Words can't change the world

Be careful what you wish for. You might just get it. Saying this not off a bumper sticker but from pure ISI-marked experience. Last weekend, as I was walking Ranga around the building premise, we passed our much-celebrated mango tree. It is officially the most under-loved mango tree in Mangalore. Which might explain what happened next. I glanced upon a big ripe mango, with the yellowish-red dab on its face, and thought to myself, “Wouldn't it be nice if this one just dropped right now?” As soon as this sentence ran through my mind, that particular fruit, kid you not, decided to test gravity and fell right in front of us. Surreal as fuck. I picked it up with the broadest smile since 1995. If only I had asked for a million dollars that evening instead of a stupid mango. 

Speaking of a million dollars, how you react to money—not wealth; wealth is a state of mind—says a lot about you as a person. If you haven’t watched the third season of Kominsky Method on Netflix, please do. It deals with this subject very humorously; that’s the only way left. Anyway, my hypothesis is quite different here: there are two kinds of working (read: salaried) folks in this world. If you offer a million dollars to one kind, they would quit their job that day itself. If you offer the same amount of moolah to the other kind, they will continue working as if nothing happened. I believe I’d fall in the second category because I can totally imagine the sheer comfort of working without any financial stress. In fact, I think I’d be much more effective at my job with a million dollars in my bank account. Why? There is no situational fear left. 

A lot of men spend a major part of their lungs proving to the world that they are not women. Which could be the reason why they keep dying inside, slowly, hiding their anxieties and failures, without resorting to candid conversations about how they really are. I grew up in a society where men never spoke about themselves; the attention was always on the other members of the unit. They made their mothers cry and their wives weep from time to time and perhaps assumed it to be a balancing act for shelving their emotions. So, technically speaking, everybody was allowed to cry except those with the ability to grow a beard. This is messed up on so many levels but I often wonder, how would a boy grow—what kind of a person would he be?—if he witnesses his mother crying secretly during his childhood? 

There is a lot of cultural baggage on how one is supposed to be, within their specified brackets. Even the woke culture can’t save us from this travesty: a culture defines you, not the other way around. The way humans have progressed over the centuries, you can confidently conclude that we truly don’t have a clue who we want to be anymore. In all probability, we never did. From the clothes we wear to the words we are supposed to use to the ideas we entertain and the ideologies we reject, every little parenthesis is predefined by the environment we are in. Our sense of normalcy is the greatest fraud. And yet, we pretend as if we are getting closer to liberty. Or whatever values we hold dear. 

What is your biggest dream in life? Mine is to sleep so well that when I wake up, I feel so fresh that I actually look forward to ruining my day. Alas, this never happens. Bits and pieces. Like shards of glasses sprinkled on the boulevard of sunshine. Yup, that’s my sleep cycle. Forget nighttime. Even at day, if I took a nap, it seldom touches 30 minutes; the average is 15-20 mins. I can do better and I must do better. Because I am getting older. It’s going to be tougher than required if I am not able to switch off properly. Although I never had a massive libido (sour grapes alert) to begin with, I would definitely choose sleep over sex. Or maybe a good laugh. Anything that lasts longer than a few seconds is a good bargain. 

There are scared dogs and then there is our dog. The utter epitome of canine wuss. Only god knows how Ranga managed to survive the streets before he got in. Never once have I seen him fight. His readymade strategy is to hide his tail between his furry behind and run for his life. So far, so safe. Except for one instance when a pack in Gurgaon left him bleeding on his hind leg, he has a fine track record of saving his ass. What’s amusing about his attitude is, even in his dreams, he is probably running away from other dogs. I don’t think he is dreaming of a scenario where is bullying other dogs. Nope, not happening. 

This paragraph won’t change your life for a very plain vanilla reason: words don’t change lives. Only actions have the power to do that. If I pointed my finger at where Kedarnath is, you aren’t reaching there. What you are getting from me is direction. It’s up to whether you want to walk the distance. Besides, if I knew how to change lives, I’d have changed my life in the first place. Words are like unseasonal breeze that you close your eyes to, pause and enjoy. Nothing more, nothing less. If you wish to make a difference (to yourself), then you’ll have to open your eyes and get going. That is life. 

We are in the 21st century and are yet to accept statistics as an art form? Here is a field of study that can show you whatever you want to see. It attempts to be absolute when it’s made up of abstracts. What a beautiful dichotomy! For example, did you know that just two years before Martin Luther King was shot dead at the age of 39, his popularity amongst Americans was abysmal? Barely double digits. Forget the white populace, even the black Americans had glaring doubts about his non-violent methods. Four decades, more than 90% of Americans, irrespective of whether they belong to the red bandwagon or blue, approve of his legacy. What does this change tell you? If you think the right answer is ‘positive perception’, then you don’t understand how people think. And more importantly, how statistics works. 

The difference between positive feedback and negative feedback is your ability to improve. And that's not the case when you are consuming content. You are not improving and your feedback isn’t improving the creators either. In simple cold words, you don’t matter in this ecosystem. You are just a tiny flutter in the attention economy. Sorry to break this to you but this is the very reason why I never cared about bad reviews, whether it’s a movie or a song or a play. If it’s negative, I have zero interest in it. I know of camaraderie that rest on mocking bad content but that doesn’t cut for me. My interest is steep in positive review. If I ask you to watch the second season of Love, Death & Robots, I am least interested in knowing which episodes you disliked. My ears are only thirsting to know which ones you liked. From that column, we’ll build a bridge of familiarity. If we have to connect on what doesn’t work, then this world is shitty enough already. 

As I am typing this, the jackfruit tree outside my window is turning into a mini disco, with several glowworms showing off the magic in their butt. Their luminescence complements the choral noise of cicadas in the background. Both these creatures appear to be fully aware of their mortality. Their brightness isn’t going to last forever and nor would their ability to sing all night. But they’ve got to do what they’ve got to do. So, the show goes on. Whether I care to watch it. Or not. 

Once in a long while, you’ll gatecrash into somebody who would try to make you a better person. It’s not their main objective to do so but they will, eventually. If you are lucky (or smart or both), you will understand this design on time. If not, you will miss the boat and regret it for the rest of your life. Most of us exist to uplift each other and yet, there are people who are fluent in uplifting others. They don’t feel the need to be propped up. They are magnificent on their own. If you find such individuals, don’t let them rot.