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10 Lessons from a Beautiful Life

Sahil Bloom

Welcome to the 242 new members of the curiosity tribe who have joined us since Wednesday. Join the 57,887 others who are receiving high-signal, curiosity-inducing content every single week.

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How to customize formatting for each rich text

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nested selector

system.

The world lost a beautiful soul over the weekend.

My grandmother, Vimala Reddy ("Avva" to me), passed away peacefully in the early morning hours on October 1. She was 94-years-old.

Loss is difficult to process. A few months ago, she was beating the hell out of me in a game of Scrabble, smiling politely and assuring me that she was just getting good letters.

When it became clear she was nearing the end, I FaceTimed with her to say goodbye. Life is cyclical. When I was born, she was there to welcome me to this world. In the end, I had to bid her farewell from it.

She lived a beautiful life—leaving behind three children, six grandchildren, six great-grandchildren, and a rich, diverse tapestry of friends and loved ones.

As I reflect on that beautiful life, I want to share 10 short lessons I learned from her that changed my life (and may change yours)...

Don’t fear sadness, as it tends to sit right next to love.

This is part of the fundamental balance and tension of life. The pain of loss comes in the same package as the joy of love.

If you fear the former, you'll never experience the latter.

Life isn't about avoiding chaos, but making the chaos beautiful.

My grandparents flew over from India to visit my family in Boston in the spring of 1997. On April 1, there was an enormous blizzard that knocked out power for a week. It was chaos, because our house had an electric stove, so we were left with no way to cook.

I'll never forget coming downstairs one morning and seeing my grandmother, fully put together in a sari, cooking us a hearty breakfast over an open flame in the fireplace.

I don't remember all of the calm, normal days we spent together that spring, but I do remember those chaotic days that were made so beautiful by her presence and attitude.

Life, it turns out, isn't about the moments of calm, but about the moments of chaos that we make beautiful.

Never lose the mischievous 10-year-old you have inside you.

Life Rule: Make decisions that your 80-year old self and 10-year-old self approve of. The former cares about the long-term compounding of actions, while the latter reminds you to have some fun along the way.

My grandmother had a mischievous streak to the end.

She would act lost in a game of Scrabble, then smile wryly as she delicately placed a 7-letter word on a triple world score, ending your hopes of a comeback.

Most of us lose sight of that inner 10-year-old.

To paraphrase a friend, inside every 80-year-old is a 10-year-old wondering, "What the f*** just happened?"

Never let that be you.

Your relationships keep you healthy.

My grandfather passed away in 2007. For 13 years, my grandmother didn't go a single day without having someone visit and spend time with her. It wasn't until the COVID lockdowns of 2020 when she was forced into isolation that stopped this daily routine of social connection. She aged more in the next two years than she had the prior 13.

When my parents and I visited her in January of this year, she was nearly catatonic when we arrived. By the second day, she was up and about, getting dressed and beating us in Scrabble.

Human connection may be the ultimate medicine.

Cultivate relationships for life. Be there for people during their times of darkness and they will be there during yours.

Get your 10,000 brain steps in daily.

My grandmother was whip smart until the end.

Fun fact, at 90-years-old, she beat a professional Scrabble player in a game when he visited the Scrabble club she had started.

Her secret: Daily brain exercise.

She swore by a routine of daily Scrabble games and simple guided meditations that kept her sharp.

As a result, long after her body had started to fail, her mind, charm, humor, and wit were still abundant.

Exercise the brain daily and it will remain strong for years to come.

If you can keep your head, the world is yours.

One summer when I was a kid, my grandmother came to stay with us for a few months. We were having dinner one evening when a bat somehow got into the house and started flying around the kitchen.

Naturally, all of us dove under the table and screamed while my dad chased the bat around with a dish towel trying to whack it out of the air.

All of a sudden, I heard fwaaaaap followed by silence.

I looked out from under the table to see my 80-year-old grandmother, in a beautiful red sari, holding a tennis racket in her right hand, with the invading bat on the ground next to her.

Without saying a word, she put the tennis racket down, calmly adjusted her sari, and sat back down in her chair. In chaos, she was calm.

She was a fan of Rudyard Kipling:

"If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs...yours is the Earth and everything that's in it."

Dynamism is the most important human trait.

