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They say it’s the regret most feel too strongly on their deathbeds. With their lives reaching an absolute dead-end and no promise of a future, people reflect over their lives and sigh ‘I could have done that’.

Indeed, life won’t be any interesting if there aren’t the ‘roads not taken’. Our mind travels back in time to that point from where our life had diverged from the expected to the unexpected, which either bewilders us, crushes us or strengthens and excites us. We are reminded all the time that variety is the spice of life or the only constant thing about life is change… for a very good reason. We need to learn to expect the unexpected.

Hmmm…easier said than done. I hear all of you say that. Every shocking and unexpected catastrophe does shock us initially. Ask a person going through progressive vision loss. “Of course, doctors did warn us of going blind or losing significant amount of sight,” they would say. The predictability we see in other’s lives, by which I mean those who lead physically able lives, dulls our intuitive sense and makes us believe that nothing would disable our seeing sense. Add reassuring words from friends, family and relatives that there’s always a solution for any problem in the world, including for an incurable genetic condition, and we know why many of us mislead ourselves into cure. That is not to say we shouldn’t expect science to progress and deliver us the real cure, but there is still some time for that.

People who operate with the awareness that life isn’t mere bed of roses often handle the jolts, shocks and pleasant surprises much better and recover from it more rapidly than the rest of us. Be it the victims of the tsunami in December 2004 or survivors of rape and other injustices, they never get drowned in the tides of emotions and allow the pain and helplessness to take over their lives and minds. And so we see many of them get up, brush off the dust and carry on living. For them the survival is not just about themselves, but for their loved ones, those who still look up to them for comfort and support.

Challenges are chisel marks that mould our life into something meaningful. In our pain we discover the strength and the need to live on. In many cases, adversity has helped us understand our life’s calling.

A girl had a dear friend in her aunt whose cheerfulness both lit up her life and made her appreciate its beauty of living. One day, the aunt and her husband met with a major road accident in which the uncle died. The aunt did not cry and there were whispers behind her that she wouldn’t have loved the dead man well and so she sat stony faced with eyes dry as desert.

The girl felt outraged hearing those senseless comments. She knew her aunt and knew her love for her husband. The anger transformed to a creative endeavour and the girl’s short story about her aunt’s condition found its way into the pages of a popular magazine.

Reading it, her aunt did cry…for her niece’s understanding of her real feeling and the way she told the world that dry eyes do not necessarily reflect an arid heart not moist by feelings. That tough people often show their strength to hide their mushy hearts to make people around them stronger.

Importantly, the situation produced a writer in a young woman, who became one of the leading litterateurs in Tamil language.

“Make the most of your regrets; never smother your sorrow, but tend and cherish it till it comes to have a separate and integral interest. To regret deeply is to live afresh” -Henry David Thoreau

**We are trying to gather about 100 R.P. patients in Chennai for a programme which we plan to have it either the last week of March or first week of April. Those interested can send an email or contact me by phone.