21 things I learnt before 21

With just a little time left before I officially take the plunge into adulthood, here I am. And as I promised, I am penning down my life’s experiences and learnings.. hope you will like and appreciate it and learn from it too.

Without further ado, let’s jump in:

1. Life is ephemeral.

When looked through the lens of the World, average human life is too small even to be counted as ephemeral. I’ll personally count myself lucky if I cross the threshold of 63 years (yes, 1/3rd life already over). And what have I accomplished? Well a lot and yet nothing. I won’t delve into either because the former would turn this post into a worthless bragging piece and the latter would make you sympathise with me and thankfully, I want no part of either.
It is often said one person leads many lifetimes (a friend of mine even suggested me a book regarding the same). Then one must also feel inclined to say that LIFE is never ending albeit with breaks in between. Well, I would love to believe it that way. Except that I can’t. Because for now, I can only see one single independent lifetime. I don’t know what happened before and no one can know what lies ahead. But one thing that I firmly know and strongly believe in, is the fact that we can lead many lifetimes in this one single life. As I see it, we have two options: either everyday we lead the same monotonous life and believe that in some other lifetime, we will definitely do something better, or everyday we can do something new. Everyday we can dive deeper and explore a bit more. Everyday we can live this Life which has been gifted to us now. The choice is entirely ours.

2. Rushing is not a great idea

Being a MUMBAIkar, this sentence from me, may come as a shocker for most of you. A person who has lived in the Maximum City can’t afford to not rush- whether it be to catch the train or to pass the signal. We all know that no one here really has the time to wait.
But I implore you to wait just for a moment and reflect on the fact that why are we rushing all the time? Is it because if we don’t, then crores and crores worth of business deals will go haywire or is it simply because everyone else seems to be doing the same? If in case you find option one as more relatable, please- read no further and RUSH! But in case you are able to relate more with the latter option, then just remember one thing- we were born to Live our Life and not RUSH through our Life.
Also, if we think logically too, we might save a few minutes by rushing which will be then spent on irrelevant political discussions or watching the television or such other non productive work (c’mon, don’t fool yourself. We all waste time whenever we can!). Is it then not better to just chill a bit, wait patiently at a signal and just admire the beauty of the city in general or wait back five minutes and listen to a new song in the office car park. Apart from mental peace, added benefits also include increased efficiency, lower heart related diseases (really?) and the list goes on and on.

3. City life is good, but my heart yearns for mother nature.

I’ve lived my entire life in a city, a metropolis at that. In comparison, I’ve not even spent six months away from this hustle and bustle and in the midst of Mother Earth. But bear this in mind, I am in no way biased at this point of time. What comes next is pure analysis, which in my opinion is true and fair (auditing is life these days xD).
City provides me all the facilities at the touch of my fingertip. There’s a certain sense of standard of living. While walking on the road, I can see large, swanky cars and at times, high end bikes too. Luxury is at my doorstep, knocking to come in whenever I agree to pay its bill (ofcourse, nothing is free now, is it?).
In contrast, when you’re out in the wilderness, you just have your two bare hands and the vast endless amount of earth everywhere around you, which you can (or shall I say- ought to) harness. There is this sense of Freedom in it. The necesaary tools are at your disposal, use them and Hey! Live.
No pollution, no diseases, no fears (okay, sometimes I get the chills, but otherwise 🙂 ). No rueful crowd of people- who know where they go, but don’t really like where they go.
In nature- it’s just you, your backpack, your breath and this all encompassing Happiness.

4. Assumptions can lead to difficult situations. Always seek clarification.

“I thought that …!”
Sometimes I think that why do I think so much. I don’t have any answer as of now, hopefully I’ll have one when I sit down to write 30 preachings at 30 (it’s not that bad an idea afterall, No?).
Let’s not swerve and get back to the topic.
For now, I’ll contend with finding the remedy and leave the solution searching part for future.
Let me tell you one funny thing- for a CA student (which I am), everything is about assumptions and ‘depends’. But another thing I have realised is that it’s better to leave this habit of assumptions inside the exam hall and limited to the pages of the study modules.
In real life, assumptions have very damaging effects. You assume your parents will do this for you and your friends will do that for you. You assume your teachers will do this for you and your neighbours will do that for you. If you, my friend, “assume” any of the above, my next sentence might seem rude to you and my sincere apologies in advance, but I’ll have to say this that – You’re a fool. Sorry, but yes, you are. At times lucky, but otherwise a fool.
And why not too?
No one can get inside your head and know what you are assuming.
Remember this in life- “No question ventured, no answer proffered!”

5. Money is awesome. So is peace.

You might already be thinking “oh god, not this debate..not again” and it’s totally normal to think that way too. Even I don’t like it anymore to read articles on this topic. So then why is it featured here? Well, because I have reached a point where I now know which one to choose or rather, how much of each to choose.
Yes, it’s so easy- choose both, no one ever stopped you from doing that.
After reading this, if you are thinking that your life was a lie until now, umm..welcome to the gang.
Choose both but just remember where to draw the line between the two.
I learned it at some point of time during my initial days of articleship. Month after month, I worked diligently, earned my stipend and then distributed it uniquely between my family, myself and charity. The smile that it brought on the faces of my parents and those poor children for whom I purchased stuff, inadvertently left a smile on my face too.
Then it dawned upon me and I boiled it down to this simple rule- ‘Attract money, don’t pursue it. Use the money so attracted, to then net in peace.’
Life is simple, pretty simple.

6. People say I’m rude. I’m just shy.

A big thank you to the ones who were bold enough to say this to me. I really appreciate it.

Straight off- the learning here is not that I’m not a rude person or I am shy person. The great learning here is that I do things that are perceived as being rude by others (my sincere apologies again if any act of mine had even the slightest bearing of rudeness).
People often complaint that I don’t go and talk to them, that I have an ego grander than a peacock’s, that I sometimes act like a complete ass. Well, that’s one side of the picture and I don’t disagree with any of the claims. But I often wonder, why these people never came forward and initiated the talk (mind you, this is no ego but a simple shy behaviour of shy boy). And then they would have realised that I’m just as down to earth as they are. Never mind.
Though I’ve not yet learnt it completely(I’m in the process of learning it) but henceforth, I’ll try flashing a gentle smile at people- known and unknown, text a simple ‘hi’ or say few words of warmth, praise and appreciation, do little acts of kindness and the ilk.. everything that I wait for to happen to myself, I’ll do it first, because who knows- maybe the whole world is waiting for it to happen to them first.
Before I conclude this self critical learning point, I would just like to quote a thought that I staunchly believe in-
“Ego deadens the pain of stupidity and pride is the burden of a fool.”

