Wise Words Are Like Pure Gold

In an earlier post, I had introduced you to the poems of Yogi Vemana. This 17th-century ascetic had written extensively on morality, ethics, human pathos and spread this wisdom through verses known as Vemana Satakam or Vemana Padhyalu.

The current verse is another pearl of wisdom from him:
Alpudepudu palkunadambaramuganu
sajjanundu balku callaganu
kancumroginatlu kanakambu mroguna
visvadabhirama vinura Vema !

In this verse, Vemana talks about how an unintelligent person can fool others with his loud voice and grand plans. His words are extravagant, but they hold little water. However, a wise man speaks softly, without any drama. His words are few, yet the meaning and impact are profound.

He compares the words of an unwise speaker to a brass pot that makes a lot of noise when disturbed. At the same time, pure gold may appear similar to brass, but it makes no noise.

Respond, Don’t React

How people treat you is their karma; how you react is yours.
-Wayne Dyer

I read this quote of Wayne Dyer, an American author and motivational speaker. Initially, it seems like a simple statement about life in general. It, in fact, reminded me of another management lesson of how we should always respond and not react.

Both these quotes convey the same lesson, i.e., we should watch how we behave while responding to what is done to us. We should observe if our reaction is a knee jerk response to everything or if we understand the situation and reply accordingly. Many times, it leads to either resolving conflict or aggravating a simple misunderstanding into an all-out war.

Coming back to Wayne Dyer’s quote, when we are in a situation, there are several ways to handle them. Some are knee jerk responses, while some are strategic moves planned to build a brighter future. Some may be conniving schemes that create destruction. The situation we land in may not be our karma or our destiny. However, our response to this unforeseen situation will create our karma. If we handle it gracefully and peacefully, we build good karma. By taking out our anger and seeking revenge, we only create bad karma.

To better explain it, I will narrate a small anecdote. It occurred many years ago, but it highlighted this quote.

One day, my friend and I entered the bank and met an old acquaintance. This lady lived in our neighbourhood previously, and she was notorious for her unhinged rants at passers-by. I saw the same lady verbally abusing another person. This person was thoroughly embarrassed in front of all the bank employees and customers, so she ran out crying as we all watched in shock. Now the lady saw me and started abusing me. She recognised my friend and spoke ill of me to her. But I ignored her as if I had no recollection of her. As a result, I did not react to her abuses, turning my head and going about my business. My friend acknowledged her, and while calmy speaking to her, she led the lady out of the bank. Once the lady went out, everything went back to normal. Everyone in the bank praised my friend for handling the situation. They appreciated me for not fighting back.

The lady created a situation where three different people were embarrassed. We each responded differently. The first person reacted emotionally and ran out. I ignored her and carried on with my work. My friend intervened intelligently by removing her from the bank and stopping any further conflict. The lady’s behaviour was her own karma, but each of us created our own karma while we handled the situation. Thereby, one ended up in tears, and another (my friend) ended up as the hero. Isn’t this thought-provoking?

I Did It My Way

As a part of his vast repertoire of music, Frank Sinatra sang the song My Way. It was written by Paul Anka. I love this song of his. Though I love the song, I never really paid attention to the lyrics until the other day. Earlier I always felt the song was about a person celebrating his successful life and the journey. As I listened to it, I recognised something about it. The person is not only celebrating his success, but he is also taking full responsibility for all his decisions and actions. That part struck a chord with me. How many of us can truly take responsibility for our choices?

It is a common complaint we hear among youth that they have no control over their life. They say that all decisions are made for them, either by others or by situations. I agree that in many of the cases, it is true. We are often under obligation to choose a path, or we are forced by societal norms to be a certain way or coerced by family emotionally to adhere to rules. It would seem that we hardly had a say in the decision.

An old saying comes to mind when I think of such situations, ‘We can take a horse to the water, but we cannot make it drink the water’. Same way as we can be forced to choose a particular path, but no one can make us walk it unless we want to. So, when we walk down a road in life, we have to remember that at some point, we consciously choose this path too. We have decided on this course of action, either due to lack of a better choice or lack of will to resist. We realised the benefits of this decision. We may disagree with the decision, but we have accepted the decision.

