Monday, May 28, 2018

Confidence Lessons-II

Maybe my friend is right. I have not even taken the first step towards appearing confident. I mean, when I do not even think that I have a right to my opinion, how can I ever appear confident? Even the baby in diapers, these days, is sure that it has a right to its opinion and I claim to be an adult.

You know, the problem is that I am always looking for facts and, if the facts do not comprehensively prove it one way or the other, I tend to feel diffident about my opinion even when it is supported by a majority of the known facts. AND if it is an area where I do not have the facts to even feel that a preponderance of the facts support my opinion, I feel stupid about holding any opinions at all.

I sort of used to feel that I had the support of most people in my attitude. Like, for example, I do not see people vehemently arguing about whether the String Theory is stupid or the M-Theory is lunatic. (WHAT are they? Don't ask me, ask your physics teacher. I would only misguide you.) They seem to have no opinions at all about those things, just like me. (Of course, there are people just sloshing with so much confidence that they can dispute science, too. Like the lot who is confident that the 'round Earth' is a lie foisted on us by evil scientists OR the ones who are sure that Darwin belongs in a lunatic asylum for not realizing that Man was made by God and lost a rib to create Woman. But those soar so high in the realms of confidence that they are beyond the reach of most of us.)

Where I erred is in assuming that the same yardstick should be used for everything. This total lack of understanding of the fact that what applies to Science can be conveniently discarded when it came to philosophy or politics or sociology...THAT is what has destroyed me. I mean, come on, where is the confident guy who asserts that "There is no God" and where is this wimpy loser who says, "I don't know. Maybe He is jaunting around the Andromeda Galaxy or maybe He is only a figment of our collective imaginations."

You see, this kinky brain of mine has been the problem as always. There may be lamps which give birth to genies when rubbed and the genies may grant you three wishes when so born. If I want to sort out all my life's problems by rubbing lamps, I need to have an opinion here - that this genie business is true. Otherwise, I would not be setting out to hunt up lamps to rub.

If I do not intend to rely on genies to get me a girl-friend or pay up my Income Tax, do I have to necessarily have a wholesale opinion about all lamps and their potential to be fecund genie producers? I am a lazy bum, as everyone who knows me will certify in triplicate, and I sort of find it sufficient to believe that I will not get such a lamp...I really do not have to make the effort to have an opinion about all lamps from the dawn of time to now.

If I am that lazy even about lamps, why would I bother about to hold opinions about gods or whether they give boons or what their motives would be to cause suffering or whatever? Or about the mysterious ways of politicians or economists or bureaucrats. AND, when I do not have either the knowledge or the facts, I do not even know that I have a right to an opinion, leave alone the right to express my opinions. More evil has been caused in the world by the spreading of uninformed opinions than by villains, as far as I can see. In fact, no villain can ever succeed unless he manages to get people to accept and spread ignorant prejudices.

All that sounds nice and all, but the hassle is that it makes me out into such a wimp. There is a peculiar confidence that bolsters you, when you wear the blinkers of uninformed opinions, because you can see so many people around you wearing the same. THEN you can assert your point of view, and hold your ground against people wearing a different set of blinkers, confident in the support of the multitude who are like you. Skip wearing blinkers totally and you stand all alone.

AND you cannot stand confidently when the only banner you are waving just says,


Monday, May 21, 2018

Confidence Lessons

This confidence thing always has me beat. Not the thing about 'being confident', that's relatively a simple affair especially when you stick to doing what you know how to do. Like sleeping. The bugbear for me has always been 'appearing confident'.

Like the time when I was first appearing for interviews. About the first thing people told me was to maintain eye-contact in order to appear confident. And the first interviewer I come across steadfastly looks down all the time at my CV, no doubt captivated by the fiction I had written there about how much I loved engineering or, perhaps, busy trying to reconcile that fiction with the pathetic performance in all the subjects that related to engineering. Whatever it was, the only way I could have maintained eye-contact with that chap was if I was lying down on his lap and I understand that THAT is not the acceptable posture for interviewees.

The next time I was interviewed, the chap takes one look at me and snaps, "Why are you goggling at me like that?" Somehow it did not sound to me like an interview question and, even if it was, it felt that the right answer to that question was not "I was maintaining eye-contact so that I could appear confident." So much for eye-contact.

But that, I am sure, is the least of my problems with appearing confident. The primary issue seems to be something wrong in the wiring in my brain. (I so HAVE a brain, damn you, and I am not slipping in any lie, so there!) You see, I do not actually see anything from the right point of view and that is what is messing me up.

You see, for example, if someone says, "A friend in need is a friend indeed", what do you think?

'Well, did Reema help me last time when I needed some money? Maybe she is not really a friend.' 

'Achyut did kick in with cash that time when I ran short of funds for the party.' 