7. Look at the positives of others.

This one was taught to me by my Mum. Infact this ‘Learning’ is of paramount importance in the sense that it enlightened me about my own shortcomings while looking through the prism of others.
No man is perfect. Never was.. nor will ever be. We were never meant to be perfect. Neither do we have any scale through which we can measure our perfectness nor do we have any training manual which states the golden rules to be Perfect. And this is because there ain’t one (atleast there wasn’t when I last checked).
Whenever we look at someone, we don’t have just the physical form of a person- rather we have in front of us a manifestation of things, events, principles and incidents which can be both good and bad. And that’s how a person is shaped- some parts good, some bad; some better, some best!
Now, my honey from this hive was that a person may have a thousand bad habits but extol his one good deed. A person may have many faults, but celebrate his virtues. No one will be here forever. You won’t be here forever. So till such time that you are here, why not extol the good and expunge the bad? Why not praise the clean intentions and stop blaming the vicious words?
By doing this, you not only find your inner peace but you also attract the positive vibes of the universe. You not only feel eternal calm but you also dispel the satanic dusk of jealousy and experience the illuminating dawn of happiness and mindfullness.
In the process of learning from the better qualities of others, one transform himself into a better human being.
What more does one need?

8. Anything could have been anything else and it would have had just as much meaning.

This quote by Tennessee Williams speaks volumes about how most of the things that matter so much to us right now, are the same things that we won’t even remember on a long enough time scale. It’s a truly liberating quote in the sense that it encourages us to do things we are scared of doing.
When I first came across it in the movie “Mr. Nobody” (if you haven’t watched it, do watch it), it exuded such a strong message that I was positively flabbergasted.
It made me reconsider all the reservations that I had about life itself- not making mistakes, not making a joke out of myself in front of others and so many similar things that an introvert usually dreads. Well, not anymore.
After understanding the deep rooted meaning of this quote, I felt the same way as Archimedes would have felt when he yelled Eureka! (Except that my overwhelmed brain had no words to exclaim at that moment).
Consequently, now I have bulldozed many walls that reigned me in a prison of my own thoughts, broken through the many shackles of my self conceived notions and have come out as more independent, fearless (to a certain extent even Audacious) and ebullient person, who is ready to venture into uncharted waters more frequently than ever before. Quite a contrast to the shadowy life that I’ve lived in the shallow waters till recently, no?
(Well, you don’t know me per se, but imagine me as a very introverted person earlier and a not so introvert person now:p )

9. You are never ready for it until you actually do it.

Me: “I don’t think I’ll be able to dive. I don’t know how to swim. I just can’t. Oh God, please help me.”
Them: “Trust us, nothing will happen. Just jump in.”
*after 2 hours*
Me: “Yeah, this will go down as one of the best times spent with you guys.”

And in that moment I realised that what was now one of my best times with friends, just hours ago seemed like a nightmare that I wasn’t even sure of facing.
I’ll take a more simple example. Most of us here are average students. We are perennially afraid of exams. But what happens after the exam? The single biggest source of worry suddenly seems like a scalable peak. Once results are out and if you have passed it, you might feel that it was not even a peak but a gentle slope which could have been easily traversed, No?
If you could relate to the above example, then you’ll very well understand the title too and I’ll just briefly summarize what I gained out of this-
Sometimes it’s better to accept the fear of the unknown. Everything can’t be controlled. Sometimes we need to “just let all go!”, go with the flow and have faith that it will surely lead us towards a colourful rainbow.

10. Everything can not be controlled.

“I want this to be right here.”
“That’s not the right way to do it.”

If you have repeated these lines at any point of time in your life, continue reading and read carefully, because these are the symptoms of an obscure disease and I, from my own experiences, know how to cure it. Hell, I’ve lived it.
Since as far as I can remember, I always wanted to be perfect, in every thing that I ever did, every task I ever laid my eyes upon. So obsessed I was with being in control of everything, that I never realised when, or for that matter- how, I turned into an irritated and self-centred bastard, who caused only frustration and anger to himself and others in the pursuit of perfectness.
My grip on perfection ceased for the first time when I read the following on a sign board in a school which happened to be one of my exam centre (obviously after the last paper)-
“Life is not a problem to be solved but a mystery to be experienced”
That was the day I realised firsthand, what a fool I had been, to have tried to control everything and to have hopelessly cultivated perfection.

There is some mystic charm in the “unexpected” way of life, some really strong intoxication that draws me towards it even now.
When I ran the perfection race, I expected no obstacles on the road. But now, on this new way, I always keep an eye out for obstacles because they will always come- no matter how carefully I plan. Infact now I wait for them so that when one comes, I’m ever ready to devise a new plan. That’s how life should be! Not rigid and rule bound but Spontaneous and in the moment. Isn’t it?

11. When it’s time to leave, Leave!

Who doesn’t know the old saying, “Change is the only constant”. Yet, how many of us actually understand it?
I, for a change (dumb that I am otherwise), have understood this one ultimate fact. Or maybe my intuitions, which are pretty weak and easily overpowered by fear and risk in usual circumstances, are ‘over-strong’ here. Most of the times, I have a fair realisation about leaving a place, a thing or even a person, for that matter, when it’s time is due; or rather when my time with it is up.
In a way, it’s all about the timing. Right things at the right time with the right people, is achievable but is rare. When such a situation does come, live every moment of it.
Most of times it’s a combination of two rights and one wrong and still, Life goes on smoothly. But when it becomes two wrongs, you realise it’s time to Leave. (And if by chance it becomes three wrongs, you better run!).
Coming back to the “two wrongs” situation- If you leave, well congratulations, you have taken the exit at the right time. If you don’t, you’ll find that you are the only one left. It’s just like one of those complex scientific equations which don’t have any real answer but are just there, mainly because of the assumptions which are as unrealistic and irrelevant as the one’s which we cook up in our heads and try putting in our own equations with the hope that someday all will be fine.
The only learning here is that one must snap out of it as soon as possible and for the best. There is no need to remain stuck in a place where there is forever winter and yet, never Christmas (because the worst part is that there’s no Aslan! xD).
Leave the place, the things or the people and move on. Learn to embrace the change. Leave and Live!

