Wednesday, February 15, 2017

All We Need Is Some More Love


As a beautiful Valentine’s week went by, I’ve been thinking about love, and the kinds of love there are- love that’s easy, and love that’s hard, love that makes you wilder and love that makes you wiser, love that makes the years fly by and love that seems to pause the time. But as I think deeper, the differences dissolve. Maybe it’s all the same; maybe there’s just one kind of love after all- the one that makes the moonlight and sea waves, the one that led us to fly over mountains and dive in deep waters, the one that made art and innovation possible. Maybe it’s this love that’s driven us all along.

It is in the moments of love that we truly live. When you hold a newborn in your arms for the first time, when your parents shed a tear or two dropping you off at college, when a special someone writes you a love note- in these moments you experience an intense, enduring, almost divine kind of love. But these moments of love are far and few. And it aches me to say that they are not enough. It aches me to say that there’s a lack of love in our everyday lives. The way we define success today has made us all cautious, cold and competitive.

And I wonder why- why don’t I love an old friend enough to forgive her; why don’t I love my body enough to wake up for that yoga class; and why don’t I love that pedestrian enough to let him cross the road? It aches me and I wonder why.

We have been conditioned to believe that love is a feeling- something that happens to us. But what if I were to tell you that love is an action, it is something that you give, do or create- on purpose. So, the next time you hear someone say- “I don’t love this city”, or “I don’t love my wife anymore”, look deep into their eyes and tell them to love more. Tell them to consciously make a commitment towards the welfare or happiness of the city or the person. Tell them to create more love, with their thoughts, words and actions.

In fact, I believe that each of us can make our lives better by just adding a few units of love. If you love your father enough to let him win an argument; you love your client enough to give him world class service; you love a stranger enough to return the phone he lost; and you love yourself enough to be the best version of yourself- MAGIC could happen. In whatever form love is created- empathy, kindness, joy, peace, patience, satisfaction or excitement- it leads to a connection beyond words. In that briefest fraction of a moment, you experience oneness- not just with the other person, but with all of life’s forces. No matter where love is created, how much, and by whom- I’d like to believe that it’s the fundamental reason for our existence.

Everything around us that is meaningful and beautiful was created with some extra love- from airplanes and smartphones, symphonies and paintings, haute couture, gourmet food and beautiful sea side resorts. Someone somewhere poured all of their heart’s love into something and it is this love that manifests in their creation. It is this very love that warms up our hearts too.

So, this Valentine’s, add more love to whatever you do. Do your job with more love, start your business with more love, initiate a friendship with more love and stick with the marriage with more love. You may notice that some people have a different skin colour, language or God than your own; co-exist with them with more love. You may even notice that some people have different opinions than your own; disagree if you must, but disagree with more love. And when you drive back home this evening, drive with more love. And even if the traffic or the weather is driving you crazy, just hang in there with some more love. Wish you a very happy Valentine’s!


Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Give Me My Rose-Coloured Glasses Back!

The moment of truth. That moment in life, when you hit a realization so strong you want to shut your eyes tight and tell yourself it didn’t happen. It could be the appearance of fine lines under your eyes, or the disappearance of romance from your marriage. It could be living with a job that gives you no satisfaction, or living without your beloved rose-coloured glasses. Those glasses that made the amusement park seem like the best place in the World, wearing which candy floss & cola ice seemed better than 5 star dinners, when daddy knew the answers to all your questions and mommy knew the solutions to all your woes. When the biggest confusion in your life was whether you should become the next Indira Gandhi or the next Kalpana Chawla, where nothing seemed impossible, or even difficult. When you ranted passionately on things like dowry, and child labour, and female foeticide and believed with all your heart that you would grow up and set everything right. It is a big loss- the loss of these glasses.

As I heard young students from India and Pakistan talk ardently about ideas for peace- the culture, the art, the trade, the warmth between the estranged neighbours being beautifully articulated, interspersed with Hindi and Urdu poetry, and all I could think about was my waitlisted rail ticket, my unread e-mails, and my upcoming appraisal, I realized that I had been converted. Someone stole my rose-coloured glasses, and left me with no choice, but to become a cynic. And so at this moment of truth, I pause, I take a deep breath and look at myself.

I realize that there isn’t enough. I am either not rich enough, or not thin enough, or not smart enough to do all the things I want to do. The guilt of a chocolate truffle takes me to the gym, and guilt of an expensive MBA takes me to the office. I am either too bored, or too busy. There’s something that I am constantly running for, and yet I never find it. I no longer believe in the government, or the Gurus, or the Gods. Nothing natural or inexpensive looks pretty anymore. The rain is what brings traffic jams, and the sun is what enlarges my electricity bill. I have begun to believe that people are by their very nature selfish, spiteful and sadistic. And so I don’t smile at strangers now. It seems like everyone is a rival, an enemy. I try hard to protect myself, my money, my job, my apartment, my loved ones. And so I put myself in a shell, and don’t let most people come through. I don’t let the stomach butterflies alone make me fall in love. I hold back, I calculate and I reason out. I crib, and crib, and crib more- about inflation, inequality, crime, deceit, shallowness, malice. And I don’t think any of it can be set right, ever.

It’s a huge loss, possibly irreversible. And what makes one so bitter? I believe it comes with growing up. For me, this term has been synonymous to my tryst with Marketing. Ever since I have been on this side of the table, things have been losing their charm, one after the other. We marketers sell to you all the things you can buy- expensive watches, perfumes, shoes & bags; and just when you start feeling guilty enough, we sell to you charities, abstinence and meditation. We run a campaign asking you to love thy neighbour, to be nice to the people around you- we shout it out loud, on TV, newspaper, hoardings, internet; and yet within our own organizations we act like crabs, always trying to pull each other down. We sell to you all that you can take- from skimpily dressed women for your physical needs to underprivileged children for the emotional ones. We don’t care how they affect you; we sell them because you buy them. We look at you morons and laugh- when you buy things like a red Santa Claus or a pink mobile phone, things like Valentine’s day and Chamakti safedi. Yes we laugh, but what we probably don’t realize is that the real joke is on us. The terms & conditions in the fine print of my appointment letter did not mention how the marketing games sometimes backfire on the marketers. How we, the people on this side of the table, who make a living out of fooling people into buying stuff; we better shun our holier than thou attitude, because in the process of Marketing, we have lost the most precious thing in this World. We have lost our rose-coloured glasses.