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An interesting incident happened yesterday. My brother went to the cobbler to collect a pair of shoes, which needed fixing. The cobbler initially told him that it would cost Rs. 70 (US$1.04 approx.). As my brother told me later, he only charged Rs.50. Why, I asked? The cobbler told him, that he had earned enough for the day and did not require more. I was happily stumped to know that someone, whose regular earnings might be falling in the lower income bracket, did not need more. He simply was happy with what he expected to earn and was not greedy to ask for more. My mother went on to narrate a similar story she encountered while purchasing fabric in another city.

I am 25 years old, and of all that I have witnessed, people always work and earn to get better. Isn’t that the ultimate defining goal? To achieve a higher salary, a better job, a bigger house, a fancier car, a narrower waist, the list is endless. There are two observations, I made yesterday. One, satisfaction is not derivative. It is a personal motive and grinds our brain and actions in that direction. You need your own barometer to measure the amount of satisfaction that you may find in life and realise where does it end. And, how do you draw a line to it. Second, unfortunately so, this world is still unaware of the first point. I might be grossly miscalculating, which I really hope so, but I think that the majority of people on this planet do not know how to be happy in their own zones. We are always looking at a comparative degree of success, of action, of fun, of failure. A scored a GPA of 3.5, at least I got a 3.8. Mr. Y got a promotion in two years, I should strive harder. He hit the gym for three months, I’ll achieve those abs in the same time too. Etcetera.

By mentioning this, I by no means, am subliming the effects of competition and hard work. This world runs on optimism and the will to do better than the past. What I mean, is that, we all are different in our own rights. And we should value that individuality more than someone else’s success or failure. Inspiration abound, we can make the best of what got in us. Why do we not derive happiness through our actions, it can be easy or difficult, but it maintains our individuality, our true perception of who we are, and the knowledge of what is there to do next, of the many other things.

That cobbler taught me an interesting lesson, something to remember for a while.

Mariyam Raza Haider

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A journalist by training, Mariyam Haider is a writer and performance poet in Singapore.
She is the researcher of the book The Billionaire Raj: A Journey Through India’s New Gilded Age written by James Crabtree.
Her writing has appeared in Hindustan Times, Livemint, Feminism In India, New Asian Writing and Kitaab.

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