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Saho – Nostalgic Camaraderie, Atemporal Order, and a Prefab Cultural Landscape

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by prof. Ari Ariyaratne

Saho (the Comrade) is a novel that deserves better attention from sophisticated readers. It is written by Ariyarathna Athugala, a Sri Lankan academic who has shown his talents and skills previously as a prolific writer and a playwright.

A group of college students, living in an unspecified college campus in Sri Lanka, is central to this novel. The dramatis personae are Tharu, Sandu, Hiru, and Ratu. Sandu has freshly graduated from college and secured a dubious probationary college teaching position, which would not be likely to last more than the time duration of an academic year. Nearing graduation, her friends face an equally uncertain future. Their unsettled prospects notwithstanding, the main characters in this novel are inclined to become entangled in the themes common to their age groups in a college campus environment, such as romance, ambition, and the generally lukewarm reception to authority, control, and convention.

Hence Saho is a work fitting well with the genre of novels known in the West as college novels. Sometimes known as academic or campus novels, this genre often appeals to its niche audience, consisting of high schoolers, college students, and the likes. Aligning with the popular trope that college is the happiest four years of one’s life, at times, some college novels (and the movies based on such novels) have been successful in grabbing readers’ attention beyond their traditional constituency.

 

Prefab Cultural Landscape and Atemporal Order

The story unravels in a prefab cultural landscape. The author carefully confines his chosen characters and their activities mostly into several places in the college campus, such as the playground, the cafeteria, the classrooms, the library, undergraduate dormitories, and private boarding houses.

Moreover, this made-beforehand landscape and those who inhabit in it exist without relation to time, as if they live in an eternal present. Atemporal order is accentuated due to another reason. The names of most characters in this novel bear cosmic connotations, and as a result the reader feels galactic. More to the point, the main characters express their this-worldly feelings, thoughts, and actions while alluding to Other-Worldly or extraterrestrial vastness simultaneously. For instance, they see some lecturers’ conduct in this college campus as akin to that of extraterrestrial beings (p. 26). Moreover, they jokingly point out that a thinly made stringhopper is worthy for nothing but to use as the protective viewing of a solar eclipse! (p. 79). Likewise, Rathu, a main character in the novel, insinuates the following: Hiru’s sunrays have boosted Saho’s morality, Sandu’s moonlight has awakened his desire, and Tharu’s rock-throwing (after appearing on the scene like a comet rose from the distant sky) has brought a tragic end to Saho’s life (p. 65).

 

Nostalgic Camaraderie

Although the main characters share the commonality of being relatable to each other as young adults facing similar predicaments in a college campus environment, they also impart profound dissimilarities. For instance, Sandu can spew lines from classical English literature in her class sessions while others in the group reacting cluelessly as if the linguistic barrier is something insurmountable. Similarly, Hiru proves in the end that she can hang out with her friends while concealing her complicit life. By the same token, Rathu can mingle with his friends while insinuating their responsibility for Saho’s death simultaneously. The strongest commonality they all share, without a doubt, is nostalgic camaraderie.

Let me describe succinctly what nostalgia does. Nostalgia essentially crushes the surface of an atemporal order and a prefab cultural landscape, and it does so by resurrecting time and place. It sets up a frame of meaning within which positing a “once was” in relation to “now” is possible. Nostalgia is a crucial narrative function of language that orders incidents temporally while dramatizing them in the mode of “things that happened,” that “could happen,” and that “are happening now.” In this sense, to narrate a story is to place oneself in an event and a setting, and to relate something to someone. In other words, nostalgia makes it possible to create a relational interpretive space in which meanings have straight social antecedents.

It is to this interpretive space the author brings in the competing memories of camaraderie, a core concept of mutual trust, friendship, and unity. The strength of Athugala’s novel rests on his adroit depiction of Saho, the deceased protagonist of the narrative through competing nostalgic memories. At the novelist’s hand, Saho has become an interpretive space where competing memories of camaraderie are presented, negotiated, contested, and fiercely fought out. His immanent and pervasive presence is made manifest in such a way that the reader begins to feel Saho’s living presence.