And so on, right? I mean, you know that it has to be applied to all the people around you, don't you?

Me - I am too stupid for that. What I end up doing is applying that to myself. Am I really a friend, did I always help my friends when they needed me? etc etc. And beat myself over the head about it.

Does it stop there? You say something about the ideal subordinates and, instead of assessing my subordinates on those criteria, I start assessing myself as a subordinate. Say something about bosses, ditto. Idiotic, I know, but...(What was that you said? None of that surprised you cos you knew I was a congenital idiot? Sheesh...a man cannot even rant without someone calling him names!)

The net result of all this is that I spend so much time wondering about whether my thoughts and behavior are really right, for me to project confidence. Respect comes to that man who seems to KNOW that he is right.

That knowledge generally means that you should be the sort who thinks that, if there is something wrong, it is always wrong with the other guy, never with you.

THAT way lies confidence. Alas, as usual, it is a lesson that will never benefit me!

Monday, May 14, 2018


I was reading this poem that kept popping up on my timeline on Facebook. I know, I know, I hardly ever read poetry because I never really understand it. But, what can you do if it keeps popping up? If you do not read it, you will be left behind and cut a sorry figure on Social media...what this fear of being out of the loop can do to people, you ought to know by now.

Anyway, now that you are done with the heckling, let me get back to that poem. The chap was lamenting how people kept telling him 'This too shall pass' or 'These things are sent down to test you' and 'You should have done this or that or the other' when all he wanted them to do was to show that they cared.

Now THAT is something that I can understand. I, too, want people to show that they care for me. Instead, what do I get?

I am just about to press the bell of my friend's house, to which I had invited myself for dinner, when I hear voices from inside.

"You should have told him we had to go out for a wedding, when he called up and told you he was coming for dinner."

Do I hear my friend say, "Don't tell me what I should have done?" Nope, the ass, he grunts in acknowledgement and says, "I know. It just did not strike me at that moment."

Or witness this scene as I am watching TV at a cousin's place while he and his friend are chatting in whispers in a corner.

"Never mind. This, too, shall pass."

"But when? He is not even saying when he will go."

I am sure that even my parents were told, "These things are sent down to test us" on one of those various occasions when they have had to grapple with the idea of what they had let themselves in for when they birthed me. And have replied, "This is too hard a test. I did not sign up to be a martyr."

So, yes, as usual, I lament that this thing that the poet said did not apply to my own circle. THEY never were angry with the people who told them all those things that the poet was so worked up about. Instead, all the ire seemed centered around me.

And, as usual, my friend replies, "Have you ever cared for anyone? Seen how it looks from their point of view? If you have shown more empathy, then they too may like you better, may show you more empathy."

I like that!! I mean, come on, I did not see that poet sort of think that, maybe, this was how those people knew how to show that they cared. That they did not know a better way. So, he can seek empathy without showing any and people will praise him and share him all over the place.

I, too, am like that chap. So busy looking for empathy that I cannot be bothered to show any. So, why pick on me?

Monday, May 7, 2018

How you ought to live - IV

There are those people who have a rather wholesale idea about thinking up ways for 'How you ought to live'. Most people are content dealing with people on a piecemeal basis but these...they are more ambitious. They prefer to deal with ALL people; to tell ALL of them how they ought to live.

There was this chap some time back, with a frugal taste in mustaches and a fetish for people shooting out their hands at him. He had this idea that people should be in three classes, apparently - those who occupied gas ovens, those who ensured that the gas oven occupants did it in an orderly manner, and those who battled the rest of world to ensure that everyone accepted that this was how they ought to live.

Not everyone in this category is that extreme, however. There are those who are content with, say, people learning how to breathe of a morning; or those who only want people to stand around and laugh in parks; or those who are happy if people merely drank a liter of water or avoided dairy foods or some such; why, some do not even want to intrude too much in your life - all they want is for you to periodically put in money in their coffers.

The most active ones, though, have very strong ideas on how you ought to live. The thing is that their idea seems to be one of making you either a 'basher' or a 'bashee'. So, the way you ought to live is by bashing up the 'others' and the way the others ought to live is by getting bashed or going away. Nice, if you end up in the right category, one would think...but for one small hitch.

If only the bashees would accept their position, all would be well, if you are a basher. Unfortunately, someone or the other among them rises up with a similar idea of 'How you ought to live'. The problem, though, is that he wants THEM to be the 'Bashers'. So, as it stands, you have a good chance of being the 'Bashee' for someone or the other. AND, as an incompetent at the art of bashing, you know that the way you ought to live will always be as the 'Bashee'.

It was nice when these 'wholesale' gentlemen were only fringe elements. Now, EVERYONE seems to accept one of the Basher/Bashee sub-sects, so...

It is not longer about 'How you ought to live'. It looks like it will soon be 'Whether you ought to live'.