson number 21: Everybody in this life is for themselves.
It is wrong to think people don’t exactly go your way. Do you do exactly what others expect? We don’t like to change yet we want people to change. Everybody in this life is for themselves, either accept them the way they are or just walk away for good. You are complicated enough to welcome other complications. 

Lesson number 20: We don’t always know why people do what they do.
We judge too much, despite the usual bicker that we don’t. Everyone does. Everyone might not say, but they do. Is it wrong? Maybe it is because by thinking we associate meanings to things that people do. Meanings that may hurt someone is the process. Stop right now. Trust me, even if you think you know things you don’t, we don’t always know why people do what they do so just let them. Ask or else ignore, just don’t think. 

Lesson number 19: Even the strongest ones need help.
We think just because they make you laugh, they don’t need help? Just because they have always been there for you when you’ve cried so you get this free pass of being the only one being hurt? Look around you, find a strongest friend and talk to them. Tell them you are with them the way you would want anyone to be with you in your low, remember, even the strongest ones need help. 

Lesson number 18: Heartbreaks are important.
If it hadn’t been your heart that broke, you wouldn’t have learnt the importance of peoples’ association. You wouldn’t have realized how important heartbreaks are for you to grow; to acknowledge pain and appreciate the gain. Every heartbreak teaches you to overcome the greatest pain in order to stand up for yourself and people around you. Only by moving past a point you’d know who really was meant to mend you.

Lesson number 17: As annoying as they maybe, siblings matter.
Either they are the bossy adults who think they own you as a personal “worker” or they are the smaller whiners who always win fight by pretending you killed them with a mere scratch, either way they are annoying. But think for once and you’d realize that willingly or unwillingly, intentionally or unintentionally they have always made you feel good. You matter for them and they matter for you and neither one of you has to say it, you’d find enough reasons if you just close your eyes and recall your beautiful bond.

Lesson number 16: Not everyone owns you.
Nobody owns you in fact. Nobody pays you for the way you are. Nobody has to. You are what you are. But please, stop destroying yourself thinking that you own this right of doing whatever the hell you want to because you don’t. You owe this life to the Creator. And He doesn’t want you to waste it behind trivial people and mundane things. Pay back by being good, that’s all you are required to do. 

Lesson number 15: The ones afraid to fall, don’t fly.
Outcomes are not assured. You cannot be certain about what your reactions your actions may return. You cannot fly if you are afraid to fall. But please, for the sake of yourself, do what you love without thinking about the consequences. The real freedom is no fear. Now I don’t want you to rob a bank if that is what you want to do. I want you to do what you have dreamt of, I want you to overcome this fear not being certain. I want you to take risks, experiment with your life, take chances because 20 years from now nobody would want to sit and think “what if?”

Lesson number 14: Books are very good companions. 
Reading is not as bad as it may sound. You travel to a different world with each one you read, and you learn. You learn a lot. You learn to be patient. You learn about people. You learn about perspectives. You grow.  Have you seen people around you? Have you seen them crying, and laughing and yelling while reading? Yes. Books do that to you. They are good. Books are definitely very good.

Lesson number 13: Best friends are always right.
They support you, they become what you are, they fight with you, they make you wanna squish them bad, but yes they love you. You can go all snobby over them and complain about how much things suck, and yet they are the most adorably convenient beings who are still gonna sit and cry with you and tell you that you suck for wanting to do something so bad, and then end up doing the same with you. Because you know, you are partners in everything. And they can read your mind. And the next time they tell you are being a pain in the ass, just know you are really are being one.

Lesson number 12: It is okay to screw up. 
Life isn’t about being perfect, life is about making mistakes. Get stuck somewhere and get up. It is okay to screw up. You are not bound to be perfect. You are bound to make mistakes and then it is up to you whether you are coward enough to repeat it or brave enough to rise over it and shine. Screwing up isn’t bad, not accepting is. 

