Thursday, November 18, 2010

Joie de vivre

When I meet with old friends from my childhood and college days, there is always one question very early in the conversation. They always inquire about my father, about how he is doing and if he is still the same. I have seen through the years that my father has this ability to strike a conversation and make acquaintances at every given opportunity. In the good old days when we would travel by train to visit family, I would keep count of the number of new friends he made on that one train journey. And these folks do remember him for a very long time....he always left an impression during these chance encounters.

While I was growing up, I was much more reserved and in a sense, diametrically opposite to what my father is. In the awkward teenage days, I would cringe in my seat as soon as my father started a conversation with a stranger. He would pick up a conversation with the most unlikely of companions at the most unlikely places.  Thinking back, it brings a smile. Today's refrain is of not trusting strangers. Much to the contrary, I grew up under the influence of a father who was out there joyfully participating in the society. And it is not only his ability to make friends that left an impression on my young mind, it is also his true spirit to volunteer and help others through the small travails of life. In the old days, it was something as small as " I am going down to the xyz office to pay an zyx you want me to do that for you too?" .....small daily gestures like this. Today when I look back at all the small gestures and add it all up, it is really BIG!!!

As I grew out of my teenage awkwardness, I started to appreciate much more the genuine warmth and joy in my father's outlook to life, friends and family. Now, being much older, having waged the daily battles in one's life, having realized the ease with which life can pull you down, I have to admit that my appreciation for what my father does has gone up manifold. He lives every moment like it is totally worth it. He is enthusiastic about every small thing be it running around doing grocery shopping or paying the bills. How can one generate enthusiasm in doing the routine?  Every single interaction with friends or strangers alike is a joyful moment. You can see the glow in his face and the sparkle in his eyes as he meets someone. How can one retain that childlike enthusiasm every single time? My father's pure and simple joy for living is probably, the biggest lesson of my life. When I go through a lean patch, I think of my father and his approach to life. Every single day, he demonstrates the real meaning of  the joy of living. Joie de vivre !!!

Father, nobody thanks you for all the small things you do everyday. Many take you for granted. Some abuse your good spirit. But, you don't give go on...and I love you for that. Thank you for sharing through your actions,  the biggest lesson of my enthusiastically and joyfully. Life is like the train journeys we have had is a lot of fun. 

Mr.D, I salute you!!! And I wish I could be at least half the man you are....

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