You have to be available ……….

Professors Alvin Roth and Lloyd Shapley, were recently awarded the Nobel Prize for Economics for their pioneering work on Match Theory. In a recent TV interview, Prof. Alvin Roth, now at Stanford University, mentioned that Match Theory is like getting married: You have to be available but you also have to be chosen.  Match Theory is a mathematical process that explains why certain relationships are mutually beneficial over time. Most of its applications lie in labor economics and macroeconomics, but lately it has been useful for match making and finding organ transplant matches. The greatness of the theory lies in its ability to make long-range predictions about relationships.
Read more: What Is the Match Theory Used For? |

In the very beginning let me make one thing clear: I know literally nothing about the mathematics of Match Theory or the model behind it. But, the phrase that “you have to be available, but you must also be chosen” has certain philosophic ring to it. Let us explore the first half of this statement that “You have to be available …..” in this essay.

To be available, your intent has to be explicit, visible to everyone who can influence the decision process. This is easier stated than done.  Here I am not talking about marriage alone. There are many more aspects of life, where you have to be “available”. Do you create a condition or climate that helps others in need to take note of your availability to help? When you are in need, do you create a condition or climate that helps others to access you and offer their help? We can see that availability has to be practiced from both points of view – as a helper to someone in need as well as being available to those with the capacity and willingness to help to meet our needs!

At one time in my professional life, I was passed by in a promotional opportunity. Instead someone else, who could be considered as my peer at that time, was chosen for that position. Of course, in my view I was better qualified! With some objectivity, I could say there is some truth to that as well. When I became aware of this promotion I approached my superiors and expressed my discontent. I was totally surprised to learn, “We did not know that you were even interested in that position”! My experience is not unique. It may be familiar to many of the readers. These need not become events or incidents that create unrelenting grief or negative memories. Instead they can be used as learning experiences on “you have to be available”. Your availability should be evident to those it matters.

Of course, there is a delicate balance between being prepared and being noticeably available. In today’s parlance “networking” is the term used to express availability and visibility. But, networking need not be limited to professional activities. It also applies to relationships across friends, relatives, acquaintances, and people of like-minded interests. While there may be opportunities for formal networking for professional needs, there should also be means and mechanisms for informal networking for all aspects of life for individuals as well as across the society. In this respect we can ask a few questions: How often do you seek out others to express your thoughts, feelings and emotions? How often do you make yourself available for others to express their thoughts, feelings and emotions? Is it a one way street: either you seek out others to share your feelings and emotions or you are available to others for such needs, but not the other way around? Why is it a one way street? Is it because of our own self-imposed constraints and preferences? Are such constraints necessary in a true view of the world, where “You and the universe are integral in each other (Thath Thwam Asi)?

In the traditional way of life, festivals, community events, family functions were all used as means for networking and increase the “availability” in social settings. In the world of e-mails and Facebook, there is a self-selection and hence a tendency to limit one’s availability. More than ever it may be necessary to reflect on our “availability” for others to notice us and our needs. It may be equally necessary to be receptive and be “available” for others and their needs.

Availability extends beyond the daily, personal and social needs. In BhajaGovindam, Adhi Sankara states, “Through association with those with tranquil and reflective mind, one reaches his/her own tranquil and reflective mindset, which in turn leads to the perception of liberation” (Sathsangh Gathve Nithsangh Gathvam; Nitsangh Gathve Nirmohathvam; Nirmohathve Nitchala Thathvam). This requires seeking out others (availability) as the first step and also being accepted (being the chosen). This availability and being chosen is an important element of philosophic inquiry on life.

Availability in the spiritual context also implies “letting go” of oneself of their self-imposed shackles of bias, prejudices, etc. “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” is the quote from Mathew 7.7. It implies unconditional surrender. It is based on the faith in a larger order. There is an often quoted story, which goes like this: A religious person slipped and fell off a cliff. But, to his good fortune, he was able to cling on to a bush on the side of the cliff and hence could hang on for his dear life. He shouted, “God, please save me”. A booming voice from yonder said, “Let go of the bush”! Not being certain, if this was the right thing to do, the faithful cried out “Is there another God out there, to save me?” True and unconditional commitment is an important aspect of faith. It implies availability at all cost. This unconditional availability – surrender – to seek help and also to go all out to help those in need (be and become available) is the true spirit behind any religious faith.

Being available is also the essence of Bhakthi Yoga. Worship is an expression of one’s availability to be blessed by the Grace of the God. It is expressed through many forms of worship and for many goals. The choice or the reason for worship is an expression of our availability. It may be for limited and immediate needs of life such as for food and shelter, success in chosen endeavor or for peace and happiness. The worship (being available for the Grace of God) may also be for a larger and broader goal. These differences are explained as follows: Those who worship in various forms and objectives reach their intended goals.  Worship for limited objectives results in reaching those limited goals. Only those who worship for enlightenment – for total self-control and unattached active participation in all aspects of life – reach the Lord or the enlightenment (the Brahman).    B.G. 9. 25.

Availability may be full-filled when we are chosen! Or is it really the case? Could we be chosen and yet feel unfulfilled? This may depend on what we mean by the second half of the phrase “You have to be available ……. but you also have to be chosen”. We shall explore the later section of the phrase in our next essay.

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2 Responses to You have to be available ……….

  1. jayanthi says:

    Very aptly said. I learned to knock to let people know I was there. Right enough the second part generally falls in place. People who are ‘available’ and ‘chosen’ are the self driven people who have not seen the obstacles.


  2. Jay says:

    I liked this essay which tapped into Match theory to explore a deeper meaning. I have had a similar experience with regard to career advancement in the sense of not letting the right people know that I am available and interested in being chosen. I learned that there is a reward for mindful living and for being proactive in offering our services and in asking for help.


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