Wednesday, July 3, 2013

'Lessons' I Call 'Life'

When it rains, it does not decide where to go. It does not belong to anyone, yet it is for everyone. Sometimes the sheer noise of the raindrops make you go blank. All you hear is that sound. Nothing distracts you, you start concentrating amidst the noise. These are facts of nature we must understand, for they don’t come with sponsored posts on social networks. The number of events, people and situations around us are enough to divert our attention, or are they? The truth, if we start exploring, will come out simple: if we like what we are doing, nothing can distract us. I never realized the umpteen number of times my father told me the same thing; assuming that how in the world it is possible to concentrate with Tendulkar playing those signature straight drives, Mom cooking those delicious fries, Mr. Vajpayee giving those speeches, those landline ringing during those odd-hours, friends calling for evening Cricket match with the life on stake.

With each year, I realized how critical it is to inculcate attributes I never thought of: 

1. Unlearn
2. Deserve
3. Prioritize

Unlearning, for me, came into existence at a stage when I realized that there is a knowledge overload from all sides. I saw people replicating the same stuff over and over again, this gives them some unknown pleasure. You will find professors fondly telling you concepts they themselves cannot apply and telling you stories they cannot relate to. And they do it for infinite times and then you come across many people preaching you the same things with additional layers. All these makes you either think that you know a lot of facts or you start questioning their validity. The second reason, which brings the 'unlearn' factor into existence is the "Life Lessons" you are taught over the years you grow up. You are told many such practices which are not only vague but carry no value in today's scenario. I can count at least 15 such stories/practices/myths which you really need to unlearn, but few I want to quote:

- Working hard leads us to success: No one, I repeat no one, has defined what 'hard-work' stands for. For example, I have seen employees sitting for 12 hours a day and 7 days a week in office giving less output than people sitting lesser number of hours. But the catalyst for the 'so-called' hard-workers is their bosses who nod their head for a good hike at the end of the year keeping in mind the hours they spent in office. The same goes for the CGPA/percentage we score in our academics. A 1% less here or there and that is the end of the world for the parents. (more on the academics some other day)

- It matters so very much what people think of me: Throughout my growing years, my parents were always concerned about what others kids are doing and what should we achieve. Our achievements were decided keeping others as benchmark. It happened with me, till I completed my 12th and post the 12th results, my father "finally" asked me what I want to do. Then things changed, I was an average student before that and remained the same after. But what changed is, he became more content and more satisfied with my progress. He stopped thinking what others are saying, as I always told him that "I will not disappoint you". 

- It is bloody important to stay happy: After a great deal of self-experience, I realized that being happy is a state of mind. The onus lies with you how you want to feel. There will
definitely be situations that will be more adverse than you can even think of and the great self-help-gurus will tell you take it lightly or keep calm to infinity or not to break down under any circumstances. But it is quite "normal" to feel bad, be upset and even a temporary break down. It really is normal and for all my male friends there's nothing like "men don't cry" theory. For I know we all break down numerous times for many reasons. But having said this, we can not stay in the state of mourning for eternity, for every phase shall pass and the only fact is we need to move on. Happiness is multiplied when shared and he who loves, stays happy.

Deserve is a verb that means 'have or show qualities worthy of rewards or punishment'. It also differentiates between people who are practically ambitious from those who expect things which does not even exist. It also separates people with 'half-knowledge' from people who think before they speak. There is this famous but simple phrase which I believe blindly, and it holds true in every phase of our lives, it says: Deserve Before You Desire. Being in a profession that primarily revolves around 'people issues', I have uncountable number of instances where the employees in any organization expect more than they need, more than that is justified, more than they deserve.

