Life’s Labels

Was driving a few weeks back – a bit of a rush (aren’t we all) and was trying to speed up to the extent possible. Managed to get into the fast lane – oh yes – should be good now. Suddenly I noticed that the fast lane was actually slower than the lanes on the right and slowly people were moving out to the right and driving past. As I approached further, the cause of the slowdown came to light.

A car ahead in the fast lane was moving like a turtle and not giving way in spite of people honking leading to people moving out and staring at the driver. I too was to follow the ritual of the honk, when I noticed a small sticker on the car’s rear!

“Physically challenged; Please be patient.”

And that changed everything!! I went calm, slowed down and just kept my distance until such time I could and then as I approached my exit, moved on. As I passed the car, saw a man probably in his 60’s, both hands clenched on the wheel, concentrating on the road and driving as if there existed no one else and no tomorrow. I was a few minutes late, that was fine, but could not help wondering during the day.

What if there was no sticker? What if there was no sign? What if it was not an elderly person? What if… It also struck as an afterthought – Why did I need a sticker to be patient and calm?

We see labels all around us daily – “Baby on Board”, “School Zone”, “New Mom”, “Senior citizen driving”, “New Driver”… and that changes our attitude. We either accept them, some see them with contempt & wonder why these people are on the roads and why they don’t stay home. Why are we not patient daily in life with people around us? Why do we tend to lose our cool at the slightest instance? Do we need labels to drive our attitudes and perceptions and determine if we are to have a good day or a bad one?

The world is full of people fighting battles – A job loss, failing an exam, getting rejected on job interviews, fighting a disease, going through marriage problems, a death of loved one, financial issues…. All of them despite their battles, continue to live, they have to and they are part of society. We too are pre occupied with our problems in life and we expect others to understand or snap at some one for no reason who does not know, yet we have zero patience with others who may be going through similar situations. Some fight through, some hide away and the not so lucky ones, who lose the battle, choose to end their lives.

Everyone is fighting a battle we know nothing about, as people don’t know our battles. The common thing is – none of us wear a label about it.

The world would indeed be a softer place, if all respected life’s labels. A matter of choice. Ours!

Thanks Roshni for the thought

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Positions Vs Interest

Amazing how positions and interests are intertwined.

People take positions – on what their beliefs are, what is right vs what is wrong. What they will do, what they will not.

At the same time, they are also bound by interests. Their needs, their concerns, their benefits, losses, fears, their motivation that is linked to their passion and can also drive their position

When two people meet, both stand by their positions, bound by their interests. What becomes interesting is that while positions remain and may differ, it is the interest that converges looking at mutual benefit and the long-term impact.

Ironical that it is those people whose positions may differ, but their interest converges, always succeed. More like an iceberg, where the critical mass is beyond vision and lies beneath the surface, it is they who see the big picture.

Those who do not always try to play catch. That I presume, is the difference between success and failure, or ruthless vs being true to oneself, or simply speaking the definition of Politics.

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To The Top!

Sorry but I’m not interested,” he politely said.

I pressured him on it until he said something that totally confused me.  He told me that he *’already made it to the top’*.

I was familiar with his current company and looked at his resume again. He wasn’t anywhere near the top.  He would have needed a telescope to see the top.  He wasn’t even a manager yet.

He explained to me that “making it to the top” for him meant *he loved the exact work he did each day, he loved his company, he was treated fairly and with respect, he made enough money to be comfortable, he had excellent benefits, he had flexibility, and most importantly to him, he’s never missed a single Little League game, dance recital, parent-teacher conference, anniversary, birthday, or any family event.*

He knew what taking the next step in his career meant.  More time, travel, and sacrifice. “Not worth it,” he said.

The definition and priorities of “Making it to the Top” may not be the same for all. It is not what society expects of you, but more of what you expect from yourself.

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Strange that Sword and Words have the same alphabets.

Stranger that both have the same effect, if not handled properly.

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3 Advices

Now – before anyone gets a thought – no.. this is not a religious sermon or a preach, nor am I acting as an advisor.. This was a message that I received and could not but want to share, but also co-relate it to how we act. Part of a long story, about a man travelling, but as I read through, got these three gems that do resonate – but at some point today, we consider them meaningless.