When the COVID pandemic struck and locked down the world, my family did a Zoom call with my grandmother in India to see how she was doing.

It was a period when most people were complaining about the situation, but my 91-year-old grandmother was taking it in stride.

She smiled and shrugged off the latest twist of fate, though admitted she was frustrated at not being able to see us or her friends.

The ability to roll with life's punches—to be dynamic and adaptable—is the most important human trait.

If you can find the light in the darkness, you'll always make it.

Take pride in the details.

My grandmother believed that looking presentable was a matter of self-respect.

No matter the occasion, she would always take pride in wrapping her sari and putting herself together.

She took pride in the details.

After all, how you do anything is how you do everything.

Create stories your grandchildren will love to hear someday.

A few years ago, my mom hired a writer to sit down with my grandmother and document stories from her life. They met weekly for two years. The process brought my grandmother immense joy—the result will bring my family joy for years to come.

One realization from reading and listening to these stories:

Life was way more interesting back then. I generally think technology is great, but it’s definitely made life less wild and adventurous. The stories from her childhood and young adult years in the early-mid-1900s just hit different.

We all need to create some stories that our grandchildren will love to hear someday.

Your heart will rarely lead you astray.

My grandparents' relationship was not acceptable to their families—she was from noble birth, and he was not. But at a time in India when most marriages were arranged, my grandparents threw their family's concerns to the wind and married for love.

Years later, when my mother wanted to marry an American man she had met at Princeton—a relationship that might have been viewed as rather unacceptable—my grandmother saw a journey come full circle.

She had learned, and now had to embrace, that the heart will rarely lead you astray.

My grandfather passed away 16 years ago, and my grandmother missed him terribly ever since. I hope they are together again, reunited, side by side, and smiling down on all of us.

Goodbye for Now, Avva

I guess this is goodbye...at least for now.

I hope you're getting the good letters wherever you are.

Thank you for everything. I'll miss you dearly, until we meet again.

Shortly after dismantling me in a game of Scrabble in Jan-23

10 Lessons from a Beautiful Life

Sahil Bloom

Welcome to the 242 new members of the curiosity tribe who have joined us since Wednesday. Join the 57,887 others who are receiving high-signal, curiosity-inducing content every single week.

What’s a Rich Text element?

The rich text element allows you to create and format headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, images, and video all in one place instead of having to add and format them individually. Just double-click and easily create content.

Static and dynamic content editing

A rich text element can be used with static or dynamic content. For static content,

just drop it into any page and begin editing. For dynamic content, add a rich text field to any collection and then connect a rich text element to that field in the settings panel. Voila!

  • mldsa
  • ,l;cd
  • mkclds

How to customize formatting for each rich text

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of"

nested selector

system.

The world lost a beautiful soul over the weekend.

My grandmother, Vimala Reddy ("Avva" to me), passed away peacefully in the early morning hours on October 1. She was 94-years-old.

Loss is difficult to process. A few months ago, she was beating the hell out of me in a game of Scrabble, smiling politely and assuring me that she was just getting good letters.

When it became clear she was nearing the end, I FaceTimed with her to say goodbye. Life is cyclical. When I was born, she was there to welcome me to this world. In the end, I had to bid her farewell from it.

She lived a beautiful life—leaving behind three children, six grandchildren, six great-grandchildren, and a rich, diverse tapestry of friends and loved ones.

As I reflect on that beautiful life, I want to share 10 short lessons I learned from her that changed my life (and may change yours)...

Don’t fear sadness, as it tends to sit right next to love.

This is part of the fundamental balance and tension of life. The pain of loss comes in the same package as the joy of love.

If you fear the former, you'll never experience the latter.

Life isn't about avoiding chaos, but making the chaos beautiful.

My grandparents flew over from India to visit my family in Boston in the spring of 1997. On April 1, there was an enormous blizzard that knocked out power for a week. It was chaos, because our house had an electric stove, so we were left with no way to cook.

I'll never forget coming downstairs one morning and seeing my grandmother, fully put together in a sari, cooking us a hearty breakfast over an open flame in the fireplace.

I don't remember all of the calm, normal days we spent together that spring, but I do remember those chaotic days that were made so beautiful by her presence and attitude.

Life, it turns out, isn't about the moments of calm, but about the moments of chaos that we make beautiful.

Never lose the mischievous 10-year-old you have inside you.