I would like to add a disclaimer here that I am not blaming anyone here. I do not intend to put the guilt on your shoulder and absolve everyone else. My intension is to remind us that we decided to follow the path based on logic and reasoning. We have chosen to sacrifice something to gain something else. There was a rationale behind our choice. We made that choice because this option outweighed the others. As long as we remember this rationale and reasoning, we should not doubt our decisions. We should take responsibility for it.

Whether our decisions lead to failure or success or took us on an uncharted path, we can only find peace and happiness when we remember our reasoning and rationale behind that decision. As long as we blame others for influencing us and forcing their decisions on us, we can never see the beauty and adventure in our journey of life. More importantly, as long as we remember the reason for a decision, we can be proud of what we stood up for and what we sacrificed to get to this position in life.

We Are All Strong Until We Face The Test

They say that in the face of adversity, our true self comes forward. Some of us stand up and take the lead, while some step back and follow a leader. Some of us crumble and break down, while some of us straighten our back and weather the storm. It is hard to predict with certainty how one will turn out.

Just because we are timid and avoid conflict, it does mean that we will crumble in the face of hardships. A faint-hearted person may not stand up and fight, but they know how to survive. Avoiding conflict doesn’t mean that one cannot face disagreement. It merely means that one does not like it, they do not believe that quarrel resolves problems.

Most people judge and conclude on our strengths based on our everyday behaviour and attitude under normal circumstances. I learnt this the hard way. I believed that I was a very patient person, and counted it was my strength. The truth came out when I faced my test. Here is the whole story by which I came to the realisation.

Before joining my job, I considered myself patient because I could deal with a few difficult people in my friends’ group. While my friends would get flustered, I was able to stay calm while dealing with them patiently. When I joined work, I realised that my patience magically evaporated in front of my manager. That person was my test of patience. I realised that I got very irritated when he picked on my work, every comment he made grated on my nerves. Though I did not lash out at my manager, I took out my irritation on my colleagues.

My sister gave me a bit of wise advice, and I realised that my manager’s influence is limited, only to my work. If I say yes in that minute and keep calm, he will move away. This advice helped me replenish my reserves of patience and believe in myself again. That was until I met my niece. My niece is a bundle of curiosity and energy. She likes to play and has a short attention span. This was another test of my patience, unlike my manager, my niece did not have limited working hours. I can’t say for sure if I passed this test. I just bid my time and waited for my niece to grow up. Now that she is in school, I can recharge my reserves again.

The point is that one can never take our strengths or weaknesses for granted. Until we face a test, we cannot be sure how strong or weak we are. We can not say with a guarantee when our strengths will abandon us or our weaknesses show an alternate technique of survival. Let’s keep our fingers crossed.

The Bondage of Debt

Recently I read a story from an old Indian children’s magazine called Chandamama. I was so impressed by it that today I want to share it with all of you.

Long time back, there was a night watchman. His job was to roam the streets of the village at night and look out for thieves. Every now and then he alerted the villagers to be on their guard. He was married for several years but was childless. When he approached a wise, old sage about his problem and asked for blessings. The sage explains:
“Runanubhanda Rupena Pashu Patni Suta Aalaya ,
Runakshaye Kshyayaanthi Tatra Parivedana.”

It means that cattle, wife, children and home (such attachments) are bondages that result from one’s previous birth. The relationship with these attachments ends once the debt is cleared. It can be settled in the form of service to these attachments. Enjoyment of these attachments ends the pain and suffering.

The watchman decided that to have a child, someone needs to be indebted to him. Thus, he made a pair of slippers and secretly left them on the roadside. He hoped that someone will accept them, and thereby a debt-bond is created. The same sage was walking down that street one day, and his feet were burning due to the heat. When he saw the slippers, he wore them. He inquired the whereabouts of the owner to pay for the slippers. But no one knew anything about it and later the sage died.

Due to this debt, the sage was reborn as the watchman’s son. He was aware of the debt, as he was a wise and holy man. The watchman was also aware of this. Out of fear of losing his son, the watchman and his wife never accepted any benefit from their son.

Several years later, the watchman fell sick one night and requested his son to do his job for that night. The son accepted it gladly. While on duty, he alerted the villagers with this verse:
Mata nasti pita nasti nasti bandhu na sahodhara
ardham Nasti gruham nasti tasmat jagrata jagrata.