 

Novel to Film Adaptation

Let me end this brief note on Professor Athugala’s novel by adding a word on its transition to a film. “I first wrote the screenplay,” says the author in the preface of the book, inferring that it was the film project that he had in mind at first, and on his way of getting that job accomplished, the novel came into being later. If one sets aside the familiar query which came early, the chicken or the egg, one cannot help but remember that many college novels in the West have become college films later.

Let me give just one example. German writer Heinrich Mann’s 1905 novel Professor Unrat or ‘Professor Filth’ was one of the earliest predecessors to the genre of college novel. The movie, adapted from the above book by the German director Josef von Sternberg, was Der Blaue Engel or ‘The Blue Angel’ (1930). The film was the first feature-length German full talkie. It presented the tragic transformation of a respectable professor (played by Emil Jennings) to a cabaret clown and his descent into madness. While bringing Marlene Dietrich (who played the role of Lola-Lola, the cabaret dancer and singer) international fame, the film also introduced another distinguishable trait in the genre of college film and its sister categories, the film of teenage romance and melodrama, and the coming-of-age film. That hallmark was the film’s musical score and the songs which could sensationalize the audience. As mentioned by film historians, when Marlene Dietrich was singing “Falling in Love Again” in this movie, Western filmgoers at the time have embraced not only the playful, flirtatious, and self-consciously seductive character of cabaret girl and the nutty professor, but also the musical score that immensely helped Dietrich to deliver it.

Although the college film genre was introduced to Sri Lankan cinema by the veteran film director Sugathapala Senerath Yapa with his Hanthane Kathawa or ‘Story at Hanthana’ in 1968, this category never became a well-established movie genre. Subsequently, Yapa’s film spawned a trove of trivial imitations and cheap parodies in many Sri Lankan films, however.

Only a few films that can be genuinely considered college films arose subsequently. Wasantha Obeyesekere’s 2002 film Salelu Warama or ‘The Web of Love’ and Asoka Handagama’s Ege Esa Aga or ‘Let Her Cry’ (2016) were two of such distinctive college films.

Several teenage romantic melodrama films also followed. One of the earliest movies in this category was Ranjith Lal’s Nim Walalla or ‘Horizontal Line’ (1970). Moreover, Lester James Peris’s Golu Hadawatha or ‘Silent Heart’ (which was based upon Karunasena Jayalath’s novel bearing the same title) was screened in 1972. Furthermore, the plot of Sumithra Peris’s film Gehenu Lamai or ‘Girls’ was adapted from Karunasena Jayalath’s novel, and it was released for Sri Lankan film audience in 1978. In addition, Sunesh Dissanayake Bandara’s 2004 film Adaraneeya Wassanaya or ‘Romantic Rainy Season’ was elicited from Upul Shantha Sannasgala’s novel titled ‘Wassana Sihinaya’. Just as their Western counterparts, the musical score and some of the songs in these movies could sensationalize their Sri Lankan niche audiences.

In line with Plato’s Allegory of the Cave that it invokes in the beginning (in Chapter 2), Athugala’s novel unfolds to become a college novel with an allegoric flavor. Even though the action of the novel takes place in a realistic space, the characters inhabiting that space seem to act almost like the dramatis personae in an allegory. When one reads an allegory in the form of a novel, the narrative itself acts as a moral lesson or message. In an allegoric work, concrete things such as characters, setting, and objects are likely to represent deeper meanings. Therefore, when adapting a novel with an allegoric tinge to a film, it generates a fertile ground for a cinematic metaphor to germinate and thrive.

 

Allegory and Cinematic Metaphor

Let me give an example of how great filmmakers combine realism with a parable of life. Let us focus on the Japanese New Wave film Woman in the Dunes (1964). This was the film characterized by the American film critic Roger Ebert as “a modern version of the myth of Sisyphus, the man condemned by the gods to spend eternity rolling a boulder to the top of a hill, only to see it roll back down” (Chicago Sun-Times, February 2, 1998). In this black-and-white film adapted from the novel penned by Kobo Abe in 1962, the director (Hiroshi Teshigahara), the writer of the screenplay (Kobo Abe), the cinematographer (Hiroshi Segawa), and the composer of music (Toru Takemitsu) fruitfully collaborate to construct one of the most powerful cinematic metaphors that I have ever seen.