12. Growing up!

Well, many of you will be astonished, but yes, I have only recently begun to learn about growing up. Mind you, I’m not talking about the physical growth, which occurs on its own. In trying to touch upon the mental growth. Only recently I’ve begun to realise that there are a few things that I need and a few things that I don’t. I don’t get upset over most of the things and on the flip side, if I get upset over anything, it takes a long time to finally forget it.
These days, I think a lot before speaking, which wasn’t the case earlier. These days, I’m able to relate to songs, not just the music but even the lyrics- a thing unheard off to me as early as till six months ago (Latest being ‘Why Georgia’).
I try to help others even now, but I know that I should only do so when asked to. It’s not good to jump into somebody’s problems without any notice, right?
The biggest thing that I can say about me which has changed is that I have begun to Empathise. Though I don’t allow myself to do that pretty often (because it can make us sad, and I don’t want to be sad..I mean who wants to be sad anyway?) but these day, due to certain events or circumstances or by just looking at a few people, I empathise as a matter of reflex.
The latest example being the news of a school friend passing away. This is very unlike me, but I felt sad, really sad. I can’t even express it in words.
On the other hand, I have also become a very vicious person when it comes to holding grudges. Like grown up people, even I am unable to forgive some people despite trying my level best. But hey, I have found the next best alternative. I simply ignore them, as if they don’t exist. This way, though the aggression subsides, but it’s like a stove which just needs a spark to reignite when required instead of scratching my head over whether to forgive or keep on holding the grudge. I know this is bad, but then that’s how grown ups are, no? We think something, we feel something else, we do something and we speak something else. It’s a part and parcel of this game.
One more distinct fact that I’ve realised is that unlike during my teen years when I was always bubbling with enthusiasm to go to new places, meet friends and always make myself available for just about anything, now I only go to places where I want to really go, meet friends whom I really want to meet and participate in only those things which I actually want to do. Some say it is priorities, but I like to believe that this is my way of growing up- less nonsense, more substance, less time waste.
By now, you might already be judging me as a very selfish person, but you forget that I’m growing up and grown ups don’t care about all this. So.. peace out!

13. If you want respect, then learn to take the RESPONSIBILITIES.

Respect and Responsibilities go hand in hand. I’m sure that there might be several other factors to it. But here, I want to specifically talk about the two..Maybe because I never understood the supplementary relation that exists between the two. At least till some time ago I didn’t know it, but then Eureka! I got it.
If you’re confused, look no further than your Father for getting a better perspective. You might be either respecting your father or you might be not. And the reason is pretty simple- Responsibility.
In childhood, we are somehow scared of our Dad and that drives us to respect him. Come adolescence, we respect our father because we realise that if it were not for him managing his responsibilities on time, we would have had a really hard life, a really tough time.
Just close your eyes for a minute and think about why you respect your father (or Why you do not) and you’ll slowly and steadily reach to a conclusion that is in conformity with my claim. If you respect him, you’ll be able to identify the various responsibilities he fulfils and if you don’t, you’ll feel the pang of something missing somewhere that is related to him.
Another example is in the battlefield. Nobody respects the thousands of soldiers who died fighting (they are honoured, No doubt- but let’s face it- we don’t even know the names of the fallen ones) but highest levels of respect is accorded to the Generals. The very Generals, who didn’t even pick up the guns. Why? It’s pretty simple, the Generals are the ones who have the direct responsibility on their heads, in both the cases – victory or defeat.
Same is the case with our life in general (pun unintended). In our life too- we will be respected for what we are only if we are Responsible. Accept the responsibilities and embrace grace.

14. Fear of a thing is only till the time that thing doesn’t happen. But Why?

This is totally inspired from a video wherein Will Smith recounts how shit-scared he was for days before his scheduled sky diving episode and once he took the plunge, there wasn’t even a trace of fear left in him, with regards to sky diving anymore. What’s more, he attempted sky diving on multiple occasions after that.
When I saw that video, I was hit hard by the fact that, we have fear about a thing even before we have tried it or even totally understood it.
And the very next question that came in my mind was- Why?
We spend hours and hours worrying about things we don’t even know and circumstances which we create in our minds. More often than not, we spend our energies on thinking about how we will tackle the most improbable situations. Why?
What good is it, anyway?
I’ve tried to find answer to this question but haven’t been able to put together a convincing reason.
So instead I have decided that I’ll henceforth direct my energy in dispelling the fears that come in my mind and focus more on the ways in which, as the case may be, I can enjoy the situation at hand or I can learn from it.
To boil it down, I have one amazing phrase in Hindi:
मै ही था समस्या, अब मै ही इसका हल हूँ।
Which roughly translates to: I was my problem, now I’m my own solution!

15. Choose your shoes wisely. Otherwise how will you run at your top speed?

This one is more reflective and to a certain extent- a borrowed learning. (Well, I believe everything that we learn is, in a way, borrowed. No one came on this good Earth with all the secrets of the entire cosmos installed in their softwares, no?)
For me, in this marathon called life, the ‘shoes’ are a metaphor for the choices we make and ‘running at top (any) speed’ is the direct outcome of those choices.
I don’t know about you, but it makes complete sense to me- in all aspects.
We have to make the choices at every point of our life. This means that we have to inadvertently wear the shoes.
There is always an outcome of the choices that we make. Hence, we also have to run.
Some choices may be good, some might be complete disasters. This is portrayed by the fact that no person runs at a constant speed throughout. Sometimes we may just walk which signifies the bad choices that we make, at other times we may jog- these are the good choices of our life. And yet at some points of time, we will even sprint. These are the best choices of our life.
No matter the shapes and sizes of our shoes, but what really matters is how well run. Also, what matters is how far we run and till how long we run.
We must never forget the fact that we were born to run. Walking, jogging and sprinting are all a part of the race but ultimately we have to ensure just one thing and one thing alone- that we finish this marathon!

