Monday, January 14, 2013

Admired, is envied

Can you imagine envy and admiration to be the two sides of the same coin?

Well, I never had inkling that it was so, till I was led to realize that it indeed is so. At least for me, it is—and in no way can it be deemed absolute, as nothing is absolute, in this relative plane of life that we lead. So, we all have our own interpretations, depending on our perceptions…and over time, our own perceptions change, surrounding the same matter. At times we hail it as evolution…and times other, we refer to this change as maturity. Call what we will, but the fact of the matter is changeability is the norm, as well as forte, of life.

Thus, here I am, with my realization that envy and admiration are the two facets of the same face! And even this realization, has added on dimensions—with changes added to it—since the time it was first ‘received’.

But then, only by expressing and explaining ‘how’ one is led to a realization, completes the picture of the realization. Otherwise, simply affirming one’s observation sounds like a declaration absolute.

All realizations result out of experiences varied, and these experiences too change—with it the realizations too undergo ‘editing’. But then what does not?! Though yes, when the realization strikes, it catches one unawares. It comes as an insight, and when it does, the feelings that are evoked are inexplicable…as all feelings are. Yet, it is the genius of Wordsworth that he could capture the inexplicable, and express it so wondrously, as he has done, through the immortal lines: “The flash upon the inward eye, which is the bliss of solitude”, in his very famous work, “The Daffodils”. Indeed, these realizations do strike as flashes—on and seen, through the inner eye—unbeknownst to us.

Gradually the essence of the realization evolves…

The same has happened in the context of envy and admiration…
The trigger

It all began with: “Neighbor’s envy, owner’s pride”, the tagline synonymous with Onida TV. Years ago, still a kid, when I first saw the advertisement, I simply hated it. Over the years, the feelings for the same have undergone changes though. No longer is it hated, because now I know it is the creative expression of the person, whose it is. And as each being is unique, so unique would be one’s creations too. As one perceives so one creates.

Opinions might differ—and that they do, more often than not. We might not agree to some or many—as the fact is, as we perceive, so we receive and conceive…and thus we express. Hence, the response to the same differs for different people—and likewise the expression too does. Thus, the philosophy behind “Neighbor’s envy, owner’s pride”, though doesn’t share a place of pride in my consciousness, it is acknowledged as much as the creative expressions of a being, as much as it is thanked for leading me to the realizations and revelations it has.

When I first saw the advertisement as a kid, the visual effect had been nauseating. It was repulsive. I simply couldn’t agree, and thus accept it—and this manifested as my dislike for the same. And even later the dislike could not be converted to a liking for the same.

Though later, it has become more of a disagreement than dislike, transcending the visual impact. The disagreement is with the inherent philosophy of the advertisement.

The disagreement

Primarily, it ‘reaches’ me as an approach which looks to encash the negative emotions. The higher is envy-quotient, higher should be the sale-ability of what the advertisement came up to sell.

Envy is a trait which could hardly be called positive, and pride if not tempered, tampers with one’s life. And all of it is the doings of the ego. We are mistakenly consumed by ego, which we term as self-respect—many a times—as life’s thin line of demarcations are really thinner than the thinnest. It is all about following, “This far and no farther.”

Ego is felt by many as essential, but till it stays within the limits of self-respect. But to still the ego, the mind has to be stilled. It is a task, none would find enviable, and when accomplished one would not even take pride in it, as by then one would have realized that pride too is a dressage of ego!

Hence, the proud use of ‘pride’ and ‘envy’ was not acceptable to me. Little did I understand then about ‘catch lines and phrases’, which, I do now. Now the tagline is accepted, as a point of view of an individual—with every right to one’s views. But it is not the view that is accepted.

I abide by my feelings! I can’t envy anybody’s pride! And I can’t take pride in this act of not envying, as well!

The link

My esteemed readers might be wondering as to where I am wandering with these two words, and what significance does my views about an advertisement carry. But rest assured, wherever we (yes, you too, as you are reading these words!) are wandering, we are, without any envy or pride. 

But definitely with admiration for the philosophy that is unveiled to me, through the philosophy which is not even in sync with me—that of the advertisement. I admire the creativity of a creative being, through whose pen (though nowadays it is through the strokes on the keyboard!) it resulted—and made me go deep within and realize why I do not agree with, what I do not. The reason has to be there—otherwise it would be a biased view. And disagreeing doesn’t mean one has to be disagreeable. Rather now I am thankful to the advertisement, which as a kid I hated! After all, whatever happens happens with a reason behind its happening—apparent or not.

It led me to access what I could, as it led me to the fact that we end up envying what we admire…though the reverse is not true. The link between envy and admiration was thus presented to me—and I could simply accept it with gratitude, and of course, admiration. How things are right in front of our eyes, and how we see them only when we focus and refocus our vision...

And once we realize, what we realize, it all seems so very obvious, forcing us to ask ourselves, “Why didn’t I see/think the same before?”

The same is felt when the link between envy and admiration is revealed, as ‘received’. It seems so obvious now, as it is thus unveiled. Is it not true, that we usually wish to possess those qualities and things which we admire, yet others have it and we don’t? And then, when we fail to, the failure leads (or misleads?) to envy, towards the person and the possessions—material and non-material, the capabilities.

Only that which we admire, and hence like, we wish to ‘have’, and when it is a ‘have-not’, admiration is not—having swiftly given way to envy. It is just a matter of flipping the coin…over to the side that is envy.

The response

Thus, that which is admired ends up being envied. No wonder then that generally the admirable qualities are those which are rendered enviable as well.

It is more of a habitual response that we come up with. Yet can we not change it? We surely can—shift in the perspective is ‘all’ that is required. Though yes, this ‘all’ that is required is a task ‘tall’, as it requires us to come out of the deep folds of habit—and its associated comfort zone. But yes, the task it ‘not at all’ impossible—and on its attainment, it is an achievement admirable.

That which is admirable, remains admirable—it need not be enviable. As the moment it is received as enviable our plight becomes pitiable, for which none, but we ourselves are responsible. A neighbor doesn’t need to envy…and the owner is not required to take pride in owning what the neighbor envies. The choice is the owner’s, as well as that of the neighbor. One can become green with envy, and one could inflate oneself with pride—yet in both cases, ultimately, one finds oneself deflated in life.

Envy and admiration are not next door neighbors. They are residents of the same house. It is up to us, ‘who’ we call upon, and forth. Though admirable is enviable, it is not at all advisable—to envy what we admire, in case we do not ‘have’ what we admire. It contaminates the admiration.

How about acknowledging that which is admirable, as commendable instead? In fact, admiring the admirable, without any envy, is in itself admirable. So, which side of the coin would we choose: envy or admiration? To ‘win over’ life, we know which side to side with. Do we not?

Sushmita Mukherjee,
January 13, 2013

P.S. An evolved version of a blog, written three years ago, “Admirable is Enviable”.