"What you've lost sight of is what you are, and what you are is what you hate. You're the 10-time WWE Champion! You're the man! You, like the Red Sox, like Boston, are no longer the underdog! You're a dynasty. You are what you hate. You have become the New York Yankees!" - C M Punk to John Cena.
In June 2011, the WWE pulled off one of the greatest storylines ever told on television with their famous "Summer of Punk", a fascinating angle which had viewers excited like never before. On one hand you had C M Punk, the favourite of knowledgeable wrestling fans, a man who made it big in the little leagues and rose up the ranks the hard way after paying his dues over the years. This thing was he didn’t fit into the big muscular prototype that the company wanted and as a result, in the eyes of the system, he always played second fiddle to the reigning champion, and this perceived lack of respect was something that fuelled his bitterness.
And then you had the champion John Cena. The chosen one. The face of the company and hero to millions of kids across the world. He was the guy who always, always overcame the odds and yet ironically his success lay in people watching him struggle to overcome adversity. The storyline had many more layers (see the excellent video below) which made even the casual fan sit up and take notice but in a feud marked by epic promos (wrestling parlance for speeches), massive repercussions and surprisingly little deep rooted hatred, the above lines from C M Punk stood out.
To a non-wrestling fan, it was arguably the equivalent of Ricky Ponting telling Sachin Tendulkar to wake up and smell the reality that the latter was the best batsman in cricket history. Of Evander Holyfield telling the same thing to ‘Iron’ Mike Tyson when it came to the boxing ring. Sachin and Tyson were never the underdogs even if they (and the fans) liked to believe that they were fighting the odds. But is it just sports persons or celebrities that lose sight of what they become? In the real world, aren’t we like them in many respects?
6 years ago when I first set foot in the corporate world, I noticed that a lot of our mid and upper management were glued to their Blackberry phones when they weren’t working on their laptops. They would often not even look at a person while talking to them but would instead be typing away furiously on their little phones. I for one, found this to be pretty rude and have often cut down on what I intended to say to someone senior if they were replying to an email on their phone at the same time. At that time I used to wonder how the world would change if they didn’t reply to that email at that very moment and how much better it would have been if they instead paid attention to the newbie talking to them.
Things are different now. My friends and I have worked our way up the ladder and the heavy burden of the workload we bear means that most of us have our office email accounts configured on our phones. Thus we invariably check for new emails while having lunch or during a movie break or (and this is the worst one) the moment we wake up in the morning. We will never end up cold shouldering the person talking to us in our quest to save the company but we certainly are getting close to turning into what we thought we would never ever become.
I look outside the corporate world and all I see are more real life examples. I know of so many people who used to be enthusiastic regulars on the Sunday morning biking scene but now they have completely disappeared off the face of the earth. Well it’s been forever since I went for a nice ride as well so it might sound like the pot calling the kettle black (double standards much?). But at least I am still active on the online forums whereas marriage and the responsibilities of parenthood have meant that my only chance of meeting these guys is to accidentally bump into them on the mean streets of Bangalore. These were the very same guys who used to scoff at the idea of settling down and over numerous cups of tea used to talk passionately about how biking was their passage to freedom and how the few hours on two wheels was their escape from the monotony and drudgery of life.
Take the case of the guy in Delhi who used to get so frustrated by the lack of patience and common sense displayed by other motorists and used to frequently wish aloud that things were better. Unsurprisingly he in turn started behaving just like the very same people he used to look down on after driving in our national capital over the next few months. The list of examples runs long and I can honestly say I am in that line as well.
In the real world, you and I might be pretty similar to each other and the sports persons we look up to. There is one difference between John Cena and some of us, myself included, though. I haven’t lost sight of what I am. Have you?