16. What we talk about, when we talk about love?

This is a topic that is best left to the learned. But still, rebel soul that I am, I’ll venture into it, even if only on a superficial level.
Love is very strange, isn’t it? It comes in all kinds and for all things- tangible, intangible or otherwise.
You can be totally entranced by the glow of something one minute, be willing to sacrifice everything to make it yours, but then a little time passes, or your perspective changes a bit, and all of a sudden you’re shocked at how faded it appears. What was I looking at? you wonder.
And when I think of it in this way, it still makes me wonder and wonder a lot. Is this all there is to love? The concept on which all the world religions are based upon. The concept which teaches us not about possession but about appreciation. The concept due to which people are willing to happily suffer or kill or die for. The concept which brings together Man and God himself!
There sure must be a whole lot of other things which might get covered in this topic, but I’ll just speak out about what I believe is love.
To give an example, my friend Ayush (rejoice, for you have finally become part of one of my articles) called me on the last day of registrations for an upcoming exam, just to confirm whether I had not forgotten to register. That, to me, was pure love- the selfless types. He had nothing to gain in this whatsoever.
Though love has been stereotyped to be between a man and a lady, but that’s just one of the forms in this vast endless ocean of forms.
Love exists between siblings, families, friends, relatives, even fellowq countrymen, when they meet each other in a foreign land. Not to forget love for animals, birds, hills and forests, skies and beaches, stars and for the moon.
And I am sure that far better examples can be found in modern literature.
But let me not get into that. Let me only speak for my own self right now and as far as I’m concerned, though I may not like the various forms of it (yeah, no touching, hugging, kissing or it’s ilk :p ), but I know that afterall, love is what connects us too. It is the reason due to which people learn about one’s past, not to punish but to protect. It is the reason that we respect others and we care for others and in turn it is also the reason that we get respected and cared for.
As simple as that.

17. Mistakes

I’ll keep this one short:
I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life. Until now, my single biggest mistake was to not accept that I had made mistakes. And how could I even? I had to be the perfect one. Have you ever heard perfect people making mistakes ?
But recently (you can even call this as my latest learning), I realised that I was not perfect, that I did not have to be perfect. I realised that it was okay to err. I came to terms with the fact that I had erred not once or twice but numerous times, that I had hurt people on multiple occasions- family, friends, colleagues, people in the neighbourhood, hell, beggars on the street even! (And I really regret it all now)
One fundamental rule of life is that we are not perfect- we live and we learn. But learning comes only when we first accept the fact that there is scope for learning. And that acceptance comes when we realise the fact that we have indeed made a mistake.
P.s I would like to apologise from the bottom of my heart to each and everyone whom I’ve hurt- whether they read this or not.

18. Humans are fragile. Handle with care.

When I say that every human is different, I am not just acknowledging the fact that each one of us has a unique fingerprint or an iris. We are so much more complicated than that.
Every person who has ever walked on this earth has felt the walk differently. And this, in fact, is what joins us, what connects us. We are similar due to fact that we are all unique, each one of is is different from the other.
Each one of us can feel differently, can see differently, can heal differently and each one us can express it differently.
One more thing which is common is that each human being is a fragile human being. Each human being is vulnerable.
Some express those vulnerabilities openly and derive support from others to face their issues. Some express it to a group of friends. Some let out their frustrations and despair in front of their of their parents or loved ones. And yet, some face them with reinforcement from within.
At some point, everyone falters- people lose the outside support, friends leave, parents aren’t with us forever and internal reinforcements have a limit. It is at this point that our dam cracks and vulnerabilities start wreaking a havoc.
Everyone goes through the up and down phases of life. That has been the case since even before the first fire was lit by man and this will remain the case even when our future generations might start travelling to the moon for a vacation.
But what we need to realise is that we aren’t the best judges of people and their situations, who would outright come to know when a person is going through a rough patch or when a person is at the trough of fragility. Hence, we should respect every individual and treat him/ her as an equal. We should handle each and every person with care, lest one breaks and we’re left with only lamentation and agony.
Always be good and do good.

19. Be Greatful. Always!

This is an account of a friend’s narrative. I found it pretty interesting, consequently it also found a place here.

“During my morning walk a few days ago, I saw a dog- wounded and writhing in pain. I couldn’t watch the other way as others so coldly did. And as luck would have it, my pouch contained inter alia a tube of ointment, which I had purchased a while ago for another dog, which had some less lacerations but of the similar nature.
So I went near the terrified dog, held it gently over my knees and applied the contents of the tube lavishly on it’s wounds.
Fast forward to today: I was on my regular walking route and had sat down to rest at the pedestal of the Gandhi Memorial. To my surprise, I saw the dog on which I had applied the balm, wagging it’s tail and looking intently at me. Then it came up to the foot of the memorial, where I was sitting and very carefully, it took my hand between it’s own front feet and sat itself down; as if my hand was some treasure and it was it’s pious duty to guard it.
The regular walkers who knew me and who had seen me apply the balm on it were equally amazed and one even went on to say that it was the dog’s way of showing gratitude, of saying thank you for your kindness.”

When I heard this, I was equally awed and those last words kept lingering in my mind for that entire day.
I realised one thing for sure- Dogs are Greatful and they let us know that they are Greatful. This is the primary reason why they are loved and adored by all.
In the next moment, I was also struck by- “What has happened to humans?” Neither are we grateful and even if we are, only a few of us actually express it.
What happened to us human?
I’m no good either and so everyday I look in the mirror and ask myself- what happened to me?
And I believe that you should do the same too- because then miracles won’t just sound as a fairy tale term.

