Thursday, February 10, 2005

Maxim # 28: அழகலா தன செயேல் -- Never perform unproductive tasks.

ஆத்திச்சூடி # 28: ழகலா தன செயேல் (azha-gu alAA-dha-na se-yEl)

Translation: Never perform acts that aren't beautiful.

Intended Translation: Never perform unproductive tasks.

Rumination:In this maxim, "அழகு" means "beauty" and "அலாதன" means "that which is not" and "செயேல்" means "never do." Therefore, it literally means, "never perform acts that aren't beautiful." "Beauty" in this maxim is an allegory to imply productivity of a task. Duality of nature, people, incidents etc. always surprise me. Even a flame needs its counterpart in darkness to reveal its own beauty. Only in the midst of the ugly, one gets to appreciate beauty. So, there is no point in exhorting anybody to just do "beautiful acts." Rather, how about, "do not do things that are not beautiful." Recently I came across a friend who had established a very successful career that would have made octogenarians envy. Within 5 years after graduation, this person had ascended the pecking order all the way from that of an entry-level worker to that of a working-partner. Whenever I run into different personalities like these I get into this Socratesian mode to question what is it that impels these persons to be so charged up? A dumb observation would then be, they were lucky. I honestly do not think so, as it only denigrates the success of the person. If it were to be luck, why aren't others lucky? I hear you say, well others weren't lucky enough to be lucky. Sorry, I am an existentialist when it comes to these questions. Auvaiyar's maxim attempts to answer this question. Sagacious people do not trade their energies on useless tasks. They have their priorities right and run towards their finishing lines with the finesse of an athlete. When a person expends his energies on negative tasks, it ultimately comes home to roost. Successful persons, then teach us that they were primarily successful not because they knew how to perform productive tasks, but more so in identifying, deflecting and avoiding the unproductive tasks.

"To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive, and the true success is to labor." -- Robert Louis Stevenson, 1850-1894, (Oxford Dictionary of Quotations 6th Ed.)

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