Courage.

My earliest memory of being courageous is that of my overcoming fear of diving off a high diving board in a swimming pool. I learnt to swim in this very pool shown above in Chennai. I would have been all of eleven years old then. After having learnt to swim, the next step was to learn how to dive. First from the sides of the pool and then from the lower boards of the diving board and then came the most scary of them all the high board.

I can assure you that it was almost like Mr. Bean’s experience when I first went up the steps and saw the water below for the first time. It took a great deal of courage to overcome the fear and take that plunge which I eventually managed to. The next one and the next ones were pieces of cake.

The next challenge came when I went to a swimming pool with a higher diving board.

It was Mr. Bean time all over again but eventually I did overcome the fear and dived and need I say, history repeated itself after that.

It took me other experiences to teach me that being courageous is a one off experience. Once you have overcome the first fear you are off and running. My other experiences were, overcoming stage fright in school drama, asking a girl for a kiss, asking a girl out on a date, asking a girl to go steady, proposing marriage though, no sequel to it, quitting a happy life style to go to Business School, quitting a job after 23 years of service to seek fresh opportunities, going in for hip replacement surgery and so on.

Here I pause to share with my readers one exception to my observation.  In our North Eastern States, travel between two towns is usually by shared taxis and the favourite vehicle in those days used as taxis was Jonga. These were usually driven by daredevils who wanted to take on the likes of Sterling Moss of those days. Their speciality was in taking mountain bends and hairpin bends at speeds in excess of 60 KPH much to the discomfort of passengers like me. The locals were quite accustomed to such death defying driving but, I had to endure it during my travelling days there and I had to use them always with a prayer in my lips. I am convinced that if I am here to write this post, it is God’s grace and my good karmas.

There have also been foolish decisions that eventually proved that the experience should not be repeated but, the first one had to be taken as an act of courage.

My conclusion is that the first time you have to be courageous is the tough one. The same experiences to be repeated are not acts of courage but routine.

This is my take on this week’s Friday 5 On 1 blog post topic. The other four bloggers who write on the same topic every Friday are Sanjana, Padmum and Shackman and Conrad.   Conrad incidentally, is the original founder of the weekly bloggers group formed way back in 2009. This week’s topic was suggested by Shackman. Please do go over to their respective blogs to see what they have to say on the topic. Thank you.

Success.

As it so often happens, two messages on my WhatsApp today leads me to this blog post.

The first message that I received in a group page was this image from a very savvy old colleague who has overcome some big problems and is now perceived to be a success.  Please click on the image to get a larger resolution.

The next one was from another young friend, in his early fifties now employed in Europe in the Financial Sector, with a perceived successful career behind him with more to come in the future. After we exchanged some other information, he came up with the following:

“Been working since 6.30 am. Annual results expected by mid February, with possible layoffs to follow. Hope I get made redundant with a good severance package! Will be happy.

If it happens, would like to use the time to retrain myself to do something more enjoyable and less stressful. Unfortunately, I got a very good rating at my appraisal a few weeks ago, so unlikely.

“Will also tell you someday about how selfish and self obsessed most people in the financial services industry are. Pays well but kills the soul.

I hope that you noticed that he thinks that it is unfortunate that he got a good performance appraisal rating!  Had he been a Millennial, I would have directed him to my blog post written some months ago so that he could identify with the millennials! Since he is not, I shall wait till post results of his employers to come up with another discussion with him.

He was in Pune in December and January and I could sense that he was not very happy with what he was doing but, I did not comment on it except to joke about it calling it his mid life crisis. At that point, I had gone back in my own life and recalled that I had just finished on five year contract with an employer and had retired two years later than I had aspired to. I did not look to be retrained but was enjoying my retired life after many years of travelling and not spending enough time with the family, spending time with my late wife and friends and generally goofing off. A series of events led me back into corporate life again on three separate occasions.

I hope that some such unplanned for “events” will take place in my friend’s life as well and when he is back in India by the end of this year, I will have more interesting topics to talk with him about.

Incidentally, I have consulted some friends to figure out a graphic to describe an iceberg of failures. Once that is ready, I shall post another blog about it.

Older And Wiser.

The inspiration for this Friday 2 on 1 post came as I was listening to the old classic “Those Were The Days” by Mary Hopkins. The last verse of the song goes:

“Through the door there came familiar laughter
I saw your face and heard you call my name
Oh, my friend, we’re older but no wiser
For in our hearts, the dreams are still the same.”

Wisdom is defined as “the ability to use your knowledge and experience to make good decisions and judgements”. This of course implies that one has gained knowledge over the years and has also had enough experiences during that process. In my personal case I find that while I have gained a great deal of book knowledge, my experiences do not somehow enable me to take sensible decisions and / or make good judgments. But, believe me the dreams are still the same as they were when I was younger.  Only, now I am wise enough to know that there simply isn’t enough time to make them come true.

