introspection

100% Character

100% Character

There is a channel called UNIVERSAL Channel, here in London (where I reside these days) and I watch a few shows on that channel. Apart for the shows, which are a very apt ‘time waste strategy’ for my bored soul; the most inspiring part of that channel’s telecast is the advertisement or their tagline, if it can be called that;  they telecast in between every show.

They have different starting lines and questions; and they feature a different person, trying to share their story and inspire the audience.  Some of the questions are –“What does it take to keep your head when your heart is broken?” or “what does it take to smile and help others when your own life is a miserable mess?” Or “what does it take to speak up for those who are afraid to?” or “what does it take to win, when the world has already declared you a loser?” or “What does it take to keep your cool when you have the hottest temper?” or “What does it take to bend the line but never break it?” or “What does it take to show compassion yet be firm?” or My favorite thus far; “What does it take to find the why behind the who?” Many more such introspective questions and the answer to all of them is 100% character! This representation of character, and advertising it the way they did, touched me. The shows are all mundane, uninspiring and typical thriller or domestic dramas, and every few minutes this advertisement comes like a breath of fresh air. For me, this advertisement became the pivotal point of interest. In no time the show was a mere time pass and I looked up from my work only when I heard the background score of that advertisement. I eagerly wait for the new question and the new person they feature every time.

Many revelations have revealed themselves through these simple 100% character advertisements and there many ambassadors. To cite a few that appealed most to me; I always found jogging stupid and an activity which only mindless and jobless people indulged in! What did jogging achieve? And when that person said the exact same lines I was thrilled to the core! But what followed was the inspiring bit, instead of mindless jogging he went ahead and started a jog for a cause foundation! How creative and how honorable the gesture was. This person started delivering newspaper, milk, medicines and the basic essentials to the people in his vicinity and free of cost, on a daily basis! He became the jogger deliverer. And very soon others came forward and now the group has about 1000 joggers doing the same service in their neighborhood. He made a difference and showed 100% character, right?

Another story which is gripping is about a gymnast, who missed winning her Gold medal in her youth and has returned to claim the title after 12 years. She is past her thirties, single mother with a daughter who is 9 years old, a very improbable age to be in gymnastics let alone aspire to win a medal. But stubbornness put to good use is how she says it; “I am a stubborn person and I like to prove people wrong”. She has already won the local and state level championships and is on her way to prove her mettle during the forthcoming 2016 Olympics. When everything goes wrong and baits you to quit, yet you continue to follow your heart, it does take 100% character.

How this connects to me or what has this taught me may be the question in the reader’s mindJ.  This move to London has shown me many chinks in my own so called ‘perfect character’. I had a busy life back in India and I kept complaining to my better half about our move to this Godforsaken cold country where I knew no one and had nothing to do. I spent my first month watching the idiot box and these advertisements caught my attention. All their ambassadors have lived a life far more challenging and adverse than mine. My cribs seemed like the whines of a spoilt, luxury indulged kid when pitted against their real life battles. I did have a busy life in India, but today I am here, in London. So, there must be a reason as to why I have come to this place. I assuredly have a role to fulfill and something to accomplish too. I just have been wallowing so much in my own self pity that I have not figured it out. I am now putting an end to this self -delusion and learn the qualities of 100%character… do things I always wanted to do or chase a dream which thus far seemed out of my reach. If jogging can become purposeful, I am sure I can do also do something worthwhile and meaningful. All looks bright and chirpy again in this dreary London weather, figuring out “What does it take to find the why behind the who?” 100%Character:)

A pinch of Salt

A pinch of Salt

In this jet paced life when we finally find some time to sit and contemplate, look back, introspect, start to write our life’s journal we begin to relive the past. There, we all have some moments of regret, some filled with pride and joy; some achievements and some failures, a few events which we would change if we stepped back in time and a few we would like to be repeated often because they brought us so much joy and cheer.

Most of this generation in the age group of 35 to 45 is kind of burnt out. We have lived too much too soon, worked too hard too fast thought of nothing but money, career, aspirations to be fulfilled and more money for new dream houses, dream cars and voyages. We all began our career graph well, with lofty dreams of one house, one car or probably for those who were born with a silver spoon dreamt of a few more cars and a few more new businesses abroad; to flourish, grow and succeed has been the pivotal point for this age group. We seem to have been raised with that dream and it is embedded in us and we are incapacitated in a way that we are unable to think of anything else. But now, after crossing 35 years of age we realise we seem to  have lost focus, we are confused more than ever now because no we are raising our children and suddenly we are very aware of the verity that this dream we grew up with has many gaps and lacunae in it!! It is not bringing joy! It is taking us away from family, it is not helping us stay together, instead; it is only piling up frustrations, health concerns and a very bad ethical foundation for the progeny! We are in that conundrum now where the road travelled so far looks pointless and the road ahead is still foggy.

Our parents are sad that we drifted away from them, chasing our dreams. A beautiful family rich with values, bonding and emotional security is today reduced to a nuclear system full of paid helping hands and zero value addition. An emotional crisis seems to be brewing independently in every room of the house and we don’t know what to expect when we reach home, tired from a hard days, dissatisfying work and more challenges to be met tomorrow. Our children are not so happy either, we are never with them! We are always on the phone, we are travelling, and we are busy impressing strangers and trying to keep them appeased because they are giving us business, money and our job vests in their hands. We don’t have a day off because Sunday’s are forcibly dedicated to family chores and pending errands and before we can catch an extra forty winks it is a working day again.

We keep snapping at the kids for no reason and then at the spouse too. We are like that calm sea which is brewing a storm beneath the surface. This age is like that lull before the storm time and when the storm hits it leaves nothing to salvage, it takes it all in its wake of anger and destructive spate. We are unable to unwind, relax, sit back and simply be. Inevitably by the time we touch 45 years we are unable to do it anymore, on the brink of a break down, and if God does take mercy on us, we wind up on the bed with some ailment. Then we are forced to stay in one place, glued to the bed; forced to remain idle, do nothing and then we finally begin to think. Some introspection and most of us may have only one question, ‘Where exactly did we miss the bus?’ So rewinding and coming back to beginning, in this jet paced life when we finally find some time to sit and contemplate…

What we seem to have missed all long is the salt in the potpourri of our life! In this rushed hectic busiest of busy lives also the one thing most of us can’t do without, is salt, right? A sequence of dishes offered on platter every day, three times a day and the one common ingredient that the cook is checking, cross checking  and ensuring that it is in the right measure, not more not less, is – Salt. We can relish a sweet dish which has less sugar and we can forgo sugar altogether too with some effort, but giving up salt in food is probably unimaginable for most of us.

The introspective time we give to one self is like the salt in the potpourri of life’s events and challenges. Without taking time out for one self, ruminate, take a deep dive within and listen to the inner voice, we are living a life bereft of self -worth and awareness. To continue with the same analogy above, in case we think our dish is lacking a little salt we tend to sprinkle some and then eat, unwilling to compromise on the taste or excuse the cook thinking he/she was preoccupied. We comment on the lack of salt and wait till someone brings salt and alters the taste to suit the palete. Yet in the mixed masala life of ours we forget the most important person altogether. We focus on everything and everyone else apart for oneself.

The more this negligence the less the salt in one’s life, and the result is a bland non inspiring confused existence, forever seeking external help and impulsive decision making. Hopefully, we can take as much interest in our own self development and give ourselves the time due in a day. This pinch of salt is the defining difference in our lives, be it busy or relaxed. Don’t you think in this rushed inconsequential existence we all deserve our pinch of salt?