Zen and the Art of Reaching Record Highs

“The Sensex reaching a new record high around diwali muhurat trading is a bit like Tendulkar hitting a century in his 200th test.”

“Normally, no one could have asked for a better coincidence to pump up spirits” said my broker friend Jigneshbhai as we sipped our coffee.

“But unlike the celebrations around Sachin’s 200 tests record, all that the Sensex got at a new record high in the form of celebration is this piece of cake” Jigneshbhai remarked, pointing to the image from the Hindu Business Line.

sensexhighMy friend Swami looked at the image and had a faint, i-don’t-care-a-damn smile.

After a brief pause, Swami continued in his indifferent, almost hostile tone.

“In any case, the market has done nothing much in 3 years. I see no reason for anyone to get excited.”

My broker friend looked up at Swami and with almost a snigger remarked, “Well, in that case, even Sachin has not done much in Tests for the past 3 years. But everyone is excited about his record of 200 tests!”

That got Swami on his feet in anger.

“What has this got anything to do with Sachin? Don’t say anything against Sachin!”

“Hmm – well” remarked my broker friend sarcastically. “For all you know, they might ban that too – like the opinion polls.”

Swami was now getting ready for battle.

“At least Sachin’s records put smiles on everyone’s faces. For the market, the only people who have smiles are the TV anchors, and that too artificial ones” remarked a caustic Swami.

“No one else is excited” he underlined with a tone of finality.

There was a silence across the table after that. I realised that both my friends had hit each other where it hurt them most, respectively.

Finally Jigneshbhai remarked, with a twinkle in his eye. “Well you are right. No one is excited. Actually it might be a good thing too.”

Both Swami and I were a bit surprised by that remark. “What might be a good thing?” We asked our broker friend, and looked at him, waiting for an explanation.

He continued. “The fact that no one is excited except the TV anchors. At least we spare the market the burden of expectation. And we afford it the liberty of disappointment.”

“Something we haven’t allowed the Master Blaster for over 20 years.”

“And something that he has consistently done over 20 years, and I am sure, will do this one last time too – keep the excitement out.”

Enso“When he is at the crease, while the entire world is excited, all that really matters to him is the next ball.”

There was something Zen-like about what my broker friend said. A lack of excitement is actually good. It allows for focus.

The rare gift that Sachin had – of emptying his mind and getting everything out of the equation – the expectations, the excitement, the occasion, the reputation, even the bowler – and focusing, to the exclusion of everything else, on the next ball and playing it, one at a time – that was Zen-like.

Maybe there was a lesson in that.

As we were musing about it, the wealthy man in the sprawling bungalow, who had been listening to our conversation, dropped in.

“No excitement. Pure Zen. That’s the art of reaching record highs” he said, as we stepped out.

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