We all invariably encounter instances which leaves an impression or impacts us deep down in our cerebrum. Surprisingly, it may not be the major issues at most times rather a small one with the ‘power to set us pondering’. However, it then that we need to press the pause button within to notice the subtle message.
In the late 80’s, once during an ongoing summer break at college my father asked me to join a business company’s promotional stall at the ongoing India International Trade Fair, New Delhi. A new product, ‘a motorbike’ was being launched in the market by this engineering company. Their requirement during trade fair hours was for their team of young college boys and girls, to showcase their new launch to the visitors. The technical expert though was just a few feet away and on call. The two wheeler, a Japanese product was indeed a ‘top seller in the global market’ in those days !
To be associated with this product in any way and more so primarily during it’s launch was an interesting proposition, thrilling engagement and a singular honour. The freebies included pizzas, soft drinks and an allowance to be earned at the end of the event …. any teen’s delight ! Simply a ‘wow’ situation for any college kid ! On a more formal note the take away offered – two weeks of good exposure with a glimpse of the work life and lessons in human interaction.
The Ice Cream Cup
I traversed this journey for two weeks from my home on the outskirts of the capital. A combination of walks and rides on state transport buses was how I undertook the commute. A travel time of about an hour and a half one way ! On the last day, quite late into the evening (… awaiting probably the last bus), I stood at the bus stand. The traffic outside the Trade Fair precincts visibly showed a reduction in density. My bus still five minutes away and feeling some hunger pangs, I looked around for a bite solution. Upon not seeing many options, I strolled towards the only ice cream trolley and purchased an ice cream cup. It seemed good enough to satiate my appetite for a certain duration. Of course, I would be back home soon to be offered a hot tasty meal by my mother !
The ice cream cup was big and the vanilla flavour tasted exceptionally good that day …. probably view the hunger growls within my belly ! I ate ever bit or so as I thought and tossed the empty cup into a yellow black coloured Municipal Corporation dustbin nearby. It’s then that I saw my bus approaching from a nearby junction. Almost as immediately I disposed off the cup, I fleetingly noticed as well from the corner of my eye, a brown figure jump into the dustbin behind the ice cream cup. The trajectories of the cup and this figure seemed synchronised. Was it a hungry stray dog looking for food ? What was it ? I was inquisitive ?!
A few seconds later to my astonishment I noticed a poor bare chested brown lad stand up in the bin. My ice cream cup in hand. I saw him scrape the insides of the same cup with the spoon displaying a feeble yet satisfying smile ! My bus had arrived and amidst the jostling (as we encountered in those days), sooner than I realised, I was inside the bus. I couldn’t help but kept staring back at that little brown boy still tugging away at the cup. As the bus turned at the junction I lost sight of the boy … but only physically as that sight remains forever fresh in my mind’s eye.
Questions raced within my mind …. When I thought I had everything (in that cup) how is it that the brown boy spent more time in deriving more satisfaction ? Honestly, he held the cup longer than me that day !
Psychology of Glasses or Cups !
We have all heard about the proverbial phrase ‘Is the glass half full or half empty’ ? It’s demonstrative purpose being how a situation may be seen depending on a person’s point of view. Understood on a philosophical plane, every person holds an a perception unique to oneself and interprets reality accordingly. On a psychological angle research shows that an individual’s choice reflects his knowledge of understating of his surroundings. In short ‘half full’ relates to optimism while ‘half empty’ to pessimism. Not to delve deeper into the philosophy or psychology lessons – the question in this story relates to ‘fully empty’ (or not !) and life’s lessons.
What’s All the Din About ?
Umpteen are the lessons in the subject disciplines as mentioned above and conclusions therein ! A lot of arguments for and against have also been resorted to, linking this phrase to life’s realities. Not all literally though to the positive conclusions that have been largely advocated. Numerous humourous connotations are also existent, which views both the ‘water level interpretations’ as a draw in a match ! Where do I then strike the philosophy or psychology for an ‘ice cream cup’ – fully empty, yet not’ !
What’s the din all about ? Actually, there aren’t any intentions to further raise the din on the observation. Due regards to the conventional subject disciplines and their verdicts, the story above impacts many aspects of our human interpretations, behaviour and conclusions. All simply because a young brown boy saw some more ! Do we then conclude certain lessons – on hope, minimising wastage, poverty issue or resource conservation for a better planet by sustainable development ? Well not to play the judge, I leave the verdict to the esteemed reader , however only after highlighting some food for thought.
Power of a Grain (or Morsel)
In the Epic Mahabharata …. the power of a grain is seen in the sentiment expressed by Lord Krishna, when he says to Draupadi … “these few grains of flat rice will satisfy not only Me but the entire universe”. In doing so, Draupadi despite having only a morsel of rice in her bowl, managed to miraculously feed the visiting holy sages to feeling their stomachs full. The story however goes on to explain that even the smallest offerings done with pure love irrespective of quantity has it’s acceptance by God
At a much humbler and the human level – Can we then accord value to a drop, a morsel, a helping hand, a thoughtful gesture, an offer to assist, an act of unconditional love amongst the simplest and smallest things that go into making our lives comfortable and worth living ?
