When no one is looking

There was once a young man who was going through a bit of a financial crisis. He would spend the little money he earned, living an extravagant life he couldn’t afford. One fine day he turned up at his long-estranged parents’ house.

The mother took him in gladly, but the father took caution and wished to test the man his son had turned out to be after leaving his home for “better prospects” almost a decade ago. Not long after, the son approached his father with a business proposal. He asked his father to fund his venture and see his money triple in a year. The father agrees and takes the son into his study, where he unlocks the family safe with the son watching. The son is amazed at finding a huge amount of money in there and gladly takes the amount he needs.

But that night, as the son lied awake in bed, he could not help but think about the safe. About how he could always use some extra cash and how his old parents had no need of all of that money. He sneaks into his father’s study and finds the safe to be open. “The old man is getting too old”, he mused. He took as much as he could carry and once again, left the house he was born in, for “better prospects”.

The next day, the mother was horrified at what her son had done. But the father calmed her down and said, “That money went towards a good cause. I now know what kind of a man my son has grown to be. A man without integrity.”

How do you define integrity? Have you ever defined it? Let me help you.

Integrity is what you do when no one is looking.

In it’s purest form, it is a test of your actions when the world is not there to watch, judge or criticize. I don’t know about you, but my childhood was one of discipline as I waded my way through six years at a boarding school. It was made sure by someone that I took complete care of myself right from making my bed all the way to managing my studies efficiently. There was approval upon success and a scolding for every stumble. In short, I had someone making sure I grew up to be a responsible person. They tried their best.

But now as I live away from home in a city almost half a world away, I find myself to be free of constant supervision. My parents can not tell how I live my life now. Some of my friends envy this. I find it to be a burden. A heavy, yet a necessary one.

As I write this blog at 6:11am right now, I have no need to wake up early or go to school or do anything, to be honest. But because it is what I am supposed to do, because it is what my family entrusts me to do, it is what I must do. No matter how many alarms it takes.

When you find yourself in a situation where the only person aware of a decision is you, believe me, that is the toughest place to be. At that moment, “you” are the only one you can disappoint. But make the right choice and you will find a deep satisfaction like no other.

And here’s how. Most people that believe in you, be they family or friends usually hold you in a high place in their minds. They believe that you are a good person and that you will always do the right thing without bothering to find out whether you actually will. All you need to do is to become the person they already think you are.

If you take anything from this, take this.

A person with a whole lot of nothing to show for, but his integrity intact, has done quite well for himself.

-Harry

Don’t be perfect

I always loved watching sports movies. Rocky was one of my all-time favourites. It was about a man who trained hard and rose to the occasion. As I watch that movie again, it makes me want to do the same thing. Not take up boxing, but to work hard. Harder than anyone else. To make sure nothing can stand in my way. To be perfect.

Every single day, I want to be perfect. But I’m only human. So, sometimes I sleep through the alarm. Other days, a really good TV show brings me down. Sometimes, I don’t go on my run because I’m out of clean socks.

The next day, I judge myself for not being perfect yesterday.

What does it take to be perfect all the time? What do I have to give up to get there? And if I knew, would I give it up?

Storytime. Back in my boarding school days, I loved reading Harry Potter. Those pages sucked me in and I pored over those books for months on end. I read them in class. I read them while I ate. And I read them when I was supposed to be sleeping. And on one fine day, a teacher found me reading the book a day before a final. I got a nice long talk on how I should be focusing on my exams instead of on pish-posh like that. How that book wouldn’t get me anywhere in life, but the math textbook might. It was not a good day.

She told me that working towards a goal meant leaving everything else behind. And that, I truly believe, is the definition of being perfect. To be immaculate in everything you do. To leave behind tiny things that don’t concern your work. To be a flawless diamond as you walk through life.

No one should have to live like that. I’m done trying to live like that.

From now onwards the mantra is,

Do your best to be your best.

-Harry

You might be tired of hearing me preach, but here’s another thought for you. If at any point in time you find yourself doing something wrong, or not doing something that you’re supposed to be doing. Take a second. Admit to yourself that you have messed up. And go do your best to make things right.

Trust me, it’s the best way to live.

 

 

 

Do your “thing”

Whenever I’m in a space full of people I try and understand some things about human behaviour. After about 16 hours in two planes and an hour on a bus back to my place in Guelph, there’s something I noticed.

So there’s all kinds of people I see whenever I take public transport. Loud people. Well-dressed people. Serious-faced people. Lost-in-the-floor people. The list goes on. So let’s say they all have a thing. And based on today’s world, some of these “things” are more socially acceptable than the other. I won’t go on to point them out but it’s the way it is.

My “thing” is music. I always have earphones on as I travel. I have some incredible self-made Spotify playlists which could, in my opinion, quite possibly blow the roof of any public transport vehicle. So I listen to music. On some days it’s Drake. On others, its Arijit. I switch here and there. Today, as I was on the bus, I was totally in my zone. I was listening to this incredible song called Suffocation Blues. I was tapping my legs. I can’t always guess the lyrics but I do try.

And as I’m listening, I look around the bus and see someone who was looking at me with this quizzical look. Now I chose to give the person the benefit of the doubt and went back to my song. A couple songs later I notice the person again, looking at me with an expression that clearly said, “What is wrong with him?”

So back to my original point. Here is what I noticed. Some people generally reserve themselves from doing anything that they consider to be “a couple centimetres south of normal”. They sit there looking into their phones waiting for their Snapchat conversations to progress further down the path of pointlessness. And that’s okay. That’s their thing and I’m proud they do it no matter what. But why is it that when someone has a “thing” a bit on the unusual side, people around them immediately disapprove? They crinkle, point it out to their friends and enjoy their silent derision.

Now I don’t know if you’ve ever found yourself on that foot-tapping, song-singing side of that scenario but if you have, then you’d know that it can get pretty awkward. And it did for me. But later that day a thought passed my mind.

Only one who is uneasy in his own skin will laugh at those that are living their lives to the fullest.

-Harry

Do two people dancing with crazy moves ever look at each other and disapprove? No. They just silently congratulate each other on not holding anything back and continue to boogie. 

Now if you’ve never been on the crazy dancing side of life, maybe that’s just who you are. Nothing wrong with that. But maybe, you’re letting the best in life pass by. So either join the stage or enjoy the party from that bar stool. And if you’re on that dance floor going nuts, and you see someone looking at you like you’re crazy, feel sorry for them. And then go back and do your “thing.”