The metaphor is sand, literally, and cinematographically! In this part existential art film, the protagonist is an amateur entomologist-cum-schoolteacher who goes to a place full of dunes in the Japanese countryside. He misses the last bus to go back to the city. Lured by a group of villagers, the man decides to spend the night at a house in the dunes with a young widow living there. The man observes that the woman is busy shoveling sand until the wee hours of the night. In the morning, he also notices that she is sleeping with her bear naked, sand-covered, and widely exposed body in the only room in this shack they are both supposed to share for sleeping. “Are you shoveling to survive or surviving to shovel?” visibly stunned, the man (Eiji Okada) asks, and the woman’s (Kyoko Kishida) answer is the following: “If we stop shoveling, the house will get buried. If we get buried, the house next door is in danger.” Before he knows it, he is entrapped in a tomb-like shack at the bottom of a sandpit to become a laborer for shoveling sand and to become the widow’s lover!

The villagers periodically lowered from above to the sandpit supplies and the water required for their meager existence. In his prolonged struggle to get out from the sandpit, the introspective scientist discovers how to get water from the dune. Sand, which covers people with many problems slowly, leads them eventually to life-giving water, he realizes. Understanding this symbiotic relationship between sand and water gives meaning and purpose to life, he perceives further. So, the amateur entomologist gives up his long resolve of getting out of the sandpit, abandoning the woman, heading back to the city, and embracing his old self. Eventually, he gets out of the sandpit from a rope ladder lowered by the villagers. Yet the man decides to accept his new identity and family and gazes at the dunes studded expansive landscape dispassionately.

Saho is a promising college novel that warrants heeding of the refined reader.



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Sat Mag

Despicable way of impregnating cows

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Artificial insemination (AI) of cattle is widely practiced in countries with intensive cattle production. In 2017, the National Dairy Plan of this government aimed at artificial insemination for 35% of all fertile animals. The number of inseminations is up from 20 million to 69.29 million.

There are two reasons for the government to adopt this distasteful practice: to get more female cattle pregnant from the small amount of sperm that a single cow would take in if mated naturally with a bull, and to maintain control over the sanitary and health conditions.

While the first object has partially succeeded (in quantity, not in quality: the inseminated cows are weaker and sicker in every generation), the second objective has been a health disaster.

For two reasons:

The semen is not checked thoroughly for genetic or communicable diseases. In fact, I am told that none of the centres even have the necessary scientific equipment to check the semen and, since there is constant pressure to increase the semen output, all the international norms are taken very casually. Bulls that are kept in AI centres should be checked for diseases before being taken, and then regularly. They should be kept in low stress, pleasant and healthy conditions. The truth is that the bulls are sick, underfed, never exercised and very rarely checked for disease. One infected bull can spread disease to thousands of cows via his artificially ejaculated semen. This diseased semen can either cause an abortion in the inseminated cow, or it can result in the foetus being infected.

Certain diseases have become endemic in the cattle population in India: for instance, the spread of tuberculosis has been linked to brucellosis in milk cattle which comes through the semen. Studies done all over the world – even in countries where cleanliness is adhered to – have shown the spread of diseases through AI. In 2020 the American Association for the Advancement of Science in New Scientist  (https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/04/deadly-livestock-disease-may-have-spread-through-infected-bull-semen) reported that Blue Tongue disease, in which cattle get fever, swelling of the lips and gums, difficulty in swallowing and a swollen purple coloured tongue and which has a mortality that can go up to 90%, may have been caused by infected cattle semen. In 2006, an outbreak of Bluetongue diseases began in the Netherlands. It spread to 16 countries and cost billions of euros before a vaccination effort brought it to an end in 2010. In 2015, the disease re-emerged in France and this outbreak is still ongoing. To work out the source of the infection, scientists at the University of Glasgow analysed the genetic sequences of 150 samples of the virus from both outbreaks. Researchers wrote in PLOS Biology that the genome of the virus is remarkably similar to samples from the previous epidemic, and would have come through using infected cattle semen, kept in a freezer for years.