Lesson number 11: It is not mandatory to solve every problem. 
It is hard to find people who listen to you. Who actually think that their problems and distress matter to you. Don’t underestimate the power of listening. So if you are lucky enough to have this quality of listening to people, acknowledge it. Don’t hold back thinking how to solve it, just know that for them all that matters is that they can look up onto you to vent out. It is not mandatory to solve every problem, even listening is enough.

Lesson number 10: A friend who watches over you is a keeper.
Is there someone who has always been there when you need them, in disguise? Regardless of the intensity of your need? Someone who somehow knows you or wants to know you? Someone who has done as little as passing you ketchup on the table full of food and people while you were just searching for it silently? They are silently watching over you. They want to help you. Let them. Don’t lose them in the pursuit of searching for much happening friends, keep the low life ones who love you effortlessly.

Lesson number 9: Smiles are beautiful. 
Imagine the glow in the eyes of your loved ones when they see you happy. Has is ever happened to you? Your heart melting when you see your friend, you lover, your spouse, a kid smiling with their eyes all gooey? Isn’t that beautiful? Imagine making them do that with your happiness, your success, your achievement. You are wrong if you think your happiness is limited to you. Your happiness stretches to people who love you. Smile for them. 

Lesson number 8: You cannot make people stay.
I have always thought if I’d just one more day to set things right. One more day to undo the events and make people stay. Undo breakups. Undo death. Undo mess ups. But I can’t, and neither can you. No one can make people stay. Accept that when people go for good, they actually go for your good. They leave this empty space for others to fill. Let them go. Let others come. It is okay. It is human. It is the nature’s law. Don’t be too harsh. Stop blaming just let them go. 

Lesson number 7: Hoping against hope is not stupid, it is brave.
It is brave to think that fate may change. You are not stupid to think that just because something is likely to happen, it will happen. Hope always wins. Hope always helps. And when things go parallel to hope, you at least know that even in your lowest you had the courage to stay positive. So the next time you hope against hope and watch people calling you reckless, let them. Nothing can be more reckless than them not seeing your strengths. 

Lesson number 6: You can tell a lot about a person by what they choose to see in you. 
We always explain and justify people that we are not as bad or as good as they think we might be. We reply to them that you don’t know us. Maybe they don’t. Maybe you really aren’t as good as they think or not as bad as they perceive, but trust me, by just seeing what they choose to see in you, you can tell a lot about them. Because I have learnt that what people choose to see is how they perceive things. So if they see the good in all of your bad, then they are good. They are good people. Learn this tip.

Lesson number 5: Life isn’t always fair.
Life should not be fair. Trust me you wouldn’t want life to be fair. Because then we might suffer a lot more than we really are. You know why? Because unintentionally or unwillingly we upset a lot people around us. And if we really wanted life to be fair, we’d end up getting a lot more setbacks than we do now. So the next time you think why me? Still be thankful for not suffering the real repercussions of your actions. It is actually life being unfair to you. It should be life being unfair to you.  

Lesson number 4: Acknowledge both, love and hate. 
The way there are people who love you despite whatever you do and say, there are going to be people who will hate you despite whatever you do and say. Because balance you know. Things have to go in balance. With every good comes bad. Pain leads to gain. Friends vs enemies. Acknowledge it all. And then think about the ones who love you, think about making them love you more. That is where the real peace lies in. 

Lesson number 3: Everyone has their own way of caring. 
Did it happen that you have ever did something for someone knowing that you won't get anything in return? Has someone ever done something for you knowing that you won't give anything in return? Everyone has their own way of showing they care for you. Either by picking up your calls in the middle of the night just because you can't sleep or by cancelling plans to spend time with you on your special days, by bringing you water or by giving you some advice. Everyone has their own way.

Lesson number 2: Live a great story.
Have idols but don’t live their story. Live your own. Don’t be the next Einstein or the next Mother Teresa, be the first you. This is your story, your life. It is up to how you write it. 

