Of the many cool people I know around the world my Dad rates very high in my scale of what is cool. Today, as I reflect on my Dad (He had his home-call 19 years ago), I’d like to focus on what makes a person ‘Cool’
Young people often get this wrong as the focus tends to be on fashion or other forms of metro-sexual identities and its accessories. The older a person gets the more it becomes clearer that fashion is not the real cool. So, the question to ask would be , what makes a person cool?
I’d like to think, it begins with Character & not Charisma.
As a child I always saw him as a super-man sincerely thinking he had all the answers to problems. But he did not. I mistook his charisma as cool. Of course, he was talented – good at speaking multiple languages, played multiple sports and was the life of the party. As a kid, it was wonderful to see him get applauses from everyone around him and that made us feel proud of our Dad in the Bogi family. But growing up, we did see the other side of Dad too. His weaker side. He was just like any other person. He got carried away at times and made mistakes like everyone else. The older I got I wondered if he is really my super-hero. But I also noticed something profound in this talented person – He bounced back. He allowed the God of the Bible to change him. He was honest about his weaknesses and pursued to be Christ-like. His passion for Christ was quite evident to us at home.
Realistically speaking, Dad’s don’t always know everything and have everything but that doesn’t need to make a person un-cool. Character is not about knowing everything or about being perfect but it is about being honest. My Dad was a simple man & very charming but his real strength was that he progressively realised the importance of character and worked on it. He also knew that the only way he can do that is through Christ. Now, that is remarkable.
Today, I’m a Dad to my three kids, I realise how easy it is to to bank on talent, abilities, position and & status to try to impress our kids and how it actually is the most ineffective way to influence our kids positively. Being a person of character is better than being a person of charisma. The former brings life and the latter, at best, only entertains people.
I think being cool is also about being Original.
Just because my Dad was ‘religious’ he did not un-become from how he was designed to be. He enjoyed being himself. I loved his many suits/jackets and his love for Jazz, blues and how he danced. I remember him singing songs he would spontaneously compose. O how I miss him for his amazing jokes and organising capacity. I always remember the time when we would play table tennis together and his passion to win. He was an original & did not fake it. And that I think makes a person cool. In an era, where social media has made us into little brand managers being original is the way to go. In his book, ‘The road to Character’, David Brooks says,
“Technology creates a culture in which people turn into little brand managers, using Facebook, Twitter, Text messages, & Instagram to create falsely upbeat, slightly over exuberant, External self that can be famous first in small sphere and then, with luck , in a large one. The social media maven spends his or her time creating a self-caricature , a much happier and more photogenic version of real life. People subtly start comparing themselves to other people’s highlight reels, and of course they feel inferior”
If we want to be cool we don’t need to use skills of branding ourselves from the outside but be real, authentic and original on the inside. My dad’s life taught me that at the end of the day what really matters is who we are on the inside.
Another ingredient to being cool in my opinion is to be Optimistic .
I am not sure if my Dad was always optimistic but just thinking of his context – he studied in a rural setting and joined the Royal airforce in 1939 when they barely had anything in life. He faced the challenges of finances for most part of his life , fought a tough mental battle every time he was transferred. But he had to fight a tougher battle when he lost one of his sons to a gruesome murder followed with 6 long years of complete paralysis with an increasing doze of Alzheimer. But in all of this, his posture was that of optimism. Towards the end of his life we may have lost patience with him but he kept his. He had that amazing sense of dignity and that contagious smile on his face in the midst of harsh realities of pain & suffering. And that is very cool indeed.
A greater ingredient of being cool is to be Loving.
My Dad loved us. He cooked for us, provided for us and his siblings many times. He helped the poor and loved the Lord – his passion for missions and preaching was obvious and stemmed out of his love for the word of God. He was a tough looking man with a big royal moustache but when he saw us hurt he would shed a tear showing his love and concern. His love was indeed personal. His love led him to be generous and there are so many examples of it. His love led him to release all of us into what God was leading us to. He never once complained about us not making any commercial sense to the family (as all of us moved into the non-profit sector in terms of our careers).
If you noticed the acronym of the four words I used to describe my Dad is COOL. And that is what made my Dad so hot. He is remembered very fondly and with our deepest respect. I only hope that the rest of the Bogi clan can live his legacy and become some of the coolest people on the planet!