Friday, October 31, 2014

'T' is for "Trust, Trusting and Trustworthy...."

A few years ago, we helped our daughter move back home from UVA after her semester finished. We parked our cars next to the dorm and started to load up the car. It was a lot of back and forth from the car to the room. And her room being on the fourth floor didn't help! But I noticed something interesting that day. I locked my car every time I would go into the dorm to get more stuff. So did some of the other parents there, but some didn't.

"You don't have to lock the car when you go in, dad," my daughter said to me, when she noticed that.
"But your TV, your laptop is in the car, Neety," I replied.
"Chill, dad. Nobody's going to take anything," she said.
I reluctantly did not lock the car after that. And then I looked around. I noticed something even more interesting. People who looked to be from my kind of background (I mean who grew up in third world countries) were locking their cars. People who seemed to be from here originally, were not locking their cars each time. I know I am making a vast generalization, but that was the trend of about the ten - fifteen cars there at the time. Why was that?

To me the answer was simple. Nobody leaves cars and homes unlocked where I grew up. That's not to say that that we don't have crime here, but there is a big difference. So that has percolated into my personality. Our kids have grown up here, so they are more trusting of people. And when you are more trusting, you also become more trustworthy. And the cycle goes on.

But the opposite is also true. We all get upset if somebody breaks our trust, but what's more upsetting is that we will generally have a tough time trusting that individual again. And this cycle also goes on.

I think the environment we grow up in has a lot to do with how trusting we are. If we are surrounded with a healthy social fabric in our formative years, our character is infused with a trusting nature. In the not so well to do countries, corruption and nepotism are rife. And because of that, people who grew up in those times, trusting does not come easy.

"Trust actions. Life happens at the level of actions and movement, not words or intentions. Trust only actions." ~ Khalil Gibran

P.S - This is a repeat post from a few years ago. It was a very popular post, and for the letter 'T', these words seem appropriate.


Saturday, October 18, 2014

"S" is for being "Simply Sophisticated"

Here's a pre-party conversation between my wife and I, a few weeks ago.
"For the party tonight, wear the black suit with a black shirt," she said.
"Really? That'll make me feel as if I am going to a funeral," I replied. "Can't I just wear jeans?"
She looked heaven-wards, and shook her head. "Jeans? Jeans?! The hosts are very sophisticated people. Please wear the grey suit then."
"I thought these people are simple, down to earth folks," I muttered under my breath.
"Honey, simplicity and sophistication go hand-in-hand," she said.

And she was so right. Simplicity and sophistication do go together. The more I think about this, one cannot exist without the other. What is "Sophisticated"? Am I sophisticated? I really don't know about myself. Individuals who can make that call are the folks I know, colleagues I work with and people I interact with on a day-to-day basis. Here's a catch though, the person who has that opinion better be sophisticated too.

If I am not sophisticated, what will get me to that haloed ground? A certain type of wardrobe, the way I talk, more worldly knowledge, a keen sense of the arts, a specific kind of demeanor....? The list can go on and on. A little bit of everything might be the answer. One can try to ride the road to sophistication on wads of dollar bills, but it's a slippery path, generally with pathetic results.

As Leonardo da Vinci famously quoted -  "Simplicity is the ultimate Sophistication." And the one major step towards a life of simplicity is to learn to let go. Any intelligent egomaniac can make things more complicated and complex. It takes class and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.

Every section of society, every social circle, sets its own bar regarding the threshold of crossing into their own elite world of sophistication. We are all drawn towards that world instinctively as we grow in years. Consciously trying to act sophisticated never works.

"Sophistication is not how you look in fancy clothes, but how the clothes look on you. Its not how much expensive jewelry you carry on your body, but how you carry yourself. Its not how much money you make, but how humble money has made you." ~anonymous


Wednesday, October 1, 2014

"R" is for "Reality & Reality Checks!"

"What do you want for Christmas, Doc?" A patient asked me in my office a while ago.
The question caught me unawares. I was just finishing my consult with this young man.
"What do I want for Christmas?" I asked.
"Yes you, Doc. I want to get you something," he said.
"Oh no ... no ... " I started. And then I suddenly realized something. "It's only July, man! And secondly, I should be way, way down on your list."
"I know, I know.... Actually I am moving to Hollywood next month to be an actor. So when I am famous, I want to thank everybody who was kind to me. And that includes you."
I didn't speak for a moment. And not because I was at a loss of words! I took another look at him. Was this misplaced confidence? Or being very, very optimistic. But I just smiled.
"When you are famous, I'll make sure you get my Christmas list," I said.
This guy needs a reality check, I murmured to myself as he walked away.

Realty and reality check are words we hear a lot. These words are used loosely and often. Yet most of us, on more than a few occasions, will choose to ignore reality. Why? The reason, in my personal opinion, is because most of us, as a human race, are eternal optimists. And sometimes to a point that it's like making plans about what to do with lottery winnings, before even buying the lottery ticket.

More than half of social skirmishes that occur in our social fabric would be avoided if everyone kept their expectations realistic. When family and friends don't meet expectations we have of them, hurt and anger ensues. Keeping expectations from others low and real, avoids a lot of heart burn.

Here's a reality check --No matter how much some people pamper you,  if you were happier before they came into your life, excuse yourself, keep a respectful distance, and regain your happiness. Insincere and negative people need drama like oxygen -- be sincere, stay positive and take their breath away!

Another reality check -- Most of us believe that everything happens for a reason, but sometimes the reason is that we were not smart and made a bad decision. (Tough to swallow, but true!)

Here's one more reality check, courtesy a dear friend (who incidentally shares the same initials as me)-- You order pizza, its delivered in a SQUARE box, you open the box and see a ROUND sumptuous pizza, and when you finally get a piece to eat, its a TRIANGLE! Extrapolating this to life -- Never succumb to appearances, get to know people around you first, and then after the superficial glitz unravels, that's when you really know them!

Final reality check, relative to time --

"One minute can be too long or too short -- depends on which side of the bathroom door you are on!" ~ Bill Maher