She said, “I am his 5th wife. First is the laptop, the job, the phone, then TV, and finally me.” She was joking of course as her husband has been a pillar of strength all throughout her remarkable journey. The 50 odd people who attended this month’s TILT meeting were mesmerized with her indomitable spirit, witty quirks, and electrifying eloquence. Everyone took notes throughout the hour that she spoke.
It was a “know thyself” moment for me as I ventured out towards the fag end of the session to ask this question. “How is the worst thing that happened to you the best thing? The response from her knocked the ball out of the park. She said, ” That is the reason I am on stage and you all are listening to me.”
So who was this lady?
The lady who delivered this punch line was Hemalatha who was the special speaker for our TILT gathering. This was part 2 of the REAL relationship session. She was born with a hole in her heart and now is waiting for a heart and lung transplant as she is suffering from pulmonary hypertension. By sheer will power and gratitude, she is essaying a life that is beyond extraordinary. A video clip of her talking about her journey was an internet sensation. It has been seen by people from across the world. I got the clip from my school group as well. The way she was talking about suffering made me go down the gratitude street. In the last month, the clip was a social sensation (Linked In, FB and WA). So with her coming, this session had piqued our curiosity.
The question I had in mind was “what is making her tick despite the medical challenges she was facing in life?”
She started her speech by thanking her parents, elders, husband, teachers, Doctors, and mentors. Her perspectives on materialism vs the things that matter was spine chilling. She made a bold comment that she is grateful to the disease. She further emphasized how through introspection, a calmer mind, and a focus on each event in her life, lifted the positive thinking in her. She mentioned that as humans we will succumb to negativity. In fact, she gave a witty remark about Venkat when he called and asked her, ” Are you rocking “? Pat came her reply ” I am on the rocks”. Her hack was to accept and eliminate. Use that event to tell something empowering.
I was amazed by her grasp on humanity. This was when she mentioned about how humans are special and out of 84 lakhs species, we have 6 senses to take care of ourselves. It is not just about taking care of ourselves alone but also taking care of the entire earth inclusive of nature and other living beings. We are supposed to be the caretaker of mother earth but we humans have become a threat instead.
Also a few moments back we heard from Ian how our mind is a meaning-making machine. She pointed out that there are two killers in life. One is self-pity or self-sympathy and other is fear. ” Try doing one thing every day for others,” was her advice.
The other important aspect of her life that she shared was about her family and her elders. She said, ” Family is a university by itself”. The value system can be ingrained in us. She described how her mother and husband were a constant support for her during her trying times and in helping her to take suffering in her stride. On the impact of this new world of friends and technology, she took a view that “Forget virtual, get real”. Yes, that was the truth.
Finally, it was time to close her session and time for some Q&A from the audience. When asked how she motivates herself to wake up every day knowing that she may not make it through that day, she responded: “Dying is not bad, dying without contribution is bad.”
She appealed to the audience to donate our organs for there were many people who could live after we were gone. She spoke eloquently and painted vivid imagery and was so clear in her mind about life. I got clarity on suffering and what made her tick in her life. She spoke with a hole in her heart. I was changed by her holy heart. She was vocal when she said, ” I deserved it “. Everyone cried inside about how one can be so accepting in life.
Hemalatha is also part of a group called “Hope to turn pink (HTP)”. Many of the people in her group who like her have pulmonary hypertension suffer from severe breathing issues due to which their body turns blue. Her story is a reflection of “Extreme ownership”. As Jocko Willink, Navy Seal says, “You must own everything in your world. There is no one else to blame“. Every day the strength of this group is dwindling. There were a lot of youngsters who unfortunately succumbed to this dreaded disease.
The survivors go through pain like a warrior and every day they get up thanking the universe. The minimum we can do in our life is to share this story of hers and touch, heal and calm a person who is going through this suffering. This will help someone who is in need of support to reach out and thus we can give this new meaning of suffering we learned from Hemalatha which is “Don’t get scared. Accept, motivate and do everything with humility“.
“Are you your suffering?” was a deeper question to ponder over. She mentioned that the real person living is inside which is the soul and the body is a vehicle. So we have to take a position as an “observer” outside the body and ask this question “What would you advise yourself? ” Our inner dialogue is what we have to take control of. The simple answer to that question is “Love your imperfections, as perfection is boring.”
She reserved the best for the last and that was “I want to inspire as many people as I can before I expire.”