- edit - a long one, brace yourselves
amidst the workload, we catch a discussion in the cubicle.eyes tired and red from looking at company reports and profit and loss account statements and prospectuses welcome the break.
The silence is broken and so is the monotony of work. A few workplace jokes and barbs later, the discussion veers towards "will power" and "determination" and other 10 ton words.
While Chandru tells me that one must not 'run away' from a situation, and says that it is the average man who is the most steely.
I disagree, many a times the average man is made to be steely because he has no where to run to; no haven to escape to.
He ponders over this thought, in a way, his barely perceptible nod tells me he agrees to an extent with my statement.
He looks up (for, he's sitting and Im tired of sitting in these foam chairs, I prefer standing when Im having an informal talk...he would tower over me any day, his thin 5-11 over my pudgy 5-3 - sigh) and his eyes have a question of whether we would have shouldered all that we have, if we had somewhere to run to. As though in a silent answer, his eyes tell me he would. He nods, says he would want it no other way.
I agree, only to an extent though. There are demons that we all have wished someone else was around who'd helped us fight them. Atleast I know I have them, but as I said, we average joes need to fight it out.
( I leave out workplace references - These questions, no matter asked in what context are as relevant in the other as in one)
Another question he has is "why?"
Why do people decide to quit?
Why is that people give up even before they begin
Why is it that people prefer later regret over present action?
Why is that laying in the bed wide awake for the rest of their lives is feasible over laying in the bed awake strategising and planning to overcome the hurdle for a peaceful sleep looks nicer to some people?
I do not know. I am struggling with these questions myself.
"And then," he says, "there are people, who are not even bothered. Questions have no meaning to them, fighting and standing up for a principle/person means nothing - Do these people even LIVE?"
"why the hell are these idiots ALIVE? Its as though they live just to make others miserable. If you cannot stand up for what you think is right, what bloody right do you have to live ?" he asks and the disgust in his voice is visible.
"I mean, if there is a decision you have taken, and you cannot stand by your own damn decision, what's left there to live for - the nightcap?" he sniggers "And, you have these idiots" He waves his hand towards a particular direction " these people, cannot TAKE a decision, can you believe it? They CANNOT take a decision, they'll wait all their lives for others to decide for them, and then, they'll give up on these decisions, they wont stand by them. Who are they? I mean, I loathe to call them people - PARASITES - aah, I like English, you have a word for everyone. They are fucking parasites" he mutters.
I can smell the stench of anger and disgust in his voice and his body language.
I, though, am more forgiving of human nature. I understand some failings and fickleness of the nature, being prone to some myself.
I smile at his anger. I tell him he's being judgemental.
He scowls at me. He tells me it is this "non-judgementalism" which has gotten me into a soup today. You are too good when you ought not to be so, he says. You forgive, you find an explanation and a reason. you convince yourself of the other person's goodness, while you should be abusing the man.
I agree with him. Im growing softer these days, maybe its the old age creeping up on me.Then again, this - anger, abuse and outburst will only help upto an extent. When you know that these are what goad the individual.
As a leader, it is important to know what goads/motivates the individual whom you are to lead.It is necessary to understand the amount of support and sympathy he needs. It is a must to know what scares him into action and what into inaction.
That is when you build a team and make them work as a team. A "manager" may not do this, a leader must. And, this, you must do in the leeway that the organisation gives you to work within. Its called "making music" (an inspiring story I read once, gives me these words) - "making music with what you have, and then, making better music with what you have left with you". Thats the key to be a leader.
Then, I begin explaining the rationale behind human emotions, atleast the way I see it is put forth to him.
I tell him about "denominators". He looks at me weirdly - "youve been drawing too many graphs and too much data analysis has done this to you" he gesticulates in a way to indicate that Im crazy.I persist with my idea of denominators.
It is the denominator that makes a man do things he does I say.
For example, I explain - My denominator is happiness - I tell him.
Does it make someone happy is the question I ask myself.
The someone who is dear to me, the someone whose happiness will make me smile, albeit a small one is my denominator.
It is not that I have no choice only that I limit my choices the minute I define my denominator.
If I stand up for a decision, if I run away from one, if I hold on to something or someone, if I refuse to fight, even the act of allowing another to make a decision for me is only motivated by happiness. At the end of the day, I do not care if I live in a hut and starve for weeks together, the question I shall ask myself will be "Am I happy in this hut starving to death?" if the answer is a resounding YES, then everything I do will be worth it.
If Im castaway from everyone I love, if Im hated by the world, if Im stoned to death for a decision I take, the question I shall ask myself is "Am I happy standing by myself?" For, if you betray yourself, there is very little to set store by in your life. You may earn the praise, love and affection of the world, the loved ones may stand by you and pose for a million smiling photographs, the void created by your absence within yourself will be an insurmountable mountain.
Chandru understands. He thinks about his denominator.
"It looks logical" he says "what other denominators have you seen" he asks.
Money can be one, fame, praise, acceptance, filial duties several denominators exist. Many a times these denominators change places. Sometimes for a few people family's comfort becomes more important than one's happiness - I think back on my dad's life and find that denominator peppering his life. I utter a silent prayer to him.
"Yes" agrees, "Makes sense, but what does not make sense is, the same questions again. you have told me why someone would DO a thing, not why someone would NOT DO an act. that is question here. You certainly cant mean running away gives him happiness - or do you?" He slants his eyes
Ahh, tricky question. I nod, and I reply, slowly, I recall another discussion once with a professor. I try to put it in words.
"convenience" There! I manage to come up with an answer.
People are not bothered, because it is convenient to do so. It is easy to run away than to stand back and fight. It is convenient to turn a blind eye than to point out injustice. It is easier to allow another to take a decision and later on blame them for any failings that occur, It is far more convenient to turn the ship as the current is. Convenience is, I struggle with words ... well, you can call it a "universal denominator" convenience is lurking in the shadows, ready to become the denominator. When you are fighting your family, when you are standing up for something in an alien environment, when you know there is a back door outside having taken which, you can breathe easy... convenience becomes the snake, tempting you to bite into the apple and commit the sin of betraying yourself.
Many people do it without a sense of actually being betrayed or being the betrayer, because convenience blinds them so. Many people actually fall into the trap of this - they forget themselves, their dreams, their aspirations, their love and their life - all they look for is "easy ways out" and convenient existence - someday, when all that they have betrayed raise up to haunt them..........., I stop and sigh.
"They will find another easy way out like him" Chandru spits out the words. He sure despises the man. I smile.
Do not judge, I reiterate. All judgements are but transparent.
There maybe several turns in life when we have ridden the same stage coach as them - the chariot of convenience.
But then, as I have realised, the denominator of conveniences extracts a far heavy price on the people who choose it, than the ones who decide to struggle it out. And here is where ignorance is bliss. When you willfully choose one over the other, will you think of the opportunity cost and the ramifications of the lost denominator. Ignorant people are truly blessed, for they do not know of a choice that they exert. They do not know what they lose and what they gain. Such is the lure of the snake, that its venom blinds you from yourself.
As the lunch hour draws to a close, I leave Chandru's cubicle, with one last rejoinder.
"Ive seen that not having tears does not necessarily mean happiness - Not having tears means existing with a void, a vacuum of nothingness.That is what makes me think before I apply my denominator, that's how I keep convenience at bay."
Ironically, in the course of fixing my denominator as happiness, I come across several instances where tears are inevitable. Yet, I would prefer tears in the path to happiness than a moment of pleasure with a denominator of convenience which would leave me with a void later.
What is your denominator?