This verse means, not mother, not father, not relatives, not siblings, not wealth, not house nothing lasts forever. Nothing follows you after death, these are bondages of present birth. All these relationships, wealth and property are merely worldly attachments, hence be careful.

After a few hours, he alerted the neighbourhood once again with another verse that spelt wisdom:
Kama krodascha lobhascha dehe thishtanthi taskarah
Jnana ratnopaharaya tasmat jagrata jagrata.

This means desire, anger and greed that reside inside the body are thieves that steal one’s precious knowledge. So, be careful.

Finally, in the last part of the night, he alerted the people with this verse:
Janma dukham jara dukham jaya dukham punah punaha samsara sagaram dukham tasmat jagratha jagratha.
This verse means that our birth into this world is one filled with pain suffering. Old age is torture. This entire life is an ocean of struggles. Hence be careful.

People who heard these words of wisdom were astonished by the sagacity of this simple night-watchman. They wondered how he acquired so much knowledge at such a young age. Anyhow, the young man returned home with his wage. Although the watchman refused to accept it.

One day a fire in the neighbourhood was engulfing all the houses. One after another all the houses burned, including that of the watchman. He and his family, quickly started to salvage whatever they could before the flames destroyed everything. While his wife and son brought things out of the house and handed them to him, he set them down, at a safe distance from the burning house. During that commotion, the young man handed everything to his father, and the last thing he gave is the bag of money he earned from the night shift job. The watchman grabbed it absent-mindedly and hurried. The son walked back into the house, never to return.

As realization dawned, the watchman collapsed to the ground in despair and agony over the loss of his beloved son. By the next day, the flames died down, while he stared at the ashes carried by the gentle breeze, he remembered the wise words uttered by the old sage and his son during the night shift. He understood that the debt was repaid.

This story touched my heart, I was moved by the philosophy it teaches. The Sanskrit verses in this story are taken from Vairagya Dindima by Adi Shankaracharya.
Adi Shankaracharya was the great Indian philosopher from the 8th century. His works enlighten our mind and show us the path to moksha or freedom from this cycle of birth, death and rebirth.

The Tricky Job of Disciplining Children

Disciplining children is a tough job that not many of us can master. Correcting them can go wrong even if our attitude is critical or laid back. The problem with this task is that you do not know what went wrong until it is late. While one style of disciplining works in the present but leads to a fractured future, another ensures a better future but does not seem to work in the present. I have never needed to correct or discipline children, but I have seen some interesting ways of punishing them.

As I have mentioned already, I do not have much experience managing children on my own. I have tried to babysit my nieces and nephews, but it is not the same. If things get out of hand, we can always leave it to the parents to handle the fallout. I remember an instance when my niece refused to eat lunch. There was no one at home to convince her. I convinced her that she became invisible. And no one could see her or hear her unless she ate food. She was petrified at the thought of no one giving her attention. Luckily for us, she did not think of misusing the situation.

Of all the elders that I have observed around me, each had a different style of managing children. While my aunt would give her kids a free rein and not correct them at all, my mother was quite strict. Another aunt of ours micromanaged her children in such a way, they did not get a chance to misbehave. On the face of things, it always appeared that both my parents were strict and rule-bound. Yet, they both had a very different approach to checking and correcting children. They did not tolerate indiscipline or mischief and punished us in unique ways with psychological games. Nothing sinister about it, but let me give you a few examples.

As a child, I always daydreamed and never concentrated on studying. As a result, my grades were either inconsistent or low. My mother did not have time to sit with me and coach me every day on every topic, so she took a different approach. She sat me down and explained to me that since I was not studying well, I would not get a cushy office job. I would have to either work as a daily wage labourer or a municipal worker or a vegetable vendor. She then ticked out daily wage labourers from the list of potential jobs stating that I was not physically strong enough and also lazy. Thus, it was not a viable option. She moved to a municipal worker and explained that even those people require a certain level of educational qualification. And I had to work just as hard on the job. She told me that seeing my current situation, a vegetable vendor was the best I could manage. She then went on to explain the maximum earning I can expect and all the luxuries that I would have to forego with that job. You can safely guess my reaction to that talk. I was scared for my future, I even observed a few vegetable vendors in the following weeks and imagined myself in their shoes. I was too scared to daydream after that because all my dreams were of me pushing vegetable carts, or trying to hawk cheap goods.