Connecting the Dots . . .
Let’s analyse the event that occurred that day relating to the brown boy. The ice cream cup in my opinion satiated my appetite and I decided to toss it into the bin. The boy may have been looking for the opportunity and waiting for me to throw it. He knew he would surely find that morsel or a few drops (of nourishment). He accorded more “value” to the cup by eating from it much longer.
At first look it seems like a simple hunger story. I however, choose to derive valuable lessons and not to leave it to statistics related to poverty. Evident and most important issues that stand out as lessons are enumerated.
• First Dot : It most certainly is not about poverty alone. It is about our precious food which we – mostly children including many adults at most occasions, waste ! Let us not be oblivious to the prevalent pangs of hunger amongst the less fortunate and disrespect the morsel. To learn the hard way the real value of food, many would not have the courage or energy of the brown boy.
It saddens one’s heart to note that despite good efforts at many homes and schools, certain individual’s choose not to know their belly’s capacity. Certainly, it isn’t fashionable by any measure to leave food on one’s plate. In doing so, it only highlights such a person’s insensitivity to other’s misfortunes. Shockingly, they are oblivious that they qualify as culprits in the food wastage crime. The food supply chain (if one visits) is vivid with the hard work and efforts that go into bringing nature’s nourishment on our tables.
Respect the value of food, lest feel the despair for want of this important blessing in life ! Social media, books and case studies are aplenty. The simple effort to stop wasting food however comes from one’s conscience. Do it – so no brown boy jumps into a bin !
• Second Dot : Why only link it to food ? If it relates to drops or wastage, it surely can be linked to the great initiatives and movements for environment sustainability. We notice glaring posters, tough debates and organisational initiatives the world over that harp and echo : “Reduce, Reuse & Recycle”. Well … Who will take the effort to realise the value of a drop and that tiny bit ? Who at all ? It is therefore a serious collective responsibility of every individual, society, community, business and nation. Whether it is at home or inside an aircraft manufacturing company – we need to audit every bit of our natural resources. Let not these resource drops trickle into dustbins or drains. In the ice cream cup, every little drop was seen as a ‘hope of nourishment’ by the boy ….. Do it – so no brown boy jumps into a bin !
• Third Dot : Can such an event ever be linked to a value lesson that relates to our academic and professional achievements ? Well …. certainly yes ! It brings us to the ‘myriad of qualifications’ we aspire and acquire as we move up in life. No doubt one is expected to be educated, professionally sound and ambitious. However, life’s value gauge always measures one’s contribution in ‘giving terms’ to this planet and it’s inhabitants. How much have you given (even if it meant a drop) to leave your surroundings or this world a better place?
Never underestimate the value of the education you received. Every chapter and lesson learnt therein wasn’t meant to not only score certain grades or pass exams. Delve back into those lessons now – with vigour of your acquired experience and maturity. It really doesn’t matter if you are a Managing Director or Staff or Worker. If you have even a drop (of education and experience),
realise it’s value like the brown boy – seek nourishment to progress. There is no room for despair, seek hope bring about change with whatever your academic or professional achievements. Not every successful person possesses great qualifications but every such person surely values the power of the “human spirit”. Go out and make that difference ! Do it – so no brown boy jumps into a bin !
• Fourth Dot : We must as well realise that the value of this vital bit (the small things) which impact our relationships. Whether it is your family or friends, realise the value of every small thought and deed from others that comes your way. Happiness, lies in being fortunate to receive their affection, care, concern and support. Many times these may not be evident or may even get taken for granted. Seek and observe these angels amongst your family and friends. Find time to appreciate and reciprocate the goodwill you receive. Express your gratitude ! Do not fritter away the value of such
kind acts by others, as we would indiscriminately waste a drop or some valuable resource. You can be ambitious and plan to do great things. However, believe that real success is achieved only if you value positivity, which you acquire from a secure social circle. Do it – so no brown boy jumps into a bin !
Scrape Scrape … Findings ?
Finally, it is all about survival and that too with dignity. Survival not necessarily bodily but importantly, “in human spirit”. Numerous situations in personal or professional life may throw up challenges. On certain occasions, it can seem as a pit of one’s wits against the situation and you may feel on the edge. Never be demoralised or shaken …. Life’s cup is never ever empty. “Have Faith, Work with Faith” …. Keep your hopes alive. It certainly is the best final option ! Look for that little drop of nourishment. It’s all about how we choose to perceive our challenges – When you make it, you would have the “belief in your powers” whilst others might see it as a miracle !
So, ‘Half Full, Half Empty or Fully Empty’ is for anyone to decide …. All I can say, is best wishes and thank you Brown Boy ! Though ‘my cup was fully empty’, you taught me that with the ‘power of hope’ and our attitude to ‘value the small things in life’ – we can seek abundance.