Every string matters

Life feels great only when its various strings—health, relationships, finances, work and self-esteem—are in harmony


My friend Sarosh Izedyar is one of India’s best guitarists. He has played with legends such as Asha Bhosle, Dr L Subramaniam and Trilok Gurtu in concerts around the world.

The other day, I happened to attend one of Sarosh’s performances with the band, One Night Stand, of which he is the lead guitarist. As I watched his fingers fly over the strings, it occurred to me that he is able to display his talent and genius because his guitar is tuned.

Tuning refers to the process of adjusting the pitch of every string on the guitar. An out-of-tune guitar string means that the pitch/tone is either too high [sharp] or too low [flat] in relation to its reference pitch.

In layman terms, the strings of an out-of-tune guitar are either too tight or too loose; in other words, they’re out of balance. Every guitarist knows that even if one string is out of tune, the guitar fails to produce good music.

Life is a guitar

Just like a guitar sounds melodious only when it is well-tuned, life feels great only when its various strings—health, relationships, finances, work and self-esteem—are well-tuned and in harmony.

As is the case in a guitar, the various strings of our life too need just the right amount of tension to be satisfying. Too much or too little tension, and out goes the tune of our life.

So, when things are not going well, we can be certain that some string of our life are out of synch. And because we are integrated beings, even one out-of-tune string is enough to disturb the rhythm of our life.

In recent years, the media has covered many high-profile cases of death due to heart attack. Take the case of Ranjan Das, the late CEO of SAP India, who was one of the youngest CEOs of an MNC in India.

Das was known to be an active man, indulging in sports and fitness; he was also a marathon runner. According to sources, he was often seen running on Bandra’s Carter Road, a favourite place of many prominent joggers. One day, as he returned home after a workout, Das collapsed with a massive heart attack and died.

When it came to deciding upon the cause of his death, people jumped to an easy conclusion—massive stress. But many individuals face similar levels of stress. Yet, they don’t all drop dead, do they?

It is unlikely that work stress alone caused his heart to fail—a more plausible cause is lack of sufficient sleep. There’s enough medical evidence that connects heart attacks to lack of sleep. Das himself mentioned in an interview that he would have liked to get more sleep. Sounds familiar?

Many people sacrifice sleep for ‘accommodating’ their work, fitness goals or relationships. What they forget is that sleep is an essential string of the guitar of life. However ‘in tune’ our other aspects of life may be, consistent lack of sleep can throw everything out of balance.

Balance is not a cliche

Many people think of balance as an impossible-to-achieve ideal. For them, balance is an overused, impractical cliche. If you are one of them, it’s time to change your opinion. In life, just as in Nature, balance is everything.

Just like lack of exercise is unhealthy, too much exercise is equally so. If eating too much is unhealthy, eating too less is no different. Even in relationships, prolonged absence is as bad as constant togetherness. In short, too much or too little of anything is always, without exception, counter-productive.

How to find balance

Balance does not mean giving equal time to all aspects of your life. That is impractical and unwarranted. Besides, life cannot be compartmentalised in this manner. The best way to find balance is to stay conscious of the subtle signals of your mind and body. Just like Ranjan Das sensed that he needed more sleep, you too will know which aspect of your being is asking for more attention—if only you quieten your mind, slow down your body and listen.

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Manoj Khatri
Manoj Khatri has spent the last two decades learning, teaching and writing about wellbeing and mindful living. He has contributed over 1500 articles for several newspapers and magazines including The Times of India, The Economic Times, The Statesman, Mid-Day, Bombay Times, Femina, and more. He is a counseling therapist and the author of What a thought!, a critically acclaimed best-selling book on self-transformation. An award-winning editor, Manoj runs Complete Wellbeing and believes that "peace begins with me".


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