Success in that board exam that is conducted once. Success in that dream job interview that you get called for, once. Success in an Olympic race for which you trained for four years – that whistle blows once. These are definitely some of the instances where we imagine life does not give us second chances. While that is true in a narrow context, in the larger scheme of things, which we unfortunately realize quite late, none of it really matters. Including the medals.
If you look at the education system in India vs some of the systems abroad, there is a focus on learning in the foreign systems instead of the outcome-based success that the Indian system seems to focus on. In some countries, if you did not do well in an exam you can take it again and again until you have mastered the content. If you did not do well on a standardized test on a particular day because you were mentally or physically not at optimal condition, you can take it again. You are given second and third chances to do better. I do understand that with a population of 1.3 billion people, it can become difficult to indulge in this, however it is something to think about. What is the focus of education? And why not give people second chances?
In terms of occupations, society today has evolved to an extent that people are reinventing themselves from a career point of view. This is in contrast to how we lived a while ago where the caste that we were born into determined our professions for life. Today, the world is affording us a little bit of a second chance to change the course of our professional lives by re-skilling and educating ourselves for a different path that we wish to pursue, unfettered by what we have studied or done in the past. The world has become open to accepting one’s enthusiasm and ability to learn.
We as humans are unique. Yet, we choose to hold ourselves to standards that are alien to our nature and torture ourselves towards achieving that as an end. We judge our loved ones by society’s standards of success. We gauge our own success by somebody else’s yardstick and we desire physical, mental, and financial success in comparison to others. We want that perfect looking house, the perfect weight, the perfect spouse and the perfect children to parade to the world. We judge strongly and don’t give people second chances.
The first two lines of the Ishavasya Upanishad are the Shanti (peace) Mantras.
Om poornamadah poornamidam poornaat poornamudachyate
Poornasya poornamaadaaya poornamevaavashishṣyate
This is Complete. That is Complete. From Completeness arises Completeness.
If Completeness is removed from Completeness, Completeness remains.
The sooner we internalize this, the sooner we can be at peace with ourselves- We can take those second chances at mending relationships, doing the right things, and making a difference to what really matters.
Every day is a second chance. Every day is a chance to do something different from yesterday. Every day is a chance to be something that you were not yesterday. Every day is a chance to mend a relationship that you screwed up yesterday. Every day is a chance to make a difference to the people around you. Every day is a second chance to make a new beginning in some way.