of thoughts in ebb and flow

Archive for February, 2009

Are you really older and wiser?

The other day, after a routine meeting at office, as I was walking out of the bosses office, he suddenly asked, ” What did you think?” and paused. Not wanting to betray that I really did not think during this meeting I let the pause grow …. “Was I very rude with people … am I very brusque … ?”

Quickly sending up a thank you that this was not about me and my thinking I said ..”Well… you were very quick in your decisions … I mean, you did not really waste much time listening…” (hee hee, the diplomatic me !)

“But have I become this way recently?” he asked,” I am told people are scared of coming to me and thats not good is it?”

And I said … ,” No, I mean, yes, you were not so impatient some years ago.. but you are older now and …..”

I will not bore you with the rest of my pearls of wisdom on that occasion and it not quite germane to the point I am trying to make, which is:

The older we get the more impatient and rigid in our viewpoints we become.

As we get older it becomes more and more difficult for us to hold back our `wisdom’ of what will or will not work because we know (or think we know at any rate) what has happened in the past in so many different `scenarios’ that we just want to `get on with it’ and not make (or let anyone else make) `the same mistakes’.

There is also a feeling that we are wasting time .. a commodity that we suddenly see as being rather limited at our age.

Suddenly listening becomes all that more difficult. My son’s constant refrain `Amma .. you are not listening’ is taking on a whole new age .. .. like I needed any reminders!

Feelings are all I am

I usually ignore `forwards’ but one last week really had me nodding in agreement. It was about this couple from the back of beyond and people they met wrote them off based on their appearance and then they … well that was not really what this is about. Coming back to the point ..it ended with `People forget what you said, they forget what you did, but they never forget how you made them feel’

The more I think about this the more it seems to me we are finally nothing but a set of feelings. We make snap judgments of people we meet based purely on how their words, actions or just their body language made us feel. Our goals, our ambitions are dictated by what makes us (or what we think will make us) feel good. When we blow away the dust on that box of memories what comes tumbling out is all those feelings… of elation, grief, disappointment, anger, contentment … attached, as it were, to people, places and events. But what wells up first and colors everything is the feeling.

I frequently find that when I remember something said to me and I struggle to remember `who’ said it, my mind says it is someone you are close to because you felt comfortable hearing it from him or it is someone you don’t quite know because you felt distrust… the feeling leads me to the person

We bought our home because we walked in and it `felt’ nice, I love the sound of whispering coconut palms and smell of raw mangoes and ripening jackfruit because it whisks me back to carefree summer holidays and the associated feelings of warmth, security and timelessness.

Businesses do this all the time -using our feelings to get us to act in a specific way. The deo that promises to make us feel handsome and irresistible, the donation that makes us feel good for helping a little orphan.. sometimes it is far more subtle..like when a hotel chain uses a particular fragrance in its premises that brings on associations of family and comfort to make us feel `at home’.

We choose our stores to shop at, restaurants to eat at all depending on how they make us feel. The person who said people who shop at WalMart do so because it makes them feel comfortable being themselves, that they are not being `judged’ is onto something.

We are nothing but a collection of feelings and the one who makes others feel good has the keys to open all doors!

Return to roots?

One keeps hearing about globalisation and the world becoming a smaller place and people aiming to be `citizens of the world’. But even as this unfolds I find another interesting trend gaining traction, that of people seeking identity and meaning within their neighbourhood communities..and using the internet as a means of doing so!

I want the world to know me but I also want my neighbours to know me & I want to know them too….So while I create an online, digitised (sanitised ..?) life for myself and gather around me `twittering’ friends and am globally `linked in’.. I also want the companionship and togetherness that neighbourhood flesh and blood community dwellers can give. So I put two and two together and use the `online’ to enhance the `offline’.

Businesses are already tapping into this increasing`local’ social identification. There is Topix, in the US, which aggregates close to 150,000 `comments’ from 20,000 towns across the country. It’s CEO, Chris Tolles, says that three quarters of the comments are on local happenings/news that have not found their way into any newspapers or other media. He senses a huge business opportunity in weaving `micro-local’ markets into a national network for advertisers.

Students of Anna University have launched Areapal.com. Again the focus being on finding and nurturing neighourhood relationships. Enthused by the response in hometown Chennai they are now looking to expand to other cities and localities.

Then there is SadakMap that is enabling communities to be created, updated and connected around localities.

We seem to be finding meaning in being part of a close-knit community, contributing to it’s betterment and benefiting from the association in turn. Are the days of people leading `portable’ lifestyles that don’t park long enough in one spot to accumulate lasting local bonds giving way, once more, to our neighbours and our neigbourhood become intricately woven into the fabric of our everyday life?

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