The World Animal Health Organization has listed several diseases as having proven importance in transmission through semen. 1. Foot and mouth disease. 2. Vesicular Stomatitis. 3. Infectious Bovine Rhinotracheitis (IBR). 4. Bovine Virus Diarrhoea (BVD). 5. Papillomatosis. 6. Leptospirosis. 7. Tuberculosis. 8. Paratuberculosis. 9. Mycoplasma. 10. Anaplasmosis. 11. Brucellosis. 12. Campylobacteriosis. 13. Trichomoniasis.

One hundred and thirty-eight bulls, of the Central AI Laboratory, Savar, Dhaka, were screened for the presence of bovine tuberculosis and brucellosis in 2004. Thirty eight of 138 bulls (27.5%) were positive reactors to the tuberculin test and 1 (0.7%) bull was positive for brucellosis. The scientists said that the prevalence of tuberculosis was four times higher in bulls that were used to extract semen than normal bulls. Tuberculosis and brucellosis are not only detrimental to dairy production, but also a threat to human health. Tuberculosis is endemic in most livestock farms in South Asian countries.

 Scientists say bovine brucellosis, spread by the bacterium Brucella abortus, is the best known and most controversial infection of the AI bovine reproductive system. The bacterium has an affinity for the uterus and abortion is the usual sign of the disease. However, other symptoms, like reduced milk production and reduced weight, are often seen. Infected cows seldom abort more than once, but calves born from later pregnancies will be weak and unhealthy. Such cows will probably continue to harbour and discharge infectious organisms, and have reduced conception rates.

In bulls the most obvious clinical sign of this disease is epididymitis or infections of the scrotum. According to the premier veterinary MSD Manual, bulls in breeding centres have a persistent inflammation of their vesicular glands, which are duct glands that add nutrients and fluid to the seminal fluid as it passes from the body. The fluid becomes putrid and contaminates the semen at AI centres. The reported incidence of vesiculitis, in the general population of bulls, is 1%–10% but can go upto 49% in bulls housed in groups. The inseminated cow will receive the most dangerous bacteria in her uterus : Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Streptococcus spp., Staphylococcus spp. ,Proteus spp., Escherichia coli, Mycoplasma bovis, M. bovigenitalium. The AI centres rarely check for this, as there are no external clinical signs. The bull may stand with his back arched and have pain on defecation, or rectal examination, and show a great deal of hesitation when made to mount. But these are not signs that the doctors pay attention to.

Another dangerous disease, that can be spread by AI, is Leptospirosis, which is a contagious, bacterial disease of animals and humans. Its signs in cattle range from mild, unapparent infections to ones that end in death. High abortion rates have been observed, bloody urine in bulls and blood-tinged milk in lactating cows. Leptospirosis is an important zoonotic disease and can lead to septicaemia, hepatitis, nephritis, abortion, stillbirth, infertility. The germs survive in the semen at freezing and cryoconservation temperatures (Eaglesome and GarcÌa, 1997).

Bovine herpesvirus-1 (BHV-1) is usually undetected in most clinical tests. BHV-1 causes genital, respiratory and neurological diseases in cattle populations world-wide. Infected animals lose their immunity and are more susceptible to secondary bacterial infections. BHV-1 may also cause conjunctivitis, reproductive disorders and neonatal mortality (Straub; 1990, Takiuchi et al., 2005). Vaccination has little effect. The polymerase chain reaction (PCR) can identify BHV-1 contaminated semen within one day, but it is not done in India. Even vaccinations are rare.

Bovine diarrhoea virus in the semen may infect the foetus and establish a persistent infection causing enteric diseases, and making the cow vulnerable to other pathogens (e.g. BHV-1, Pasteurella or Salmonella spp.) as she loses her immunity.

BVDV has caused haemorrhagic disease in cattle with a high mortality rate. The virus is transmitted in the semen of bulls during artificial breeding and causes reproductive losses in females.

Bovine genital campylobacteriosis is a widespread bacterial disease associated with both bovine infertility and abortion. It causes vaginitis, cervicitis, endometritis. Bulls should be tested before they enter AI centres, and then every few months. This disease, together with trichomoniasis, has the greatest importance in the transmission of disease through semen (Rovay et al., 2008).

