Monday, 19 March 2012

Bevu-Bella: Bitter and Sweet

Many regions in India celebrate the New Year in the March-April timeframe. It is called Ugadi – literally meaning the beginning of age. It is customary to eat a traditional mixture called “Bevu-Bella” during this festival. Bevu-Bella literally translates to Neem and Jaggery. Neem is very bitter and Jaggery is sweet.  This mixture symbolizes the fact that life is a mixture of bitter and Sweet. In fact, one asks for a good mix of the good and the bad, sweet and the bitter in the coming year.

New Year is a happy occasion – isn’t it? So, why would people look for bitterness? Why not ask for only sweetness? Why shouldn’t life be just all good? As I gave it more thought, I believe that you need to have some difficulties only then will you appreciate the sweetness more. 

I can think of many examples in my recent past:  I have had a minor surgery and haven’t been feeling well for the last 2 months. It is now that I realize how health is so important. I used to enjoy my Badminton game with my family on weekday nights. Due to poor health I haven’t played for a while and the whole family is missing it. I realized through this down time how much I have missed it and how much fun it has been for the  whole family. Sadly, I also realized that the family badminton days are limited since we will soon have to send our child away to college. I plan to get back to it as soon as I recover and make the best use of time while he is still at home.

When you want something in life and you eventually achieve or get it with a lot of hard work, it is a great feeling. It feels so good and you know it was worth the wait.While the hard work is not exactly bitterness, it isn’t sweet either. I do not think you will able to appreciate the wins as much if it came too easily.

In Steve Jobs' famous speech at Stanford, he mentions that being fired from Apple was the best thing that could have happened to him. He says, "It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick." He eventually made it back to Apple and took it through the second high wave.  I had been working in a company for many years. I was very content with my job and wouldn’t have looked for anything better. I was very disappointed when I needed to quit that role  but it made me realize how much I love what I do and that the possibilities are endless post that.

Yes. You do need the bitterness in life also – to introspect, to look out for the possibilities, to push yourself. As for the sweetness in my life, I have plenty of it.

Happy Ugadi!!! May this year bring you health, wealth, happiness and some bitterness too!

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