Thursday, October 15, 2009

If I were fungible what would you barter me for?

“If I were fungible what would you barter me for? Would it make sense to buy coffee or tea or any of your fast moving consumer goods with me? Would they sell it to you in exchange? Would it rather make sense to buy some time instead? Or is there something else that I am worth?” – What a thought to end your day with? Not wonderful, not pessimistic, just an introspective trail.

I looked at the wall, the floor, the table, the computer, the two markers (both red & black), the board pins and almost every significant article in the room - Significant in its essence to be able to capture an impactful region of the visible zone that my brain was processing. I was able to attach a “value proposition” or an “existence rationale” or whatever you want to put it as; essentially I was able to attach some worth to almost everything. I was able to say “if I did not have this, it is going to affect my life negatively (or in some cases positively)”.

Then I tried imagining those things looking at me - What was their perception of me? At first I said to myself “It doesn’t matter”, “I don’t care anyway” but then I let myself accept the premise that I do care for a bit. I thought about it for a while and I was not able to find a direct correlation with myself. I was getting answers like, “You are good with your peers”, “You are useful at your job”, “You sometimes come up with sketches that look alright” and so on. There was no direct “You are a table and I need a table” or “You are a keyboard without you I can’t type” type of a perception.

I was forced to think about it while driving home and eating my rather mundane dinner. Somewhere between the rice and crashing on my bed, I started thinking of other people and their perceptions from a third person view. It turned out that my perceptions were not very different from the perceptions of the tables or the chairs. I thought it but realized that the perceptions of the inanimate objects were my own imaginary perceptions and offered no real insight into human worth. It was one man’s opinion. That is when it struck me, human worth is usually just an opinion and it all depends on who you’re asking.

The dolphins might absolutely abhor our nuclear scientists. Most poultry would detest the person who introduced the idea of cooking... well I am digressing but therein lies my point. I would refrain from opining that it matters but I have a hunch that I might be on to something. So I think some more, and start reading some biographical notes. Let me take the example of Jean Jacques Rousseau, the influential philosopher and writer, who seems to be connected to most of modern human social thinking regarding politics or education. Now there may be a lot of people who think that his contribution was pointless or otherwise. Or let’s take Adolf Hitler for example, it is very likely that a lot of his colleagues thought very highly of him and to them he was worth his life. In my opinion, although his life might have impacted ours but our opinions today do not impact his life.

That brings me to be second point, self-worth of a human would usually be a reflection of their perceived worth by their peers and contemporaries. Which is what would have driven people like Adolf Hitler to be confident and determined to do what they wanted to do... The train of thought continues, leading one subtle turn to another and I finally ask myself, “Do I care for my perceived worth for people after I die?”, “Is my sense of strong or weak self-worth driving me to do things that would negatively impact the lives of others?”, “Is that something I should really worry about”, “What is my true worth?”.

On further introspection I circumvented myself to the proverbial finale. Eventually, I realized what truly matters, is our own opinion of our worth. Our true worth is determined by what we think our worth is. So if what really made Adolf Hitler happy was to do things that would lead him to world conquest at the cost of the lives and happiness of a large number of people, then that is what his fungibility would have bought him. That was what his true worth is. Sooner or later each one of us has to realize that they cannot package themselves in flashy wrappers and sell themselves as something that they don’t believe in. The mystique and gibberish would ultimately give way to the bold letters on the white board with someone chiming, “I told you so”, to someone else. Some people whose opinion might not even matter in the bigger picture and they would have wasted a significant part of their lives changing that opinion or keeping it influenced. The greedy algorithm would not work in this case and you have to delve deep. One has to visit every corner of their entity to find out what really makes them happy, what makes them go crazy, what makes them fall in love, what makes them wake up early, run faster than they ever have, yell out in pleasant approval... Find the thing that you think you’re worth, the thing that you think you should be perceived for and go do it.

If I am able to do that, I would have a consistent answer from the tables, chairs and my friends. I would have an answer that would make me smile and would not make me worry about what people say when I am not around. It is our own assessment of our capabilities and lives that will define our choices, our gambles and our parts in ramshackles. Everytime I ask myself the question, “If I were fungible, what would you barter me for?” and to begin with I would say, “I know for sure that it is not coffee or tea or any of your fast moving consumer goods...” And some day, I would say “I know for sure it is...”

1 comment:

  1. well currently the actions I do other than for surviving..are based on one simple thing..."am i making the world a better place "...
    two things can be pulled in a debate -"minimum actions required for surviving" and "what is going to make the world better/sustainable"...
    Gandhi articulated the worthiness of the ends achieved pretty well-Look at the poorest of the poor. If you feel what you are going to do would benefit him, then your action is worth doing....but then now people are poor in so many basic aspects of life -leave money :) "

    I do not believe in my worth once am gone..make ur stay worthy as much as possible for as many people...but yes if one little thought about me can produce a joie de vivre in someone's life, raise him high, make him feel the power of human life and take him away from the despair of a purposeless existence..i wud lie happily in helL (:))

    Alas, normal human beings do not aspire to give to the world a space shuttle to reach the moon, a cure for AIDS, eliminate world poverty, put efforts for world peace, do a collective introspection..
    All people who do such things need to be clebrated and cheered and cheered so much that the sound reaches and sustains in the minds, hearts and spirits of fellow lesser mortals..

    alas, there are no strong leaders to weave this fabric in human's spirit or should I blame my parents,friends or teachers...or does all the stains fall on me and me and me only.