No Matter If It’s Black or White

Dr. K's Diary: Articles by Dr. Madan Kataria Apr 05 2024 356
No Matter If It’s Black or White-img

Would you believe me if I told you that I very often wear different colored shoes? Sounds crazy! But it’s true. I imbibed this peculiar trait from PatBlack and while.jpgch Adams when I met him for the first time in Italy. I realized that laughter was a part of his entire persona and his whole being. He was a complete bag of laughs.

His glowing face, shining eyes, spiky moustache, long colored hair and bright attire was too little. He even had a spoon and a fork hanging down his ears! It was like Charlie Chaplin in Joseph’s Technicolor Coat …enough to have one in splits. But there was more. I couldn’t help notice his socks-one green, one orange! What guts? By now I was in stitches. His appearance though weird had a compassion which drew me towards him and filled me with joy for nearly an hour that I was with him. This holistic experience of laughter left me fascinated. I was awestruck by his personality and most of all by his different colored socks. I pondered over this when an equally wacky thought came to my mind. Why not wear different colored shoes with different colored socks?

My regular attire is blue jeans and a pair of white Nike sports shoes. Though my wife Madhuri doesn’t quite approve of the ‘stark’ white shoes, I love the contrast. But alas! Giving in to a wife is the norm. I bought a pair of black Nike shoes in Zurich much against my wishes. One fine day, I insisted on wearing the white shoes but Madhuri was insisted on the black. In a sudden flash I told her that I would wear both. She thought I was joking. But I actually wore a combination- one shoe white and one shoe black!! A little apprehensive, I stepped out and immediately became a wonder. I must have made at least a hundred people laugh as I went by. I fell in love with the whole concept and decided to continue with it. Madhuri still couldn’t believe what I had done.

In July 2003, B.P. Hirani, Senior Vice-President of Laughter Club International joined me on my visit to Calcutta (now Kolkata) to decide the venue for our annual Laughter Conference, LAFF-2003. At Mumbai Airport I found many people were staring at my shoes and laughing. However, it was the officer at the Security Check who went into hysterics. As he started to frisk me from head to toe he noticed them. What’s with the shoes? One black, one white…He burst out laughing and just couldn’t stop.

After reaching Kolkata we went to the Safari Park Laughter Club where almost 400 members had gathered to laugh with us. They noticed my funny shoes and really cracked up. No one had ever seen such a strange combination. After the session one gentleman came up to me wanting to know the secret behind my black and white shoes. I promptly said, “It is for fun”. Of course, he didn’t believe me. He insisted on a proper explanation. I then told him that this was a result of a compromise I made for my wife as she liked black and I preferred white. But he was not convinced and demanded, “You must tell me what the real secret is”. After a brief thought I told him, “To me the white shoe represents laughter and the black represents sadness or tears. Life is a blend of laughter and tears. He was convinced and very impressed.

As he nodded his head in agreement I explained further. Life is imperfect. We are all full of imperfections. These shoes help me to accept my inadequacies and weaknesses in good spirit. He agreed and went away feeling satisfied. These words of spontaneous wisdom really struck me deeper and became a part of my life.

This incident reminds me of a laughter exercise that we do in our Laughter Clubs – Laugh at Your Own Self. This is a value-based exercise intended to remind the members the value of laughing, not at others, but at your own self. This act does not make one lose self-respect or degrade oneself. It frees us from unrealistic and harsh expectations of life.

Laughing at yourself is not any kind of humiliation. It’s the ability to take ourselves lightly but take our responsibilities seriously. When we lighten up, we are more creative and resourceful. Trying to deny our mistakes and hiding them from others is a waste of time and energy. I sometimes wonder how a small compromise in color has changed my life. I did not have any philosophy in mind when I first wore the different colored shoes. It was just for fun. But later, I discovered a deeper meaning behind the black and white shoes.

I now wear these shoes very frequently. They are my source of inspiration when things go wrong. They remind me that life is a roller coaster ride-full of ups and downs. There are upsetting phenomenons every day. Instead of fretting and frowning one must learn to accept reality and move on graciously.