Sunday, August 07, 2005

The "little" things in life

One fine day, our gang of five decided to embark on an ambitious project. The grandeur of the project was such that it required planning more intensive than that required by the allies to push past the Berlin wall. Choosing an appropriate location for plan execution was a major task in itself. Geographical implications such as the presence of camouflage, distance from thoroughfare and safety from the elements of nature were to be taken into account. More importantly, a plenitude of necessary resources was key to the success of our venture. After an exhaustive search, an acceptable location was found that fulfilled most, if not all of our requirements. Next came the numerous other constraints that had to be satisfied if we were to meet with even partial success. Discretion had to be ensured if our activities were to be unhindered. Arcane equipment not normally available had to be procured, making certain that the methods of procurement did not draw attention from the general public. Alternative plans had to be devised in case of any unforeseen eventuality. Finally, proper attire was critical to the success of our mission. This was no coat and tie affair but still, the importance of the occasion demanded something special. Keeping in mind all these and several other factors, we devised a strategy. We double checked and triple checked our strategy and after carefully examining our plan of action for any loopholes we picked the D-day.

The big day dawned, and exuding a confidence that would put Tendulkar to shame, we met clandestinely at the predetermined spot to put into action the meticulous plans that had been made over the last two weeks. We were attired in the prescribed clothing and accoutered with the exact instruments and tools outlined by the master plan. The atmosphere was electric. There was no room for complacency. After a meaningful silence and a prayer of sorts we launched our project and proceeded to execute our much hyped plan with the kind of surgical precision that Steffi Graf used to decimate her rivals. Our concentration to the job at hand was total. The focus was on perfection rather than completion. The sweltering heat had no effect whatsoever on our determined young bodies. Brief setbacks did occur, but then our plan was designed to cover every deviation from the norm, which it did.

At long last, after six straight hours of work we completed what we set out to build and stood back to admire our handiwork. A beautiful mud castle stood as a testimonial to our hard work and diligence. It was indeed a piece of art. Symmetrical beyond description, perfectly shaped and majestic in its form the castle stood 2 feet tall and 4 feet wide. I was seven years old then and I’m talking about a castle that was built in our colony in Bangalore after we had read about a sand castle in a comic.

Why all this “build-up” for a mud castle you might ask. Mind you, I might not have known those big words all those years ago but I sure felt the excitement and thrill that those words portray. Building that castle was as important to me as architecting a real house. It may have been a small thing but I was at my happiest when I was doing it, unmindful of the rest of the world and the things happening around me. I miss those little things in life, the things that cost nothing but still bring you unparalleled happiness. If I talk about climbing trees and fences, building paper planes and boats, playing robber and police, reading Enid Blyton, you might want to gently point out to me that I am an adult now and that regrettable though it may be, the days for those childhood activities are long gone. However it is not those activities that I want to draw your attention to.

I am talking of those activities which most of us go through everyday in what we call our “mundane” lives. Let me illustrate with an example. One night I call my friend and ask him how his day was.. He says “Boring da.. I went to work and came back… that’s it.” Huh? Is that really all he did in a 16 hour day? No, he just blanked out what he thought was insignificant. He forgot all about the smile and inquiries of his neighbor when he left for work in the morning. He forgot the call he received after two weeks from his close friend. He forgot about the girl in the coffee shop who told him she liked the wordings on his t-shirt. He forgot the guy who held the door open for him in his office. He forgot the joke his boss shared with him. He forgot that he had had a great lunch. He forgot about the songs he had listened to while working. He forgot feeling the wind in his face when he was taking the train back home. He forgot about the amazing sunset he had seen from that same train. He forgot that he had helped his mom with groceries. He forgot about the book he had relaxed with in the evening. Are these insignificant? Yes, they are. They could happen to everyone everywhere everyday. The key is in attaching significance to them anyway.

