Today I was attending one session where speaker asked “What are you guys doing here, there is Neelakurinji blooming in Munnar!” If you are not sure, let me give you more details. Neelakurinji is a shrub that is found in the shola forests of the Western Ghats in South India. Nilgiri Hills, which literally means the blue mountains, got their name from the purplish blue flowers of Neelakurinji that blossoms only once in 12 years, after blooming in 2006 one is due now in 2018.

Hearing this comment I thought I should also go and visit Kerala and see this flower which comes in 12 years. I am very close to Kerala and the timing is August to October 2018. In fact, Kerala Tourism is running tour programs just for this.

While I was thinking about this and making plans to visit, I recalled a quote I just read last night. It was from Paul Hawken, who is an American environmentalist, entrepreneur, author, and activist. It goes something like this – “Ralph Waldo Emerson once asked what we would do if the stars only came out once every thousand years. No one would sleep that night, of course. The world would become religious overnight. We would be ecstatic, delirious, made rapturous by the glory of God. Instead the stars come out every night, and we watch television.”

I thought about both these things (and also about co-incidence that I heard/read both at same time) and thought how strange it is. It brought two things to my mind –

1. Human mind doesn’t value which is readily available to it. Rather I should say that it doesn’t notice anything good about things in front of us, these become routine and ordinary. Anything which is available with effort, rarely or once in a while gets so much value and excitement.

2. If something is portrayed as big and unique. If there is something in which everyone is interested, we also want to be part of it. Call it Red Moon, Solar Eclipses, Ice Bucket Challenge, Spinning Fidgets or any viral trend, we want to be part of it, its FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). Wikipedia says “Fear of missing out, or FOMO, is a pervasive apprehension that others might be having rewarding experiences from which one is absent. This social anxiety is characterised by a desire to stay continually connected with what others are doing.” FOMO is in fact big marketing strategy.

I asked myself, if that flower started coming every year from now onwards, will I go and watch it? Was I interested in flower itself or it’s uniqueness of coming out in 12 years.

By the way, things are changing for both the examples I gave above. Stars are not visible now from cities due to light pollutions, there are resorts built in areas which are still dark and people go there just for star gazing, it’s a kind of tourism and stars are not taken for granted anymore. Also Neelakurinji which was supposed to bloom by now, is showing no sign of blooming and Kerala tourism is concerned about all bookings they have done.

So next time, you want to hurry up and don’t want to miss something unique, think are you interested in that thing or only because its unique and let’s value what looks ordinary.

Originally published at