Karaj and I have been talking all year about the events and people from my training days. My latest visit to see him was no different. We talked about the group, the negativity, and the processes at work. We talked about people’s commitment and where their focus was. In our conversations there is always a desire to get to the truth of who we are. It broke through again on the final morning, when our last discussion before I left for the airport took a surprising turn.
He had been talking generally of wanting to be more of a team player, and wondered aloud whether he has what it takes. I made it clear to him right away that two of the core elements of his training are communication and support. That’s what you need more than anything in a winning team. I know because I have played football in winning teams. I read to him from the blog post, ‘Innate Motivation’, in which I wrote about being drafted into the first team as a teenager for one of their most important games of the season. It contains the line, ‘…which meant that when they needed me, and they did, I was ready to perform to the best of my ability, and I did.’ The part I played during that particular match was my finest hour on a football pitch, and two weeks later the team won the league.
As we talked, there was a thoughtful expression on his face; something was dawning on him. I had made two visits to close friends during this trip and had spoken with him at length about them and others. Every now and then, he had said to me, ‘You have a good group of friends.’ And when I told him I have worked with three of them and that they have all put their learning into practice, his response was: ‘That’s what winners do.’
I knew where our conversation was heading and it hardly seemed believable. After years of thinking it was other people who had winner scripts, I was about to hear the man who had challenged me so intensely for years tell me I have a winner script. I was nodding and smiling to myself even before he said it. There was no excitement, even though it felt like a reward for all my hard work. There was some relief, I think, but mostly I felt a calm joy and satisfaction. Moreover, those emotions seemed to occur at a depth which barely registered on the surface. The smile on my face and the hint of a tear in my eye were the only giveaways. My winner script has been there all along. It’s who I am. It’s who we all are.
Over the years it got covered up by a combination of conditioning and misguided strategies, to the point where it was barely visible. In addition, it was made more difficult to discern because, for a while, the evidence suggested the opposite. (My finest footballing hour, for example, was also the same game my playing days were ended by injury.) However, when I search my life for evidence of a winner script, I find plenty of examples; and the development I have shown since my training is the final proof.
It’s the same for Karaj. As a young boy growing up first in Kenya and then in India, he was fearless, inquisitive and clever; and he was clearly drawn to the spiritual side of life, regularly journeying into the jungle to sit at the side of spiritual men. Very early on, however, his winner script got covered up, too. But now, after all the talking, challenges and reflection, here we were: two winners, both celebrating on the inside.
We sat in silence. My phone had rung during our conversation, and as the silence faded I checked to see who it had been. It was her (of course); the woman who has been an inspirational influence throughout this blog. I smiled to myself. The two people to whom my forthcoming book is dedicated had both been present during this revelation. I told Karaj of the call. His thoughtful look appeared again, and as he leant back in his chair, his words were: ‘She wants to be involved.’ He knows all about my relationship with her and he has met her himself, but still he had questions. (He had once said of her: ‘She helped you more in the very first second she met you than all the group members put together in all the years they were with you.’)
I had only one feeling in response to his inquiries and I shared it with him: ‘It’s the purity of love I experienced with her. I have never known anything like it.’ For the second time in minutes, I felt blessed. Karaj, on the other hand, looked bemused; as if he could do nothing with what I’d just told him. He seemed genuinely flummoxed by it all, and his rebelliousness began to surface. He questioned what it all had to do with him, so I quoted his own words about love from the final journal entry. In doing this, I check-mated him again, just as I had done in February when I stood before him with volumes of my writings in my hand: evidence of his own brilliance.
Now, as I sat across from him, observing him in his confusion, I knew I could be of help. He has no idea what to do with the love he has been receiving this year during what has been a very difficult time for him. Amidst his uncertainty – his own signal that there is work to do – he accepted the challenge to focus solely on love; and he accepted my assurance of support.
It has taken years of hard work to get this far. It feels like we have fought a battle and are the last ones standing. Over the last ten months, we have met and corresponded regularly; moved forward steadily; meticulously clearing and recording our past as we went. We have taken our time, but the weight of momentum as a result of our shared experience and hard work has brought a depth and intensity to the process. That’s how a conversation on the final morning led us to realise that we are all winners and that love is all there is.