If the only things that are going to make you happy are going to a nightclub in a Porsche with a hot girl on your arm, visiting the Empire State building and the Statue of Liberty in New York City, standing on the Golden Gate in California, having ten friends around you to pep you up, getting into the Indian ODI team, cracking CAT, getting straight As in all your courses… well then you’re obviously not going to be happy for most part. If on the other hand you would enjoy an evening out with your parents, a heart-to-heart chat with your mom, an argument with your sibling, a game of scrabble or monopoly, a good book, a walk in the evening with an acquaintance, eating together in the dining hall, dressing up just for fun, sharing a joke, playing a prank, listening to your favorite song a hundred times over… just as much, then you’ve got it made.

It is not easy, however. In my opinion, the best way to appreciate the “little” things, would be to consciously try to remember them and then to generate the enthusiasm to plan for them and make them happen again. My analogy of the castle is intended to pass on the effect of making something totally insignificant into something momentous. The more enthusiasm we generate for even the simplest things, the more they are going to mean to us. Try as I might, I am still unable to generate that castle building enthusiasm for the supposedly mundane events that occur in my life.

I have a theory as to why every passing day makes it harder to appreciate the “little” things in life. But then THAT is another post... :p

Happy Friendship Day!!! :-)

35 comments:

IBH said...

hey that was well said and written! Happy friendship day :)

Leon said...

Thanks IBH.. :-)

Anonymous said...

sometimes its important to look at the big things in life as well ... otherwise there is no success... and you will become complacent. So youre not telling the whole story.

Anonymous said...

My fingers are typed to the bone with this blogging:-)

I am here new york style cheesecake recipeif you like to visit

Leon said...

[anon1] I'm only suggesting people admire the "little" things in life. I'm NOT recommending that people stop looking at the "big" things.

[anon2] Thank you, but I am not fond of cheesecake...

the-think said...

A friend called at 11 last night saying she didn't want to miss it...and was hurrying 'coz there was just one more hour left :)

silverine said...

Happy Friendhsip Day to you too. Someone rightly said that the one should enjoy the journey than look forward to the destination. You have neatly summed up this quote in this post. Wish we would just take each moment and live it to the fullest like children. Great post.

indiagenie said...

hi leon,
nice blog,
nice post,

and happy friendship day, a bit belated though.

Divya said...

hi nirmal... g8 one there... i will completely agree with you!!!

Leon said...

[The-think] lol.. hope she got there..

[Silverine] Thank you.. damn.. now why didn't I think of that quote.. lol.

[Indiagenie] Glad you liked the post.. thanks for stopping by..

[Divs] Thanks a lot.. :-)

Squared said...

>>the things that cost nothing but still bring you unparalleled happiness

Bingo! Life is like an operating system. Works great when its still fresh, recently installed. Later on, as you start installing new programs, filling up memory with junk, all you are left is memory leaks, scratched screen and loads of viruses! And you can not even 'reinstall' your life.

ioiio said...

Bl8d HFD maa

Leon said...

[squared] Hey.. cool analogy to describe life.. and of course the final stage is when the system crashes.. :p.

[ioiio] thanks da.. nee nejama somberi thaan.. :-)

Leon said...

Swapnil, cut it out or you're going to lose even the little respect I have for you... do you seriously have nothing better to do?

silverine said...

Well Mr Leon where is Home away from Home - Part II?

Leon said...

[Anj] Err.. Home away from home - Part II is indefinitely suspended. I'm in no mood to entertain Wangjay Gangtok right now... ;-).

But since you asked.. I'm sure I'll get around to it sometime..

Thanks for asking btw.. :-).

Prasanna said...

says “Boring da.. I went to work and came back… that’s it.” Huh? Is that really all he did in a 16 hour day

But the boring da totally depends upon the day! Life of techie is hard man definitely in India! Therefore u forget almost everything as u said!

hope and love said...

u said it baby..!
:))
good post..

Leon said...

[Prasanna] Life today is hard on everyone.. not just techies in India... :p

[Hope and Love] baby? Is that a retaliation for my associating you with "older" sometime back? ;-).. Thanks.

silverine said...

Hey where is Home away from Home Part II?

Leon said...

Hey.. didn't you see my reply to you above? :-)

Prasanna said...

well i wont agree that...u got 2 work to know about it! And you will!

Leon said...

C'mon.. pras I AM working.. And you must atleast agree that the relatively high pay compensates..?

Prasanna said...

i think u forgot the word..INDIA...particluary customer service companies...