My dad had a different approach. One summer, all of us kids were gathered at our house for a sleepover. And one of us scribbled all over the wall. We did not know who it was. No one would own up. My dad decided that we should play detective and try to recreate the scene of the crime. I walked us through the incident in a dramatic way about how a person stealthily scribbled on the wall without anyone noticing and almost made them appear heroic. He then conducted mock interrogations and acted out how the perpetrator committed the crime. As he expected, one of us slipped up and corrected my dad on the sequence of events and how they actually scribbled. The best part was that we did not even realise that one of us confessed to the mischief. He went on to embarrass the ‘perpetrator’ with all the loopholes in the plot. He even got the elders involved in a fun way. He made the whole incident appear like a game and made us point out all the mistakes made thereby, making my cousin who did the mischief appear like a fool. No one made mischief at our house again.

Both my parents used different tactics to correct us while making it seem like we chose the right way ourself. It is all fun to recollect now, but I wonder how they thought up the idea during those incidents. I can only hope to be half as smart as them while handling children. Do you have any such fun stories to share? You can put them in comments and have fun.

Image courtesy Canva.com

Poor Little Rich Kid

When you read the title of this post, ‘poor little rich kid’, we are all reminded of the story of Richie Rich. The comic character who was so rich that his riches caused unique and comical problems for him. Today, however, I am talking about that poor little rich person who is rich in wealth but doesn’t have money to spend. If you think that it is oxymoronic, then let me explain.

Many of the young adults, are college-educated, working in cushy jobs in software or MNCs. We earn fat salaries, travel in style, dress up in the latest trends, but how many have ready cash to spend in case of emergency. In our quest to secure our financial future, some of us have cornered ourselves in the present.

This little bit of wisdom has come upon me after seeing the misfortune of my neighbour. He comes from a regular middle-class family. With his sheer hard work, he got himself a respectable job in a reputed company, he earns a sizable 6 figure salary. He belongs to the upwardly mobile young generation, who grew up middle-class, but who suddenly find themselves swimming in wealth. His parents advised him to make his financial future secure before he can spend on any luxury. That sounds like sane advice, and my neighbour took it.

He invested in a wide range of long term investment policies. He opened a few different insurance policies, mutual funds, recurring deposits etc. He observed his peers become homeowners and under peer pressure, he also booked a house in a gated community along with his office friends. Taking into consideration different parameters, he took a home loan and bought a house along with his friends. When you say home loans, automatically there will be monthly payments that cannot be missed. Apart from these expenses, he also pledged to donate to a few charities to appease his conscience. As a result of all these planned payments, my neighbour’s comfortable 6 figure salary was gone before his eyes. Halfway through the month, his bank balance was hitting zero after making all the payments and donations. On the paper, he was a rich guy with sizable investments and assets yet, his salary was just about sufficient for all his monthly bills and payments.

He did not have money to spend on himself anymore. With the recent COVID situation, he was worried about his job security. All the while that he was at home, he was scared out of his wits because he could not afford to fall sick or lose his job. He was ready to take a pay cut by the time he started working from home. He was among the lucky ones who did not lose their job but, shudders to think about those who did lose it.

Instead of tying himself up with a mountain of future payments, if my neighbour has planned his money better, it would have saved him a world of tension. Thinking about long term goals, he missed on taking immediate contingencies into account. He was not a lonely case, it happened with a few of his other colleagues, and they had to move out of their fancy apartments to save money. Many went back to their hometowns and villages to manage finances.

What I would like to point out is that it is definitely good to plan for the future. But do not lose focus on the present. Always keep aside some contingency money that will see you through unforeseen situations like this. You may not need it, but the safety blanket it provides will help you sleep better.

Make Sure Your Sacrifices Are Valued

A sacrifice means an act of giving up something of value for the sake of others. You can sacrifice your time, money, any possession etc, for the benefit of others. These ‘others’ that I refer to can be family, friends, siblings, co-workers, or obscure strangers for the purpose of a good cause.

