A work colleague asked me to pen some thoughts on the different hats I wear as a human being and explain why I do what I do. This made me attempt a soul search and share my own emotions and rationales in written form.
First I asked myself who I am. The answer I came up with was that I am one who continues to have an extremely fulfilling life both personally and professionally, enjoying every bit of the experience and exposure that life very kindly offers me. One who believes in working smart and having fun doing what I do. I am also one who is led by the mind and heart too, most often. I hardly regret what’s done, once done. I guess I live the moment to the fullest, almost always. I seldom bother about perceptions and opinions of others. I speak out freely and act spiritedly if I truly believe in a cause. This candidness is often misunderstood and misinterpreted, which provides me with many dislikes, unfortunately. So I am now trying to sugar coat my words and act hypocritically, much against my wishes only because I don’t want to willfully hurt another. This list kind of sums up who I am, the way I see myself.
Even though I don’t call myself a ritualistic Buddhist, it is the philosophy of Buddhism that governs each and every aspect of my life like an all-weather overcoat. When I am happy I snuggle into it and enjoy the moment knowing very well that the ‘moment shall pass’ and also being mindful that the moment is so short lived. I try to capture emotions like sadness, anger, vanity and all the rest of it that I experience in a day with equal mindfulness. If I think I could have done something differently, I play it back in my mind and reenact the moment, just to learn from the mistake I may have made. I don’t call it regret, but ‘continuous learning’.
There are a few non- negotiables that I have picked up from this amazing philosophy which I try to cling to, come what may. These are principles that I try to link to my everyday life. These principles no doubt were engrained into my DNA by my parents and my school. That is why I am so thankful to my parents and my alma mater for that spiritual grounding which has followed me like my shadow even to my adult life.
Three such simple yet profound thoughts I constantly cling to are; following the middle path (madyama prathipadaawa) in the life I lead, contentment (santhushtee paramang danang ) with what I have in life and selecting the right job to earn an honest living (Samma Kammantha).
Now to the question of the career I chose in the light of Samma kammantha…
Advertising is what I believe I was born to do, due to a karmic effect undoubtedly. Otherwise I have no explanation as to why I decided to do this job and nothing else from the time I realized that I couldn’t be an architect due to my poor aptitude towards the sciences and mathematics, to be precise. I reveled in this profession and enjoyed each moment of agony and ecstasy it dished out daily, hourly in huge quantities.
Advertising was (sadly not any more) a career for continuous learning, a live-in university, teaching diverse fields and subjects continuously. It is undoubtedly the only field to mingle with unbelievably talented groups of people from numerous fields. This of course is one’s choice, because you can go through advertising for decades and just be an ad person who slogs to promote thankless brand campaigns while placing hundreds of products on the shelf. You can also author brilliant campaigns to sell products and services which are harmful to people and society, like cigarettes, alcohol and fast food to name just a few. Advertising is also a powerful tool marketers use to create a demand for products that one can really live without. I believe Advertising creates greed and want and in the larger scheme of things creates discontentment amongst people.
So here I am, believing in the need to follow the concept of Samma kammantha and contentment, facing a dichotomy of being a willing captive in this addictive and immensely stimulating field called advertising. Once you get hooked onto advertising, you become an adrenalin junkie who never wants to be rehabilitated!
I reached a conscious compromise. I thought I will not partake in any project that I will feel guilty of promoting and any product that I will not want myself or my family to be influenced in consuming.
I also decided that I will use my position and power of influence to create opportunities, open doors and be a mentor and a leader in making a difference in the thinking and actions of those I could influence personally and professionally. I also promised myself that I will consciously not indulge in authoring any campaign that would be harmful to the society while I will also speak against those who do so.
I was very clear that I would not be a party to bribery and corruption which most of my friends said I will have to succumb to when leading a company. Today I can have the last laugh and say proudly ‘obstacles were many, nonetheless, I did it my way…’
My passion for social marketing was born out of this dichotomy. At least it gave me a false sense of comfort that I was doing good to society. Of course I couldn’t take away the commercial dimension of the job I did. That’s what made me decide that someday soon, I will work for the ‘not for profit’ sector and stop feeling guilty about earning profits via my career which influenced people to want more! Unfortunately it hasn’t taken too long to realize what a mirage I was chasing…
So here comes why I actively peruse the different art forms and forge friendships with its creators like fiction writers, film directors, play writes and artists. This for me is an outlet to express emotions, philosophies and beliefs freely, without harming anybody. Sadly I can’t write, draw act or sing. Therefore I have chosen to simply help, support and influence such talented people merely by being friends or associates with them while supporting their creativity in the best way I can. It gives me immense pleasure and happiness to play this supportive role within my powers and ability.
So the answer to the to the question, why I do what I do, in a nutshell is because I want to stick to my religious beliefs, let my conscience guide me, live the moment to the fullest and earn a decent living. Not sure how successful I am… But I shall try harder until I am content!