Leon said...

point noted.. :D

Drops Of Jupiter said...

Aloha..
Drops of Jupiter was here. A good point made...I guess ever so often, we should have conversations that start with "Remember the time..."

Leon said...

Thanks jupiter.. I hope that your comment here means that my blog compares favourably with the worst.. :p

flaashgordon said...

i felt ur post was directed at me; i'm classical example of someone who is never able to be happy with the little things in life.

Guess u have a point there ;-))

btw came here with recommendations from silverine; wasnt disappointed- u really write well-enjoyed a couple a of ur earlier posts like # My ascent into e-literacy- a lot

do come over to my blog too sometime

Cheers
flaash

Leon said...

Hey.. thanks.. :-)

I surely will come over. In fact I already have(blame silverine again.. hehe). The hindi post was awesome.. :-)

JJ said...

hey... that was cool...

I sometimes really wonder how the both of us can have sooo many things in common...

I remember when me n my sis were building a whole city (!!!!!) in mud when I was 7 yrs old..... and since i'm the elder guy, I ordered her to close the water tap (.... if you don't have a sea coast nearby, you gotta make do with a hose)..... and she broke her hand in the process!!!

Para 5 made me think!!

Camphor said...

He forgot feeling the wind in his face when he was taking the train back home. He forgot about the amazing sunset he had seen from that same train. He forgot that he had helped his mom with groceries. He forgot about the book he had relaxed with in the evening.

Maybe he didn't forget, and just didn't share? These little things, they are what make a day worth living, but tell me, when you ask, "how was your day?" do you intend to actually listen to all the details of the little things in the 16 hours? I think not.

What is it about the way we speak that if you ask me the same question, unless it has been an out-of-the-world day, I'd say, "oh, it was just another day. did some stuff." ... perhaps that answer comes becuase face it - you might like to hear about the train and the sunset - but not everyday; about the book - if it was not being read over a month, and he's doing a page a day.

Q1: How are you?
A1: I'm fine.

Q2 : How was your day?
A2 : It was fine / it was good / it was ok.
To most poeple, those are the only answers you can give. You call to chat with someone after a very long time, that person can't tell you "I met X's sister today" without frist briefing you on who X is or why X's sister is significant.

Some things aren't for the sharing. :)

That said, *g* you did hit the nail on the head. The sense of wonder/ anticipation / eagerness / enthusiasm - it just fades. You can see the difference in the faces of student - the ones in first year and ones in final - man, you can guess the year just by "the light in her eyes"

We're jaded.

Anonymous said...

Hmm.. you can still get 100% involved as long as you find joy in the lil things that go into a day. Like when i was working, I'd spend about 45 mins on a Sunday making that purrfect mushroom, cheese, ham & capsicum omlette as per my patented recipe. And then sit down after a l-o-ng bath to relish the culinary work of art. Sigh!! those were the days.
-P

Leon said...

[JJ] Thanks! We do have a lot of things in common don't we? :p

So you are to blame for your sis breaking her hand.. I never knew that.. tsk tsk..


[Camphor] Thanks for your lengthy analysis. I know you are short on time.. I agree with you when you say "Some things are just not for the sharing". My point is only to atleast have those random incidents in the back of your head so that your day doesn't seem to be fruitless and boring. Because, unless you sleep through a day, you will have done SOMETHING significant..


[P] Thanks.. :-)

I'd love to have been able to taste that 45 minute 'culinary work of art'... :-)

Kanthi said...

Hey Leon!

Great post.. You really are gifted :) Reading this entry reminded me how each of us think the same things.. But you are thankfully gifted enough to excellently make a point which had already been thought of, romanticized, glamourized and trodden to such an extent that it is sapped of the emotional juice that powers it...

But I think the thing I most appreciate is the time you have taken to make this entry. School and work make life a rat-race.. Can't believe that I came across this while browsing for homework.. and still harder to believe I am posting a comment for it at 1:15 at night :)..

Anyways.. just wanted to say.. it made a nice read..

Good Luck!

Leon said...

Thanks a bunch Kanthi! Your comment just made my day. I'm glad you liked the post. Thanks also for taking the time out to type a detailed comment.. :-)