WITH MUSIC

Music bends the course of civilizations. Music moves perceptions and changes the course of language. Music starts conversations. With yourself. It reaches deep through your futile sense of understanding and tugs at your heart. And somewhere at the back of your head, the streams of music from your earphones converge, and release clouds of ‘wonder’. And as it grows on you, for those few minutes, your eyes see you. Over the sound of the music, runs a montage of your most vivid imaginations, a roll-out of ‘what-if’s, ‘should have’s, ‘if-only’s and ‘who-am-I’s.

Music stays. Sometimes as silence after the song. Music brings ecstatic rushes of memory to some of those who thought they had lost all of it to age.

Music inspires appreciation – one of the few differentiating features of humanity left.

Music inspires belief, or suspension of belief.

To some, it causes the choreography of a dream, to others; a revision of forgotten ones. You look so beautiful, staring into oblivion, your oblivion – which overflows with wonder, satisfaction and the nonchalant attitude, that the world wouldn’t end if we didn’t pay attention to it for a few minutes, plugged in the earphones and let ourselves loose on a 3-minute trip of freedom.

Maybe you are not needed

‘But they need me.’

is, many-a-times, a good enough reason for us to stick around doing things we don’t really like, with people who don’t really value us.

And yet, we insist on continuing to assume that role, just a little longer, just until the dust settles, and then we can let go and find ourselves. Because we are the managers, teachers, the parents or the likes with ‘great responsibilities’, and though we wake up everyday imagining a different life for ourselves, we somehow decree that ‘now’ is a bad time to take the next step towards it.

Well, maybe reassess. Maybe your school will still have great teachers on-board to care for the students. Maybe your subordinates do not need your exaggerated effort to keep them together. Maybe your successor, no matter what role you pursue that your heart doesn’t, will do much better than you do.

Not being needed gives you the freedom that you need to walk away. That makes you dispensable – and indeed, available to the things and people you love.

Well sure, we worry all the time that we might look like quitters. But what do we see for ourselves? What would you like to be?

 

 

 

 

The year of showing up

Don’t show up three times, and people will stop asking.

I haven’t shown up for an awful lot the recent years – not to the gym, not to my team’s outings, not for a few friends’ weddings…and the fine is too huge!

2016 was about realizing how just very few people really miss me, and crying a little bit about it. But then it dawned on me: How’ll they miss me if I’m never there?

I’m sure we all say no to a lot of things, we have our own priorities set. But when one or more of the forts of friends, family or the personal self is crumbling, it is surely time to re-assign the priorities.

2017 is that year for me. I have seen forts cracking in their pillars. Forts of personal, professional, financial and social forts. (Yes, ALL of them.) I need to renovate a little – by showing up, by catching up with lost opportunities I still miss today.

And showing up doesn’t mean being everywhere – it means showing up for what or whom you care.

It means being there for those few people, to whom your presence has no substitute.

The Eat Analogy

Did you eat yesterday? You did, right? Good.

And will you eat tomorrow? You will, I’m sure.

But does the fact that you ate yesterday, and the belief that you will eat tomorrow, keep you from eating today? Are you going to stay hungry and think ‘Nah. I won’t eat today. I’ll finish of the other stuff I need to do. I can eat today’s share tomorrow. And besides, just reminding myself of what I had for lunch yesterday makes me feel full.’

That’s dumb. You want to do it today. You know you have to do it today. And the thought of yesterday or the thought of tomorrow is not going to keep you from doing it today.

I’m sure we all have decided, even if loosely, the things that are important to us. Think of them as eating. Build that analogy in your mind.

And the next time you’re having a meal, you’ll be reminded of that important thing. And it’ll push you to do it.

 

So, have you eaten today?

This and that, and that

It is good to want less, I’ve heard. Is it also good to want less from yourself?

 

To want to be one thing less, to struggle toward one dream less, to desire to excel in one thing less?

The inner well of self-belief once discovered, is surprisingly deep and unrealistically wide. We make ourselves want to be extraordinary, we make ourselves believe we have purposes to fulfil. In this world of reckless contest, even more so. We want to learn more, be more, do more. We want to get rid of what we have because we believe we want something else.

We burden ourselves with expectations, then push ourselves, often half-heartedly, the other half filled with pressure and uncertainty.

We push ourselves, yet can never be satisfied by the extent of our push, and we push more. And we exhaust before we achieve.

We feel powerless, and think lesser and lesser of ourselves and our life. We start wishing more. And stop appreciating whatever little or much we have.

At the end of the day, no matter what we have done, or how close we have gotten to our goals, we are still dissatisfied. Unhappy with the extent of our achievement. Because it is nothing when compared to what we fancy ourselves achieving.

Why do this to ourselves? Why think lesser and lesser of our life? Why not cut loose a couple of aspirations, why not ease out the pressure we carry day in and day out?

Why not be just a great something, rather than struggle to be a good everything?

Why not hold on to one thing with both arms, rather than spreading ten fingers ten ways, trying to hold ten things?

Why can’t we get rid of the whip of comparison and expectation?

Why can’t we just do one thing at a time, focus on one thing at a time?

Why do we have to think about a car, a home and a bank balance, when we can just choose one of them to start with?

Most of us spend one-third of our day at work. Some of us even two-thirds. Why can’t we just plain focus on the job, and not on some clout of aspirations that you want to fulfil with the money that it will bring you in the next x years? If not, why can’t we just leave the job, and take the plunge into doing the thing we know would be right and best for us?

