When I was least expecting it, I got a long distance call from India, late at Night. An impatient handset in the late hours is one of the worst nightmares for any expat. But this turned out to be soul mate from the good old days (Or rather, the Bad young days). From his voice I would understand that he was very drunk. He also sounded miserable. He asked me, “Imbayi, I have been feeling very depressed lately. Give me an instant cure”. I was surprised. He was one of the most adventurous of our friends. Hailing from a very rich family, he knew all along that he had very few challenges lurking on his way. All he had to do was ease himself into the already successful family business, at the apt time of his choice. So he breezed through life in a very swashbuckling style. And now this cowboy was feeling depressed.
“Go find someone who needs help and help him out”, I said. “Imbrayi, how will this cure me?” he enquired. Though I wasn’t in the mood to dole out a psychology class (My wife was making faces, as our kids were stirring), I just gave him the basics. “You feel depressed when your self esteem is very low. When your Self image takes a beating, you develop a sense of worthlessness, and you increasingly feel sad and bad”. “How can helping someone make me feel better”, he persisted. “Well, some people go buy costly things for themselves, or show off their treasures, when they feel low. It’s called the bling bling factor. Louder the Jewelry, lower usually is the self esteem. But this rarely works. The only true way to pamper your Self image is to help someone who is badly in need of something. Could be a motorist stuck on the road, a patient who needs financial support, a person looking for a job. When you really take pains to help them, Volia !!!! Your self esteem inflates itself automatically, irrespective of whether you succeed in your mission or not. So Its WIN WIN both ways.” He didn’t sound very convinced and he hung up soon after.
Helping other go way beyond merely making you feel good. Only If you are comfortable with yourself and only if you love and respect yourself, will you be able to give comfort, love and respect to others. It’s obvious that you can give only things that you have. And only if you give, will you receive. So this evolves either into a vicious or virtuous cycle, building on itself like a snowball, till you either become liked and feeling wonderful, or end up feeling bad and despised. As the saying goes- Only Givers Get.
He indeed called up a few days later, earlier in the evening. He sounded sober. “Imbrayi, I spoke to some of my close friends and 6 of us went and donated blood at the local blood bank. Though I was worried that the guy who gets my blood would get a high, I did it anyway. He chuckled. His tone gave way the glow and happiness he was feeling inside”. “So, are you still feeling depressed, I asked”? “Depressed? Me? Never! That’s for the weak hearted”.
That is so typical of him.