24 May, 2015

Self-awareness - first lessons

Of late, I realized that I have often been selfish, at times self-centered, and sometimes self-obsessed. Thinking of why and how this happens and why I feel the way I do, I'm not surprised to find that my expectations from myself on all these occasions are narrow and short-lived, and my ways and means of meeting/exceeding them are 'instant-gratifying'. Neither such expectations nor such ways and means are virtuous paths to peace. This knowledge is my most recent discovery from my self-appraisal. All self-appraisals are generally self-fulfilling prophecies - I was right - and one ends up feeling proud at the end of this mirage of achievement. But, pride is the first enemy to humility. That is about as enlightened as I feel now! And pride does come before the fall! I'm not proud now. I only need to think and be thankful for how good a life it has been for me. I now know what humility I owe the Gods/ Mother Nature/ Invisible Hand or whatever you want to call it, having fallen now and getting up. (We will come to this later)

But the problem here isn't with humility or pride, though I wish it were that simple. Then it's a simple matter of do's and don't's. Do be humble, don't be proud. Isn't it? It is not even about fortune or luck - fortunate that one is in a position to feel proud, or lucky that one hasn't been pushed to the limits of humiliation and made to learn humility from it. The broader problem is about the whining mortals caught between these two extremes. Broadly, I come across only two kinds of people -- the self-gratifying, narcissistic, pleasure-seeking, fun-loving and ultimately wasteful life-a-holics who think their life is the greatest show on the planet; and the patient, all-bearing, self-sacrificing, thankful-to-God-ly, silent gazers into a wise life beyond the apparent survival. In short, the 'proud instant-gratifiers' and the 'saints'. The ratio could be something like a million to one. (Are there still any saints around?) So, let's simply say that there is just one type for now, the former. I hope to find, some day, the people of the other type.

I do not want to see the world made up of only these two types. There would be a few more types, and I could find them if I want to, but I cannot take those paths right now. (again, we will come to this later). I do not identify myself with either of the above two categories. But I find I often straddle dangerously close to the boundaries of both, sometimes at such high frequencies that I feel I'm literally rocking the boat from side to side in a dangerous tide in the sea of people on either extremes. It could topple any minute, but regardless of which side it falls on, it is only going to go under. It is a period of intense excitement, thrill and anxiety, all simultaneously, and in that order. Excited that I'm on a rocking boat in a turbulent sea, thrilled that it could topple any minute, and anxious of what would happen if it did topple and where would I end up.

And then...the moment dawns on me. I stop rocking the boat, and the sea calms too. It is a moment of realization that I need to rise above these mere mortals not only because I can foresee the vanity of their short-lived, self-centered, instant-gratifying, material lives, but also because it is easier to set myself apart from them based on my ideals, than fit in with them based on theirs. I'm learning to be self-aware!

12 April, 2015

Inspiration - Part 2

It is against my own wish to start a thought on a negative note, especially and specifically one with such a title. But this note should serve as a caution to ward off the biggest irony I'm currently facing about myself. I read Part 1 and wondered, to my shock and dismay, where that 'I' is now! It is close to a matter of shame to think that I can get lost of myself (not 'in' myself) in such a short time. I had changed, for the worse. But there is a consolation (unique to me) that it has been four years since that note (wow!), because four years to you can well be forty years to me, and that I have stayed on to look back four years and wonder at that now makes me feel both happy and sad. And it does not also fail to kindle something in me again. The last sentence in Part 1 - If i feel like writing a Part II to this, I sure will update - is the motive and the reason I'm here. To surprise myself. This post can be outright nonsensical or profoundly silly, for it is a contradiction to a widely held dictum that change is always a necessity and an inspiration, but this is a train of thought I felt should come out now.

Constancy as an inspiration: I have been dormant for too long, much to my dismay again, letting my uncontrollable flow of thoughts still uncontrolled, letting my attention sway too much into the trivialities, letting my guard off the 'higher sense' of life and be lured sometimes into the material and the transitory. My brother posited a truth simply - the more things change, the more they remain the same. It is inevitable to undergo change every moment, and yet we find ourselves mostly unmoved in the larger scheme of things. Once in a while, change throws me off balance and I feel it is reasonable to lose my footing for a while. But the wind does slow down, and I have to pull myself up. In that sense, I think I was wrong about my wind of change letting me shed some of my old unwanted self back home and start afresh a few things. The change has only made the permanence even more obvious. (Bro, you are a genius). I am what I was, and I will be what I am. If I'm to let myself get engulfed by my own misconception that I'm supposed to change, I lose myself. I'm not going to let that happen.

I recently stumbled upon one of JK's quotes - it is no measure of health to be be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society. Somehow, the way I am now suddenly worried me if that is the health I was unconsciously heading into. Can I really shed some of my old self 'back home' in light of the new society? I do not think so. I do not need to change. My inspirations are still constant, non-material, and unlimited by space or time. I'm only held stable because of this realization, and because Mother Nature never stops calling out to me.

And miles to go before I sleep, and miles to go before I sleep

Here's to more of the best of times ahead.

Rajaji

01 February, 2015

2015 - the first wind of change

When I turned 30, I spoke of a probable wind of change that I hoped would become real. Come 2015, I'm glad to say 'Yes, it did!'. The psychologically important 30 has indeed started off on a good note. The Netherlands has opened its doors for me, and Amsterdam is letting me live here. While I may not say this is the most significant moment for me in a long time, it is indeed one that I was wishing for quite a lot, so that I can shed some of my old unwanted self back home and start afresh a few things here. It's a new place with a new meaning, and chances of more exploration and adventure. I'm looking forward to it and hope to make good meaning out of all the possibilities that are open.

While some of my friends tend to think I have found my calling, I'll not be so sure and so quick to call it that. It may or may not turn out to be 'the calling' in some time. But, yes, it is definitely one worth calling a strong wind of change. Yes, it is definitely a big and long stop in my journey of life.

And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Rajaji