- Earn It : Before I could understand all these in life, I too was desiring things before reaching a certain age or time. Then I learned this critical lesson from my father, who always ensured that I have to 'earn' everything that I 'desire'. All these demands ranged from chocolates to bicycle to video games. I never got anything the day I asked for and it never ever made me happy. I always used to tell him that he was the harshest and a heartless father. Each year passing by, I used to get something I wished a year back or may be some time before that. I felt wonderful with every new thing being given to me and but complaint against him remained the same. The biggest realization happened, when I started working; I started valuing a lot of things around. I always valued people, for I knew they are the biggest assets to any family, society and organization. Today, as I write this, I can only think and thank my father for making me earn everything I wished for which turned into valuing each of them. More often than not, when we get things without working for it, we start taking it for granted, we often do not 'value' it.

- Being Content : These days switching jobs is just another 'norm'. Changing a mobile handset is an 'in' thing. And 'breaking news' has actually become a trend. There is no end to our expectations. Majority of that is materialistic. Observing my father through all these years makes me understand one thing which I believe is very crucial to become a better 
human being: be content. I know I have not even distantly close to the level of 'contentment' he has in his life, but I believe it's time I should learn that. He has lived a life that has got every aspect of seriousness and his motto was simple: time takes no holiday. Being content become very difficult thanks to family, society, peer pressure and what not. But the day you start telling yourself that you are fine with what you have, believe me that would be the beginning of so many happy days to come.

Prioritizing does not come naturally to everyone, it ain't that easy as well. Some just could not do it, some start and then could not carry it forward and some 'act' as if they are really into it. Prioritizing often becomes a practice if we do all those little things in a day in a more organized way. Organizing your day, your month, your tasks are one part, but the most critical is doing the same with your 'life'.

My priorities changed as I grew up. There are multiple phases that kept me changing my priorities, some worked, some did not. When I was into my 12th, I saw this extraordinarily beautiful young girl, and all I did during the phase that followed is 'think' about her. For me the priority was 'courtship' at a time when studying should have taken the front seat. I made my family shift base just because I could be near her; sounds so hilarious today and so hazardous if things would have gone wrong. Then during my graduation, while I was neck deep in to William Shakespeare, R.K. Narayan & William Wordsworth, I thought my priority is to get a job as soon as possible. Doing management seemed the most valid idea as Mr. Shakespeare would have taken me to some distant college with a meagre pay. When I spent 23 years at home, Mom's food was just alright for me and I always teased her each time we ordered food from outside. 

Today when I look back, I realize I could have just weighed every situation instead of taking decisions for those instant priorities. Be it my 'courtship' or 'management degree'. And yes, as far as Mom's cooking is concerned, only I knew how delicious it was when I started staying in a hostel and realized I can't even have it once in a month. Even my tears of missing home could not feed me that time.

If we get on to some more worldly affairs, we will see how our priorities today have become so very materialistic. Staying in a bigger 'city', having a 'house' of your own, a 'vehicle' that has to match your apartment's other ones rather than your requirement, a 'CTC' that should be well bargained in the market, mugging that pink newspaper just because the person sitting next to you is reading it, calling people friends just because they will come handy for you in future, working for a brand even if you know the profile is something that will never excite you... the list will be endless. I will never argue with those who will say each of these priorities are based on leading a good and secured lifestyle, but my only thought is 'at what cost'!

No lessons will be enough to protect you from an imminent hazard if you are never prepared to 'unlearn'. There will be no substance to validate your dreams if you do not 'deserve' them. 'Priorities' can never be set at the expense of wrong choices which later determine our actions.


SINGH is KING said...

Great... I must say, 3 crucial and vital lesson of life have been summarised in an effortless manner...!

Sambit said...

i read through the long post, smiling at moments, pensive at moments, reflective and insightful at moments.
All these makes it a straight-from-heart post.
I appreciate highly the confessions part of it; it is an essential sign of a good writer...

Subhajit Mishra said...

@Guru: Thanks for reading it, but more than that for making your presence felt on this platform.

@Sambit: Have jotted the thoughts I kept collecting over a period of time. Confessions are an integral part of all my writing. Happy to know that you liked it.