Wednesday, February 08, 2017

The Power of Experiences

When you are young, you look at life with a certain freshness of thought and vision, which disappears as you grow older. Recklessness is replaced by careful consideration and dreams are replaced by realistic might argue that there are people who keep their passions alive till their last breath and I am the first one to agree...But still in the continuum of risk vs. conservatism, the scale does shift towards the right, as experiences are added..

Till recently, I used to think that was a sad fact. Not anymore ! There are certain benefits that come with experience which nothing can replace. While I still scoff at people who respond to a piece of advice (let's say on parenting from a childless person or on career from a housewife) with "What do you know ? You have not been through it", I also now realize that someone who has been through the experience is far more qualified to offer advice than someone who hasn't...

I used to often think that people are too busy with their own struggles to actually experience jealousy or envy for a considerably long period of time. However, these can be very powerful deal breakers in any relationship and that's another reason why its necessary for 'birds of a feather to flock together'. With experience I have come to accept that as much as you need to have a heterogeneous mix of friends to keep your intellectual outlooks vibrant and to show you your blind spots, it is friends who have been through the same struggles that you have who will stand by you when it matters the most. (I use friends here quite loosely - it could be relatives, colleagues, even random strangers on the road).

Life is like a river, crystal clear and pure where it originates. Then experiences get dumped on it like debris - often, someone comes along to clean it up, but more often than not you just flow ahead with the debris. Understanding someone's debris is the first step towards caring for that person, and often if the nature of debris (also known as baggage) is very different, then considerable time and energy gets spend in phase 1. Often moving to the next phase is very tedious. The odd case where you are able to do it can be quite rewarding as it expands your horizons like nothing else can. However, sometimes, you need comfort food...a friend with whom you can just be ! And those are found often with shared experiences than otherwise ! As you age, and your responsibilities increase - you still have the same 24 hours that you had as an innocent child or a carefree youth. Naturally, your need for comfort food increases as you just want to relax with friends and not really spend energy on it.

And you see yourselves evolving - focusing on certain aspects that need to be organized before your time is up - things that only you can do ! Social life and your expectations from it also evolve - that's how it is !

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Updates !

Yes, almost 10% of the year is already over. I thought I was done with the miseries of 2016 when I went for the much dreamt of vacation in Cambodia. Well, it was not quite the case. 

The vacation was great although my younger one was literally quite a hand full. I am looking forward to the day she will eat by herself as these days most of my time revolves around trying to convince her to eat ! The history and mythology of the place was mind boggling.The food was amazing as well. Though I didn't shop much, clothes are dirt cheap there. So, all in all a great place to visit. 

The way nature eats into the most magnificent of human creations, showed to me how time is a great leveler. The almost surreal way in which a tree's roots destroy those temples taught me that trees are living things - like no science text book ever can. On a very unrelated note, I wonder why vegetarians often take the moral high ground of not hurting living things ! As far as my moral compass goes - killing to eat is acceptable and killing for pleasure is not - and it doesn't matter whether you kill an animal or a plant. Kill and eat is nature's law. 

I did make use of the new phone and its excellent camera to do near real time updates of my vacation in FB. I have never done it before, but this was exciting as any new experiment is. A picture captures just one moment and to extrapolate it to the future or the past is stupid - we are all guilty of it though. I read somewhere about how a photo of some youth taken during 9/11 created enough arguments and counter arguments on whether they were callous or not. It makes for interesting reading.

I am too overwhelmed by the sudden changes in my personal and professional fronts that 2017 has thrown my way to write about them here. I am still reeling under the effects of the curve balls and so far have successfully managed to dodge them - well, just about. I hope to write about them once the dust settles and clarity emerges. Till then, as a dear friend remarked , "For you, insanity is always the normal !" 

There are quite a few things cooking in the background - if things fall in place, some long cherished dreams will come true in April and May. Dear reader, your prayers and good wishes are requested ! 

Monday, December 19, 2016

The Year That Was...

