‘Nothing on either side was said. They knew they had but to stay their stay And all their logic would fill my head: As that I had no right to play With what was another man’s work for gain. My right might be love but theirs was need. And where the two exist in twain Theirs was the better right — agreed.
But yield who will to their separation, My object in living is to unite My avocation and my vocation As my two eyes make one in sight. Only where love and need are one, And the work is play for mortal stakes, Is the deed ever really done For heaven and the future’s sakes.’ - Robert Frost
Always coveting another person’s gains, assets and achievements, do you think humans have tipped into the ultimate dilemma about their search for identity, with the pandemic? Has the lockdown made you question things? When was the last time you took a pause, driving through traffic, to really reflect on the chaos of noise and fumes? When was it that you actually spent a weekend ensuring your communities were doing alright and if there was any help you could bring?
Where I live, there is an old old man - a calligrapher - who saunters around the society to showcase and sell his handiwork, at this stage of his life. He can calligraph your name, scrapbooks, even your car plates. No, don’t pity him yet. He is well educated, has had a career-oriented life and his family is well. Then why, I used to question myself, until one day, when I just asked. He shone his wisdom in the most simple words. He said, ‘In the rush of making a living, I started living too late.’ I understood, but I probed. He said, ‘it was just obvious, wasn’t it? We had to go to school, get a job, have a family, support them ..and that was that.’ Do you see the argument this statement beckons? The linearity of human life with no scope to budge an inch without being tagged, judged or discriminated against.
With no scope for our passion and need to coincide.
So, why the need for an 80 something year old to relive his passion? Time, money, desire, emptiness? Why did he have to go through life not being able to find the time, money and desire to not feel empty? Did being a working professional become a zero-sum game for him? There are so many men and women like him. Do we know about them? Have we tried to identify what drives them? Have we given them a chance to be really happy? To find a satisfactory tranquility in life? Was Robert Frost, maybe, a little detached from the concept of collaboration while writing the beautiful words quoted above?
In this digital generation, with forlorn interpersonal belongingness, how do we, as a community, enable the ecosystem we function in, to emerge from non-linearity by uplifting each other, given that our future leaders will most definitely stem from the millennials and Gen Z, currently aged 18-40? Are they also at a risk of becoming our proverbial old chap above, but for very different reasons? What are these reasons? Have we identified them? Are we listening to people around us with the empathy and humanity they want?
#AbrahamMaslow established long ago that it's a basic human need to want our uniqueness and strengths to be acknowledged. Did you know, #Zendaya (’s) recent deal led all her crew members from the movie #MalcolmandMarie earn a 1 percent bonus on its sale? She acknowledged everyone, holistically. In an increasingly virtual world, this intent could be manifested by all of us in something as simple as asking a peer if they have something to add to a project, a neighbor if they need help with job hunting, a young person if they need mentoring to go out on their own. Everyone has a voice that needs to be heard, at the right time, to create meaningful impact. Are we enabling that?
Are we ready to break away from the previous decades characterised by status ascriptions and material achievements - a defined age and scope for doing what we can? Are we synced with the global trend emerging with purposefulness and meaning in daily living? A tangible movement towards creating impact in communities is on the horizon. Are we awake enough to rise to it? Perhaps, if Frost were alive he could keep at lumberjacking himself to feed his passion but also involve the two tramps to help him do it better and faster, with cooperation from those who have been down the route. Each one, helping one. At least, that would be trying to emerge so ‘the work is play for mortal stakes’.
What do you think?