20. To err is human. To forgive- should also be HUMAN.

When I read the following words by Portia in Act 4 Scene 1 of ‘The Merchant of Venice’:
“The quality of mercy is not strained.
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest:
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.” – I did just that- Read it!
Never did I understand the underlying meaning of it.. Until now that is.
Maybe sometimes, some things are only understood gradually, over a considerable period of time, because “forgiveness” is a thing that I definitely didn’t learn overnight.
It is a way of life that I found through the many hits and misses of life.
And now it is so well engrained within me that even my alias on the blogging site WordPress is “A Silent Spectator”- in part because I am a quiet person and more so because I see everything and yet pass it off as an unassuming bystander. All wrongs already forgiven and forgotten (okay, not all..some I keep to motivate myself from time to time).
The world is full of jealous, hateful and angry people; people who themselves can’t live happily and thus, they wouldn’t let you live happily either.
In such a situation, Forgiveness is truly a virtue of the divine. It not only absolves the ignorant but also preserves our peace of mind and bliss.
I believe that today’s sermon is delivered and hence, I would like to conclude by quoting one of my favourite quotes- “When you forgive, you in no way can change the past but you definitely change the future.”

21. We always chase the wrong things and the wrong people.

I’m sure most of you already agree with this and have personally experienced it at some point of time in life.
(Frankly, in case of ‘People’ I’m a bit dumb, but whatever is true for things in the write up below, should be considered equally true for people too.)
Most of us are perfectly sane to realize the good things that await us just around the corner but we always feel the urge, the temptation to eat “the Apple” (maybe it’s genetic, lol). There are a thousand reasons to not eat it, but irrationality compels logic and temptations overpower the goals.
Don’t worry, it’s not that grave a thing as I’m making it to be. But nevertheless, it is funny (read funny as idiotic), no?
Life always has the best things to offer to us, but we, born fools that we are, always run after the things that were never meant for us. Things that were kept away for our own good.
And it’s not like we haven’t been warned. Infact, we have been warned about this since the very beginning and yet, it takes us atleast one fall ourselves to finally understand it. It’s as if something in us urges us to take the fall, knowing fully well the consequences and the aftermath. But that’s how we are. That’s how we have always been. Maybe it’s just a whim of our stubborn heart which is yet to fall and will learn only by falling. Maybe it’s just a way of Life, in a sense that life wouldn’t seem so fulfilling if we hadn’t experienced this for ourselves.

Because everyone likes something extra..here is one more part:

22. Random Thought

Some days it’s so weird.. one moment you feel sad, then feel happy and then suddenly you realise that you actually don’t know what you’re feeling.
You are in chaos and at peace- all at once.
One moment you can feel the winter winds on your face and then be kissed by the sun rays in the very next moment.
And similar is the case with me, one moment I know what to write and then again it’s utter confusion like it has become now.
But do you know what’s the best thing about this All?
The best thing is that, nobody actually thinks about it. Nobody cares if it’s right or wrong. So why should I rack my brains up about Some thing which won’t even matter to most once they’ve read this and a few others who will remember it only until the next hour and still a few who might probably remember it for a day or two at most.
At some point, we all must just accept the fact that we are humans and that we make mistakes and consequently not think too much about it. And poof! Life become so much more easy..and that’s all there is to it anyway!

Thanks for Reading. May you have a nice day.

P.s Typos are regretted.

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Alive Enough?

I’m alive today but what guarantee do I have that I’ll wake up to see tomorrow’s Sun? Guarantee- I have none. It’s just faith that I have and Hope that I cling on to before going to sleep that I’ll wake up to see another morning.

How fickle is our being. Alive in this moment- in all glory and naught in the next. Even the thought of it brings jitters and send a cold chill down my spine.

Everyday we keep making plans about the things we will do and the things we will be. We sew together an elaborate dream each night, a dream in which we are what we have always wanted to be. And day after day, everyday- we keep deferring those plans and those things thinking that we have our entire life ahead of us for fulfilling our dreams and desires. We believe that right now, it is time to become someone, to prove to the world that “I am also a force to be reckoned with!”

Well, honestly, I am not against the mentality of becoming something and sacrificing my present for a better future, but what has recently begun to haunt me is not future but “uncertain” future. The thought that- what if I’m not supposed to live till the average age and that, this time now, which I’m sacrificing in becoming something worthwhile is actually God’s gift to me, which I’m wasting because I won’t have time left afterall, when I’ve indeed become something.

(Actually these are the moments when I really believe that Ignorance is Bliss. But that’s not the point right now.)

I do say that ZNMD is my all time favourite movie but I must also supplement my above claim by adding that societal pressure is a tad too much, to actually follow the tenets that are so beautifully portrayed in the movie. Even I want to live the high life, but for that I have to study. If I study now, that means that I’m sacrificing my present. And time once lost, is lost forever. Plus I have the added risk that I might not make it afterall or maybe even if I do make it, I don’t sustain it for too long or worse yet, even if I make it and I am able to sustain it, my body won’t support me well at that point in time because I neglected it in the present. This is such a vicious circle and as I put in more factors, this circle will only enlarge.

So then, how do we break this deadlock? We can’t abandon education and adopt a carefree life. We can’t even let ourselves entirely into studies because then we would be back to square one. So what to do? How to tend both the things? The answer is simple. We need to make daily plans (like we all do and I even mentioned that earlier) and we also need to ensure that these plans are executed.

Just as we take out time for television and mobile phones from our “busy lives”; we must, as well, take out time for the things which truly matter to us. The things which will make us feel alive. Small and everyday things like tending to a small plant or catching up with friends- old and new alike. Things1 like playing the guitar, or staying in the shower for five extra minutes so that we can showcase our singing talents, not to the soap and the shampoo bottles, but to our own selves.

As it is we are already surrounded by walls and screens, insomnia and assignments, papers and reviews, deadlines and bosses; so I don’t think that it might really be a big deal if we were to add a few more variables into the equation. In fact, these are the variables which we are fond of, which we feel pleasure in performing. For these things, we only need to have the will to do it and Time will automatically adjust for it.

I have decided to do the things which I like doing along with the ‘oh-so-important’ things of life. Just as I have hope and faith that I’ll wake up see the sun shines tomorrow, I have the same hope and faith (let’s not get into the discussion of being in control, because that is a myth) that Time will create a leeway for the things that matter to me NOW!