Trichomonosis is a venereal disease of cattle caused by the parasite Tritrichomonas foetus. In the female, it is characterised by infertility, early abortion and pyometra. The bull ,who is symptomless, carries it on the penis. The testing of bulls entering AI should be mandatory.

Paratuberculosis, which is caused by the Mycobacterium avium ssp. paratuberculosis (MAP), may cause Crohn’s disease in humans (Sanderson et al.; 1992; Reddacliff et al., 2010). MAP has been isolated from bull semen and reproductive organs (Tunkl and Aleraj, 1965; Larsen and Kopecky, 1970; Larsen et al., 1981). This bacillus is unaffected by the antibiotics most used in semen (gentamycine, tylosin, lincomycine and spectinomycine) (Visser et al., 1999).

Histophilus somnus bacterium causes the disease known as thromboembolic meningoencephalitis. It has been isolated from semen from apparently normal bulls (Humphrey et al., 1982).

Ureaplasma diversum is the microorganism implicated in causing abortion and infertility in cows. Antibiotics used in semen have not been effective, and it is a pathogen which is frequently found in the semen of bulls used for AI. It has been found in more than 50% of the samples obtained from 35 bulls at a collection centre, in a study carried out in Brazil.

Clamidia was found in 9.2% of semen samples, 10.7% of preputial washes and 18% of faecal samples in an investigation carried out on 120 bulls in Germany (Kauffold et al., 2007).

Infectious bovine rhinotracheitis (IBR) is a respiratory disease produced by bovine herpesvirus, type 1 (BHV-1). Infected animals become carriers for life (Van Oirschot, 1995.) A new type of virus, bovine herpes virus type 5 isolated from semen (BHV-5), is responsible for neurological problems in calves, and is lethal (Chowdhury, 1995.)

In an investigation done on 103 farms in Columbia, Griffiths et al. (1984) isolated Trichomona foetus and Campylobacter foetus in 13.7% and 15% of bulls. Another study found 23.9% positivity for Tritrichomona, 17.3% for Campylobacter, 43.4% for Salmonella, 28.2% for Brucella and 52.17% for Leptospira (Villalobos et al., 1986). A 67.6% IBR prevalence has been reported in breeding bulls (ZuÒiga et al., 1978) Another study revealed the presence of IBR/BVD (17%), BVD/ Leptospira spp (83%), BVD/BLV (42%), BLV/ Leptospira spp (31%) and BVD/BLV/Leptospira spp coinfection (33%) (GÛngora et al., 1995). IBR, BVD and Leptospirosis prevalence was 90%, 33% and 5% in 60 bulls (Sanabria and Trujillo, 2002). The following questions arose internationally: Does the semen produced and sold in Colombia comply with the existing standards ? We could ask the same question of India.

I would like to know whether our vets have any knowledge of these diseases, standards of health certification for AI bulls and the integrity and technical competence with which certification is performed. What are the standards of hygiene applied to collecting, processing and storing semen. 

Don’t drink milk.

(join the animal welfare movement contact gandhim@nic.in, www.peopleforanimalsindia.org)

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Sat Mag

How to know if the COVID-19 vaccine is working?

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By Dr. Zubai Khaled Hug

To understand how COVID-19 vaccines work, it helps to first look at how our bodies fight illness. When germs, such as the virus that causes COVID-19, invade our bodies, they attack and multiply. This invasion, called an infection, is what causes illness. Our immune system uses several tools to fight infection.

Different types of white blood cells fight infection in different ways. Macrophages are white blood cells that swallow up and digest germs and dead or dying cells. The macrophages leave behind parts of the invading germs called antigens. The body identifies antigens as dangerous and stimulates antibodies to attack them. B-lymphocytes are defensive white blood cells. They produce antibodies that attack the pieces of the virus left behind by the macrophages. T-lymphocytes are another type of defensive white blood cell. They attack cells in the body that has already been infected.

The first time a person is infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, it can take several days or weeks for their body to make and use all the germ-fighting tools needed to get over the infection. After the infection, the person’s immune system remembers what it learned about how to protect the body against that disease. The body keeps a few T-lymphocytes, called memory cells that go into action quickly if the body encounters the same virus again. When the familiar antigens are detected, B-lymphocytes produce antibodies to attack them. Experts are still learning how long these memory cells protect a person against the virus that causes COVID-19.

