“Life of Pi” or how profoundly we can change/adapt to new situations…

While I was on vacation in Greece the other week I came about a book called “Life of Pi” written by Yann Martel. Boy o boy, what a story. Very creative. Very captivating. Very thought-provoking.

For those of you who have not read the story, here is a super short write up: in this fantasy a vegetarian, 16 year old Indian boy called Piscine “Pi” Molitor Patel survives some eight months after a shipwreck, while stranded on a small lifeboat with a tiger named Richard Parker, a hyena, a zebra and an orangutan. The hyena eats the zebra and orangutan, and then Richard Parker eats the hyena, leaving Pi as the only other survivor. Food and water supplies are low. Pi starts fishing to get food for him and Richard Parker, whom he keeps alive so that he will not be all alone on the ocean. Pi ensures, with his knowledge as the son of a zoo-keeper, that Richard Parker believes Pi is the alpha animal and therefore doesn’t attack the boy. After 227 days the lifeboat reaches the coast of Mexico.

This book has sold almost 10 million copies worldwide, and rightly so I may say. There are several aspects of life that the book touches upon in great detail: religion, spirituality, interaction of man with the animal kingdom, survival, etc. Today I would only want to focus on one aspect: transformation. Those of you who have either worked with me one on one or have attended a seminar know that I am a total believer in taking the necessary time for things to unfold and grow – I always say that “slow is fast and fast is slow”. Through gradual but persistent work we can change anything and everything: behavior, thought processes, belief systems, weight, fortune, etc.
Change can come through two doors: 1) outside circumstances, such as dramatic changes in ones world: revolution, sickness, accident, weather catastrophes, etc.: through this door one is forced to change and adapt to the new situation rather swiftly or “drown” and 2) from within, where we want to change out of our own free will: we are tired of playing around and want to get married and settle down, being overweight bothers us so much that we change our diet, we are unfulfilled in our job and so we take a leap of faith and switch jobs, industries or even start running our own small gig…
The only difference between the first and the second “door” is that one is apparently pushed upon us and the other is self directed change. Both can be equally powerful as long as the wish for change/survival is big enough…
In Pi’s case change was pushed down his throat and became a matter of life or death. He grew up as a total vegetarian, his parents were vegetarian, everyone he knew were vegetarian, as a matter of fact, the entire region he lived in was primarily vegetarian. He never had eaten meat or fish in his life before, and the sheer thought of having to do so made him feel nauseated. In his life he would have died happily being a vegetarian never knowing the taste of a juicy burger or a finely grilled fish.
Well, fate meant it differently with him when he woke up in a lifeboat in the middle of the Pacific ocean. He survived not eating at all for the first couple of days but then he started to eat the bland survival cookies he found on the boat. After a couple of weeks those were all eaten and hunger started to take over his body and mind. He was thus forced to either do the unthinkable and eat fish or simply die.
During his time on the boat the reader gets to observe the gradual but nonetheless drastic change in Pi, who entered the boat a total vegetarian but left it 227 days later as a carnivore of the first order. After catching his first fish he has the biggest of difficulties to kill it. It takes him a while to overcome his own fears and inhibitions before he finally wins the battle against himself and the fish. From total vegetarian to a raw fish eater within five minutes, incredible how life sometimes unfolds itself to us. In the weeks and months to come he then gradually threw overboard all of his inhibitions so that he ate sea turtles and drank their blood and even killed a bird with his bare hands and ate its raw flesh without thinking twice.
The question now arises as to why he was able to turn 180 degree from a total vegetarian to a raw fish and meat eater? The motivation to do so was big enough, that simple. Either he changed or he would have died. A very simple equation.
This brings us now to the second “door” and the voluntary change that lies behind it and this is really what we are interested in.
Figure out what it is that you would want: different job, less work hours, more money, family, more travel, new home in a specific neighborhood, etc. Be as precise as possible, mere wishful thinking and blah blah won’t just do it. How much do you want to earn? Give the exact dollar amount you would like to earn in a year. You want a new home? In which neighborhood? How big/how many bedrooms, bathrooms? How much should it cost max? I guess you get the picture here.
Focus on the end result. Put yourself in the new house and see yourself submitting your tax return with that specific dollar amount.
Believe that you will receive from the bottom of your heart. If your believe is as big as Pi’s and if your motivation is as big as Pi’s you will get there with 99% certainty! Pi wanted to live. This simple but very powerful motivator helped him overcome his aversion against meat and gave him the courage to tame and subdue a wild tiger on a tiny lifeboat.

Do you have the motivator it takes to proactively go for the things that you would want?

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One Response to ““Life of Pi” or how profoundly we can change/adapt to new situations…”  

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