When we give up something as a sacrifice, we look at it as a good deed, we don’t expect anything in return. However, in recent times, I have seen a transformation in the meaning of sacrifice. We are starting to expect something in return every time we sacrifice something. We expect intangible things like gratitude, loyalty, love and in some extreme cases, even servitude of our sacrifices. This shift in our expectations has adulterated the meaning and importance of sacrifice. People started viewing a sacrifice as a tool to bind someone to oneself, with a sense of duty and gratitude. Do I sound too dramatic?? Let me explain.

How many times have we heard the term; ‘after all the sacrifices I’ve made for you, is this what you give me?’; ‘is this your way of repaying us for our sacrifices?’; ‘don’t let my sacrifice go to waste’. I’m sure we have all said this at some point in life or had people say this to us. But, the response to these charges is what shows the importance of the sacrifice. When the opposite person says, ‘well who asked you to make those sacrifices?, I did not’; ‘You expect me to repay you for your sacrifice?’; then all our troubles appear insignificant and egotistical.

Neither do these accusations nor do the rejoinders make you a bad person. I am not trying to judge anyone here. It is only natural for a person to have expectations from loved ones. We love them, we want the best for them and we are ready to give up anything for them. In our rush to shower them with love, we forget what they need and want. We keep them guarded against all hardships, grief and loss.

When our loved ones do not know what we lost for them, how can they appreciate it? When they don’t go through the trouble of purchasing groceries, cooking a meal, maybe burn a finger or two, clean everything afterwards, how can a person appreciate the value of a delicious breakfast? We cannot blame them for not thanking us enough when they don’t know what trouble we went through.

The example I have given is very small, although it applies to most things that we take for granted. You may ask me what the solution is? Obviously, we cannot go around enumerating what all we have forfeited, at every step of the way. At the same time, we cannot sit by and stay detached when our loved ones are having difficulty. Let’s give more importance to communication, speak freely about what is needed and how to get what we want. Stop assuming on behalf of others and then blame them for not valuing you. If you have any expectations from loved ones, state them frankly rather than disguise them as repayment for past sacrifices.

Let me know what you think about this. Is this a real problem or is this unreal? What do you think of my suggestion? Does it feel utopian to you?

Do Your Duty, Leave The Rest To God

We all aim to succeed at every endeavour we take up. We plan, strategize, work hard, make all necessary corrections and wade past every hardship only with the intent to succeed. Yet, despite all our good intentions, good work and effort, there are many instances where we are faced with failure. The first advice or consolation we receive in those situations is ‘You did your best, the rest was up to God’.

Growing up, this statement was a sore point for me. I always thought that when we do our best, then we should get the best results. If I work to succeed, then I should succeed. In my naivety and limited life experience, this was my outlook towards everything. I never considered all the factors that are out of control, yet contribute to the success of a task. As my experience increased, I learnt that all the hard work, good intentions, and best efforts are worth nothing when something is not meant to be. Not just good intentions and hard work; Even the evilest plans, wicked intentions, cruel efforts can be thwarted when something is not meant to be. In the grander scheme of events, my success at a particular task may be trivial, or sometimes my failure may be necessary.

Needless to specify, later in life, I faced a tough time unlearning this perception. We can only be 100% prepared for the task, but we can never be 100% sure about the outcome. The whole meaning of life is to navigate the twists and turns, face unexpected challenges etc. The goalposts are shifting all the time, and we need to change accordingly. As long as we remember this fact of life and contribute wholeheartedly to every task, every outcome feels like a success. Before the pandemic, better pay, promotions, a bigger house, latest gadgets etc, may have been the parameters for success. I planned to shift jobs and look for a more challenging role. However, now job security, steady flow of income, good health, being alive and healthy have become parameters for success.

There is no guaranteed equation for success or failure in life. What may appear to be a failure today is only the framework for greater accomplishments. In fact, they are not failures, but simple lessons in our path to victory. They will prepare you with priceless lessons that will take you to greater heights. Even the solar system failed with numerous planets and moons before it successfully created life on earth. However, that does not make all the other planets less magnificent or important in the grander landscape of the universe.

Keep An Eye On the Backdoor

One lazy afternoon, a cat softly walked up to the backdoor of a house. The door was left ajar; he stood there for a few tense moments assessing the danger level. When no one noticed his presence, he quietly stepped into the house and quickly sneaked into the kitchen. Within the next few seconds, he climbed up the countertop to lap up all the milk in the container.