No. 1: Never take shortcuts in your life, In the long run, they may not be worth it, (you could lose your life)

The traveller in the story was told to avoid shortcuts. While travelling through a jungle, he was told of a shortcut that cut his time by 2/3rd. However for some reason he decided to take the longer route… As well – he later found out that the shortcut led to a swamp and an ambush. 

Of course, this does not relate to taking a short cut on your way home and in no way means that you take the short cut that you travel regularly to reach home 10 minutes early, due to lighter traffic and you could die.

However, as we all some day sit back and mull over our life (I am not sure, why we only do this in our later years – when we are 60 or 70 or some on our deathbed), with some of us having a nice drink, one can only remember, how we reached where we reached, where we reached. Some of us would have made our millions, some 00’s of 000’s and be happy, many happier even with their 000’s.

The point would not be about how much money one has made over their lifespan or what some people call being successful in life, simply due to our perceived market value. For me it is at a point where one can always sleep with a peaceful mind that one has reached where he or she has with his own efforts and not stepped over bodies to reach that position. Shortcuts often have a price and dead men tell no tales are old sayings, however so Skeletons hidden in cupboards have a tendency to find their way out also is.

No. 2: Never be too curious (curiosity towards evil can be deadly).

In the story – the traveller stayed at an Inn. Heard noises at night outside his room – felt like investigating, but did not. Went back to sleep but stayed alert. In the morning found out that the noises were used to bring people out from the inn into the jungle and then be robbed and killed.

Curiosity killed the cat, we all learn somewhere in Grade 3, however before we enter Pre-Nursery, we are encouraged to be curious. Parents boast in no uncertain terms when their children express reams of curiosity and how intelligent they are – after all, it makes brilliant tandoori night talk. So why teach us in Grade 3 that Curiosity killed the cat, but as we progress in life – being inquisitive and curious is what matters.

No thin line – the curiousness is good when it comes to learning, however also has a tendency to cross lines into wanting to know people’s personal lives and matters which do not pertain to them. Curiosity, in the professional and personal world often takes a turn for either having information for power or to gloat in some one else’s misery.

No. 3: Never make decisions in moments of anger or pain, because when you repent, it could be too late

In the story, the man comes home after twenty years. Reaches in the night, sees his wife’s shadow and proceeds. Then he sees a mans silhouette along with his wife, both hugging each other. In a rage, he proceeded and wanting to kill them both, but for some reason backed out just before approaching the house door.

Remembering an advice, he stopped, reflected and held  and slept in the bushes. The next day, decided would leave his wife for ever, however wanted to know why she did what she did. Went home, greeted joyously by his wife, hugged to the core, while his heart cried. After his wife managed to control her joy, she introduced him to the male figure that hugged her last night. Their son, who was now twenty years old, who the man had not seen since he left home, not knowing his wife was pregnant when he left.

After meeting his family, the man sat and cried tears of joy. Thank God, he held back for one night.

The one that most of us fall to. We are trained from a young age in a very competitive world to think on our feet, make on the spot decisions and where our parents are competitive and want their kids to live their dreams – we participate in reality shows, where every second matters.

This again is keeping in line with the spirit to win no matter what, it is the one that is first that matters. We are trained in school, in college, in our careers, that who can make decisions fast matters. However what we do not learn is where to stop the decision making process.

Quite often, we embark on our personal life and we still start thinking from our heart. We fall in love, it is the heart that rules, we decide to settle, it is the heart that rules, life goes through ups and downs – some make it, some don’t. Many who don’t often have lost it due to matters of the heart.

We go through tough moments, but we are so tuned to making on the spot decisions, we forget that when in anger or pain, those on the spot decisions do not hold good. We forget that at times like those, the mind is not rational and the heart is on an over boil. Words that we probably do not believe in, or as some say, what we really feel, come out into the open.

We end up taking decisions that if not the next day or the next week, but sometime in life, we wonder as to why we took. Not that one should not, but the impact of a decision taken in haste has destroyed many a relationship and families, including kingdoms of yore.

The irony – despite knowing all of these – we continue doing exactly what the advise tells us not to do. And we wonder why!!

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