At Stake… Again

Its amazing how when you are thinking of a particular concept or idea and the universe suddenly starts throwing things your way that echo your thoughts. I read somewhere that its a Psychological phenomenon, but its hard to believe that all that is psychology when it seems too ridiculous to be chance… Anyway I digress… This is a follow post to this post: At Stake…

A couple of days back I was talking about how sometimes ethics and helping someone might push you to an uncomfortable choice between them. I even gave an example of a story about a Barber who is driven to make a similar choice when the Dictator of his country walks into his shop for a shave. You can read that story here: Just Lather, That’s All

Today I got an wonderful example of the exact opposite situation. This one was thanks to a beautiful short story, The Missing Mail from the book Malgudi Days by R.K. Narayan.  The televised version of the story is embedded below (If you cant see it, you can view the video here: Malgudi Days: The Missing Mail)

The story is about a postman and one of the families of Malgudi. The postman is a wonderful man and is present at every important instance of the life of Kamakshi, the daughter of the family. When its time for her marriage, he also helps in finding the perfect groom for her.

A couple of days before the wedding the postman sees that the family has a letter informing them that the uncle of the bride is critically ill. The next day he receives a mail that the uncle has passed away. Fearing the marriage might get postponed, the postman takes the call of not informing the family until the ceremonies are well past.

This again was similar predicament but handled in a different way, but the things at stake were different… Ironically in both stories(the other one being of the barber) the final choice seems more acceptable for the reader. I believe its in interest of the writer to work in favor of the reader’s sentiment.

If the postman had done his job and delivered the letter it wouldn’t have been a good story. In choosing a different path the writer suddenly added depth to the character and whats more gave the audience what they wanted.

Thats the important distinction between stories and life. Stories are sometimes over simplified to meet the reader halfway. In that simplification the writer makes the call as to what details are important to the reader but you don’t get that choice in life, all details are there and you make the final call.

So where does that leave us… In all the pondering on this topic the one certainty that I encountered was that its impossible to judge what is the best choice. Its also important to realize that the maker of the decision probably had different priorities than you…

Hemanth left a wonderful comment in the last post, there he says:

How you feel is relevant only to you, but what you do (even as a result of how you feel) is relevant to everyone around you ….. the hard truth. So i guess it comes down to saying,either … i am going to play this one for me, or…. i am going to play this one for someone/everyone else.

Its amazing how true and well put that is…

  • Hemanth

    I know that feeling and its hard to wrap our heads around it, because there are only more questions than answers. But as i learnt
    its more science than psychology or chance. Its whats called reticular activating system.(You of all people i know will enjoy this …. let me know if you need pointers). Its a tiny mechanism in your brain that decides what information is processed by your conscious mind and what is prioritized for the subconscious mind.
    Succinctly put an information filtering and prioritizing system which decides whats relevant or important for you.
    Ever wondered how when you like a song the whole world seems to be listening to the same song everywhere you go, or my favorite … you seem to suddenly notice that everyone on the road seems to have decided to buy a car with the same colour or make as the one you just bought.The truth is, they were there but it just wasnt relavnt enough yet.
    A more astute example, is how we can hear our name amidst
    intolerable noise say .. in a pub , or a really crowded place … or how a mother can tell her baby is crying in another room.
    So when something takes your fancy or ur liking your mind sits up and takes notice and is sensitive towards it….because it is relevant,because its important.

  • Amazing dude! I knew there was a name for the phenomenon but didnt know it was directly related to specific part of the brain. Its amazing how many things we are hardwired to do…

    This got me thinking in a different angle, cant this in some ways explain Love or in some sense infatuation. You meet someone and all of a sudden everything you see or hear reminds you of them. Maybe your mind recognizes that this person makes you happier and sets up the flag to associate events with that person.

  • please please…not the law of attraction again

  • :D

  • Hemanth

    Yes and No.

    No,
    because it doesnt really explain how one feels while in love or while infatuated entirely. The fleeting moments between thoughts that makes you feel that time seems to stand still and the world is perfect at that point in time, and everything seems right….. as we know it is pure emotion overruling all logic.

    Yes,
    because it sets you up to be attentive towards everything that is important/atleast relevant to the one you love. This party explain why we seem more “alive” or “in the moment” when in love, cos you are engaging you conscious mind for everything, the way you talk, carry yourself … every little thing which otherwise was overseen subconsciously.

    For instance, you are at a dinner table(not with the one you love) ordering dessert, and looking thru the menu you read chocolate cheesecake and in your head you go .. that she likes … is your brain being attentive.

    While you waiting for desert,looking at the flower on the table going .. oh such a beautiful flower … :P is not it!! The flower may seem beautiful and quite rightly its a state of mind due to the person in your life, but it is because as a result of how one makes you feel, not what you set up your mind to sit up notice,in this case appreciate.

    Thoughts?

  • About love, lets consider are two possibilities:
    A) Person A meets B and there is some level of attraction. They pursue interaction and overtime realize/fall in love
    B) Person A meets B and immediately falls in love(love at first sight)

    Not sure how scientific option B was but I believe they are somewhere in the same state a A but just that the confidence or belief in their reaction to the other person is so much higher that they are know they will fall in love.

    In both cases though its the later interaction that establishes a confirmation about their feelings.

    Now considering the involvement of that specific part of brain, both Person A & B at different random points thought about each other. But its when they meet that they realize if those thoughts were as good or better or worse than the actual experience of meeting the other.

    Using that as a scale, they can measure how they feel about each other. When that parameter is significantly high they believe/know they are in love.

    So in a way that part of the brain made it possible for love to happen.

    Ps: I know its a very technical explanation of an (arguably) unbelievable experience :P

  • Hemanth

    Sorry , couldn’t get around to respond any sooner…. here’s my take

    Case A is , i kinda like … i would like to know more to really be sure. This reminds me, anytime you catch yourself thinking about anything you wish to do for more than a few seconds, your mind is trying to trick you from achieving it…. and people who subscribe to this usually are the ones who live an impulsive life and fall into case B
    Case B is …. i like , i want .. period!

    The part of the brain .. ie. RAS , demands your attention to a particular incident, object , in this case a person…. or their properties because you previously flagged to be important subconsciously.
    But the degree of your thought’s ( i choose to use…… your expectation/impression of a person) whose outcome is being used as a measure, is independent of the process itself.

    The same mechanism kicks in, when you hate someone too … when something reminds of someone you hate, your immediate reaction is aversion to that something. But here that part of the brain is not helping you hate, it is setting you up to notice anything that has a deep emotional imprint on your brain … thats all, while your previous experiences is rekindling an emotion.

    The memories , the thoughts you associate, you bring from your own past (experiences ) , or you imagination ( your anticipation of your future ) to your conscious mind that is aware of your attitude towards a situation dictates how you feel at that instant in time.

    PS : Why are we single again, i have nooo idea …. lol!!