INSTINCTIVE REACTION OR A MEASURED RESPONSE — YOUR CHOICE
In my earlier blogs, I have written about different experiences which have had a profound impact on me and how they had the potential to alter the manner in which we choose to traverse life’s uncertain pathways and their domino effect on our thought process. This time I would like to share a recent experience which only laid bare how a positive response and a balanced approach can prevent an unfortunate, even unsavoury, situation from decaying into mayhem.
To cut to the chase and come to the point, a couple of days back, I was a part of a group that had gone to watch a movie in one of the many Malls that crowd NCR’s landscape. Being a weekend, with a bright and sunny day to boost and as was to be only expected, the Mall was veritably crowded with people jostling cheek by jowl for even breathing space. I, as is my wont, was as usual late and can no longer claim to be young and agile, was rushing through the crowd, in a tearing hurry, not just to reach the Multiplex on time but also fearful of the wrath of the entire gang, which I had to accompany for the movie, and in the process of trying to find my way banged (literally) into another gentleman who was moving ahead of me.
The impact of the collision, judging by the counter-impact it had one me, could scarcely, have been less than severe. Expecting an angry response and, perhaps, an expletive ridden verbal riposte, I prepared myself, both mentally and physically for, what was only to be normally expected, an incessant backlash while simultaneously folding my hands in a gesture of untainted/unalloyed apology and muttered a sorry.
Lo and behold, instead of a scowling face, shouting ingloriously and continuously, what I witnessed when the Gentleman turned around was a pleasant visage, smiling face and an extremely amiable countenance. Mind you, although I cannot claim to be young by any standards, the Gentlemen was decidedly older to me, as evident from his receding hairline and greyed hair and a slightly freckled look. In a gentle and understated manner, he tapped me on my shoulder, looked at me with pleasant eyes and said “It happens. Perhaps this was one of God’s ways of getting both of us know each other”. Having said that he calmly walked away and in a couple of moments was lost in the maze of humanity that had descended on the Mall that day.
Instead of heckling me, losing his temper or shouting, his (re)action not only prevented the situation from becoming uncontrollable but also, in the most effective manner, conveyed the message to me to try and be more careful and sensitive while trying to find a way through a crowd. And, of course, be more punctual and reach on (before) time.
Mind you, considering the severity of my action, which could have led to even injury, his response even becomes praiseworthy and worthy of emulation. In a day and age, when incidents of road rage are multiplying, street side brawls becoming commonplace, a general rise in crime (with frayed tempers running amok at the slightest excuse) compounded by the stresses and strains of a rapidly commercialized and materialistic world, the (perceived) gaps between expectation and reality, abilities and achievements/success, the need for temperance, as exhibited by the noble soul is paramount and immediate.
Perhaps destiny might not provide me another encounter with that noble soul but that couple of seconds only left an indelible and lasting impression. Whether it was the accumulated wisdom gathered over a lifetime of purposeful existence or the result of personal experience, the noble soul gave me a lesson, not just to be learned but also circulated, and propagated.
Rather than leave behind a litany of abuses and unhappy memories, which may cause immediate ruckus, but nevertheless, find their place in the recesses of the mind, thereby affecting our balance and equanimity, the need for a smile, an understanding approach, and a measured response can only be re-emphasized and the resultant benefits, if practiced on a sustained basis, over a period of time can only be exponential.
Our responses to external events or reactions to a third person’s actions (which almost always are beyond our control) need to be measured/calibrated to derive optimum benefit while at the same time be effective. It is here that a positive outlook will defuse the situation and leave a pleasant aftertaste. In this context the prophetic words of late Maya Angelou, the celebrated American poet, singer, memoirist and civil rights activist acquire meaning –
People will forget what you said;
People will forget what you did;
But people will never forget;
How you made them feel”
The above quote might perhaps sound misplaced or overtly simplistic but we need to remember that a positive outlook generates, a positive response (a feel good factor), leading to positive vibes and feelings which leave a lasting impression — just as that Gentleman did to me in the crowded Mall on a sunny winter afternoon a couple of days ago. Feelings, thoughts and actions which shall remain permanently etched in my memory and are worthy of emulation in our daily life.