Think of these three absolutely random things and try to find a connection –

1. The static billboards advertisements being replaced by dynamic LCD screens,

2. Business class of an airplane, and

3. Dalai Lama’s famous principle.

Puzzled?

You need to pay a lot of attention to what I’m going to say in this post because the answer to the above puzzle is indeed, Attention, the link between the three.

Puzzled more as to how do these three link to attention? I’ll tell you how. Let’s pick these up, one by one.

The static billboards advertisements being replaced by dynamic LCD screens

Remember how we used to have static billboard advertisements? The static advertisements on playfield boundaries and on highways. Now we have dynamic LCD screens and you can put up as many ads as you want. Space is not an issue, so what do advertisers buy now?

The time slot. A time slot is auctioned based on how many eyeballs the screen would probably get during that time interval.

Attention is a resource. A person has only so much of it. They bid on this resource.

Business class of an airplane

What do you get in a business class that you don’t in an economy class?

“Better food, that’s it”, my husband told.

My take – Solitude? Silence? A piece of time when no one pays attention so you can now pay attention to what you’re doing? I’m ready to shell out extra to get that luxury.

See that?

I compared solitude to a luxury good –

To be able to listen to the occasional tinkling of a spoon against china instead of babies crying incessantly intermitted by wheeling carts and a cacophony of the world, is a freakin’ luxury!

Where am I heading with all of this?

Towards Dalai Lama’s principle of mindfulness.

Like I said, attention is a resource, our resource, as valuable as air and water, and yet we’re auctioning it off more and more to commercial interests.

If you want your silence and solitude back, you’re going to have to pay for it.

Is it how it is supposed to be?

No. But yes too.

You know why? Because we allowed those people to do that. Which people?

Those sitting in the business class lounge, because that is the very place where the inventive thinking happens. It is the same place where the innovative marketing schemes are hatched by the very same people who strip us off our silence.

And you call that wealth creation? No! It’s a fucking wealth transfer. The Economy class watches the ad, buys the product, the money goes into the pockets of high-end people and they sit in business class and produce more innovative schemes to go over this cycle again.

Do we have the right to NOT be addressed to?

Yes, we do. But we don’t exercise it.

The following is an excerpt from the book I’m currently reading, The Dalai Lama’s Cat, and it’s a cat-eye view of the world.

the dalai lama's cat“Never had I seen such variety of foods, prepared to such exacting standards, with ingredients from every continent. The handful of spice jars in the monastery kitchen seemed altogether inadequate when compared with the multiple racks of spices, sauces, condiments, and flavorings in the kitchen of Cafe Franc.

If the monks uphill were able to find such pleasure in the most basic foods, surely the delectable cuisine offered to patrons of Cafe Franc should be the most intensely spine-tingling, claw-curling, whisker-quivering ecstacy imaginable?

As it happened, no.”

Isn’t it bewildering? It was to the cat too. It wondered if we even knew how to eat. What was the missing ingredient?

It is the person himself. In the whole dish, it the consumer who is absent.

This is how the cat made sense of the whole situation:

“Mindfulness means paying attention to the present moment deliberately and non-judgementally.”

Can you count the number of times you have visited a cafe to just enjoy coffee all alone, its rich creamy texture, and sublime taste, and energizing aroma? Alone! (I mean, solitary)

I bet, most of you can, but the number would be close to zero. Then why pay such high price for a mug of Starbucks when all you are going to do is chat or read over it.

I’m no exception here. I do that too. I go to a cafe, order a coffee, and read.

But I ask, what’s the point of coffee then if all you want to do is enjoy the book? Why can’t we exercise our right to not be addressed or disturbed, our right to enjoy? WHY??

Why are we not mindful?

Because we are paralyzed. Yes, we are. We are paralyzed by fear, by shame, that the world would mock at us if we had a meal alone. It would bully us as if we were an outcast, unfriendly, unsocial person, which as humans, we aren’t supposed to be.

Having a meal alone also needs to have a purpose. I read. Most read, some chat, some wait, some think. But how many of us just go there to enjoy the touch of coffee slipping over our lips and melting in our mouths?

I found that there are some only-one-chair restaurants opening up in some parts of the world. I’m happy that economy class people too are finally accepting that there is no shame in having a coffee or a meal alone. Or even catching up on a movie we want to.

It’s actually a wrong way to put it. It should instead be –

Having a meal with oneself. With Pure Presence.

Deliberately. Non-judgementally. Unapologetically.

That’s the foundation of all contentment. And it can be done even in an economy class chair, only if you try to. So, next time you go for a meal, say, “Table for one!” and smile. Just Chill!

coffee for one

Parting Thoughts:

Today’s post may seem a bit unstructured, haphazard, but that’s how my mind was when I saw a big LCD screen in front of the mall, a week ago, in place of a big billboard. I wondered why.

Then my husband’s business trip happened and I asked him about the business class experience. More wondering happened. Now, I know the answer.

Today I, once again looked inside myself and tried to understand why people do what they do.

Liked a slice of me? What does your slice taste like? Let me know.

Leave a Reply