Back in middle school, I was once summoned to Fr. Dennis’ office. He was my teacher, confidant and guide, all rolled into one. I was a painfully shy kid, but Fr. Dennis knew how to draw me out. That morning he handed me the Bible, asked me to pick a passage and read it aloud. I meekly obeyed not knowing what was in store for me. When I finished, he smiled and said, “You read well and have a beautiful voice. This Sunday you will do the First Reading during the children’s service”. I stood rooted to the spot. I couldn’t do it! I had stage fright! But all my protests fell on deaf ears. That particular Sunday came all too soon and I found myself standing on the dais, Bible in hand, my voice clear and strong enough to reach the farthermost member of the congregation. It was one of those small yet defining moments; the kind where you realize that you’re capable of more than what you give yourself credit for. My life, up until then, had been covered with a veil of ambiguity. But little revelations like this gradually piqued my curiosity and spurred a slow inward journey.

During our formative years, we are taught a lot of things, but no one teaches us how to love and espouse ourselves. In addition to the random syllabus at school, we are conditioned by society to worry about what others think, to downplay our talents, to belittle our accomplishments and compromise on our dreams. It is no wonder then that along the way, we lose our light and purpose. We lead a life set on autopilot, designed by choices that most often than not, are directly or discreetly made for us by someone else.

In the late 1990s, as part of my ‘Creative Writing Course’, my mentor assigned me a project. I had to pick a topic, interview a few people and present a paper worthy of his perusal. The title on my assignment read: ARE YOU LIVING YOUR BEST LIFE? It was disconcerting to find that most people I interviewed weren’t happy. They regretted giving up on their dreams. They longed for a more purpose driven life. When they spoke about their passion, about what they would have actually loved to do, their eyes lit up and their faces took on a glow. In that moment, they seemed to radiate their true selves. It’s never too late though, no matter how old we are. The naysayers will try to bring us down, but it’s up to us to remain unaffected, hold our heads high and carry on. This is the kind of New Year’s intent we should be making: TO LIVE OUR BEST LIVES. It might sound grand but it is actually pretty basic.


There is a majestic looking ‘Global Vipassana Pagoda’, a Buddhist meditation hall near Gorai, Mumbai, not too far from where I live. I love going there as often as possible. The pagoda itself, built on a peninsula between Gorai creek and the Arabian Sea, is beautiful and there is a serenity that covers the place like a precious blanket. But I’m always drawn to the fringes, to what is around the central theme, be it a picture, a place or even a person. That’s where the real lessons lie. That’s where you most often find treasures. The first time I went there, my exploration of the grounds led me to a lovely lotus pond. It’s a ‘ruminations’ kind of place, where you lose track of time. On the ferry ride back, my thoughts kept drifting back to the lotus pond and more specifically, the lotus leaves. These leaves have a unique feature. They are ‘Superhydrophobic’, meaning that their surface is extremely difficult to wet. Because of this, the lotus flower can thrive in the muddiest of lakes or the dirtiest of ponds without getting affected. All because the water rolls right off the leaves that surround and protect the flower. Shouldn’t this be exactly how we mould ourselves? By remaining connected to our ‘selves’ and letting all that negates our progress ‘roll off’, we might be able to stay true to our path, no matter where we are at right now.


As the old year folded into the new, I took a wander in the labyrinth that is my mind. There is always so much going on there that it’s hard to discern and sift the marginal from the crucial. It’s been a task long overdue. I sat watching the setting sun, the air smelling of burnt wood drifting from afar. And just when a perfectly quiet moment, bereft of clutter, came along, I made a simple and mindful intent: EMULATE A LOTUS LEAF. To a spirit like mine that gets easily jaded, it might be a Herculean enterprise, but I’m willing to try. As my Reiki Master always said, “Intention is everything.”



Photo credits: Joshua D. Rego


25 thoughts on “LIKE A LOTUS LEAF

  1. Everyone needs that little push to discover our own self. Imagine had u not done the reading on that sunday you wouldn’t have discovered ur own might and worst you wouldn’t have discovered me. Just imagine.
    On a serious note, thank all your mentors for having moulded you into a beautiful lotus that you are today.
    Remember a Lotus blooms to its beauty in a not so beautiful surrounding.
    Stay beautiful.


  2. Awesome write up on deepest insights of life, in possibly the simplest of Words. An agile and absolute eye opener for any person with the slightest of conscience. Thanks for sharing.
    Wish You A Contented Future.


  3. Generous narration..don’t stop. .
    As per egyptian mythology the lotus is a symbol of creation and re-birth.. I wish you to continue the creativity similar to the sanctity of lotus..


    • Thank you for the new info, for wishing me well and above all, being my friend. And just for the record, I appreciate that your comment has literally come from the heavens. Have a great time in Nigeria. 👍


  4. Like a Lotus leaf😘.. Do u ever realize u r like a Lotus leaf to me.. So many times u roll out the dust and grime from my innate soul..if that makes sense..


  5. Loved this write up. Reminded me of a friend from Chicago, who knows the fact that I am super crazy about my kids, during one of my venting out session, I told her how I regretted certain decisions. She turned around and told me “Mohana, if you had not taken that decision you would not have had your 2 girls, you would have been someone else, do you want that ? Believe me since thay day I have refused to regret anything in life. Every day has a meaning and a purpose and that is what I beleive in…..


  6. What to tell Renu,as usual u express urself so beautifully that I get impressed by ur writings. This sort of shyness is still so strong in r indian society,Espescially in the school. Where childrens r so oppressed with their studies nd very less ppl r the mentors who can motivate the weaker one. This narration reminds me some how the film THREE IDIOTS. Nd Thnks to u i came to know that in gorai there is a buddhist meditation hall 😊awesome description abt the lotus flwr. thanks a lot


  7. Ren.. what choicest of words and thoughts to begin the new year.. superhydrated… i like that.. its always the Lotus that i refer to my gyansaathi kids as motivational reference.. they have all been the lotus i looked up to.. .but now i realise and connect it with the word superhydrated. It connects so well. See. .. i told you, you have a way with words.. not all can express.. its a gift and God bless them all who moulded you to what you are.. besties girl.


  8. What to say, as usual an excellent article, for the story, the theme, the presentation and particularly the chosen content! The Bible! The Lotus! The Intention!
    Yet the article stayed its designed length, that’s another specialty you have,
    keeping it simple, short and sweet, that’s always inspiring to read!
    The Lotus! That’s was special ! Inspiring as always!


  9. I totally agree with u. We were never encouraged to pursue our dreams. When we do, there are negatives trying to discourage us. It needs lot of character not to get bogged down. Like a lotus leaf.


  10. We all need that push,nudge to tread forward .To discover ourselves with that push is very imp.We must take every opportunity that knocks and open the doors to newer horizons
    Whether then or now
    Spend some lonely time with oneself will also reveal ur inner self too


  11. We all need that push,nudge to tread forward .To discover ourselves with that push is very imp.We must take every opportunity that knocks and open the doors to newer horizons
    Whether then or now
    Spending some lonely time with oneself will also reveal ur inner self too


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