Sunday, 21 April 2013


Tenacity,  is as much about repeated action as it is about patience in inaction; it is as much about patient endurance till it is time to rise up again, as it is about trying to get up from a fall.

The greatest battles they say are fought in the mind. For a long time now, I have been a witness to one such battle, happening in the mind of someone I hold very dear. She is my childhood friend. Having witnessed a tragedy occuring with her parents when she was just six years old, the incident affected her deeply and she lost her carefree world. From then on, her world never seemed to right itself.

Consequently, she withdrew and hesitated to do even what she knew she could do well. She could beat the fastest athlete in school, but would never run a race. She had a bent towards art, which she never pursued. Being always measured on the yardstick of academics, her alternate choices were a matter of debate. Her failures were always public and were mercilessly commented upon by all and sundry and her good nature was exploited by relatives and acquaintances alike. Though selfless in her love for her family, she seldom recieved any credit for it. Many years were wasted in hoping that things would eventually become better.

This part of the story however ended a few years ago, following a major adverse life event . From the years of patient endurance, came a deep innner strength, and she is completely and wilfully changing the script of her life and has helped me understand better the meaning of tenacity.


When faced with the hardest goals we are prepared for failure, even as we give our best. But not every mountain that we endevor to climb is the Everest and sometimes not being able to climb a hillock is a more frustrating failure. It happens with a lot of people; some phases of life are strewn with many such hillocks, presenting themselves one after the other in a seemingly never-ending sequence. The lesson that I have learnt from my friends life is that, past failures are no gauranteee that the next attempt will be a success. Just as having fallen once does not mean that you will not trip again, having failed once does not entitle you to success on a second attempt. It is therefore essential to keep trying repeatedly, each time with no gaurantee of success and yet each time with as much enthusiasm as the last time.  

But sometimes, there is nothing that you can do. Some challenges can be a very long drawn affair, sometimes stretching into years. No action, no attempt creates change as long as the circumstances themselves dont change; and yet there is a strong internal and external pressure to act. Keeping the thread of patience from snapping, when in such a situation, is crucial to eventual change. When action is futile or detrimental, patience is indeed a virtue.

From a cause-driven Aung San Suu Kyi who spent 21 years as a political prisoner, to a commercial success-driven creator of Angry Birds who had created 52 games before one went big, some successes become more inspiring than others, not because the outcomes were any greater, but because they were achieved by climbing a steep mountain with past failures as toeholds. In the former case no action could be done even though there was a will, and in the latter all he could do was to try again and again.

Tenacity, hence, is as much about repeated action as it is about patience in inaction. It is as much about patient endurance till it is time to rise up again, as it is about trying to get up from a fall.


As for my friend, I recently told her how amazing she is. I am sure there will be no looking back for her now and I am standing by in rapt attention to witness her course of action.


Monday, 1 April 2013

The bridge on the way to work....

    The greatest optimism in building bridges, is that they are built without hoping that the water will go away.

Simone got off a couple of stops earlier at the bridge, on the way back home. She moved from the busy main bridge to a quiet spot on a parallel unused one and stood there with her arms on the railing, gazing into the distance. It had been an especially hard day at work, one of many such days in recent times and this was her oasis of calm in the big, buzzing city.

As she felt the cool breeze on her face, she reflected on how differently things had turned out from what she had thought it would be. The big dreams of her student days had been contained by the box-sized cubicles, the intellect was wasted in ridiculous wasteful exercises, the boistrous enthusiasm tamed by the formal business attire, close friends had become virtual entities, relationships with family was strained on several counts and liesure had  diminished exponentially as the pay check increased. Following your calling seemed over-rated, and listening to your heart, seemed like the domain of the impractical and irresponsible. But something certainly needed to change. That is when the water and the bridge inspired her.


Building the bridges:  There is the utopian and there is reality and the two are unlikely to ever merge completely. This is true for most people, in relationships, in jobs, in big and small negotiations; in fact, in most aspects of life. It is easy to be lost in all dissatisfactory real states, with an army of real sounding reasons, of why these states cannot be altered. Perhaps that is true, perhaps the states cannot be radically altered. But when all these reasons fall apart, there emerges a possibility: Are there no bridges that can be built?

The most obvious thought when we think of building bridges are between two people. With time many seemingly significant fall-outs can start to seem small. But if the bridges are never built, the relationship will stay in an indefinite state of discord. Simone picked up the phone and called her close friend of college years and following initial trepidation and some hesitant apologies, very soon they were chatting about the good old times.

But bridges can be built not just between two people, but between just about any desirable and undesirable circumstance: between money-earning endevors and passionate interests, between firm opposing views, between the most desirable and the not-so-desirable outcomes and between the day job and what you long to do. The starting point is just to think about what bridges you wish to build.

Let the water be: The greatest optimism in building bridges, lies in the fact that, they are built without hoping that the water will go away. Wisdom then is in accepting that, if the terrain were to become acceptable, there would have been no need for a bridge at all.

When Simone picked up the phone to build bridges with her friend, the points of past disagreement did not change. The water continued to flow. The opposing beliefs and points of view did not vanish. But what she established was a working relationship, going from the point of discord to mutual understanding.

The trials and frustrations of the day job, will only become more bearable if you have something else to look forward to doing. The outcomes of a situation will not always be the most desirable, but they can still be in the middle ground of acceptance. So, accepting differences in states and beliefs is as essential to the success of a bridge, as the building them.


As for Simone, I see her when our paths cross. Sometimes she is standing on the bridge on her way back from work. But on most occasions, she is on the virtual ones, with friends and family, at the painting canvas and on the conscious occasional vacation from work.