As the last few moments of this year are about to tick away into the silence of the irretrievable past, I remember that I have a date with myself tonight.

For the next twelve months, my guiding principle will be- Earn It..!Earn It!

I am putting at stop to unearned rewards. Sometimes I have been the recipient of those rewards myself; other times it has been another person. I’ve had it up to here and am done with it. There will be no unearned responses or rewards from me anymore. Raising the bar..? Not really. Just making sure it is seen and taken in earnest. I stand beside the bar I have laid. I underline the standards I have set. I will not permit myself to deviate from them.

I am sure this sounds like I am issuing dire warnings to the world but that’s not true. I am only issuing warnings to myself. I am telling myself, “I’m watching you..! Don’t try to hood- wink me..!!”

Respect, Admiration, Concern or Love… whatever it is that I want… I must earn it. I might think I have earned it already but if I am not getting the response I expected, surely there is a gap between the other person’s understanding of earned and mine. To win the esteem of another person, I must do things that they consider worthy of esteem. Just as I have my own benchmarks to evaluate what actions in another are worthy of my admiration, so do other people. I will stop expecting others to suspend their benchmarks and evaluate me according to my standards. I will stop expecting the universe to rearrange itself to suit my convenience. The universe is what it is- beautiful and beyond my appeals/ demands for accommodating my personal preferences.

When dealing with another person to communicate how I feel about them, I must speak their language. I must use the phrases they understand. My words must evoke the precise nuance of the emotion I want them to experience. In this one thing, it is their opinion which matters more than my own. I may feel I am being respectful or loving. If the other person doesn’t feel respected or loved, I have failed. If I genuinely care for that person, I must do everything I can to make them feel exactly what I want them to feel. Until I am able to communicate the exact nature of my esteem to another person, the onus of a continued effort is on me. I will not give up until I am sure the person I am dealing with knows, without doubt, how I feel towards them.

My esteem will never remain unexpressed when someone has earned it. It is not a favor I will do them, it will be my pleasure to show them- by word and action- that they are appreciated. I will owe them that expression; it is a debt I owe to my love for life.

I understand that despite my esteem, people will come into my life for a reason… or a season. Consequently, there might come a time when they cannot continue their association with me any more. I will respect their right to move away if that is what they need to do. Before they move away however, they will know exactly what their place is in my thoughts.

The unwritten and underlying injunction to remember in all of this is to remember not to squander effort on the chronically displeased. There’s no winning those ones over. They think nothing of asking you to cut out your heart and give it to them- for a whim. When you, gasping out your last, hold out your still beating heart on your bloody palm, they will play the martyr and ask you in aggrieved tones why you couldn’t have cut your heart out quicker..! As I said, there no pleasing those ones. No matter what you do, there is always a lot more you could have done. I want no part of them.

Which brings me to part two of Earn it..!

The phrase is not only an instruction to me. It is (okay, so you were right..!) also a placard I have round my neck for the world to read and heed. Provided they care, of course.

You want my Respect, Admiration, Friendship, Concern or Love..? Sure, please Earn It..! I am not giving the unearned anymore. Please don’t walk with your head in the clouds. There’s a bar there, right across your path- and the bar is solid steel. No, I am not being apologetic; on the contrary. Rest assured, I will toe the line- the same line you are willing to toe. There will no longer be any double standards- either way.

There really is no point trying to be pleasant (yet failing abysmally) with people whose company gives you no pleasure whatsoever. There has to be a value addition in all human interactions. If someone doesn’t make me feel happy for having met them… if there are no happy,  positive feelings generated in me at all… why on earth should I meet them? I’d rather read a book, or listen to some of Yanni’s soul- stirring music, or sit on the terrace and watch the impossibly blue sky above..! You want my friendship and time…? Earn it..!

I have begun to resent the squandering away of my time- a lot more than I resent the squandering of my emotional energy. It is like adding insult to injury. I will not permit myself to throw away my time anymore. I will not permit myself to be emotionally depleted by the unrealistic demands of another. I am the steward of my esteem. It is meant for those who Earn It… not those who take it for granted. 

I am not getting younger (nor are you for that matter- stop smirking..!). There are miles to go yet. There are people to learn from, to emulate, to get inspired from. There are also those who are waiting in the wings to touch my life and bless it. How will these precious people get to me if I surround myself with those who feed on the unearned?

I will earn my own respect by making sure that the quality of my actions reflects the quality of my thoughts… so that the quality of my life reflects the quality of my spirit. I will not let myself down anymore. I’ve come to the conclusion that it is too bitter for my taste.

Earn It..! I will live by that phrase for the next twelve months. What’s your phrase for 2013?

I cannot end this post without referring to the tragedy of a young life snuffed out brutally in Delhi. I will pray that human consciousness takes a much need leap forward and understand the true essence of being human. With every such act of wanton, inhuman brutality, the soul of all mankind is wounded. I pray for healing, I pray for peace to the wounded souls. I pray for solace to those who were/ are/ will be wantonly maimed or killed.

May Twenty Thirteen bring you many challenges. May you learn to get out of your own way and let your inner wisdom and strength help you overcoming every challenge life throws your way. May you re-discover yourself many- fold everyday of the coming year. May you climb ever upward, stepping over your old self to re-invent yourself. May you give yourself innumerable opportunities to Earn esteem and love- from other people and yourself.


Happy 2013 to you and your loved ones…!