Imagine yourself waking up on a fine Sunday morning to find out your kitchen faucet suddenly stopped. No warning , no noise , no signal –not a drop of water. Now imagine this happens to a friendship. Six months ago while attending a community get together I found out my friend stopped talking to me ! No warning , no premonition, no rhyme or reason–not a single word. Now you can fix a faucet – you shake it , or tighten the screw , or a call a mechanic , or replace it with another. But you cannot fix a human being. A fortune teller, a tarot reader, or a psychiatrist - nobody can make him talk again and you just cannot replace him – a friend is irreplaceable. Friends, if you think this was a Sienfield episode, you are mistaken. It truly happened to me and I had to go through an emotional roller coaster ride. Fortunately, I found a CAR which carried me through. The CAR I refer to here is not a vehicle though, it’s a metaphor and an acronym.
The letter C in CAR stands for Change what you can change. When we face problems in life, we should do what we can do to solve them. Me and Kumar were not best friends, but we grew up in the same neighborhood, we spoke the same language, we went to the same school, and we both immigrated to Dallas. I had no idea why he stopped talking to me - something was rotten in the state of Denmark. I began investigating. I brought it up with my wife but she simply shrugged it off. Then I reached out to my daughters “Was there any argument between you and Kumar’s kids?” “No, Papa, nothing”. Both my daughters denied any wrongdoing. I was clueless, but then I realized I was also responsible for the stalemate. Maybe I said something I didn't know which hurt him, maybe I was unsympathetic and cold to him, maybe he was going through a rough patch. Perhaps, it was an opportunity to transform myself into a warm and friendlier person. I decided to offer an honest, sincere apology and after seeing how remorseful I was he would accept me, I thought. I did everything possible; sent a text message followed by a note followed by a phone call. I changed what I could change. I tried my level best to reach him; unfortunately, nothing worked. Despite my best effort Kumar did not open up to me. He remained cold and distant.
The letter A in CAR stands for Accept what you can't change. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. I had to accept my friend’s behavior. The acceptance was painful though. I had fondly remembered those days in my high school when he brought new comic books to the class and let me read them. It was much more than just losing a friend, it was losing the good memories I had of that friendship. But when I accepted it, and let it go I was at peace. No matter how unfortunate it was, I accepted it.
The letter R in CAR stands for Remove yourself from situations that you can’t accept. Friends , have you ever experienced a situation when the only option was to remove yourself ? Your boss is bloody toxic, your uncle is alcoholic, or your neighbor is a loudmouth. Will you suffer silently or will you remove yourself? Kumar’s coldness toward me made me uncomfortable, but then it turned into a nightmare. Every year, our community here in Dallas organizes the spring festival in April. There are food, music, dance and cultural events. My daughter decided to participate in dance. However, when I was told that the practice would take place at Kumar’s house, I froze. Friends, have you seen the statuettes of the three monkeys of Gandhi? I see no evil , I hear no evil , I speak no evil. I imagined myself at Kumar’s house and his cold shoulder - I don’t see you, I don’t hear you, I don’t talk to you. Friends, I could no longer suffer the ignominy. I persuaded my daughter not to participate and I removed myself.
Sometimes things that hurt you most, teach you the greatest lessons of life. At times it might seem that that there is no hope and that you cannot go forward but that, my friend, is life egging you to work harder. I learned how to Change what I could change, how to Accept what I could not change, and when to Remove myself from situations that I could not accept, but life threw me another curveball. The preparation for our community spring festival was going on in full swing and I signed up for the chorus. I would be the lead singer and I selected the song titled “we are in the same boat brother.” Guess who would be singing along with me – It was Kumar ! Two monkeys who didn’t see each other, who didn’t listen to each, who didn’t speak to each other, now standing side by side singing the song of brotherhood. I was mortified, I went down on my knees, “Oh Lord , what happened to our world.” But the good Lord listened to me! As I prayed, I felt a sense of calm, peace, and tranquility. The joy of making music just made me feel good and I started singing
We're in the same boat, brother
We're in the same boat, brother
And if you shake one end
You're gonna rock the other
It’s the same boat, brother
As I raised my voice, the sound of the music rose higher and at that moment all the human barriers around me - the differences, divide, disagreements dissolved. I heard the audience clapping. Guess who was the loudest – It was Kumar! He hugged me and we became friends again.
That day I found yet another meaning of R in CAR- R means to rise above. Friends, does anybody recall CAR?
C: Change what you can change.
A: Accept with you can't change.
R: Remove yourself from A situation that you can't accept.
R: Rise above what you cannot Remove.
Link to the YouTube Video