The pimple path

Something had been awry lately. And for the life of me, I couldn’t put my finger on it.

The only clue I had was these damn acne, running furiously around my face, digging in with their jibes and scorn, taunting me in that horrid sing-song tune, “You’re doing it wro-ong, you’re doing it wro-ong.”

I worked on the peace amidst the work storm, I worked on lowering my irritation when the guy behind me at the traffic signal honked as soon as it turned green, I worked on steadying my mind while doing yoga. I breathed more. I tried an assortment of creams and lotions, and yesterday splurged at the Body Shop for even more creams and lotions.

Still, no improvement. Besides, I know in my heart that the problem is inside. The lotions will only help once I fix the bug in the mind.

So today, I stilled my mind and asked God: “Why am I feeling so disconnected from You? Why isn’t my magic wand working?”

The answer came half an hour later, when I opened my new copy of Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning and read this passage:

“Don’t aim at success. The more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success, like happiness, cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side effect of one’s personal dedication to a cause greater than oneself or as the by-product of one’s surrender to a person other than oneself. Happiness must happen, and the same holds for success: you have to let it happen by not caring about it. I want you to listen to what your conscience commands you to do and go on to carry it out to the best of your knowledge. Then you will live to see that in the long-run—in the long-run, I say!—success will follow you precisely because you had forgotten to think about it.” (Highlights mine.)

I put the book down and it hit me. That’s what I was doing wrong – I’d lost sight of my higher purpose. In the past few weeks, I’d become selfish, thinking only of my own needs, desires and ambitions. My focus had turned inward – on what I want from life, on my own dreams. I’d begun resenting everything that came in the way of those dreams – my parents, my job, even – I am ashamed to admit – my own kids (my pimples burn when I think of it). I’d forgotten all those lessons in gratitude and contentment I’d meticulously imbibed over the years.

My skin, needless to say, disapproves.

All these dreams and ambitions are but secondary and even irrelevant when it comes to my true reason for being alive today: To reach out and be there for others, to help through my experiences, to inspire with my very life. That is the whole point. Nothing else matters. I’d been missing the woods for the trees.

No more grumbling then. No more pointing fingers in blame. No more bitterness about missed opportunities and unwanted responsibilities.

Only gratitude for everything that I have, blessings for everyone I meet, and being of service to anyone who asks. My treatment starts now.


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