Monthly Archives: May 2019

It All Adds Up

When I was trying to get a job after engineering, I remember talking to my seniors to understand what kind of questions to expect. One of them telling me that one of the students had written writing as a hobby in her resume. The interviewer asked her, ‘You want to be a software engineer – how does writing help you?’ And she replied, ‘Writing involves communication and creativity, which is a big portion of coding.’

At that time, I thought it was a great answer and made a mental note to use it in my interview. It wasn’t years later that I realized how profound her response was.

Imagine you had a bicycle and all you did was sit on the bike and push the bike with your feet – you will get somewhere, but you will never enjoy the full potential of riding a bike. And after some time other parts of the bike which you never used will rust and fall off. And after some more time, you will even forget what it was like to have a bike.

Our life – our mind is similar to the bike. And we all lean on some part of too heavily – getting a job, getting a degree, getting a husband, having a child to the point that we forget that we have other things going on as well. We have to branch out and try different things – because it all adds up.

For example, I like to write – write a blog, work on my book but write. And to write, you have to know very clearly what you want to communicate. And this helps me communicate at work better. I work with Wild Tiger Tees (Social enterprise helping youth experiencing homelessness), and I have learned a lot of lessons there, which I take back with me to work – the key one being empathy. The person who is doing all these activities remains the same – the you who is volunteering does not suddenly turn into another you when you are at work – you may behave, but at the end of the day it is just YOU. The more experience this you has, the more skills and lessons you will learn – resulting in a more open person who knows how to learn.

It is impossible to learn every new thing that comes along these days – what you need is the skill to learn. And what better way to do it than to immerse yourself in different activities as opposed to exhausting yourself at work so much that you have no energy left for any other thing. The beauty is when you start doing things you will be more energized at work because you are using the bike to its full potential as opposed to just walking the bike.

First of all, you have to know what kind of a bike you have and then take it one step at a time – oil the parts that are rusted, take breaks after using it a few times – understand the speed limits, know if you are off to a gentle stroll or a grueling race.

What kind of bike do you have?

What’s Next?

When I was a kid – the most persistent common thing I remember being told is to get good marks (grades) so that I could get a good university. So, all through my school, it was about getting admitted to a good college. Then it was getting good marks in college to get a good job. After the job, it was marriage and then after marriage; it was kids. It was somewhere after I got the job that I started questioning this race to something which I was not even sure I wanted or cared about.

Let’s talk about my food habits. I gave up chicken because I did not like its taste and did not want to eat it. Next on the list was fish, then eggs and then dairy and now more trending towards raw. (I am vegan, but I admit I have occasional bone broth and eggs – not because I crave them but because of the health and nutrition purposes). I remember having a conversation with Adam and what next for me on my food journey. Raw vegan seemed to be it – the end of the marathon.

This morning, as I was running – my mind wandered to being a woman and my need for a routine. As a woman, we have our monthly cycles that whether we like it or not dictate how we feel and our mood. And as somebody who thrives on routine sometimes the routine comes into conflict with my body rhythms and natural cycle. The next step on this journey is being aware of my body needs and acting in accordance with that and not to my self-imposed habits. This is scary for me because it means I cannot plan, but this is the next step. Vipassana, the meditation practice I have is also about constant awareness of the change and sensations. And I believe this is where my food journey is also taking me – all roads lead to Rome.

Plans are useless; planning is everything. This is what I am realizing. It’s the planning that helps me prepare for what happens not the actual plan. On that day who know what happens but if I am not worried about sticking to the plan but be present to what arises from all the planning I am prepared.

Life is similar in that way, all your life you are planning not for the plan to come true but being prepared for what life throws your way. The human conditioning deems it a failure if you do not achieve your project – you are rewarded for the outcome not for the journey. The journey is what matters the most, and it is what makes us who we are. Winning the award or the first prize does not make you who you are – it is what went into winning the award. The discipline, the hard work, patience, managing self-talk is what makes the person, the character.

This blog seems all over the place but at the same time very apt – does it matter if I have a point?

What journey are you taking?

You Are A Gambler.

I recently watched the movie – ‘The boy who harnessed the wind.’ If you have not had a chance to see it, I highly recommend it. There is a scene between two brothers in the movie which caught my attention.

