I read this question somewhere, ‘Is zebra a white animal with black stripes, or a black animal with white stripes?’ What would be your answer? And whatever your answer may be, would it be right or wrong? I’d say it’s an animal who was always supposed to have two colours. Another very famous question: ‘Is the glass half empty or half full?’
In the 32 years of life that I have lived, my dear friends it’s all about ‘P.E.R.C.E.P.T.I.O.N’. No that wasn’t my attempt at writing the word the F.R.I.E.N.D.S way, but honestly, I’ve attempted to break it down as a meaning can be derived from each letter. It’s created on what we’ve seen, heard and built as a foundation of our own being for years. It’s not something that can be tweaked easily or influenced too quickly. Here’s my take.
P: Point of View
We’ve lived in a democratic society as Indians (or so we’d like to believe), but as individuals, most of us truly believe or let me say ‘truly exercise the right’ to opine. About things that matter to us, are directly related to us or even things where we play no other role than that of a spectator watching and judging. (Argghh those spectators, watching the film, eating their popcorn and hurling those sweet acidic words). But we always, and always present our point of view and if someone contradicts it, the need and desperation to have supporting lines and evidence for your argument to be stronger become the key focus. I learned this the hard way, but what we opine about is usually based on our beliefs. Who says what’s right? Is there a rulebook that came with step-by-step ideal ways to live? Fortunately not.
It’s always challenging to achieve everything. We live in a world where we have been told and taught things, and it could be the toughest task but losing is never an option. Or is it? There are moments where we find ourselves at crossroads, dead-ends and there is an inane feeling that the world has come crashing down, just for those few moments. Why? Why is it, that the moment consumes us and doesn’t make us realize that at times ‘success’ can become ever more elusive. It’s about how much we want to beat ourselves and how much we would like to appreciate the small, yet important wins. Isn’t it?
R: Rules – Bend ‘em, Break ‘em, Make ‘em
This one’s my favourite. And I love a debate on ‘Rules’. I mean, who the hell ever made them. Have you ever been in situations where your mind tells you what’s right, and there’s the famous gut within you that tells you otherwise? Ever been in situations where there’s one right and ideal way and another wrong/or not so popular way? I have. Multiple times. Yes, we have been taught values by our parents, we’ve seen well-mannered people and what defines our culture around us while growing up. But have we ever stopped and looked back and said who said that was the only way? What’s the worst that can happen, if I did things this way? There are far too many things that influence one’s mind. Can we really step back before doing the ‘ideal thing’? Let’s assume we didn’t do something that would make us ‘popular’ among the senior generation – does that make us selfish?
English is a wonderful language. It’s brilliant when you need to say something ever-so direct in an ever-so-subtle manner. What do they call it? Ah yes! ‘Soften the blow’. It’s the perfect camouflage of words entwined by a genius in a sentence. The impact that it can have on someone else who’s of course at the receiving end of it is phenomenal. I mean, what sweeter spot than to have said what you wanted to without having it blow someone away (and not in a nice way!). Perceptions can even be beliefs that have come alive in the trickiest form, camouflaged under a sweet sheet of facts written and delivered in the aptest combination of words, bound together with a thread called ‘balls to speak but not so directly’.
The figure of speech, of course, defined as ‘a person or thing that is a perfect example of a particular quality or type’. How we love these. The hilt of perfection. But, what is perfection? Let me help you here: It’s that cup of tea which has a few grains of idealisms we’ve built from the fear of society, the flavour of harangues of mortals like you and me, and the sweet concoction for the need of being known or popular for the ‘right thing’. The question is, why? Have we ever challenged the so-called status quo idealists to like to follow and say ‘why not’? Again, if your mind is wavering off into the arena of rebellion, then that’s not what I’m saying. It’s just about understanding that there need not be a sword of being perfect for everything. It’s okay to make a mistake. It’s okay to have shit fall over you, dust it off and learn from it. It’s okay. As they say, it’s only human to err.
We are pros at this. At possessing the skill and sensitivity in dealing with difficult situations and/or others. It’s all about navigating through the currents. You can feel it. It’s not easy to manage expectations. Tact is the bridge between how one would like to project oneself and how someone else ‘perceives’ him/ her. We shamelessly exercise our valour and gray cells in using tact to its optimum potential. Again, let’s take a step back. Isn’t it about this frantic need to make oneself heard with their opinion because they feel it’s right? So if we weren’t deliberating on this ten-letter word, would ‘tact’ exist?
What molds you into the person you are, brings alive what you like, dislike, strong support, strongly oppose etc? It’s a sense of belonging to one’s own identity. It brings with it the sense of freedom and independence. It can be deciphered or defined by you by the clothes one wears, the way one speaks, the opinions one has, the passion or disconnect one has. Especially when you feel strongly about something. When people use the phrase, ‘to each his own’, how many people do you know who really mean it? Like literally, every word of that idiomatic phrase, where one is left to use their own right to their preferences, likes, dislikes? Unfortunately, I can count the number of people on my fingers who can live truly by this phrase. A majority of us have a constant need to make someone else agree to what we think they should believe in, live the life we feel they should live. But no. It doesn’t and shouldn’t work that way. Let people exercise their right to believe. To love. To live. Let them fucking be. Period.
O: Obviously ‘Not’
This word. How do I say this? It’s the fiddliest one. I mean, how can anything be obvious. Situations can have an apparent conclusion by logic. But emotions ‘cannot’ and I repeat CANNOT have such apparent outcomes. We’re talking about a word, that in every way is imperceptible my friends. Emotion. A word you can only feel. Never hear, touch or taste. The heart has its own ways, strongly connected with the gut and loosely connected with the mind. Imagine this. It’s like water. It is free to flow in any direction, at any speed for any amount of time. Suddenly it’s filled in a container. And it has no choice, but to assume its shape, size, and stillness depending on the factors that influence that container directly. That’s just it. A free flow of emotions, often contained inside us, influenced by the mind and bursting away with the electric currents of the gut. Let’s not be so blinded by the logic that everything wears the same hat. Individuals are different. They are wired uniquely. And therefore, each of their hearts will skip a beat or not diversely. Now, isn’t that obvious?
The word comes from its Greek origin ‘neophytos’ or something that’s newly planted. In this context, it’s where one is new to a subject or activity. Aren’t we all newbies? Have we ever had a ‘job’ called life? And can we write ‘well experienced in life’ as a part of our resume? Nope. We’d be foolish to think, we have the ‘been there done that syndrome’. Nothing is necessarily the same in what we face. It will always have its own twists and turns. And therefore, it may not always be wise to compare the outcome of an earlier situation to a present one. What if we dealt with something in the newness it brings, rather than falling back on what we know? What’s the fear about? Of the unknown? But that’s every day, right? We take so much for granted. Do you realize that when you mentally keep something aside for the next day, you’re almost assuming you’ll make it see the rise of the sun? Why not take it one day at a time? Easier said than done, I guess.
To sum it up, I’m going to do what I love the most. Quoting from one of my favourite shows, “You know as well as I do it’s not about what you look like, or your job, or how successful you are. It’s about having people in your life that you love and who love you. That’s all that matters.” – Grey’s Anatomy.
And it truly is that. It’s about living. Forget the world and the people. Forget everything. Live for yourself. Stand up for yourself. Perceptions will always be created, and people will always talk. That doesn’t mean, we stop being ourselves. So if the glass is half empty for that moment, so be it. It doesn’t make you a pessimist. It keeps you real. If eventually, you see it as half full, that’s okay too. Be real. Because as Meredith Grey says, “At the end of the day, the fact that we have the courage to still be standing is reason enough to celebrate.” Adios.