Popular Applause! What heart of Man is proof against thy sweet seducing charms?, wrote popular English poet William Cowper and in that knowing query put his finger on what may be the singular and most basic human need – appreciation!  There is nothing like an appreciation to lift one’s spirits, instil confidence and capture the profundity of achievement. And its sweep is not restricted to achievers alone. It is a gesture that applies to the humble and meek as well and can be a momentary or token acknowledgement as in the case of the tribute to sanitation workers and doctors in India and a few other nations in the initial phase of the COVID-19 pandemic. Achievers in the field of fine arts, sports and politicians who are addicted to the ring of applause find it as heady if not more than the monetary compensation that their work provides. The faceless cacophony of strangers putting their hands together, the standing ovation at something that touches the core and the waves of applause that seems to reiterate every now and then the happiness that audiences feel are indeed precious for achievers who put their life’s efforts out for judgement either on stage or on the sports field, every time they are there. The spotlight may be on one but there’s certainly something in it for the crowd too.

The connection between the artiste and the audience and the viewers and players is quite unlike any other. It is a unique wordless communication that binds hearts together in a way that is both acutely personal and effortlessly impersonal once the event is over for most. It is magical, brimming with emotion and elevates both those on stage and off.  The nostalgia around live events which seem like the distant past thanks to the restricted movement post-COVID-19 makes us acutely aware of the beauty of appreciation at the right time and place. While live telecasts and streaming may have ensured that cultural outpouring and viewing goes on, we all know that this is just a temporary measure with less than half the charm of the original. Social media platforms have come to the rescue but they are good when they work in conjunction with the live events. The hushed silences, frenzied shouting, the cheering for favourites, the “wah” of appreciation while listening to a perfectly executed musical note, the fanfare, the lights and the audience interaction are incomparable.  When they return after this brief hiatus, we are sure to have more humbled celebrities and grounded audiences lapping up the ambience as well as the performances. As for the effect of applause, I still remember the immense joy on the face of a person employed to orchestrate applause on the sets of a music reality show conducted by a television channel many years ago that I used to work for. All our man had to do was ask the audience to applaud with a wave of his hand once shooting on the sets resumed after a break. He did this with the flourish like the conductor of a concert raising his hands in turn to the three audience groups seated in the studio set. The applause was not for him but just asking for it brought out the best in him. That truly is the power of appreciation.

As we live through trying times it is time we learn to appreciate all the good things and the freedom we effortlessly enjoyed and never valued. It is time to step back, count our blessings and move forward never forgetting to appreciate and applaud. We now know the power of people and positive vibrations that come forth when we put our hands together in happiness that resonates through the core of our being.