The lady of the house caught him red-handed and chased him. The startled cat jumped to the ground and instead of exiting through the backdoor, he ran into the dining room. The lady went yelling and, running after the cat, but he kept dodging her. To escape her, he ran under the dining table and rushed into the living room to hide under the couch.

All through this chaos, the lady’s daughter was fascinated and excited by the cat. She protected him by not revealing his hiding place. After some time, the little girl started petting the cat. The cat quickly recognised the friend and the foe. He avoided the lady who chased him to spend most of his time with the little girl who befriended him.

Gradually, he made the house his home and soon two other cats joined him. All attempts to get rid of the cats were futile. Even if the lady chased them away, they found their way back into the house. They knew the little girl was ready to accommodate them. The little girl even suggested that these cats could get rid of the rats in the house. But, nothing of that sort happened. The rats and the cats all lived in the same house.

Art By Sharda

All-day long, they purred at the girl and relaxed in her lap. They stole food from the kitchen and slept on piles of freshly washed clothes. If anyone tried to get them out of the house, they showed their temper. They did not spare anything in the kitchen; they clawed the couches, destroyed the plants, knocked things down, and generally speaking, created a mess.

I have nothing against cats but observing the events in the above story, I can draw parallels to other events in our lives. When the cat first entered the house, it was totally accidental. If both the mother and child chased away the cat with the same fervour, the cats would have avoided the house. Because the lady chased them away, yet the girl encouraged them; the cats made the house as their home.

Bad habits enter into our lives in the same way as the cats did in this story. The first time is usually an accident or a coincidence. It is how we react to this event that decides our fate. If we chase the habit out of our life, then chances are that the habit will exit. But, if we cover them up or defend them, it will become impossible to get rid of the bad habit.

Just as one good habit attracts other good habits, one bad habit also attracts many other undesirable habits. The bad habits could be as simple as being lazy/procrastinating or something as serious as drug/alcohol abuse. Be mindful of what is entering through that backdoor silently. It might, at first, look innocent and harmless but eventually, it will show its true colours. Like stray animals are always prowling around looking for a quick meal and a comfortable place to settle in, the same way at every stage in life we are prone to several dangers. It is important to recognise them early and nip them out of our life.

I used the analogy of a cat’s behaviour in this story to explain my point about bad habits. However, I don’t want anyone to think that cats are bad nor should anyone ill-treat cats or any other animal for that matter. Cruelty to animals is a bad habit in itself. All I’m saying is keep an eye on that back door; all things evil and undesirable sneak in from there. If you liked what you read, please let me know. Until next time, Stay Safe.

Originality

“It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation.”

  • Herman Melville

I have recently come across this quote from the American novelist, by the name Herman Melville that said, ” It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation”. He is basically saying that it is better to be an original loser than to be a successful copycat.

I know it sounds severe when I put it that way. But, when you ponder upon it, it makes sense. Though being unsuccessful is bad, you can at least take credit for your original thought. This unique thought will further act as the foundation that you can build upon until you are successful.

The same cannot be said for imitations. When you pick up someone else’s idea, you are automatically limiting the scope, to what the original thinker foresaw. Please remember that imitation is different from using the inventions or ideas of others to create new products or utilities of a product.

In today’s world, plagiarism is a real concern in literature, music, arts and even scientific research. The creativity, innovation and intellect of a person are being taken away from him/her. It is almost like stealing the person’s individuality because our thoughts and ideas are what distinguish us in a group. To imitate one’s ideas and pass them off as our own is an insult to our intelligence. It is a way of accepting that I am not smart enough to think on my own. 

I remember, my aunt used to let us off easy, when we gave her original and innovative excuses. Not that she did not detect a lie, in fact, she would point out the flaw in the story and laugh it off as a joke. We were made to feel sufficiently embarrassed so that we did not repeat the mistake. 

The sad thing in the world is, success is given more emphasis than originality. Copycats are running the world and unless we start valuing diversity and uniqueness, the situation may not improve.

Perseverance

I found this quote the other day. I felt that it was telling me to rethink an earlier post I had made regarding quitting. Quitters Are Not Losers.

Reading this quote, “Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan Press On! has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”, by Calvin Coolidge makes me rethink my strategy.