Lesson number 1: We don’t have forever to live. 
Set things right. Forgive people. Move on. Smile. Laugh. Cry. Jump. Dance. Sing. Spread happiness. Love yourself. Love others. Rest. Be responsible. Pay back what you owe to others. Follow your heart. Read. Kiss. Travel. Eat. Relax. Breath. Just get up and do what you want to because if you think you’d do something tomorrow you might not, you think you would have this chance? Do you think you have forever to live? You don’t. You have this one life which itself is not guaranteed. Every passing second is one second closer to dying. And I hope you don’t die today in the hope of living tomorrow.

You can always live the life you have wanted, you just need to learn how.


The Hunt

I saw it hiding among the bushes. My prey. This opportunity was rare. A deer in the Amazon jungle. My deer. This chance was never escaping my claws. Its panic stricken face was surely veiled by the greens, but the trembling of its tiny legs was the true reflection of ostensible fear. It had known the lion was here.

How lame it might would have been for the deer to think it may flee from the king of the jungle- me. What a reckless thought. Saliva had begun to ooze, the time to relish my feast was approaching. I could smell it. I could feel it. I could sense my victory. Just one leap and I would win again. I would dine in style.

In the human world strength and power may lie with the wealthier ones. But in the natural world, real power belongs to the physically strong creatures. They don’t need to hunt but how can they be different from us? They too hunt. Not to satisfy their taste buds but to satisfy their filthy self that makes them believe they are always right. But in the natural world, even wealthier humans fear the real lions.

My thoughts were distracting and there went my prey. Dashing away, in vain. How remote could its tiny legs take him? I started following the miserable creature. A sudden warmth and determination welled up inside my body with every strike I made to welcome my dinner. Air whipped past my face; dry leaves crunched beneath my claws; insects were being crushed; sparrows flew, alarmed, but nothing was now going to make me go astray. All that clawed my mind was victory.

It felt like gliding. I felt weightless. With every passing seconds I came closer to my destination. My deer was just a few feet away. I could see the symptoms of tiredness in my prey. And fragility gave me invincible energy. And all of a sudden, my right leg betrayed me.

Has it ever happened to you humans? You are so close to you goal and all of a sudden your world shifts to a different axes? Have you experienced a hurdle so close to your aim you almost feel like cursing the air, punching whatever comes forth and wanting to veil yourself away into wilderness. I don’t know about you, but I hate it. I hate being vulnerable to nature. To things that come uninviting.

A thorn. A thing as tiny as a thorn disturbed me. That is the beauty of uninvited happenings, they either break you and you back off or they make you determined enough to overcome your shortcomings and move on, just like that. I was determined. But by the time I overcame my pain, the deer had succeeded in being a little too far. I hate this.

I shunned away the bushes that were blocking my way. My ears could hear the pigeons cooing and the bees humming nearby. And the Earth, the Earth shook as I hounded the deer. Why couldn’t it just surrender? Why was it being so stubborn? Why couldn’t he just give up already? Poor thing thought he could compete with the natural law.

My impatience was clouding my senses. I jumped a little too noisily and the deer escaped. Again. I landed on barren ground and a sudden roar escaped my jaws. This was too much. But why couldn’t I hear the deer running away? Because the deer lay dead besides me. And there was the other king, towering over my feast, his prey now.

I gritted my teeth in exasperation. How could he feed on my food? How on Earth? I roared with a thundering fury and broke into a sprint. I wanted it back. I didn’t care about the herd I might find, I wanted this one. The other lion was too seething with fury. Should I fight my brother?
Do humans fight their fellow brothers and sisters? Ah, how foolish of me. Of course they do. They think of others as by-products of nature. And themselves as the superior ones. They fight with both the right and wrong, but never for the wrong.

With a solid sense of pride, and against my will, I backed off my ex-food. I could hear zebras nearby. Yes definitely zebras. I started my journey again for a prey that was stronger than deer. Than meant fun. After all, who’d want a lame deer any ways?

Photo Courtesy: Atif Saeed