Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Why Make The Youth Run ?

I know this comes a bit late and the golden morning of 20th February, 2011 is a fading memory already. It is for that reason more so, that this article is important. This article, just like the phenomenon it explains, is an attempt to fight an aggregation of problems rooted at what I call 'dousing-of-fire'. Half a year has already passed and I can see the blue eagle on white cotton fading. Though every instance of it still makes me skip a beat; the heart enjoys a silent gaze at the symbol.

Youth Run, has NO inspiring moment of truth when it suddenly dawned upon us.. the need for change. Perhaps, another of those fitting coincidence.(It'l get clear as you read on). It got developed along the way, though the idea did stem in one of the meetings we had with a branding consultant in Ahmadabad. Full credit then goes to the team for developing it further, attaching sentiments to it, which kept us going throughout. Somehow people, including the organizers, miss the Youth Campaign which was the real 'cause' behind the Youth Run. I mean this article to serve for two things. a) To express the structure and future of the Youth Run as I imagined it. b) To express a deeper layer-2 'cause' (for the want of a better word) of the event so that in the future, there is room for 'necessary changes' in the layer-1 structure.

People spend entire lives, drifting, gliding in their comfortable oblivion. I'm the common man! I do my job, adjust a bit, suffer a bit, succumb a bit and live on! Heck, I'll survive! I'll just do my studies, get a good grade, get a job, live my life! Now, what is a stupid session, a plantation drive, a Youth Run going to do? Its not going to alter my already chartered course, so heck with it, I'll sleep! OR a shade more thoughtful but equally masochist ones, live on in seemingly endless drudgery thinking its only a temporary bad phase, it'll go. These problems are ephemeral, 'my time' will come too. I'll have a nice good vision, something will strike me, like it did to Mother Teresa on that train. It'll come and I'll shine then! Till then, I'll wait.

The motivation for Youth Run, 2011 was to stop people from waiting. Everyone in their lives is waiting for their 'moment of truth', a special 10 seconds of slow motion after which you will shout 'Eureka' and life will suddenly improve. You'll only then be able to do things right and perfect. People, let me warn all you optimists, there is NO moment of truth. It DOES NOT come on waiting for it. I'd sorry to disappoint but you'll just have to drag yourselves to work hard, smart and rack your brains, think, go mad to solve that irritating problem. All those who are waiting for that 'moment of brilliance' to wake them up and make their lives better, you're damned! The naked truth is to start working at it. For all those life-has-a-background-music-for-all-times believers, if you understand it this way, then i'll put it in more 'enlightening' words: That moment of truth, tests you. It wants to see if you have the metal to take it. So, you must start without it. Only when you show your grit that it says "yeah, he's the man!" that it will come and set your blood on fire!

People, i'm not the most experienced person alive nor do I think all of you should agree with me. I do not undermine the importance of inspirations. I know what an adrenaline rush feels and i agree, its the best! But waiting for it to come qualifies only as procrastination. Start working towards a good life. Suffering in any form, does not even qualify to earn a place in your list of things to be tolerated. The point of Youth Run is for people to believe. To believe in what is right, work hard towards it, and achieve it. It is to change the methods of drudgery and learn to live for yourself, to keep yourself happy and fight against entities that stop you from being so.

As I said earlier, Youth Run got developed along the way, it was not an envisioned goal! We constantly questioned ourselves 'why?' and it kept on coming to us. During one of the many nights we spent discussing, we were at the cafe, late night, after a good long meeting and it was slowly dawning on me with months of brain racking and meeting people, Youth Run could be an enclave. A meeting point, an annual hang out joint for people who work on ideas. Ideas that shape the society, the environment and their own lives above all. Typically organizations that work for causes. It could be an annual 'coffee-break' , in software engineering lingo; where people come together, discuss the larger issues that they are facing in their domain. Exchange ideas that motivated them. Think through the problems, produce solutions to vexing labyrinths; be it the rigid administration, corruption or the insipid people at large who are adamant on living the 'chalta hai' life. Youth Run, the way I look at it, resembles more closely to an afternoon nap that you take to recharge yourself; an annual jaunt, to make themselves more effective.

The Run itself is only a symbol. An apt metaphor for the rejuvenation, the shedding of old skin, the adrenalin rush that comes after you've had a splendid realization. The whole weekend is a time for people to come to their fountain of wisdom. The whole idea is for people to iron out solutions, tricks and share anecdotes that might have worked for some in their field. This is why I had imagined a nice whole weekend where organizations like Green Peace, Cry, India Against Corruption, Yuva Unstoppables, CEE etc come in their shorts and tees with a smile on their face, with the intention to have a good bucket of water splashed across the face! People who solve problems of these intensity and consequence, especially, need what Roger Van Oech calls A Whack on the side of the head. It will, i think, only come when people in these attempts come together and have an exchange of ideas.

At the cafe table, in front of the first counter, it was slowing gathering.. perhaps a good Youth Run eve dinner; where organizations who are going to run on the next day get to know each other over a good meal (hopefully better than the 3rd counter :P ). Then, the Youth Run in the morning followed by the youth seminar. The seminar has always been sidelined and I think the biggest lesson for Team Youth Run, 2012 is to focus more on the seminar. The seminar is the place where people recount their experiences, share ideas. It should be a fun event where we need not have people sitting down as audience trying to uproot all the grass off the lawns while somebody drones on the mike. The ideas are still not transparent and they are certainly malleable. They are supple and pliable. But then, I've always thought, the ones that are successful are the most labile.

Finally, there is a secret personal wish I'd like to share. Maybe a decade or two down the line, maybe at the 25th Anniversary of Youth Run, they'll call me and my team, as the chief guests for being the people, who set a legacy , who believed, changed and ran!

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