And the good news, my dear friends, is that it always does.

~S.S

Fear

This four letter word has destroyed millions and millions and hence, today, I want to talk about this very subject. For ages it has acted as a lout and a curse for most of humanity. Tyrants have risen and Societies have fallen because of this very word. Peace has been challenged and Battles have been waged because of this four letter word. Worse of all, men have killed other men just because of this four letter word and sadly, the practice still continues.

Let’s leave aside these grave societal matters.. and talk on a personal level. How it affects us- you and me! In the end that is what matters, right? The world is changed by people like us after all. I would like to begin by bringing to your notice your biggest fears. There’s no point in denying that you have one. Our fears, weaknesses and insecurities are just as much important to make us feel human as are our dreams, joys and hopes.

The worrisome trend today is not that people have a fear of some thing, but that the people don’t seem to realise until too late (or sometime never) that they do have a fear of some thing. Again, it’s not my point to wheedle you into glorifying any fears- existent or non-existent, as if it is some kind of atavistic activity. No. I just want you to realise that you’re a human too and it’s okay to be afraid.

I know- accepting the fact that you are afraid may seem odious but believe me, it’s equally freeing. It allows you to introspect. You have already understood the problems and issues and hence, you can go about finding a solution for it. It is just the same as travelling in a vehicle on the highway and the best part is that you know exactly where you have to go- Makes life so much easier, no?

Now you might argue that writing it all down is all too easy but implementation is tough. Well, yes, agreed but all I’m saying (and which has been gathered from plausible sources) is that don’t fear FEAR! Face your fear. If you badly wanted to take that trip, just take it. If you want to feel the thrill of adventure sports, just go out and experience it. Why be afraid? Tens of thousands of people have been there and done that before you.

Remember the greatest amount of fear is just moments before you actually attempt to do something about it. And once you do it, all that fear fades away like a fart in the wind. That’s when you realise how idiotic you’ve been. You later spend hours contemplating how easy it was or how unfounded your fears were.

But next time again when you are pitted against some other thing, which you are afraid of, you go back to being your original fearful self. In such moments, I want you to remember the paroxysms of joy you felt, when you completed some thing you were just as much afraid of earlier. Obviously, it won’t take away your entire fear but it will definitely help you to face the challenge at hand. This is the unbending principle of the world. This is how everything works.

Always keep in mind that fear would only hinder your chances. It will eat away your opportunities. If you control your fear now, you will see the miracles later on. What’s meant to happen, will happen anyways and your fearless participation in the events orchestrated by the cosmos will ensure that what was meant for you, will eventually reach to you. So I would like to reiterate- don’t fear FEAR, challenge your fears and witness the miracles that are in store for you!

Slow Down

How you ever been in such a great haste that you have trampled over things and jumped over people just so that you reach wherever you wanted to reach in the specified time that you intended to reach in and then realised that you were counted amongst the early birds to reach there? All that energy and pomposity for nothing! The whole air of importance down the drain. Taking sheer stress for some non-existent great cause.

Often times, we lead a life full of rush. In the moment, we do believe that we are doing some important work. But if we reflect upon it later on, we realise that we were only coming from nowhere and going to nowhere. Funny, isn’t it? A few examples may hopefully clear my viewpoint.

Being a Mumbaikar, the best example that comes to my mind is of local trains. Countless people have lost their dear lives just because they decided to travel on the dashboard to reach their office on time and incidentally fell off to their imminent death. What’s the need to hurry? The next train was anyways going to arrive in a couple odd minutes.

Another example which everyone, irrespective of where you live, can relate to is that of crossing signal, when it’s just turned red. Most of times people get lucky, but not always and an accident, which otherwise could have been averted, inadvertently takes place. If there’s some emergency, then I’m willing to agree with the cause, but not contrarily. I mean, the world isn’t ending behind you that you can’t waste time waiting at the signal, right?

Now, I believe that everyone is busy or atleast try to be busy so as to assume some importance, so as to beat the monotony of their life which is utterly colourless when they compare it with that of their peers. Let me tell you one thing, all are leading the same life, though it may manifest itself differently, but in the end everyone is unsatisfied by their own and amazed by that of others around them.

I don’t want you to live perfectly. No, that’s not what we were ever meant to do. I’m asking you to live it fully. Next time, if you have reached the parking lot and your favourite song starts playing, take some time out for yourself and enjoy the music. No one cares if you reach your desk five minutes late, but on the other hand, you will sit down at your desk with a renewed spirit, which will help you to work optimally. Even your boss will not say NO as it saves his cash, which otherwise would have gone into motivating the employees.

Again I would like to reiterate that I am not asking you to stop living life in the way you are accustomed to do, but just imploring you that for a day try slowing down your pace a bit. Feel the moments as they pass. You will end up feeling less exhausted, more ebullient and in general, a bit more zestful. And that’s the whole point of being, won’t you agree?

Two Parts Hydrogen, One Part Oxygen

Water- the quintessential liquid required for survival of anything and everything. It’s one molecule is chemically composed of two atoms of hydrogen and one atom of oxygen. It’s no wonder a miracle, how these basic elements, when combined, are powerful enough to start and sustain the whole chapter, which we humans call as “Life”.

In the prehistoric era, water was formed due the reaction of these two aforementioned gases, which combined when they were released from below the Earth’s crust. Can you believe it, that once approximately 250 million years ago, it started raining and it rained for not one but 2 MILLION years, shocking Right?

Earth has been very lucky to get all the correct permutation and combination. Perfect distance from parent star, presence of water, balanced atmosphere, just the required amount of rare earth and heavy earth elements, etc.. the list is long. But it has also received a bane, and sadly that bane is us- Humans.

Let’s do a reality check before we move further. Who are we? Just another species of animals with a higher level of intelligence than the rest. Who do we think we are? Yes, undisputed rulers of the entire universe (mind you, not just the Earth). It’s so funny that if you think about it without bias, you realise- how man, in his greed to acquire money, has robbed his own self of basic amenities such as clean water and basic standards of living.

