Monday, September 9, 2019

Too content?

"You know what's the problem with you?"

Again! And it had been a long while since I thought that 'the problem' meant that there was only one problem with me and all I needed to do was to sort that out. After the thirtieth time it had happened, each one outlining a different problem, even my optimism was not up to the task.

It was going to be a bad day today. It generally is, even with one friend playing psychoanalyst but now there were three of them.

"The issue is that you are too content."

"I would not say that", I said, idly. "I'd really like a larger house, be able to travel business class..."

"And what are you willing to do to get all that."

I reared up, as if stung. "Do? Me? What I meant was that if some fairy godmother would wave a wand and..."

"Exactly! Anyone can dream of being better. Like, say, wishing you could sing like Rafi with no real intent to become a singer. Unless you really want it, really feel dissatisfied with what you have, you do not put in the effort to get it. So..."

"It is not only that. The benefit is just not worth the cost, that's all."

"Not discontent enough..."

And as if one guy getting after me was not enough, another of these chaps butted in.

"Yeah, as though he could have become a...a CEO, say, even if he wanted to. It is just sour grapes, he just cannot become one so he acts as if he does not want to..."

"That's the problem with us guys. If he says he does not consider the benefits worth the costs, why not give him the benefit of the doubt? Why assume immediately that he is incompetent?"

I looked on the third chap, who had just said the last, with wondering disbelief. A friend who supports me? Where had he been all my life?

"Nonsense. If he could have, he would have. If only because of peer pressure."

"Peer pressure? That's the last thing I'd do things for", I said. "At school, I got pushed into engineering because of peer pressure. So, was that the end of the thing, the Holy Grail in my hands and the rest of life a sinecure? Nonsense, I find that I have a new set of peers, all engineers, and now the stakes were higher. So, I get into IIM. There...that settled it? NOW I have a hotshot lot of MBAs for peers, and the goals are even higher. All I have seen of succumbing to peer pressure is that I get pushed onto newer and newer treadmills which run harder and faster. I am all done with trying to satisfy pressurizing peers, anyway. I want people who will take me as I am, not make me feel that I need to battle every day to retain my right to be called their peer."

There was stunned silence. As was natural, considering that this was the first time I ever managed to say so many sentences at the same time in any meeting with my friends. The confidence that a teensy bit of support can give you, I tell you!

"So, you never really wanted to become a..."

"Become? Yeah, I too thought it was all about becoming. Becoming an engineer, becoming an MBA, becoming a CEO. The point is not about the becoming, the point is whether I would enjoy BEING what I had become. And I most certainly would not enjoy being on a perpetual treadmill all my life. Like, say, Ranjan here thought he would like BECOMING a retired person but he hardly found BEING a retired person to his taste, did he?"

"Ah! So you think we are all stupid fools running on..."

"Treadmill is how it appears to me. To you it could appear like paradise or, who knows, it may also appear a treadmill to you but you may actually feel ecstatic about running on it. Or you may need or want the rewards that running on the treadmill gives you. Unlike you guys, I do not think that the way I feel about life is the only right way and, if someone has not adopted it, he is either a fool or incompetent. Each of us are different and the only folly lies in not knowing what YOU want and pursuing it. Not in not adopting someone else's path."

"So, exactly what do YOU want in life?"

"Hmmm! What I have is quite fine - being a spectator to all your efforts. Except, of course, if that fairy godmother wants to exercise her wand and..."


  1. Thoda hai - thode ki zaroorat hai -- Thank you for this post Suresh sir.


  2. You said it but many others cannot, there are many out there who secretly wish fairy godmother does come to their aid and waves her wand......
    But what's life without such unattainable desires, it's part and parcel !
    Looking other way, as you mean, it's better to be contented with what one already has which itself resolve many heartburns of ours rather than sweat it out and finally end up getting what you really, do not enjoy or not able to enjoy, fully !
    But question is which is best
    Be content...remain little or nothing...enjoy what you have
    Aspire for bigger things..sweat it out...attain it... repeat the cycle

    It's upto each individual to choose...hope everyone does it right according to what is best for them..All the best everyone !

    1. It's not about remaining content and stagnating necessarily, Arvind. It's about knowing what you want and going for it. And 'what you want' should be as much, if not more, about what you do as about what you want to possess.

  3. I get this all the time too. Why can't one just stand and stare? You know the post reminded me of this fable...A man is lazing under a tree watching the sunset. When prodded by a fellow being to get moving and make use of his time, he asks why? The other person says, so you can earn more money with which to buy a home, marry. Then work more, buy car. Have kids. Work more. Take care of family. Work more. Take care of parents. Work more. Finally retire. Lie on a couch and watch the sunset in peace.
    The first man replies that, that's what I am doing right now, why do I need to do all that?

    1. Yeah, this stupid idea that somehow you need to earn the right to sit and watch the sunset is the bane of modern life. By the time you 'earn' the right you have completely forgotten how to enjoy the sunset. 😀

  4. Too close to home, this one. Like literally.

  5. Indeed. This peer pressure thingy is never ending. Best to sit back and relax as long as the next meal is assured.