In my first year at university I lived in a flat with 7 people. There were 4 girls and 3 boys (including myself). They were a nice group of people and everyone looked out for one another. They were very courteous of my Sikhi. Looking back now it was like living with brothers and sisters.
One of the boys, I never saw much of. Most of the time he spent in his room and you could smell an AWFUL SMELL, which I can tell you it wasn’t TOOF (incense!). The other boy who I lived with was a very good character person. He didn’t go out too much and wasn’t keen on drinking everyday.
I would ask him “Why do you smoke?” He would tell me “Manvir, I want to give up. I know that it is bad for my body.” He would give up for a few weeks or sometimes days. He would say "I feel healthier now and I don't get out of breath as fast as before." I would give him encouragement and ask him whether he has kept his word. Unfortunately his will-power was not strong enough. However, when I saw him this Tuesday and I asked “Have you kept off cigarettes?” He smiled and said, “Manvir, you will be glad to know that I have not smoked a cigarette since October 2005.” I was very pleased for him.
While standing at the traffic lights on the edge of the Strand and Fleet Street we chatted about future plans. He told me how he has applied for law school and I told him my plans for next year. We then said to one another how LIFE PASSES SO QUICKLY. I said to him that I remember when I finished secondary school. On the last day of my GCSE exam, I walked home thinking, “O Waheguru! This is it! A NEW CHAPTER of my life begins.” (Not realising that actually our life is also only a chapter of many lives!). Mathew felt felt the same way about the fast pace of life.
Reflecting back on my school days, I remember on the last day of school Gurdaas Maan’s song called "BACHPAN" was ringing in my ears. The song goes: “Bachpan Chalaa Gayiaa, Jawaanee Chalee Gayee. Zindagee Dee Keematee Nishaanee Chalee Gayee” (ਬਚਪਨ ਚਲਾ ਗਿਅਾ, ਜਵਾਨੀ ਚਲੀ ਗੲੀ, ਜ਼ਿੰਦਿਗੀ ਦੀ ਕੀਮਤੀ ਨਿਸ਼ਾਨੀ ਚਲੀ ਗੲੀ). The song is about life. It talks about how childhood (Bachpan) has passed and now youth (Jawaanee) has passed, and how the most precious (Keematee) years of life have passed away. At the time, that song made me think “O Waheguru! How much have I served you and thanked you? How much Simran have I done? Have you followed the Guru? Have you given your life to the Guru by taking Amrit?" My soul told my mind “O mind! What have you accomplished in life? If you don’t meditate and walk the path of the Guru while you are young then when will you do it? When you are old and walking with a walking stick?”
Chalo! My flatmate from first year and I talked and reflected on the PHASES OF LIFE we have passed - From secondary school to college; Then college to university; And how now from university to further education or world of work. It is a scary thought to realise how FAST life is! We laughed and said one day we will meet up and I will have white hairs in my beard and he will be old and we will reflect on university. This reminded me of a Shabad from Gurbaani which we did a workshop on last year in the Sweden and in France summer Gurmat camps:
ਮ: ੧ ॥
First Mehl (Revealed through the voice of Guru Nanak Sahib Ji):
ਦਸ ਬਾਲਤਣਿ ਬੀਸ ਰਵਣਿ ਤੀਸਾ ਕਾ ਸੁੰਦਰੁ ਕਹਾਵੈ ॥
das baaltaN, bees raven, teesaa kaa sundar kahaavai.
At the age of ten, a person is in childhood; at twenty, the person reaches youth, and at thirty, the person calls themselves handsome.
ਚਾਲੀਸੀ ਪੁਰੁ ਹੋਇ ਪਚਾਸੀ ਪਗੁ ਖਿਸੈ ਸਠੀ ਕੇ ਬੋਢੇਪਾ ਆਵੈ ॥
chaaleesee pur ho-e, pachaasee pag khisai, sathee ke bodhepaa aavai.
At forty, the person is full of life; at fifty, his foot slips (away from youthfulness), and at sixty, old age is upon him.
ਸਤਰਿ ਕਾ ਮਤਿਹੀਣੁ ਅਸੀਹਾਂ ਕਾ ਵਿਉਹਾਰੁ ਨ ਪਾਵੈ ॥
satar kaa matheeN, aseehaaN kaa viohaar na paavai.
At seventy, a person loses their intellect, and at eighty, a person is not fit for work or to perform their duties.
ਨਵੈ ਕਾ ਸਿਹਜਾਸਣੀ ਮੂਲਿ ਨ ਜਾਣੈ ਅਪ ਬਲੁ ॥
navai kaa sihjaasNee. mool na jaanai ap bal.
At ninety, a person lies in their bed, and cannot look after themselves or understand their weakness.
ਢੰਢੋਲਿਮੁ ਢੂਢਿਮੁ ਡਿਠੁ ਮੈ ਨਾਨਕ ਜਗੁ ਧੂਏ ਕਾ ਧਵਲਹਰੁ ॥੩॥
dhandholim dhoodhim dith mai, naanak jag Dhoo-e kaa Dhavalhar. ||3||
O Nanak! I have sought and searched for a long time, and I have seen that the world is a mansion (meaning it is nice to look at) but it is of smoke (meaning that it will not last forever). ||3||
MAKE THE MOST OF
My Ardaas is that may Guru Sahib do Kirpaa (Grace) on Daas and everyone that not only every day, but may every SWAAS (breath) be fruitful and be in the consciousness and remembrance of my Beloved Waheguru, who will one day take away the gift He is has given us, which we are now enjoying.