This is something we all already know, but like they say, a reinforcing dose once in a while does some good.

Imagine the site of a road accident, now this may vary from country to country on what might occur around such an event- but here i delve into the details on what usually happens at such situations in India. Imagine a road accident in which two vehicles collided, say, a motorcycle and a car; the motorcyclist was injured and rushed to a hospital, people soon gather around the site of the accident where the motorbike lies on the ground. People talk, as a new person joins the crowd to see what’s happening, he asks his neighbor, “What happened here?” and similar question to which the neighbor replies with ‘his’ imagination/ understanding/ interpretation/ perspective to what might have happened.

Usually in such crowds, random strangers start talking to each other. It is these conversations which interest me, so here are some which I have heard first-hand:

  1. Some comment on the lose skills of the motorcyclist, that it was he who was irrational, or driving too fast, or rash, or not paying attention to the road.
  2. Some blame the driver of the car who did not watch the biker, or was talking on the phone or did not indicate his wish to make a turn.
  3. Some people pity the biker and discuss on how injured he was; this works from “poor guy, probably broke his leg” to “lucky guy, just got away with a few bruises, could have been much worse”.
  4. Some are constantly intrigued on what might have ‘actually’ happened and ask the same question “What happened here?” to 5-6 different people in order to get a grip on what might have occurred. Point to be noted here, such people, after they have sufficient information, just walk away, without any comments or talking anymore.
  5. Some people just stand and stare. I have no idea what goes on in their heads, but they stand and stare for an hour easily, just nodding to the comments of others.
  6. Some come, see, say nothing and walk on.
  7. There are always one or two people who go near the motorbike lying on the ground, evaluate its condition vocally, giving verdicts and touching its broken parts; something like conducting a survey, then gather an audience to explain what they infer from the condition of the vehicle.

If you take some time to just notice the behavior of such a group, let it not be an accident site, let it be any gathering of people where you see some confusion, for whatever reason, you would see analogous behaviors. What I noticed from these situations is that, many people come, see and construct their opinion on what happened, whose fault was it, and how it could have been better/ avoided.

Many a times, if you walk around listening to different people in the same crowd, you would hear drastically different opinions and also drastically different narrations on what happened. The narration of the events that took place change significantly on how one interpreted the whole happening. The people who witnessed the event would also narrate the story differently, making it clear whose fault it was; and different witnesses blame different people for the event. Their narration would also support their claims of who was at fault.

What is my take from this? Given a situation, the same situation, it is the interpretation of the situation which actually matters and not the actual situation. It is the way one looks at it which makes it bad, intolerable, manageable, good, boon-in-disguise or horrible. All these adjectives can be applied to the exactly same occurrence.

This reminds me of a wise man who once said, ‘Men are not influenced by things, but by their thoughts about things’. The wise man being Epictetus.

This one line summarizes the gist of what I am trying to say here. A calm and composed man sees the world as calm too, for him, every situation can be dealt with calmly, there is nothing which would create anxiety in him, every ‘situation’ would have a solution, some would come instantly, some would take time and thought to resolve, but every problem has a solution, and he would seek it calmly. The same is true for an anxious man, he would get anxious at the smallest of issues, everything would be confusing, the world would be in chaos for him. It is just how you look at things, it is not the reality but your perspective which makes situation good or bad. You spurting ketchup on your shirt is not the end of the world, it is not even embarrassing, could have happened to anyone. It was an accident, look up the meaning of the word, ‘An unfortunate incident that happens unexpectedly and unintentionally, typically resulting in damage or injury.’ It wouldn’t have been called an accident if it were not to happen unknowingly or to your best shirt, or right before your big presentation. Things happen, get over it. 🙂

Something I tell people quite often ‘There is your perspective, there is others’ perspective and there is the truth, to everything. Look for that truth’.

Hope we gained something from this short read. I gained something while writing it, maybe you gained something while reading it. 🙂