Happy 2012 to all! I'd like to start my first blog in 2012 with 2 things that struck a chord with me recently.
1) The first is about my 2 week trip to Brazil during the holidays. In general, international trips are very humbling and ever since I've gotten back from Brazil I cannot stop thinking about how alike people are in spite of so many differences in cultures, languages, backgrounds, infrastructures they live in and so on.
2) And the second is about this book I just finished reading called: "Open: Autobiography by Andre Agassi". This book was such an irony and contrast to the last book I blogged about (Steve Jobs' biography).
So first... The trip to Brazil:
The entire time I was there, I was astonished how different and FUN their culture was... especially in Rio... I highly recommend this place for anyone who'd like NON-STOP partying on the beach, lots of sun (at least this was the case when I went there during their summer), tons of opportunities to "unwind" from our mundane routines, encounter very friendly locals, lots of fresh tropical food and so much more!
That said, regardless of all this, it was the people that caught my attention the most. Humans never seize to amaze me... I mean, inspite of all the differences and the fact that I had to take a 16 hour flight to get there, people are people everywhere...their struggles, social stigmas, expectations from relationships, unbridled curiosity about the future and so on and so forth.
Then that got me thinking on the following lines: "If human beings are not so different even across the globe, then is there any meaning in people trying so hard to "attain" what is deemed as prestige with respect to how much money we earn, who we are friends with or how big our homes are...?
If everyone's struggling to get the same things to look "worthy" in the eyes of... er... the other person (who is also striving to do the same), aren't we better off living a peaceful, content, hard working life rather than living this sham?
This point drove me to start thinking about contentment... I see this Portuguese speaking restaurant owner struggling to get through his day on another side of the planet for the exact same reasons that an English speaking electronics & communication engineer is struggling on my side of the planet!
This line of thought felt like a powerful state of mind to be in especially when we spend each day driving ourselves crazy to attain "success" and call it a "productive" day while missing out to smell the flowers or spend some quality time with people who matter to us.
Not to mistake this for encouragement to stay complacent or hold on to our inertia, but to keep in mind that if we lose the point of living by trying to achieve what the world refers to as our "self worth" then we are a lot better off just lying on the beach and basking under the ever blessed state of contentment... aren't we?
In this time and age are we losing sight of this glorious virtue called "Contentment"?
Do we have to encounter some thing humongous and terrible or travel around the world to embrace "Contentment"?
Now moving on to the second thing that led to this recent epiphany... Andre Agassi's autobiography.
Maybe because of the ardent tennis fan that my dad was/is... I grew up watching and hearing about tennis and tennis icons of our times. Wimbledon finals was a HUGE deal and so were heated discussions about Boris Becker, Pete Sampras and other tennis legends who made it to matches telecast in our living room.
So this book about Agassi caught my attention very easily. And not long after I started reading this, Agassi had me gripped with the very early confession of his life: The fact that he HATES tennis.
Then I could not stop reading, especially here I have all these teenage memories of sitting in my living room gaping at him and Pete Sampras vying for those titles that seemed like the single biggest thing anyone would want... and here he was confessing how much he hated his life and job just like any "normal" person. I think about this the entire time I was reading the book (also because he doesn't seize to emphasize how much he hated to play tennis in every single chapter of the book).
But the bigger point he makes is summed up on page 252 where he states: "I tell myself, so what if you hate tennis? Who cares? All those people out there, all those millions who hate what they do for a living, they do it anyway. Maybe doing what you hate, doing it well and cheerfully, is the point. So you hate tennis. Hate it all you want. You still need to respect it--and yourself."
Ta-da! There! This is not some "Joe the plumber" we are talking about. This is THE ultimate tennis God (who has been seeded #1 multiple times) we are discussing here! It is so weird and ironic how I could not relate at all to my previous blog's protagonist (Mr. Jobs) and how I cannot relate enough to Mr. Agassi.
He is not pretending to have searched for "his calling" all his life (his life is in fact the contrary of that!) or now that he's found it (in a most excruciating manner), he's not talking about enjoying every minute and second living his passion. He is talking of the exact opposite. So whether you are a normal mortal or a legend, the struggles and life's battles are more similar than we think. On the one had there are Demi-Gods like Steve Jobs who discover their passion very early on or there are those like Andre Agassi who complain and whine like us or any one we know and goes about life like that's his fate.
This was truly one of those reads that left me feeling both bizarre and yet clearer than ever before! Here I am whining and complaining every chance I get about every single thing in my life... and there's Tennis God Mr. Agassi doing the exact same thing! Can life get any more puzzling and revering all at the same time like this?!
But what makes the most sense at the end of it all is... though the grass is always greener on the other side, my recent million dollar epiphany :): CONTENTMENT seems like an antidote to go about with our (otherwise stressful, competitive) day to day lives with a little bit of cheer and hope... don't you think?