I am often surprised by the amount of practical knowledge that people much younger have over the current state of affairs which despite my seniority seems to have eluded me. This, despite my devouring newspapers and periodicals more than the younger lot do who are more dependent on the social media and television plus friends and actual live exposures to the daily grind.

Experience and wisdom, leave alone age is best explained by this Sufi tale.

An old man caught a bird. The bird said to him, “Release me, and I will give you three valuable pieces of advice. I will give you the first when you let me go, the second when I fly up to that branch, and the third when I fly up to the top of the tree.”

The man agreed, and let the bird go.

Now free, the bird said, “Do not torture, torment and burden yourself with excessive regret for past mistakes.”

The bird then flew up to a branch and said,
“Do not believe anything that goes against common sense, unless you have firsthand proof.”

Then the bird flew up to the top of the big tree and said, “You fool. I have two huge jewels inside of me. If you had killed me instead of letting me go, you would have been rich.”

“Darn it!” the man exclaimed. “How could I have been so stupid? I am never going to get over this. Bird, can you at least give me the third piece of advice as a consolation?”

The bird replied, “I was merely testing you. You are asking for further advice, yet you already disregarded the first two pieces of advice I gave you. First, I told you not to torment yourself with excessive regret for past mistakes, and second I told you not to believe things that go against common sense unless there is firsthand proof.

And yet, you just tormented yourself with regret for letting me go, and you also believed that somehow there are two huge jewels inside a tiny bird like me!

So here now is your third piece of advice: “If you are not applying what you already know, why are you so intent on gaining what you do not know?”

Please do go over to Shackman’s blog to see what he has to say about the subject. Thank you.

The Irishman.

My readers have perhaps noticed that I have stopped reviewing movies. I stopped going to movies because of the need to walk long distances in the malls where the multiplexes were located and my COPD came in the way of doing that comfortably. Somehow, despite Netflix, Amazon Prime and what else have you, having been installed at home by the younger generation, I never got around to watch any except the rare one which I happened to see if they were watching earlier than their normal time in the late nights.

I however sat up late last night for three and a half hours and watched The Irishman as, I just could not resist the temptation of seeing De Niro, Pacino and Pesci in a Martin Scorsese directed film. Thanks to its being available in Netflix I did this much to my satisfaction.

For people of my age, the characters in the film, Jimmy Hoffa, the Kennedy brothers, Nixon the mafia dons etc were familiar figures and just having finished reading Ken Follet’s Edge Of Eternity where some of these personalities feature too, it was an orgy of nostalgia for those days of wonder. Once again synchronicity playing a memorable role in my life.

For those of my vintage, this is a must see film. The characterisation, cinematography and direction with period details are simply magnificent. I intend seeing it again after some time to catch up on some dialogues that I think I did not quite catch due to poor reception.

Time For Some Fun.

My fellow Friday 2 on 1 blogger Shackman has suggested this week’s topic as “Time For Some Fun” and gives three topics. Please go over to his blog to see what he has to say about this topic.

Favourite song lyrics.
Most overrated book/series.
Fave movie in the last year.

The first one is very simple for me. It is this poignant song that has been a ear worm for me for decades.

Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the flowers gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the flowers gone?
Girls have picked them every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?
Where have all the young girls gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the young girls gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the young girls gone?
Taken husbands every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?
Where have all the young men gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the young men gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the young men gone?
Gone for soldiers every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?
Where have all the soldiers gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the soldiers gone?
Long time ago.

The next one – Most overrated book/series.

For me, it is a no brainer. It is How To Make Friends And Influence People. . In my not so humble opinion, it is the most superficial way to establish relationships and not for long term ties. The less said the better about this book that made many people snake oil salesmen.

The last one – Fave movie in the last year. For me it was Baahubali 2: The Conclusion.

My Door Is Open.

My friend Shanker posted the following message on Facebook and I promptly copy pasted the same on my page.

My door is always open. My house is safe. Coffee & Tea can be on in minutes, and my dining room table is a place of peace and non-judgmental. Anyone who needs to chat is welcome anytime. It’s no good suffering in silence. I have food in the fridge, coffee and tea in the cupboard, and listening ears, shoulders to cry on and words to share. I will always be here…you are always welcome!!

This is an old value that has been lost to technology…a text, face-time or emoji is not the equivalent of making time for those we love or care about!
I promise to sit at the table while we talk…this is a value that we should bring back!! Let’s all bring it back!

Could at least one friend please copy and re-post.

The response has been staggering. I have posted many other messages on Facebook but, I have never seen such responses.  As I write this post, there have been 44 thumb-up and heart emoticons and 19 comments.  Five friends have also copy pasted the post on their pages.

The contents of the message must have resonated very well indeed with many people!