In this post, I want to address the former- Water. Again, time for a reality check. What do you think is common between Sao Paulo, Beijing, Bengaluru, Cairo, Jakarta, Istanbul?

Yes smarty, you’re right. Each one of them is facing severe water shortage. The reasons are various, but they all point to the same cause and consequence, which we shall see later on.

Imagine a hot, sunny day in Karachi. People going about their business as usual. But there is something amiss. Most of them look dirty and smell as if they haven’t bathed that morning. Shockingly, they haven’t bathed the morning before or the one before too. And why so? Yes, you’re correct again. There is not enough water to drink, let alone save some for bathing. Bathing for these people has become a luxury. And Karachi isn’t alone. There are so many cities across the globe facing similar crisis.

In many countries, you can find colourful cars moving on sombre highways dotted with brown tress all along. Barren fields on either side. Everywhere you can hear locals complaining that as less as five years ago, the whole area was one with nature, greenery all around. Rains were cyclic and consistent. Not anymore. And this is worrisome.

In many South American countries, citizens wait for hours on end for fifteen minutes worth of water supply, barely enough for a couple of days. What’s more alarming is that this has been a way of life for many years now.

Johannesburg, the famous South African city, is having almost no access to fresh potable water or ground water. As per reports, the water quantity in their main reservoirs have dropped below 4% which in itself is a big reason to worry, considering that it’s population is almost 4.4 million.

This makes me wonder what is the reason of all this. On a planet which comprises of 75% water, how is it even possible that this otherwise abundant resource is so scarce. The main reason is unequal distribution. But ofcourse, that has been the case since time immemorial. So what happened now?

The simple answer is climate change. Everyone knows the causes, namely pollution, industrialisation and the ilk. Everyone also knows the solutions, I.e reuse, reduce, refuse, etc .

But what I want to ask is that how many of us truly adhere to those norms and solutions. Honestly, till recently, I didn’t. I always felt that how could one person’s contribution matter in this huge, vast world. And yet, when I saw first hand how different classes of people in the same city having same issues tackle it, it would be an absolute understatement to say that I was shocked, appalled rather.

On one side of the city, the poorest of the poor scavenge for water as the taps run dry and the hoi polloi wait for days to fill their drums and cans. But on the other side, the pools of the rich are overflowing but the house is devoid of its populace, run only by servants.

They say true face of human cruelty is visible at times of war, but I’m certain that even that must be better than these scenes.

Again, I’m sure that in this hoo-ha of water not being enough for citizens, we all must have definitely forgotten the animals. They have the same right over the endowments of nature as we do. Yet, somehow we don’t care a dime about those right. Some days I wonder that the dream of a just and equal land, is just that..a dream, a utopia which exists only in theory.

Today, I won’t urge you all to save water. No. That has been done before so many times, by so many people and the results are out for everyone to see. Today, I want you to just imagine that there are people somewhere on this planet who are facing severe ill effects of actions done by us- me as well as you. Today, I want you to visualize that mother, who is dying of thirst because the last cup of water was gulped by her children. Imagine that farmer, who is contemplating suicide because rains have failed yet again.

At this point, I don’t know about you, I can’t even imagine anything more. The despair and hopelessness on the faces of so many people, while those who can actually matter- sit in their comfortable houses and relax. It is too disheartening to imagine.

Every year, more and more fresh water is getting destroyed as glaciers melt and the sea levels keep on rising. I reckon it’s high time that we wake up collectively, if our leaders can’t and take some firm steps in the right direction before it’s too late to turn the tide in our favour again. I’m sure that if the correct steps are taken now, we can surely save our future generations from an otherwise imminent extinction.

The Getaway

Trying a new style of writing. Let’s see how it goes.

***

It is just a normal day in the fine season of spring. The gardens are in full bloom and in them, the butterflies happily spread their wings. What a sight it is indeed, to see these dainty, ephemeral beauties, which scatter colours of the universe around. At one end of the garden, the Boy can see his family, lazing around the pool, taking their afternoon siesta.

Playful that he is, the Boy doesn’t believe in naps at all. Though it’s an altogether different matter that he will soon grow up and then prize this period of rest and recreation like all other grown ups, but okay, that’s for some other time. Right now, he has an appointment to keep and he must hurry or he’ll miss his date.

He silently opens the door, careful so as to not make much noise and quickly gets out. Now, it’s not like he’s running away or something, but first, he doesn’t want to wake anyone up and second, he’s in a great hurry. So off he goes on the road, which lies ahead of him.

It is the perfect time to venture out, as the sun’s glare is neither too hot now and nor will it set anytime soon. As he walks, he passes countless fields on his way. A thousand flowers he touches, yet he picks none. Even at this tender age, he understand the futility of that act and hence, the refrain.

After walking for what seems like an eternity, the boy reaches a cutting, where the sign-board shows “Left” for Gilbert Hill, his destination for today. After walking for another thirty minutes, the Boy finally reached the summit, just in time to see the descending sun kiss the horizon and spreading thousand shades in all directions.

Awed by the clouds and the birds, the boys watches as the grass bows down in the gusty winds and rises again with equal fervour. Philosopher that he is, this catches his imagination. An important lesson he’s learnt. Bow before the force but always remember to stand up again, no matter what.

As his thoughts waver away from this philosophy to the appreciating the general beauty around, he realizes that this is his secret getaway. So visible to everyone, yet ignored by all. But not him, no- how can he? This is his treasure. From here, he always feels as if the whole world is his to conquer. The cool breeze playfully tickling his body and just adequate warmth from the disappearing sun, a perfect combination to dream and create his empire.

Soon the horizon turns blue and then transforms to a lively black. There is ebullience in this black sky, brought about by the million of shimmering stars that seem to protect him from above.

Below the city lights are visible too. He tries to mark out the one which is his. After spending some more time with the stars, the wind and the lights, the Boy collects his thoughts and his rejuvenated spirit. He waves goodbye to his unguarded treasure, confident that people are too busy to pay attention to it and begins his journey back home.

He reaches in time for supper and goes straight in his room. Today’s experience must be jotted down before it’s lost in time because, some day when the going gets tough and he won’t have the time to calm his mind and soul, the writing will surely help in feeding the void. Let’s attribute this to his far sight!

