A Second Chance Is Not on the Menu for All

A Second Chance Is Not on the Menu for All

A Second Chance Is Not on the Menu for All

Guest Post by Anusha Shrivastava, PhD

Blog84_SecondChance_WakeUp-300x214 A Second Chance Is Not on the Menu for AllIt’s easy to take waking up in the morning for granted.

It’s easy to take life itself for granted.

Until you can’t.

Two of my classmates died recently. They never made it to 50. A few batchmates lost parents. Some are serving as caregivers for aging relatives. Friends and colleagues have lost spouses, partners and other loved ones.

Blog84_SecondChances_WomanPraying-300x200 A Second Chance Is Not on the Menu for AllIt’s made me feel vulnerable. I’m sure you’ve also paused to think about what’s important to you: no doubt you’ve seen people slip away. It makes you realize nurturing strong relationships and friendships is crucial. That’s what will carry us through the toughest days in our lives. It’s what we can safely rely on when the going gets unbearable and we need a compass to re-calibrate. While family members provide the first line of the so-called defense, we need close friends with whom to check in regularly. Life’s priorities will vary for each of us but some common basics can guide us on how to spend our time—our most precious resource—most efficiently. We have to make space on our schedules to revitalize our friendships, for sure.

To help me think through this, I recently turned to a childhood friend to have him share what he’d learned after his massive heart attack a few years ago. He typed up a list and sent it to me via WhatsApp. The top themes included newfound gratitude, the desire to help others, and a sense of urgency to do more sans procrastination.

Blog84_SecondChances_FriendsAtBeach-200x300 A Second Chance Is Not on the Menu for AllFor starters, he said, he’d made the effort to meet as many of his family members and friends as he could. He traversed the country—indeed the world—making time to reconnect with people important to him. He met an aging aunt in the mountains of Darjeeling, West Bengal and a college-mate in Hassan, Karnataka, apart from friends scattered across continents. “Stockholm, Amersfoot (Netherlands), and California,” he listed.

Overall, he altered the framework of his existence and the way he thought about his life and work. “The world will exist just fine without me,” Shraman wrote, adding he no longer gets overly stressed about work. “Apart from a one-minute silence, nothing will change if I cop it at any office. Life will go on.”

Blog84_SecondChances_Springs-300x200 A Second Chance Is Not on the Menu for AllHe says he doesn’t crib about “small stuff.” Instead, he focuses on making the most of each day he now has. “Don’t postpone anything. Just enjoy today. Tomorrow will take care of itself.”

At the time of his heart attack, he was 42. Up until then, he’d largely been healthy and, clearly, unprepared for a cardiac incident. Just two months prior, he’d procured a thumbs up from his doctor after a full routine check up. His career was on the upswing. A week before the day he says changed his life, he’d been promised a promotion and an outsized role at the firm.

All of that came to an unceremonious halt on a Saturday in March 2013, when, during a beach barbecue with colleagues on an island near Lagos, he began to feel uneasy and was forced to lie down. A member of the party soon realized matters were awry and raced to bring a motorcyclist to help transport him to the jetty. A series of fortunate coincidences like unclogged roads and recently altered visa requirements allowing people who needed medical attention to enter South Africa, helped get him to Johannesburg in time to get an angioplasty, followed by the removal of a major blockage in an artery. Friends from all over the world figured out ways to reach out to him and help in ways they could. Local acquaintances brought food while others back in Lagos took care of his young children during the time Shraman and his wife were in South Africa.

Blog84_SecondChances_HelpingHand-200x300 A Second Chance Is Not on the Menu for AllInspired by all the help he got at the time, he suggests helping those around us both “financially and emotionally.” He got “more” than what he could have hoped for. “I feel really lucky,” he said, during a call. “I am still able to do most things which, as per my heart reports, I should not be able to manage at all…I can still play golf, cycle and climb stairs.”

Underlining the importance of a strong support system, he said he is thankful for his spouse and extended family, friends and acquaintances “who do a huge, huge amount.”

Despite the setbacks both health and career-wise, he’s grateful for what he still has left, starting with a second term of life. “If you lose one eye,” he said, “be grateful you haven’t lost both.”

At a more practical level, he says everyone should sort out their papers, exercise regularly and sign up for health and life insurance. He urges friends to “get coverage when you think you don’t need it because once you’ve had an incident, the insurance folks won’t touch you.”

Soon after his heart attack, Shraman says he was afraid of the night. He’d wake up sweating and imagine he was having another episode. “I was very relieved in the mornings,” he said, because he’d lived to “see another day.”

Neither you nor I can be sure when we’ll see our last sunrise, so let’s make the most of every chance we have to see one, preferably with a friend.

Blog84_SecondChances_ArtistOnPhone-300x200 A Second Chance Is Not on the Menu for AllIf you’d like to talk more about anything related to health and wellness or connect with others about their life experiences, you can do so on Konversai—your one-stop shop for any and all personal human knowledge. The easy-to-use online platform connects knowledge providers with knowledge seekers on any topic of interest through live video. Whether you’re looking for life counseling, wanting to learn a new instrument or sport, need help with an academic subject, or simply want to share your stories and experiences, Konversai is the place to do it. Any and all knowledge, skills, and experiences, no matter how seemingly commonplace or obscure, have a place on Konversai. The premise behind the concept is that no matter who you are, where you come from, or what your circumstances in life are, everybody has something of value to offer that can be of benefit to someone else anywhere in the world. When we step outside our personal networks and have conversations with people we may not have otherwise encountered, amazing things can happen.

Blog84_SecondChances_FriendsSunrise-300x200 A Second Chance Is Not on the Menu for AllKnowledge providers on Konversai have the option of charging for their time. If they don’t need the money, they can always offer sessions for free or donate their earnings to a charity of their choice. Meanwhile, knowledge seekers get to enjoy a personalized, one-on-one conversation on exactly what they’re looking to learn on a particular topic. Sessions take place at times that are mutually convenient for both users, and you don’t even have to leave your home. All users are encouraged to be both knowledge providers and knowledge seekers on any and as many topics as they wish. Konversai’s mission is to democratize knowledge, put the human connection back into the heart of technology, and make the world better by enabling meaningful and authentic conversations that improve people’s lives. Whether you take a session on Konversai as a knowledge provider or knowledge seeker, you are sure to have an enriching experience. Get started and join Konversai today.

Anusha-300x300 A Second Chance Is Not on the Menu for All

Anusha Shrivastava is the Director of Career Development and Alumni Relations at the Department of Statistics at Columbia University. A business reporter for over two decades across three countries, she got her second masters degree from Columbia’s Graduate School of Journalism in 2002. She served as President of South Asian Journalists Association for three terms. You can connect with her on Konversai.

Edited by Pavita Singh


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