I made the same mistake when I started running a few years ago (the story sounds familiar, right? Don’t worry, it is not about running plan and diet!). The day I signed up for a running event, I went on a shopping spree. I bought a pair of expensive shoes because I read online that it is essential to take care of the knees and ankles, then followed up with some costly dry fits, and sports-friendly headphones. The best was a GPS tracker, as though I would lose my way running on the main roads of a Metro City. Decked with all these paraphernalia, during event, while I was doing a 10km, I saw a gentleman wearing a pair of old shorts and running. Yes, a pair of old shorts and nothing else! No expensive shoes, no damn dry fit, definitely no GPS tracker, and he was doing a full (for the uninitiated, doing a full here means running 42km and not what you thought). Perhaps if I’d shed the extra weight of the gadgets, I would have finished better than the last position!
And later, I came across this inspiring story in 2013 of an elderly lady, Lata Kare, from a village in Maharashtra.
She, from a very humble background, had to mobilize money for her ailing husband’s medical expenses. When she learned about a running event, she decided to go for it. She went for it and won! She was 65 then, no fancy stuff, no gadgets, no ego satisfying indulgence, pure grit, and action!
Here’s another story about a winner of one of the editions of Chennai marathons. She, from an economically challenged family, had travelled on a two-day long train to Chennai, slept overnight at a bus stop near the event, ran the race in the morning, and won it. She had needed the money for her family, and she just did that. Again none of the fancy stuff!
The prince charming and knights in shining armor do not exist in real life, and happiness is something that we can make out of what we are and what we have. It doesn’t really matter what we bought and what we owned. It is essential to realize the difference between Form and Substance. Most of us get entangled in focusing on the form – the new collection of bags, the latest gadget, a new car, and of course, the latest brand of iPhone 11 Pro (Pro, Eh!). In our race to accumulate some of these meaningless possessions, we may have lost out focus on real substance. I feel it is more important to start focusing on the substance than form. There is this lousy metaphor that always comes to my mind. The dough is the same, you can create Roti or Paratha or Poori according to your wish and will! Sorry about that dough, though!
I feel we can enhance the quality of life by redirecting out focus on three critical things that would add substance.
THAT MULTI-ZETA BYTE MEMORY DEVICE
I was reading a fascinating thing in a book that the human body is the sophisticated machine known to mankind, but what makes an individual? Is it the sum of body parts or is it the brain or is it something else? The book argued that Memories make an individual unique. I found it superlatively profound. Apparently, researches are happening to build technology to download memories in a storage device and that can be plugged into the brain later. While the future of this technology can be unpredictable, what we can do is invest in creating good memories today and every day! When I went to my son’s annual concert recently, I noticed some 300 hands clicking pictures. So, imagine what the small children on stage would have seen among the audience – different models of mobile phones. Wouldn’t they have preferred to see their proud parents instead? By focusing on creating a memory for the future through these pictures, are we not missing out on the moment?
Similarly, imagine the number of pictures that you’d have clicked during your last vacation and the one before. How many of the moments do you remember now? Somehow we seem to be accumulating for the future, forgetting to live the moment. I only remember the moments that I’ve immersed and not the ones where I had to rush and click some 1000 pictures. Please give it a thought, immerse yourself into the moment and absorb it with all your senses, you are never going to run out of memory space! Having said that, do check out some of my pics on social media, they are splendid indeed! You’ll notice the wise man who said, “life is a collection of memories that we have accumulated over the years.”
Memories are important, and they can be enhanced beautifully with relationships! Ironically, ‘relationship’ has become a data field to be updated on social media. Unfortunately, we are missing the fact that it’s all about the big and the small relationships that we build along the way. Amidst our constant run to achieve our daily chores we seem to be becoming a cog in a giant wheel, and we are slowly losing the skill to show niceties to people whom we interact daily. I’m sure when you were a kid, almost everyone in the locality would have known you. And I’m also equally sure as a kid when you went to a nearby shop, at least 20 people would have smiled and waved at you. Now, to name a few neighbors, it is a great effort. God forbid we meet someone in the lobby! I remember as a child in my school, sharing each other’s lunch was a great experience, and now schools don’t even allow kids to share. Unlike the metro bridges, relationships don’t need a lot of money and some exotic spot overseeing northern lights. All that you need is the time and effort to be genuinely kind. So, the next time when someone is being nice to you, stop being suspicious about a hidden agenda, maybe she is from a different planet where they invest in relationships and not the number of likes on a silly device!
DON’T TOUCH THE FLAME
How many of us were told not to touch a candle flame but we went ahead and did still? That’s when we realized how harmful it is. No amount of explanation can help us to sense the real world. Despite many of my friends warning me against it, I ended up watching Houseful 4. (thank you for that momentary sympathetic thought for a moment). And trust me, admitting it here, is bigger than someone coming out! The point I’m making here is about the third most important aspect of creating more substance in life – experience. Recount the last exciting experience that you went through vs. the time you spent sitting in front of a TV. And imagine a weird experience with your friends, that you probably would never forget in your life. I feel we should consciously experience small privileges in life. Go ahead, do something that you’ve never done, it is ok, these things stand out. Did you want to learn a musical instrument? No age is high, go ahead right today! Scared of water all your life, doesn’t matter, hit the pool with lifeguard and someone you love, within 5 days, you’ll get over the fear, and you’ll cherish the experience for life.
Stop measuring success basis the external appearance and the gadgets owned. I know a lot of successful people are lonely, depressed, and insomniacs. What’s the use of all the success without you able to experience something awesome with your dearest friends and create memories?
Do share your closest memory, the most substantial relationship built, and the weirdest experience that you’ve had in the comments section.
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