TThe village they live in is getting ready to face a spell of famine/drought. The elder brother is trying to convince the younger brother not to sell his piece of the forest to the government. The government going to cut the trees and that means there are higher chances of flooding. Younger brother tells him that he needs the money. Elder one tells him to stop gambling, instead.

Younger one looks at him and says, ‘Gambling! What do you think you are doing? Hoping it will rain next year and then praying enough sunshine for harvest.’

That got me thinking. When we look at it that way, we are all gamblers. We don’t realize it. Don’t believe me – let’s walk through a few scenarios.

Scenario 1: You wake up late in the morning and miss breakfast hoping you can make it to the office on time. You are gambling right here – thinking that if you skip the 10 minutes on breakfast, you might get to the office on time.

Scenario 2: You are having a meeting with your peers, and you say what you think is a profound insight, and they ignore it. You gambled on that statement hoping that it will increase your popularity.

We make lots of such bets and gambles throughout our lives. Who we marry? Having Kids? Most of the time it turns out the way we want, and that gives us a false sense of control. And when things do not go our way we get upset. Does this mean that we never hope for things or wish for events to turn our way? No, a different way to approach it is via probabilities.

There are many ways something can turn out. And what we choose is what we want – but it is not necessary that it has the highest probability of happening. What we want and the chances of it happening are not always aligned – this is where we need to bring awareness. And it will contribute highly to our emotional stability.

If we are aware of the fact that what we want is just one of the many possibilities that can happen, then it prevents our mind from being attached to that one possibility – helping us maintain our emotional equilibrium when things do not go out way.

casino roulette wheel with the ball on number 36

Let’s say you placed your bets on roulette – it did not turn your way. What’s the next best thing – move on. If we realize that what we want to happen in our lives is also a gamble – and if it doesn’t happen, then we should also move on. Know when to quit.

Prof. Rao from Creativity and Personal Mastery states that – if you have to place a bet on life/universe or yourself – always bet on the universe which always wins even when you think you are winning.

What are you gambling on currently in life?

Silence Is The Key.

I love traveling and with traveling there comes a certain adventure because you never know what happens – delay in flights, missed connections. I was telling somebody that I loved being on planes and in the airport because while I am there, I am nowhere – I have nothing to do, and I am in transit. And since my husband and I have experienced a fair share of airport delays, we are at home in airports.

Once it so happened that I had a trip planned for one of the weekends, but it got canceled due to the weather. And as it was a weekend trip, there was no point in re-scheduling it. And I found myself in this unique situation where I was at home when I was not supposed to be so frankly speaking there was nothing for me to do because I wasn’t supposed to be here. And it was one of the best weekends I ever had because I had nothing to do.

A few years ago the concept of doing nothing would have been unthinkable if not outright terrifying. The idea of silence was not my cup of tea, but recently I have learnt to appreciate the quiet and no doing time. More so after I have progressed on my creative journey. Because silence is a must for things to arise. Silence can be of many types. Sometimes when I am reading an excellent book or watching an excellent movie, my mind takes that as silence because it is not just running around like a mad monkey – some of my best ideas have come right after finishing the video or the magazine.

In today’s world, there is a false sense of urgency – blame it on time, traffic or even media that keeps telling us that if we are not watching the news, we are missing something. Honestly, the world is not going to come to stand still if you just took a day-off. The sun will again rise, the earth will always keep spinning, and your fellow human beings will continue the work. For most of us, there is nothing in life that cannot wait a couple of days.

We can realize this when we stop and see for ourselves that nothing happened when we paused. And for most of us, it is hard to stop – to find that time. So we keep running afraid that if we stop something bad will happen. I still remember my childhood days of doing nothing when a simple walk around the block was one of the most adventurous trips of the day.

There are two sides to any coin. If you are working, then you need time when you are not working. This is true not only if you are in the creative field but also a professional area. All things in life need me time – the car needs maintenance, plants need night time to process the O2, this is why you put your laptop to sleep when you are not working. Why don’t we take a break? Yes, we sleep at night, but that is for the physical body. What about this mind that has been ruminating over things some real some imagined (mostly imagined) all day long?

Meditation is one way to provide some respite to the mind. Creative activities, doing nothing, nature walks are other ways.

What do you do to provide rest to your restless mind?