Desire > Possibilities > Reality

Ask for anything; imagine anything, and it will happen soon enough.

If there is something that you aspire for, just do it!

What used to be the preserve of the few is now within the reach of many.

What we need is an unwavering focus and restless pursuit of what we desire!

For better or worse

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times” wrote Charles Dickens in 1859. This is most relevant today, as it reflects the stark contrasts and contradictions in force.

The world has never had it better. Higher life expectancy, declining poverty, lower illiteracy, better health, lower infant mortality, access to information and lesser wars.

The world has never had it worse. Income inequality, adverse climate change, protectionism, terrorism and conflicts, water shortage, concentration of power, refugees and displaced people.

Most statistics however, tilt the scales in favour of the world being a better place now. The exceptions are, no doubt, tragic; they appear more pronounced because of increased media coverage with vivid and shocking images. For the ‘aam aadmi’, however, ‘acchhe din’ are coming, if they haven’t already.

The large majority of people in the world are, in intent and in action, in favour of improving things. The Rio Olympics had a team of refugees, all real life heroes, epitomes of hope and spirit. Today there is more acknowledgment and recognition for people who initiate something good, and freedom of criticism against the bad. Malala became the youngest Nobel laureate when she stood up against suppression. People are more responsible towards the environment and society; renewable energy sources now contribute 19% of energy consumption and charitable giving seems to be on a rise.

While there are enough reasons to focus and believe in the positive, the most vital is that I’m writing this piece, and I happen to be in a good mood!

Volume, Variety, Velocity

Our changing times are characterized by the terms — volume, variety and velocity.

More people, more cars, more jobs, more books and more travel. In a population of 7.5 billion, we have 3.6 billion internet users, and there are more mobile devices than people. Instagram has 40 billion photos, Twitter has a trillion tweets, and Youtube has 4 billion video views in a day. A 2BHK for a newly-wed couple, 2 cars in a nuclear family, 2 vacations in a year, and 2 sim cards in a phone are not uncommon.

From the cuisine we eat to the clothes we wear, the music that we hear to the movies we watch, from brands that we sport to the cosmetics we use, from novel education options to interesting jobs, we are spoilt for choice, from around the world. For anything that want, we can tell ‘bhaiyya, isme aur dikhana!’ Variety is not just the spice of life, it’s a way of life.

Last, but definitely not the least, and in fact the most important — the speed of this change. India and China will double GDP in 15 years in the 21st century, compared to 150 years that Britain took in the 19th century.

The transition from Kodak film to DSLR to GoPro has been so quick that some of us may still have unused film rolls. The change from floppy disk to CDs to DVDs to micro-SD is similar. You may have noticed that the change from music tapes or cassettes to CDs wasn’t as quick as from a CD to DVD and now to online streaming. Many of us still have shiny CDs, and have not summoned the heart to trash them — so brand new, yet so obsolete!

Not only have the things we use undergone a massive change, but the way businesses operate have undergone a radical shift. Airbnb has seen 80 million guest arrivals across 190 countries, while Uber has seen 2 billion rides in 70 countries, both redefining their industry parameters. Google and Facebook may not exist in 5 years’ time; after what happened to Yahoo, this may not surprise us.

With driverless vehicles hitting the road, that will improve safety, and be deployed in hazardous terrain, it doesn’t seem unlikely that affordable space travel may become a reality in our lifetime. What next? I’m gearing up to gift my daughter a space trip when she turns eighteen.

What’s in it for you and me?

Let’s face it! Change is inevitable. And it will happen at a pace we aren’t prepared for. That’s not a choice we have. But, if we keep our minds agile and open to new possibilities, it will translate into real goals, goals that are attainable.

It is now possible and feasible to live fuller lives. Like Anand told Babumoshai ‘zindagi lambi nahi, badi honi chahiye’ [‘life need not be long; it should be big’]. What used to be the preserve of the few is now within the reach of many. And this change is already seen all around us; in our colleagues, our friends, our acquaintances, our relatives.

· A senior colleague gifted himself a Royal Enfield Classic for his fiftieth birthday; he’ll soon be hitting the India-Myanmar-Thailand highway. Another one, in his forties, has moved from running the usual half marathons, to hill marathons, beach marathons, and dreams of ultra-marathon and triathlon.

· A fellow accountant found time to write poetry in the vernacular, collaborated with a school friend who composed and published a music album. A friend from our theatre group self-shot short movies, started his own production house and writes content for tele-serials; he was in the papers last week.

· Two friends believe so much in their ideas — a hotel room aggregator app and a payment app (there are already several such apps in the market) — that they refused to sell their idea for a few crores, and are firm that they’d make it bigger.

· A couple I know are certified deep-sea diving instructors, who teach in the two months each year they’re on vacation.

· Another couple are so keen on seeing the world that they invest in stocks every year, and let the returns decide how far they’d travel the next year. This is better than another friend who took a personal loan to travel; unthinkable of earlier, and outrageous by my parents’ standards.

So, if there is something that you aspire for, just do it!

Learn something new

Want to learn something new? Reach out, ask around, or search on the internet, and in all possibility, you would find a crash course as per your desired level of complexity. And most times, for free!

Does this make us shallow and superficial? Are we spread too thin? Is it making us a jack of all trades (and master of none)? Maybe it does, but what’s there to complain in that! As long as this change doesn’t affect essential functions of society, there is no harm. No one would want a doctor or civil engineer to be the product of a crash course.

We have to admit that modern day tools allow us to achieve more.

· Writing has never been easier. With tools that convert your speech to text, a built-in grammar tool that corrects and suggests as you write, blogs that you can put your ideas out on, and e-books that you can self-publish, you can’t ask for more!

· Movie making is no longer only for Kapoors and Khans. Anyone with an iphone can shoot and edit movies, put them online and garner attention. With cameras that shoot in high resolution, slow motion, time-lapse, movie-making tools that mix sound and add effects, you can’t ask for more!

· Education is so much open today, with many acclaimed courses available free online. With learning apps where you can structure courses from a menu of electives, pursue learning online and obtain certification, you can’t ask for more!

Ask for more

You can’t ask for more? No. Actually, you can. Ask for anything; imagine anything, and it will happen soon enough; either someone will hear you and work on it, if there are enough people asking, or you may do it yourself, depending on how badly you want it. What we need is an unwavering focus and restless pursuit of what we desire!

Like the inspiring song ‘Besabriyaan’ (‘Restlessness’) from the movie ‘MS Dhoni: The Untold Story’, that epitomizes this thought, puts it,

Raaste bhaage, paaon se aage….. Zindagi se, chal, kuch aur bhi maange’

[The paths race ahead from your steps….. Come, let’s ask more from life]

The limits are in our mind. The possibilities are endless. May we live in interesting times!