Saturday, 18 June 2011

isee, ibeleive, iperceive – Not always in that order

A decade back, the year college life began for us, the year that marked a turn around for all of us 32 idiots-trying-to-be-cool undergraduates and the year that finally ended with lots of introductions-cum-ragging & a happening fresher’s party. A few months into the same year’s hostel life and a few of us gal gangers decided to do something, which we then (and now too) called – Plan chit. It was what today I will call ‘Spirit Speed Calling’. Oh Yes, Holy Spirits who still were on the waitlist of visa’s to heaven or hell were called upon to enter into a one-rupee coin and answer a few questions for us – full on KBC style without options! Today if you ask me why we did it – well the nearest sane explanation would be simply – just to see if spirits actually came.

So we wanted to see a coin dance around to believe in ‘spirit power’ and our ‘Concentration Power’ too (after all the explanation of the spirit entering the coin was – it happened because of few minds concentrating on a single goal!!). Well exactly like some of us who neither believe in god nor ghosts, as we have not seen either. So precisely most of us want to see things to believe it. Well fair enough, after all we get marks when teachers see correct answers, we get jobs when recruiters see our degrees, we get promotions when boss sees results (in fact quantifiable results), even our judiciary functions on this whole seeing business. So it is a saw, see, seeing world we have built around us, over the centuries.  

But what about people; true we do exist in a materialistic and material world but we also simultaneously live in a world full of people moving in and out of our lives – people we meet at work, on the footpath, in the bus, inside the housing complex, in the vegetable market and hundreds of places we go thousands of times. So, how do we group them? As white, black and grey or rather as good, bad and in-between? And how exactly do we decide on the grouping – do we stand back and observe each person we meet before we mentally group them or do we just mentally group them, based on our prior experience of a similar conditioning, and then interact with them (of course based on our protocols for the group that they belong to.)

Well if you ask me I do the latter and always think I am bang on right about my groupings or rather till lately I thought so. Precisely till the day a few months back in office, where we all had this discussion during one of the numerous coffee breaks, about a certain executive who clocked in more hours in office than any of us did. So we all, as usual, had our own interpretations for his Hard working Nature. The interpretations ranged right from – him being a slow jack, to him finding office as the perfect place to reduce his tea & snacks bill, to him being such a bore that he cannot manage a single date, to all this action diverted to impress the boss, to him being a robot etc. etc. and etcetera.

Honestly till that moment I never sat back and thought the rightness of such an action – at that very moment eight minds were interpreting one action!! But a large group gives one the privilege of sitting back and going out of action for some time and reflecting.And I thought how ironical – eight interpretations of one man’s one action!! Which is the right one – are all right or is the right interpretation still not voiced. It was utterly confusing and that moment struck me with the magnitude of errors I may have committed, in all these years, by similar judgements about people – judgement of present people by past’s perceptions. It felt like living in my own box all these years – judging others or looking at others with my perspective, never really trying on their shoes. If what they do or say is similar to what I have seen or heard it was always comfortable but if I was unexposed to that line of thinking - the action was always weird and thinking illogical. I suddenly felt an empathy for the late Mr. M.F. Hussain - maybe he too was judged in other’s perspective, maybe he had a perception that was just a little different.

We believe what we see but in context to fellow humans we see what we perceive and hence believe what we perceive. Effectually there is no right or wrong to those perceptions – they are like business case studies - every identified problem does exist in the case but some more may also exist. I have concluded since that coffee discussion that for a peaceful co-existence (more on the mental level) with fellow humans, flexible perceptions and openness to differences is as important as fuel to flame – and here the fuel gets to decide whether the flame is a candlelight - efficient enough to give light, light another flame, beatify and mystify, etc or a forest fire - efficient enough only to destroy.

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