Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Outside

I had a talk with my dad last night. It was regarding a few 'wrong' decisions that I took in my life and how I should avoid taking them. The crux of his argument(if you can call it, as I was a mute listener) was, we are middle class people and we should only dream so much and we can only achieve so much. And that we are meant to live a simple and contended life.

After suffering major financial losses in my failed business venture and falling straight flat on face, he thought it was an embarrassment to the family before the relatives and neighbours. According to him, the world thought I got into business because I did not have a worthwhile job. Whereas he knows I was earning far better than what would make him a proud father. But it didn't matter. What bothered him was that the world around thought something else.

I am tempted to defend my stand by writing about business and entrepreneurship here, but this post is not about the spirit of entrepreneurship. I would recommend all naive souls who think like my dad to read India Unbound, by Gurcharan Das.

The purpose of my post, is something else. I want to talk about 'The Outside'.

Majority of our life's decisions are dependant upon other people's opinions and approval. Do you agree? My dad thought his neighbors and relatives didn’t approve of what we were venturing into. Our happiness too in life most of the times, is a function of other people's opinions. And that’s an inherent trait we mortals have been carrying on our shoulders since time immemorial.

For instance, you have a very pretty wife. But would you be happy if the world around you is not aware of this fact. You would proudly display your prized possession to others and the admiration from the onlookers would then make you happy. Your daughter wins a medal in college but your soul is not in peace until you share it to people around you. You strive for that Ivy league degree, that plum job, not because you want it, but may be because you want to flaunt it.

I went to the Himalayas this October all by myself. It was a fabulous experience. But the moment I was back, I was in a hurry to share all my pics and videos to my friends and acquaintances. If I dissect my motive, it presents a very uneasy picture. Its all about the craving to be appreciated and admired.

But isn't it too suffocating, too overbearing, to spend all your life pleasing others.

Can you be blatantly honest to yourself and look yourself in the mirror and ask if all your actions in your life are a result of what your heart seeks. Or is it because you want to be admired.

I know its quixotic, to live such a life. And it takes a lot of character. But I have been privileged to have met such people in my life.

There was a certain Mr Maniyan, who had a fulfilling job in terms of respect and money. He was in a learning and development domain. But his work consumed most of his time and by the time he would be back, he would find his only daughter deep in sleep. When he saw his daughter asleep one day, the next thing he did was shoot a quiet resignation letter to his boss and decided to devote more time to the family. He made a decision to live life of his choice. Last heard he still stays at home handling freelance projects, much to the amusement of his neighbours. ;)

There are also many renowned examples to pick up from. One of them, as most of you would know is John Wood.

After earning his MBA from Kellogg School of Management, John Wood joined Microsoft and went on to become Microsoft's Director of Business Development for the Asia Pacific region. But once on a soul searching trip to the Himalayas, Wood decided to change his life's focus to help children break the cycle of poverty through the lifelong gift of education. In 2000, he founded Room to Read, a nonprofit organization that promotes literacy in Nepal, India, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, and soon in Africa.

By the end of 2007, the organization had established over 5,000 libraries and 400 schools, and awarded long-term scholarships to more than 3,000 girls, giving more than one million children the lifelong gift of education

In short John and Manian followed “The Inside” and gave two hoots to ” The Outside”.


Anonymous,  Sunday, December 14, 2008 9:26:00 AM  

Lovely post! really... :)
Sometimes it's just wiser to listen to your true calling and not give a damn about what the world thinks, cos once we start caring, we become slaves to the routine.
We've to break out when we feel like.

Ravi Kumar Sunday, December 14, 2008 9:36:00 AM  

Thanks Niveditha for dropping by :)

tim3tr4v3lR Wednesday, December 17, 2008 12:13:00 PM  

Man..all I can say is 'dream what you want to dream; be what you want to be and do what you want to do, coz all u got is one life'.. experiment, experience and live it!

N i t h i n Friday, December 19, 2008 2:04:00 AM  

I liked these lines "..look yourself in the mirror and ask if all your actions in your life are a result of what your heart seeks?"
& the answer lies beneath!
" live such a life, it takes a lot of character"
...Great observance, keep writing!

Ravi Kumar Sunday, December 21, 2008 12:23:00 AM  

Rakesh: Thanks for dropping by :)

Ravi Kumar Sunday, December 21, 2008 12:23:00 AM  

Nithin: Thanks Nithin for the boost!

Shalini Gowrisankar Thursday, December 25, 2008 8:44:00 AM  

So true, most of the time one spends majority of their lives trying to please others. I would like to call myself an Entrepreneur in the making , a soon to be one after graduation.

I believe in going by your inner callling and persevearance despite the set backs in life. You will surely achieve what you want to someday :)

Ravi Kumar Thursday, December 25, 2008 9:01:00 AM  

Great to know that Shalini! Welcome to the gang!

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