Life Rule: Make decisions that your 80-year old self and 10-year-old self approve of. The former cares about the long-term compounding of actions, while the latter reminds you to have some fun along the way.

My grandmother had a mischievous streak to the end.

She would act lost in a game of Scrabble, then smile wryly as she delicately placed a 7-letter word on a triple world score, ending your hopes of a comeback.

Most of us lose sight of that inner 10-year-old.

To paraphrase a friend, inside every 80-year-old is a 10-year-old wondering, "What the f*** just happened?"

Never let that be you.

Your relationships keep you healthy.

My grandfather passed away in 2007. For 13 years, my grandmother didn't go a single day without having someone visit and spend time with her. It wasn't until the COVID lockdowns of 2020 when she was forced into isolation that stopped this daily routine of social connection. She aged more in the next two years than she had the prior 13.

When my parents and I visited her in January of this year, she was nearly catatonic when we arrived. By the second day, she was up and about, getting dressed and beating us in Scrabble.

Human connection may be the ultimate medicine.

Cultivate relationships for life. Be there for people during their times of darkness and they will be there during yours.

Get your 10,000 brain steps in daily.

My grandmother was whip smart until the end.

Fun fact, at 90-years-old, she beat a professional Scrabble player in a game when he visited the Scrabble club she had started.

Her secret: Daily brain exercise.

She swore by a routine of daily Scrabble games and simple guided meditations that kept her sharp.

As a result, long after her body had started to fail, her mind, charm, humor, and wit were still abundant.

Exercise the brain daily and it will remain strong for years to come.

If you can keep your head, the world is yours.

One summer when I was a kid, my grandmother came to stay with us for a few months. We were having dinner one evening when a bat somehow got into the house and started flying around the kitchen.

Naturally, all of us dove under the table and screamed while my dad chased the bat around with a dish towel trying to whack it out of the air.

All of a sudden, I heard fwaaaaap followed by silence.

I looked out from under the table to see my 80-year-old grandmother, in a beautiful red sari, holding a tennis racket in her right hand, with the invading bat on the ground next to her.

Without saying a word, she put the tennis racket down, calmly adjusted her sari, and sat back down in her chair. In chaos, she was calm.

She was a fan of Rudyard Kipling:

"If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs...yours is the Earth and everything that's in it."

Dynamism is the most important human trait.

When the COVID pandemic struck and locked down the world, my family did a Zoom call with my grandmother in India to see how she was doing.

It was a period when most people were complaining about the situation, but my 91-year-old grandmother was taking it in stride.

She smiled and shrugged off the latest twist of fate, though admitted she was frustrated at not being able to see us or her friends.

The ability to roll with life's punches—to be dynamic and adaptable—is the most important human trait.

If you can find the light in the darkness, you'll always make it.

Take pride in the details.

My grandmother believed that looking presentable was a matter of self-respect.

No matter the occasion, she would always take pride in wrapping her sari and putting herself together.

She took pride in the details.

After all, how you do anything is how you do everything.

Create stories your grandchildren will love to hear someday.

A few years ago, my mom hired a writer to sit down with my grandmother and document stories from her life. They met weekly for two years. The process brought my grandmother immense joy—the result will bring my family joy for years to come.

One realization from reading and listening to these stories:

Life was way more interesting back then. I generally think technology is great, but it’s definitely made life less wild and adventurous. The stories from her childhood and young adult years in the early-mid-1900s just hit different.

We all need to create some stories that our grandchildren will love to hear someday.

Your heart will rarely lead you astray.

My grandparents' relationship was not acceptable to their families—she was from noble birth, and he was not. But at a time in India when most marriages were arranged, my grandparents threw their family's concerns to the wind and married for love.

Years later, when my mother wanted to marry an American man she had met at Princeton—a relationship that might have been viewed as rather unacceptable—my grandmother saw a journey come full circle.

She had learned, and now had to embrace, that the heart will rarely lead you astray.

My grandfather passed away 16 years ago, and my grandmother missed him terribly ever since. I hope they are together again, reunited, side by side, and smiling down on all of us.

Goodbye for Now, Avva

I guess this is goodbye...at least for now.

I hope you're getting the good letters wherever you are.

Thank you for everything. I'll miss you dearly, until we meet again.

Shortly after dismantling me in a game of Scrabble in Jan-23