One fine morning, an old man took his horse and set off with his son, because they had to travel to another village together. But they had barely walked a couple of miles when they passed a group of people, and someone shouted out, “What strange people you are! You have a horse, and you are holding its reins, but neither one of you is riding it!” And the others in the group started laughing.

The old man did not reply and kept on walking, but couldn’t help feeling bothered by the comment. After a while he said, “Son, I think it will be best if you sit on the horse’s back and I will hold the reins instead.”

So the son rode whilst the old man led the horse. But they had not gone far when they passed another group of people talking by the side of the road. Several of them were looking and pointing in their direction. The keen ears of the old man overheard parts of the conversation. “Just take a look at that! The old man is walking and the boy is riding. Do fathers not teach their children any respect these days?” It was not long before the father said, “Son, you had better come down. It is better if I ride the horse.” They swapped places.

At midday they passed a couple of women gossiping together in the street. “Look, the son has to walk in this heat. What kind of a father is he? Does he have no pity on his son?” Again the old man overheard and could not help feeling disturbed. So after they had gone a little way more he decided there was only one solution, and told his son, “Let us both ride the horse.”

It seemed as though all was well for a short while, until a final encounter which threw the old man into complete despair. It was a man on his own horse, who shouted at them angrily as he passed. “How could you do this to an innocent animal? You are much too heavy! Have you no consideration for the poor horse?”

“Sometimes, it is not so easy,” Guruji was saying in conclusion to his story. “If we only listen to what other people are saying and take their gossip seriously, it will be very hard to come to any decision. When we are faced with a choice, we have to learn to apply our own intellect and be firm with our own decisions in life. Sometimes we are swayed far too easily by others.”

Oh boy, I could relate to that. I have always admired people who do their thing and couldn’t care less what other people think. That kind of confidence has never come easy to me and in certain situations I’m not the most decisive person either. Slowly it has begun to sink in that in this life it will never be possible to please everyone, but I still need reminding from time to time. As Guruji says, happiness and sadness, and light and darkness are two sides of the same coin, so the same can be said of praise and criticism. It is one of those ongoing lessons in life as far as I am concerned, because temptation seems to lurk around every corner with excuses why it would be easier not to fulfil our purpose in life, or follow our heart.

Talking about indecisiveness, this was me in January 2010: starting to make progress in the studio and loving each step of the way, but that made it even worse. Where would it all lead? Should I? Shouldn’t I? As previously mentioned, my mind was literally stuffed at the seams with doubt and trepidation.

Anyway, there I was, sitting in Guruji’s living room, and casually striking up a conversation:

“Guruji, can I really perform? Are you quite sure? Because if you say that maybe I should try to sell my songs to someone else, I’m quite open to that idea…”

“Hei-deeee…” It was the deep, stern voice.

“What is this? You have to be confident! Of course you can be a singer.”

“Yes, but Guruji, if you’re a singer … don’t you have to be all skinny and get your teeth whitened and all that sort of thing?!” (What me? Influenced by pop culture, the media and the leaflets they hand out at the dentist?!)

“No,” Guruji said in his wonderfully straightforward manner, “You just have to be you. The main thing is the music, and this kind of devotional music lasts for a longer time, because there is a meaning.”

So that was that – no point in arguing. “OK, Guruji, if you really think so…”