COVID-19 vaccines help our bodies develop immunity to the virus that causes COVID-19 without us having to get the illness. Different types of vaccines work in different ways to offer protection, but with all types of vaccines, the body is left with a supply of ‘memory’ T-lymphocytes as well as B-lymphocytes that will remember how to fight that virus in the future. It typically takes a few weeks for the body to produce T-lymphocytes and B-lymphocytes after vaccination. Therefore, it is possible that a person could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 just before or just after vaccination and then gets sick because the vaccine did not have enough time to provide protection.

Sometimes after vaccination, the process of building immunity can cause symptoms, such as fever. These symptoms are normal and are a sign that the body is building immunity. Getting vaccinated is one of the many steps you can take to protect yourself and others from COVID-19. Protection is critically important because, for some people, it can cause severe illness or death.

The Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine, which requires a two-dose regimen, contains an inactivated cold-causing adenovirus with genetic instructions for making coronavirus proteins to trigger immunity. Clinical-trial data suggest that side effects of the second shot are milder than those caused by the first. Vaccines work by triggering your immune system to produce a reaction; you can however have side effects after you receive the vaccine that feels like having a real infection.

Things like having a fever, or getting a headache, often described as flu-like symptoms, are common after receiving many vaccines and this is the same for the approved COVID-19 vaccines. Having these symptoms means that your immune system is working as it should be. Usually, these symptoms last a much shorter time than a real infection would, most are gone within the first 1-2 days.

You do not even get the full benefit of the vaccine until about two weeks after that second dose, so you are still susceptible in that time frame. Vaccines work with your immune system so your body will be ready to fight the virus if you are exposed. Other steps, like masks and social distancing, help reduce your chance of being exposed to the virus or spreading it to others.

The article is compiled from various sources including The World Health Organisation, University of Oxford and Centres for Disease Control websites. The writer is a gerontologist and a public health specialist.

 

 

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Sat Mag

Follow your passion… an illusion?

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By Chani Imbulgoda

Rumi, the Persian poet, who lived in the 13th Century, said, “Let the beauty of what you love, be what you do… Eight centuries after, I would rather say “let what you do be the beauty of you”.

The world never agrees. There are two extremes for many things that exist, be they tangible, intangible, visible or invisible. The same goes for the Passion. There are two opposite schools of thought; one says to follow the passion; the other says cultivate the passion. Which way are we to take? There are those famous personalities who followed their passion … ventured into what they dreamed of doing … and reached the height of success in life. Marc Zuckerberg, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Richard Branson … to name a few. Citing them as examples, career counsellors have been chanting a mantra, ‘follow your passion’. They go on, “You don’t need to work a day in life if you do what you love; if you want to be successful, you have to pursue what you are most passionate about doing”. These are mantras imported from the West. We always love to embrace and enjoy imports; the younger generation is keen on following them. The other school of thought opposes the view ‘follow your passion’. They think that advocating youngsters to follow their passion in choosing the livelihood is more harmful than beneficial. Guiding the youth to follow their passion force them to figure out what is going to make them happy.

Following ones’ passion can be confusing. Imagine that everyone gets along with the same passion to be a supermodel, who will be left to become a fashion designer? Everyone loves to be fashion designers, where will be the market? One’s passion is defined by societal acceptance. Popular regularly heard professions become the passion of many, gearing and intensifying competition among colleagues and ending the younger generation disillusioned. I get a number of requests to subscribe to YouTube channels to follow the passion of our young generation. Some are passionately making videos on “how to cook a healthy diet”, how to wash your hand”, how to brush your teeth and so on, teaching us to do all that we were taught by parents as toddlers. Television channels are showing stars more than the stars in the galaxy. So, as the Career Gurus say we are following our passion.

 

What is Passion?