For the first time in my life, I was quite hesitant to write this post. Throughout my adult life, I have made some very curious choices. Sometimes I have let my heart guide me, and at other times I have allowed my head to guide me. In both cases, sometimes the path I took worked out and sometimes it didn't. However, when things went wrong - I found it far easier to forgive myself, pick up the pieces and march on, when the decisions were guided by the heart. Was it 'cos I could justify it to myself saying "Oh, well, I was anyway being an emotional fool !" ? I am not sure. It is far tougher when a decision taken with your head, results in an undesirable outcome. 'Cos then you have to question not just the outcome, but the process itself - and its scary ! And boring ! And cowardly too ! 

So, if there is one life lesson I will carry with me to my grave from 2016, it is this - Always, always, always follow your heart ! Even if the entire universe tells you you are on a wrong path, and even if time tells you they were all right after all, it is great to be pig headed. After all, it is much better to be pig-headed than to be a human with a bleeding heart. 'Cos a punctured heart bleeds like a pig !  

There was nothing great about 2016, but at least I still have the wall to paint another picture. The broad fundamentals are all still in place - family, health, insurance, money for basic needs, a roof over my head, food on the table et al. The raison d'etre is there - the What and the How may need to change, but that's a possibility as long as the Why is unshaken. 

And as long as the seed is fine, a mighty tree can still grow from it. And I am eternally grateful for that. Like I mentioned elsewhere, here is to life's experiences that teach valuable lessons !!!

Thursday, November 24, 2016

As The Years Roll By...

I was browsing through a stationery store the other day and was surprised to see 2017 diaries on the aisles ..and then it stuck me that the year is winding down to a close.

Browsing through my old posts I realized that I have been posting my New Year Resolutions and their reviews for close to ten years...I also realized that there are dreams which are more than ten years old, which haven't come true yet..Some of them of course have lost their charm - we change after all !

But, instead of framing any new resolutions, I decided to spring clean my dreams and the ones which are still shining in my heart - I will try to make them happen in 2017.

Travel - This has been a great passion of mine, and I have seen quite a few places in the past years. But, Venice, Leh and Switzerland still remain dreams. I hope next year, I can do at least a couple of these places.

Declutter and Styling - Yes, I have cleaned out a large portion of my house, but there are few areas pending. Hubby enjoys living in a pig sty, so unlike travel, this is going to be even more a challenge. But, hopefully, I can get those balcony chairs, kids' wallpapers and a rationalized wardrobe sooner than later !

Knowledge - Yes, I have been dying to learn to solve the Rubik's cube, learn a new language, learn a musical instrument, learn to solve crosswords, Finance, Vedic Mathematics...the list is endless..Hopefully a few of them will get ticked off in 2017.

Another long cherished dream is to write a book - but I don't see it happening in 2017...maybe in 2018, I will give it a shot.

My younger one has started school and I am excited ! More about that later...

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

The Game of Life

I was browsing through Quora the other day, and this tagline caught my eye "The game is not over until I have won it"...The images that came flashing to my mind was that of a tantrum throwing child, followed immediately by a confident youth...

And then I realised...the impermanence of youth...and how it has more or less passed for me...The past couple of months have shown me how the game can be over when you least expect it...many lives don't even get a chance to play the game, let alone win it...Some have a winning lead, but are forced to quit due to an unexpected turn of events...

Maybe, its the red car syndrome, but the past month saw a friend lose a new born baby, another one lose his wife during child birth and a cousin lose his baby in-utero at 7 months...

My grandmother's brother passed away suddenly due to a massive stroke, and the incidence of memory loss/stroke in my maternal side is scary...All my grandmother's siblings (including her) are suffering from memory loss and there is nothing more painful than to see a loved one unable to recognize you.

There is no magic sauce to win the game of you approach middle age - you would have experienced death in all its comical forms...People whom you thought had the highest potential to succeed, sometimes would have failed miserably - with no hope of future success...Others who were absolute scums - succeed royally...You see, women with potential, being reduced to just care givers for loved ones (nothing wrong in that, but when it is helplessness and not choice, then it hurts to see talent being suffocated by circumstances)...

The other day, I was spring cleaning and found 2 autograph books - one where my teachers had penned their wishes and another where batch mates of the NTSE state camp had penned theirs...As I was smiling through the sometimes naughty wishes - I suddenly came across one penned by a dear teacher (she was just a few years elder to us and more a friend than a teacher) and another by a batch mate whom I didn't quite like during the camp ...both of them are no more..and i realized how precious those words had suddenly become !

