Secret Lives of Enviable People

22 June, 2004 at 07:35 Leave a comment

This is basically a fun view of the world (as most of my to-be-written books are about). We all think that certain people have all the fun that we think we do not have or hope to have or strive to have. Like Hollywood stars and Football players. They have money and fame and what not. This book essentially looks at all these ideal professions and just tries to put the reader in their shoes and skins for a while with the skin part inspired by this quote:

“First of all, if you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you’ll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view-until you climb into his skin and walk around in it”Atticus Finch in ‘To Kill a Mockingird

Of course the title is a touch misleading and so is the matter. It is not a self-help book or a positive pessimistic book or one that pokes/pities fun at these people (which is the easiest to write and that is why we see so many people complaining all over the web). But this will be a ‘hatke’ kind of analysis. For example, take the life of a sportsman (oops, feminists, please excuse). Can you imagine what his life is like? I do not know what drives people to go that extra elusive mile and become a sportstar. But their regimen is so very mundane. They have to train hard day in and day out and carry the expectations of millions of beer-guzzling, pizza-munching, fast-food-fattened people throughout the world. More than this is the implicit repeatition of the job. Kicking a ball around or running or jumping using a pole all day to improve by a few microseconds or a few millimetres is just something that is sad from a neutral perspective. I do not know what is the purpose of this book. Maybe it is to show people that every life is worth living – even our own rotten, mundane, petite, invisible existence. And that we should shed the “grass is greener on the other side” attitude for once (and possibly for all time) which I think is the reason for so much unhappiness in our civilization. We do not like the way we look (oogle at beautiful people who themselves oogle), we do not like our job, we do not like the people around us (racism and paranoia) – all of this because of the fundamental flaw we seem to accept – that there is a better thing out there (which is untrue). I may sound a lot existentialist here but I essentially think that it takes all kinds to make this world and one has to appreciate everything that goes out there. From the people who pick up the garbage bins to the scientists trying to put a man on mars (which in my opinion is a stupid thing to do and spend the money of the world on). All the same, it is because we have a great diversity of people doing their different jobs and having so many original opinions that renders our civilization intelligent.

This concept of exploring the lives of successful people from close quarters are best shown through novels/films where a poor guy gets filthy rich or popular but all of these stories have a feel-good ending which focuses that what is important is what you have and the people you have. Even, autobiographies (books/movies) basically tend to show the pressure and travails of these so called ‘dream’ professions – sort of making sucessful people seem humane, so to speak. But one thread that is common to all these books and movies is that of sympathy. We seldom ever get to see a person who is successful all the time. He/She (or their biographers) would in fact emphasize on the bad parts and their failures rather than the good parts. That is why I guess people think that the autobiographies of scientists are so frustrating and arrogant (like that of Richard Feynman who keeps going about his childhood in an interview and which is unverifiable). They keep on telling their success stories and tell people of how smart they are and how smart the people they worked with are even if the latter is chosen to make them seem more humbler but which only re-inforces the superior intellect push. And in the case of scientists who have failed professionally or personally or mentally (like John Nash), the sympathy is so great that they are given Nobel prizes! (all pun intended). Somehow we have been conditioned to be sympathetic and feel happy (in a sadistic way) through other peoples’ failure and the more famous this person is, the greater is the joy. All things being equal, we tend not be inspired by the successful folk but tend to be happier in their failures. This seems to be quite a cruel thing to do but that is how we all are. The emphasis is on ALL because even if you say that I never do that, think again. You must have done it at some point – in high-school when you wanted the ‘most’ popular guy to make a jackass of himself or you wanted your Mom to be wrong with something (she never is). I think this cruelty is somewhat wired into us. A predator and scavenger and hunter instinct to be more aware and critical of the weaknesses in others rather than be appreciative of the strengths. As most can see, the latter does not really help our survival except those of biographers and spin-doctors and yes-men and poets who make a living on emphasizing such stuff. Even academics (the so called intelligentsia) cannot escape this primal wiring as you can see the evidence everywhere….

[1] 71-Percent-Where-art-Thou?

[2] Swami’s Badminton match with Vinu (of Calicut) at the Inter-REC sports festival

[F] Monster B/W Ad with children – amazing piece

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Entry filed under: Arts.

Selfish Organism Bananas Nature of Banana Skins

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