The origin of the word ‘passion’ comes from the Latin ‘Pati’ which means ‘suffer’. The English word ‘passion’ refers to a strong desire or ardor. The connection between the Latin word (pati-suffer) and the English word (‘passion’-strong desire) is found in Buddha’s word; “let go of passion to rid the suffering”. Alas, the pursuers of passion end up suffering. Buddha compares the person who embraces passion to the torch-bearer running against the wind, where his hands would be burned eventually. The person who runs carrying the torch is excited with the feeling that he carries the torch, illuminating the path, and he forgets the risk and may go blind to the danger until he suffers in pain burning the hand. Passion and suffering are the two sides of the same coin. Remember the two words, Latin and English; ‘Pati’ and ‘Ardor’. So can we let go of passion? Difficult. Life itself exists as a result of passion, the ardor, enthusiasm, the zeal that motivates people to progress in life. The lay world always needs some stimuli to be active and breath life. Letting go of passion is worth trying but difficult in practice. What we must learn is how to maneuver passion in our lives.

 

Passion is evolving

If we are going to navigate the passion, not vice versa, we need to understand its nature. Passion is evolving. One would not cherish the same passion throughout his/her whole life span. When I was a kid, my passion was to be a doctor. When I was a teenager I was so passionate to become a ‘house wife’. While dreaming to be a housewife, I developed a passion to be a model’, be an actress … the list goes on. Finally, I ended up taking a complete diversion, which I am passionate about today. Passion can be tempting, misguiding. It is like teenage love, perhaps you would regret the selection one day. Karl Moore, professor at McGill University, Canada, in his article in Forbes Magazine affirms that passion evolves. He draws on to real-life experience as I do. During different stages of life, human beings develop different passions. Passion is discovered within a self or while interacting with others. You often hear ‘successful’ entrepreneurs say they took a turn in their career at age of 40s or 50s or 60s, to make them what they are today. You have seen some get wedded twice or thrice and say “I just found my passion”. Passion is moving and changing. We are on the chase.

 

Passion is here… with you…at this moment

Scott, a professor at New York University and serial entrepreneur stresses not to follow the passion. He says that “passion comes from doing something well, not doing what you love”. If you invest time and effort and adore what you do, you would become great at it. Bruce Lee, the famous martial artist says “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.” The expertise comes with practice, and if you passionately practice what you do, you can keep a mark in the world, whatever you do. Martin Luther King Junior had ones said, “If a man is called to be a street sweeper, he should sweep streets even as a Michelangelo painted, or Beethoven composed music or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will pause to say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper who did his job well.” So, passion is rewarding. Horowitz an American author declares if you poll 1,000 successful people they’ll all say that they love what they do. And so the broad conclusion of the world is that if you do what you love, then you’ll be successful, that might be true. But conversely, if you’re successful, you would naturally love what you do. The point I am bringing here is we cannot and should not let go of passion. But, inculcate passion in everything we do. Be it as simple as cleaning the house, cooking dinner, or as complicated as solving a labor issue in the office, or writing a memo to the Board of Management, do it with a passion. Deliver passion wherever you go and whatever you say.

Passion is important. It is important to drive us in life; it keeps us in vibration. But, the motto “follow your passion” is misleading. Let me put it differently; if you love what you do, you will be happier. You will be contented, you will find solace in things you do, the things you have. Think of your job, your marriage, your family… give your best to them and feel the difference. No need to follow the passion, when you have it within. What we were not taught is to value what we have and love them. We are always in search of what we don’t have at the moment … and we say we want to follow our passion. But, what if each one of us does what we do to the fullest and best, put an extra effort to add beauty to what we do. An imaginary day at work; where the cleaners have cleaned the office to shine, staff are doing the best of their jobs without wasting time or resources, meetings are effective, customers are greeted with passion… no more stress at work…created living heaven by the same lot. Passion is not a feeling to throw, but to cultivate in whatever we do.

It is easier said than done. Human lives are complicated and driven by complex and implicit values and beliefs. Changing the way society thinks overnight is difficult but not unattainable. This is an attempt to show that there are paradoxical views on “do what you love”, and I take the opposite view to the generally existing one and wish that humans would love what they do and find beauty and solace in it. 

(The writer holds a senior position in a state University and has international experience and exposure. He also has an MBA from Postgraduate Institute of Management (PIM), Sri Lanka and currently reading for her PhD in Quality Assurance in the Higher Education Sector at PIM. She can be reached at cv5imbulgoda@gmail.com)

 

 

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