Why always this and that? Why not just this or just that? At least for now?

I shall, I shan’t
I will, I won’t
I care, I don’t,
I can, I can’t…

I make my world, I set my mind,
I brace my soul from the hurting kind…
I stretch to heights, I walk into my fall,
But no one does it for me, I do it all…

I love, I loathe,
I tolerate, oppose,
I distance, I hold close,
I shy off, come forth…

I draw my lines, I erase, redraw,
I know my strength, I know my flaw,
If I don’t know for sure, then I don’t know at all,
But no one thinks for me, I do it all…

I fear, I dream,
I befriend, I shun,
I face, I run,
I am what I seem…

I close my fist, I open my heart,
If I am different, I stand apart,
I walk alone, until I’m too tired to fall,
But no one walks for me, I walk through it all…

You lend your ears, your eyes, your hours,
You mend my tears, you wash my scars,
You see my light, you hear me call,
And now you want to do it all…

But I have learnt, and I have burnt,
The need of a hand, or a heart concerned,
And I have taught myself to stand, to crawl,
And pledged myself to endure it all,

No one fights it for me, I fight it all…
And that’s how I sleep sound, and that’s how I walk tall….

We, the joke

I love what Russell Peters does. I hope that you’re the kind that loves it, too. If not, you’re probably taking life too seriously to laugh about it. Don’t.

The guy loves to talk about Indians, and though his comedy is quite harsh, it is almost never untrue. Last night was one of those nights when I needed a good laugh, so after I was home from work, I picked a couple of Russell videos to watch (no one can watch just one!) In one of the videos, he was talking about arranged marriage, a very common and complex Indian tradition, wherein he narrates that his mom once told him: I will pick you some nice girls, then you choose which one you want.

And Russell said: This is crazy! My mom wants to pick a girl for me? I don’t even let her pick my clothes!

Interesting thought. How many of us can say that about ourselves? Continue reading “We, the joke”

Shoo away, Corporate Hermit

I recently started working for a large global corporation in the data management and optimization industry. I work there as a German Language Resource, and I’m one of the people responsible for handling front-level business communications with the company’s EMEA (Europe Middle East and Africa) customers.

Sounds great, right? Well, it is, to quite an extent. Now I am back to being the competent young corporate who wants to carve a niche, get beyond the ‘competition’ (I do not like that word), and stay untouched by the stress and the trivialities of an office. I dream of suits and boots, I try to stick to English at my workplace, and most days, I eat alone if I have to. No, that’s not sad. I’d rather choose to not stay hungry than wait until someone else wants to take a break and share a table, too.

But at the back of my mind, I’m always thinking: “Here goes another day without having written anything.” “That song I wanted to write just won’t come to me.” “I am abandoning my creative edge.”

And then I wait for the weekend. Which comes, flies through movie theatres and malls and restaurants, and never comes back until 5 days later.

So here’s what I’ve decided to do: I’m going to meet you everyday. Put my everyday on this blog, like the good old days when I used to start my day writing. I want to do that because I know that if I don’t I might just be baptised and converted by my job into a corporate hermit, who finds no happiness in anything else in life. Don’t want to go there.

So be back here tomorrow. For now, let me continue thinking about the suits I want to buy someday. You think red would be too flashy?

 

The smiling woman

Have you heard of the woman who would travel from one corner of the city to another every morning, and throughout her journey in the bus, she would look out from the window and smile? She’d look at every face, every set of eyes she could manage to through the speeding bus, and smile. Some faces smirked, some eyes gleamed, some eyebrows cringed, while some lips even smiled back.

Might there have not been days when the smiling woman would have wanted to frown, or cry or look away? If you would have seen her, you would have wondered, just like a few familiar faces that were smiled upon every morning wondered. But she never seemed to have given anything other than a smile. And sometimes, especially if it were a kid, it was complimented with a friendly blink.

Passers by on the route strangely recognized her when questioned about the ‘woman who smiles from the bus’, and talked about her with varied emotions. But almost everyone talked about her eyes.

They said her eyes reflected genuineness, and on some days, especially on days when one was feeling low, her eyes seemed to look through their faces and straight into their minds. Some believed that she was some kind of an angel, or some mystical being, who could read minds and calm them with a serene glance. Such persons awaited her bus to cross their daily routes. There were also many a young men who witnessed her gracious smile bloom amidst the fluttering strands of hair that blocked their view of her face. They said they thought her smile was mischievous, beautiful and ‘calling’. And they missed it ever since the day of her mysterious disappearance.

How beautiful must that smile have been, to be remembered by strangers even months after its disappearance. How special must that woman have been, how beautifully mysterious, to have found herself a place in the hearts of people who never could decrypt her?

And where did she disappear? Why is that young face missing from the frame of the bus’ window? Where did the smiling woman go?

Weeks later, a young man found her. That was the first time she was seen without a smile.

Hope v/s Truth

We do not crave for truth, as much we do for hope. Even though it may be illusive. People who prefer truth to hope are saintly, but those who see hope above it are bravehearts, who raise a new hope in their hearts every time they lose a battle.

Hope is above reality, truth is seething beneath it.

Hope sees life in a myriad of colours, whereas truth is determined to see it in black and white.

But the truth is that sometimes, one ray of hope is all we need, to believe that despite all present odds, everything will be alright.

That hope may fade off the very next moment, but after all, it was hope that led us to that moment.