And so, yes, the game may be over much before you win it...but as long as you remember, its just a game, you should be fine...

Monday, October 24, 2016

The M Factor

Way too often, media (the kind that you and I consume mostly these days – whatsapp forwards, FB videos, Twitter links etc) overhypes the importance of creating memories over accumulating money, adding alongside a liberal dose of reminders about our mortality – about how when we are on our deathbed, we don’t worry about the money we made, but about the memories we didn’t !

Well, let me call the bluff – it is a big fat lie! It has been created to pander to the frail egos of middle aged men and women, who suddenly realise that maybe they have missed the bus as far as getting seriously rich goes, so might as well go create some memories…

‘Cos given the advances in science today, you and I are likely to either die a sudden and violent death – accident or murder, in which case the time left for retrospective regret is minimal, anyway; or die a slow, prolonged death – mostly due to old age, and lo and behold, associated memory loss ! So, if all those memories you created, those experiences you had, none of them, allow you to even remember where the bathroom in your house is, let alone bask in a warm fuzzy time journey – then I ask, what the F!@#$ are those memories worth? At least, if you are rich enough, you can afford to check yourselves into a 5 star care facility, while your faculties are still intact, and hope that when you have completely lost the idea of who you are, then the care giver treats you with dignity, for the simple reason that you are now the poster boy/gal for future customers – when they pay a visit. And, even then, it is just hope – and hope has never been a great strategy !  You would be surprised by the number of molestations that happen across old age homes in the country…

So, whether you want memories or money – it is your choice – there is no guarantee that one will serve you better than the other! And, despite whatever anyone else might say – creating memories is a costly affair these days – the best things in life are no longer free… Even the feel of a baby’s soft cheeks need money to be spent on baby lotions, baby food and warm clothes !

So, yes, go ahead and accumulate that retirement corpus, the vacation fund, whatever…Memories alone are not even a poor substitute.  

On a random side note I felt immensely comforted reading this:

Yea, I am teaching my heart to cry, but never to break...

Thursday, October 06, 2016

"Women are a Woman's Greatest Enemies"

I am sure you would have heard this statement at least once, if not more often in your life time. Often, you hear this if you are bitching about your boss or your in-laws or your siblings or your colleagues or even friends. Basically, the situation can be professional, personal or social…The only criteria is that both parties involved are women, and then the listener (gender agnostically) often responds with this statement.

My response to this factual rubbish varies depending on who says it, what the context is, what frame of mind I am in etc..

But, the focus on this post is on why this is factually wrong. First of all, I feel that the herd mentality ingrained in our psyches expect that birds of a feather flock together and by extension, all women should always stand together and support each other. However, the whole idea of feminism is to make people think beyond gender…So, women are not all birds of the same feather…Yes, biologically women are more similar to each other than to men, but that’s about it…You will find women in all colours – nice to horrible – just as you would find men.

Social conditioning, economic situations, level of education and so many other factors determine how I perceive, tackle and respond to any given situation. As a result, my (or any person’s) response may be more similar to others with same exposure to similar experiences…regardless of gender…I may tend to agree with/act like/think like a guy more than a lady in certain situations – but that does not mean I am a lady’s enemy. Again depends on which guy and which lady is in question. From my limited experience, I have not seen m-i-ls being more stuck up than f-i-ls..It is just that their areas of focus may be different. But both can be understanding or pig headed depending on what is being discussed and what the stakes are – again it is gender neutral. Same with bosses, siblings, friends, enemies and strangers.

Probably the only area where gender will have an influence is the physical capability requirements. Again, I have seen men who can’t carry a sick child or any other heavy load – we call them insensitive in the formal case and lovingly call them metrosexual in the latter case …but maybe they are just not trained. A rural woman is likely to be more physically strong than a pampered city male…again gender neutral ! Yes, by default, there are hormonal and biological differences, but circumstances and social conditioning also have a huge role.

So, the next time you feel like responding with a “Yea, after all women are a woman’s worst enemy”, please stop and think beyond.