***

Just some random musings, I hope you’ll liked it.

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The Knowledge

There have been quite a lot of things going on in my mind lately. But today, I am determined to take some time out and write about the little changes happening in and around me, just to acknowledge, at the very least- how these changes are setting me free and how these changes have let me to hope, a thing that I had scarcely allowed myself to do in the past.

Anyone who has ever talked to me for a proper ten minutes, shall agree that I am naive at heart. I may be street smart because my parents, particularly my mom, paid great attention to it. But when it comes to introspection, well, I suck. I mean, who needs introspection when a caring elder brother is always present with his bag full of experiences and solutions. Yet, I knew that at some point in life, I had to learn the ways of life myself, because my brother won’t necessarily be there for me forever and to be honest, it would be very unfair to ask him to actually be.

Luckily, for me, the time to learn worldly wisdom came recently. Better late than never, right?! It came in the form of articles, books, movies, songs even WhatsApp conversations, and what not. But, the greatest teacher among them all was Life, the daily experiences, the random flow of events. Yes, a talk or two in the train with a friend. An incident on the way to work. A news of current happenings. It’s as if each and every thing happening to me or around me has had some deep knowledge rooted in it and my task was pretty simple- to identify and comprehend this knowledge.

As I was assimilating all this knowledge that was coming my way, I couldn’t help but wonder, as to the purpose it served. Initially, I believed that this knowledge would provide some future assistance but very soon I realised that this knowledge was not for some obscure event of the future. Rather, it was for empowering my current lifestyle. It was to make me realise how foolishly I had been doing things which had no meaning and were outright noxious. It was indeed to change my perspective on a wide variety of subjects.

Insecurities, Fear

I perfectly remember that ever since my early schooling days, I was very insecure and afraid. Insecure about my standing in the class and fearful about almost everything else. Infact, I had hit such a low once, that I outright rejected the proposal of teaching a topic to a dearly loved friend, due to the fear that she might score better than me in that subject.

And as time passed, these insecurities and fears manifested themselves to higher levels and began including Luck and Chance with them. Infact, the severity of this problem can be gauged by the fact that I wore my “lucky” watch for all the papers of my Inter CA examinations except Audit and guess what, yes, I ended up failing only in Auditing.

But, these insecurities and fears were not all that bad. They helped me stay away from “Relationships”. Let me tell you, though I have been away from Relationships, the people closest to me have not- They have all been struck by Cupid periodically. That, in a way, gave me a perfect opportunity to study how Love actually sublimates over time and transforms into deep rooted insecurity and fear, if not properly dealt with. Well, that’s for another day. For now, it should suffice you to know that I am victoriously fighting my war against fears.

Humility, Courage

I know a lot of people consider me to be full of ego and stuff (even my mom complains about it sometimes) but I never had the slightest traces of it, at best I can be called finicky. Instead, I had cupboards and cupboards full of shyness and introversion. And even though knowledge helped me empty most of them, a few vestiges still remain. I still won’t be the first person to initiate the conversation but surely I’ll listen till the last second. Talking is not my forte, listening is. And that is what I realised when I bathed in that knowledge pool.

Speaking of courage, every human being who ever lived and who will ever live shall be termed as courageous. Seldom comes a life, which has no challenges, no hurdles, no obstacles. Everyday, each one of us strives to make the most out of our present situations. You might not acknowledge it, but what you are essentially doing, when facing those challenges, is being courageous. Courage is not limited to Don Quixote (yes, he was a fool but he was a courageous fool) and it has nothing, whatsoever, to do with fighting ghosts and demons.

Loneliness, Solitude

To the unaware, both might seem the same. Yet there is a subtle difference. To be honest, I knew the difference even before the knowledge dawned upon me. But, knowledge surely helped me to understand it more deeply and profoundly. While loneliness is more about being alone and grimacing about that fact, solitude is about being alone and enjoying your own company.

Loneliness is more of a vice and solitude is a virtue. I am lucky enough to be embraced by solitude because loneliness is hazardous, even life taking. I can’t even comprehend how a person might feel when s/he realises that there is no one to be by her/his side in this world, which is awfully full of people. Surely, thinking about it alone gives me jitters. I am fortunate enough to enjoy my company with nature and the cosmos. I am fortunate enough to not get affected by loneliness and I am fortunate enough to help people struggling with loneliness, you all only expanded my knowledge.

Pain, Forgiveness

Whenever humans and human emotions are involved, pain is definitely involved. Infact, it wouldn’t be wrong to call emotions as precursors of pain. The flow is simple- Emotions make us obsequious and being obsequious, being servile is the easiest passageway to pain. Though it may sound crude, I’ll try my best, to get the point across.

Almost everyone can universally connect to the emotion called Love and so, I will take the same and attempt to make my point clear. What is love? Poets across millennia have described it in the most animated words. Love can be the affection and attraction for many things- other people, nature, a doll, a car and what not. But as Kabir put it- “The lane of love is narrow, it has place only for one.” And though we may root for the accepted myth that Love is selfless, it is not and that pains. And if it is indeed selfless, it causes all the more pain- because with selfless love comes an even greater burden of expectations. You are only fooling yourself, if you believe that expectations don’t form a part of selfless love.

But, mysterious are the ways of the world- as pain and suffering are so omnipresent, we also have the options of acceptance and forgiveness. In fact, Forgiveness is akin to Godliness. This is where the knowledge comes into play. Suffering is difficult and forgiving is even more difficult. But knowledge helps us in accepting the situation as is and letting it go. Once we taste liberation by letting go the pain, by forgiving- we actually begin to live a more meaningful and purposeful life and that is the true purpose of living, right?!

Conclusion

Frankly speaking, there are so many things that I have learnt. So many things about which I can write volumes on. But in these busy times, I am lost for the want of time. Also, my writing skills won’t do justice to those forby subjects- atleast not right now. And I am guessing that the handful of you, who reached this far, must surely be waiting for it to end too. Thus, I would take one final moment to let you know that I am grateful to you for taking your time out and reading patiently.

P.s. Gratitude is a virtue too. The latest one that I learned.

Until later.

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