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Wake up LV - Experience IT!

I read an article written by a top official of a US University who was responsible for the campus facilities. He thought the university had the best facilities for those disabled – ramps and other aids to provide easy accessibility for those on wheelchairs. In fact that is what everyone believed when they saw the campus. Then one day, this person suffered a fracture and was wheelchair-ridden for a month. During this time he decided to continue working in the university because he believed he could manage without much difficulty since the campus had all facilities for wheelchairs.

To his shock he realized that the ramps meant for wheelchair-use were too steep and it took an enormous amount of effort for him to move up the ramp; the facilities built were actually making it harder for those on wheelchairs! After spending a month on wheelchair he realized that a lot of changes needed to be made to make the campus really wheelchair-friendly.

There are a lot of things we realize only when we experience the situation first hand. A very common observation is that many a times we feel the work someone else does is easier than what we do. A driver feels white collar jobs are easy while a white collar person feels that his manager's job is easier! Reminds me of a couple of comedies where the wife and husband swap jobs for a few days – wife works in office while husband works at home; they finally realize that the other person's work is not that easy after all!

The grass always looks greener on the other side of the fence; even after you change sides!

Wake up LVI - When will you go for it?

I was reading about the evolution of money – an interesting topic considering the fact that money is what we need to run a smooth life; they say not everything can be bought for money but for most of the things we need only money and nothing else! So, it was nice to learn that money is actually worth nothing; it is just based on trust that we believe money has some value – in reality there is no backing for money (once upon a time there was a fixed exchange rate between gold and money but that isn't the case now) and the Government can go on printing notes as they like; something of the sort that you see happening in Zimbabwe lately; remember the news about a 10 billion Zimbabwe dollar note that was recently issued?

For some reason I remembered a speech delivered by a senior manager where he said that he always had the idea of starting his own enterprise but he never ever did it. It was something he held close to his heart but never attempted though looking back he feels he probably had his chances (chances that he now feels were actually opportunities) - and so till date it remains a dream that will in all likelihood remain only a dream.

I guess we spend a lot of time in search for money that we actually miss a lot of things on the way – it is so hard to strike a balance between money and what we want because we naturally tend to feel that the money we have might not be sufficient in future; 'save for a rainy day' they say; what if some medical problem arises, what if I lose my job, what if the house rent increases, what if inflation doubles…well…and what if money loses its value!

Oh so hard to strike a balance – so hard to know how much I really need, so hard to take that step of following what I really want to do…but hey, just think over it – why not give it a shot…NOW?

Wake up LVII - Do without expectations...

I had written an edition on what was the hardest thing to do in life – renouncing desires was right up at the top of the charts in that. Just a few days back another thing struck me as hard to do: it is hard to avoid keeping track of scores when you do something good or when you help someone. I don't know how many of you have noticed but even when we do something with the most benevolent thoughts, at some later point of time we will suddenly think back over that incident, our mind will harp over it and then we start thinking 'I should get something for having done that', 'I should get some favour from that person – I helped when they really needed so they should do so now' and what not! An idle mind is the devil's kitchen – we start cooking up a lot of irrelevant thoughts!

Some people get hurt when they don't get a favour back in return; a feeling of disappointment, a feeling of betrayal; a feeling that makes us forget the work we are supposed to do; a feeling that even leads to hatred. And all this just because we thought that we should get something back.

If only we could help without expecting help in return, love without expecting love in return, support without expecting support in return we would lead a more peaceful life!

If you think a little longer, you will come back to the square we started from – desires are the root cause of almost all negative thoughts. If we never had desire in the first place, we would never have expected anything in return for our actions.

Ah well, it is all easily said than done – do ponder!

"When thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth", Bible
P.S: I hope someone appreciates this wake-up edition J Keep smiling...

Wake up LVIII - What's wrong in a lie? How about a white lie?

How does one react when the head of an investment company one fine morning announces to the public, "The schemes I promised were a big lie". He is a 70 year old businessman who has been the chairman of NASDAQ. He ran a Ponzi scheme – a scheme where you pay investors using money deposited by other investors. You are actually running in loss but each time someone signs up for the scheme you get a fresh lease of capital which you use to pay off the earlier investors; when everyone starts demanding their money back or no new investors sign up for the scheme the whole thing collapses! More recently we had a CEO of a famous firm confessing that the past few financial reports were a bunch of lies.

Public outrage, anger and loss of faith is what ensues. People invest their money based on reputation and public information like annual reports. If the reports are declared to be false you can understand how investors would feel. And it was all because of a lie followed by a series of lies one after the other to cover the trail.

And yet people lie! I read in literature that some scholars believe there is an innate pleasure associated with lying. It might be pleasure at first but ultimately leads to disaster. There are classification of lies – lies that mislead, lies that hurt, lies that help and temporary lies. But a lie is a lie and one wonders about the saying, "You can tell a thousand lies to make a marriage happen". In the good old days, marriages were sacred and divorces were unheard of; the couple got along together as time went by with the help of elders. But these days with divorce rates rising and number of joint families declining you wonder about that saying. There is this other saying which is more apt, "You will keep telling lies to cover up lies". What started as few lies could ultimately lead to a web of lies which when discovered can permanently break a relationship.

When lies uttered by public figures anger us so much, shouldn't we in our day to day lives avoid lying?

"The truth may hurt for a little while but a lie hurts forever"

Wake up LIX - Whatever you do, do wholeheartedly

Lack of knowledge and lack of interest can prove fatal.

A medical student, while in a hospital for internship, felt there was something wrong in a patient's blood bag. The patient, an old lady, was undergoing a medical procedure and the nurse who was supposed to be monitoring the patient did a routine check up and walked away. From his textbook knowledge he felt that something was amiss though he didn't know what it was. It later struck him that the change of color during that particular medical procedure was signs that the body was dying and immediate action had to be taken. On returning back to the ward, the patient was dead. To outsiders it would be a case of 'time was up for that old lady'. Reality was that either the nurse didn't know what had to be monitored or it was just a case of oversight – taking things too lightly.

Then there was this other case of a doctor in a village prescribing an overdose of a medicine for a small boy which ultimately led to visual impairment.

Agreed that we can't be perfect always; agreed that we might make mistakes – but at least we should show interest in learning what we are doing and put in our best effort in whatever we do. Do your duty to the best of your ability. Perhaps the work we do doesn't deal directly with a life but hey, if we don't even do this work properly how will we do something that involves a life properly?

"Duty is ours, results are God's", John Quincy Adams.

"How can we know ourselves? Never by reflection, but only through action. Begin at once to do your duty and immediately you will know what is inside you" Goethe, German writer.