On Being Accepted Unconditionally

Growing up in India, I grew up in a middle class family where the only way you can get upward mobility is through *education*. I spent most of my teens (like 10 years in extreme educational competitive environment), and years after that mired in studying and working hard towards something which I never clearly understood what it will be like. Now looking back on my life I realize there was some meaning to it. I mean it’s kinda assigned meaning but yeah I will take it.

So what does it mean to get out of a middle class in India and to make to to this land of opportunity? It means no one around you accepts you as you are! Yep. My father was never, never happy with the grades I got. I mean c’mon I was like breaking bank with Physics! My professor met with my dad and told him that I had a great future in Astrophysics. But he didn’t accept it just because I wasn’t top of my class in Math! I did my best with computer science, but my dad wasn’t happy with any of it. He had some other plans for me. I would say some other expectations of me.

My extended family was surprised I wasn’t going to US of A when I made it to Singapore. They were like kinda unhappy about it. I mean I frigging took a risk and made it in Singapore, but none of my family acks that!

So the sad story of my life is – even though I excelled in a lot of things – people around me thought I wasn’t doing good enough job and wasn’t good enough. Which kinda left me with a feeling of lack and insecurity in my life that still to this day haunts me.

But not my daughter – the other day she asked me to tie her hair up and put it in a *bun* as she calls it. I tried. I mean I really tried. More than I would try to fix the nastiest bug at work. I couldn’t make it work. All I got was a lame bun and a half assed pony tail up her hair. Finally, I told her – “You know your mom actually knows well how to fix up your hair, I don’t know how to – you should ask your mom” – It was a very vulnerable moment for me. I am like admitting that I suck at this. All my insecurities flying all around. My daughter, looks at me – I swear to god there was a pause for like 2 seconds but it felt like eternity – she says “It’s ok daddy, I actually like it the way you did it”. ¬†For the record, she is 4! She just scooped up my heard with this unconditional love.

Later I tried to get her hair fixed by asking my wife but my daughter refused it. She just wanted it that way. I think I have rarely felt unconditional love, but it was one of those moments. I know my daughter isn’t aware of all this stuff, but whatever she did – no one did that to me for a very, very long time. That acceptance of who I am – I haven’t seen it or experienced it in for a long long time. It really made my day. I think I will remember that forever.

How I increased my attention span

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I know this might come off as boasting or trite. But the most valuable thing we as individuals have is our attention span. Our ability to give our full attention to one and only thing in front of us. Amidst the tumultuous waters of multi-tasking and constant binge tapping of alerts, social conversations – our attention span is dying. Dying by million distractions.

A few weeks ago – I started doing couple of simple things. No big plan, I just thought I would do some simple things to make myself less distracted. Here is the list of things:

0. I meditated for 15 mins every evening.

1. I stopped using my laptop or phone at least 30 mins before I went to bed.

2. I read an actual dead tree book for those 30 mins and then simply went to sleep without worrying about what happened on FB.

3. When I wake up, I didn’t jump into my phone – which usually starts of as, what’s the weather going to be like and then like 30 mins later I know everyone’s status on FB.

4. I didn’t check my personal email till noon.

5. I didn’t check FB when I was bored. I read something interesting about my field of work.

6. I jumped straight into work as soon I got to office.

This was all new to me and somedays really hard. But I kept at it. Not sure what’s going to come off of it.

After like 7 days, I realized few things.

1. My concentration while reading a book or writing code, spiked up. I was able to focus on one thing in front of me for more than 30 mins, without being physically interrupted.

2. To my fascination, whenever I read long articles – like from longform etc, I was *actually* able to finish the article in one sitting.

3. When I interacted with my daughter, I was not hiding behind my iPhone, I was able to pay full attention to what she was saying. Oh what a fascinating mind is of a 4 year old!!

That’s it. Nothing major. I wasn’t aiming for this level of focus and concentration but I think what I did actually helped me build it.

Why I think Parenting is tiring

Parenting I think is a moment by moment minute or minimum impact decisions for which your whole brain has to use immense resources to compute and decide on each of them. Parenting is deciding what is good for your child every moment. It’s tiring because there are many times that you yourself don’t know that something is good for your child or not. Added on top of that, the behavior you might be prescribing or expecting of, in your child goes completely against what you might believe or it could be something that you think it’s good because some expert thinks so.

Parenting is a profession where you practice it, as you learn it and you become expert when it’s already too late. Maybe useful for nephews or grand kids!

Parenting is a lot about doing exactly what you believe in and setting examples to your child but often what we say, what we believe and what we do is so in-coherent that it hurts to see that we are sending mixed messages to our own child.

Parenting is tiring because in essence it’s a minor step in the grand scale of this social conditioning, this retrofitting of a free flowing wonderful creature into tiny slots and shapes of order, structure and behavior.

Parenting is tiring because you sometimes get that glimpse of your own conditioned self – preaching, pontificating and trying to convince your child about ideas, theories that you don’t believe in.

That’s why I think parenting is tiring. I am not saying it’s bad or good (it’s your call) but it’s my observation. It’s a multitude of unexpected and unseen challenges. One that makes me feel extremely thankful to my parents and have high regard and respect for other parents.

Thankful

thankful

Today as I walked back from work, the wind was just right. The light was just right. The sky reminded me of the times I spent in Singapore. Those over long working days that end up in open sky market bar with great food, drinks and friends. It reminded me of where I was and where I have reached. It reminded me of all the crazy hard work that went into me during those times. It was all fun. Writing code, getting drunk, writing more code. I miss those days. That evening where after a long day of work, me and my buddy would sit down and talk about everything under the sky.

It also made me feel very thankful. I am thankful for the life I live. I am thankful for the people I work with. I am thankful for great friends I have. Looking back I see a long string of memories wound tightly around me. Looking back I reflect on the minutes, hours and days that made me what I am today. Every day I thank *Universe* for where it has gotten me. If there is a hidden hand that maneuvers our lives, I feel it tonight. I feel how it’s shaping my thoughts, my feelings and my life. I feel how much I am blessed.

I am Thankful.

Perfection is a shackle

I struggle with perfection. It’s especially true when it comes to my work. I start to learn something new and then see how others are doing and then set myself up for achieving that stature and shackle myself with that perfect image of what I need to be and then I struggle. Every mis-step I take after that hurts and every lapse – I judge myself forcefully. It’s been going on in my life for a very long time. I have this perfect, pristine self-image which I have made myself a slave of. I struggle carrying that image in my head and shoulders and I crumble.

As I journaled today I realize that I need to step back and take a look at how I put myself in misery and how I can break out of it. As I started to write I realize that the only way I can do it is:

  1. Grateful – Be grateful of the opportunity provided. This would change my attitude and mindset.
  2. Make it small – break down the task at hand in smallest piece possible and work on it
  3. Failure is ok – I can fail and it’s going to be ok
  4. Trust – trust my intuition
  5. Expectation – expect great experience.

Look Up!

I love this video. Somehow this guy has managed to put this so well!! “We are a generation of dumb people with smart phones”

I could say that not to look awkward on BART without digging myself in my cell phone – I end up closing my eyes!

I notice that the speed at which people walk now a days is how fast they can like the things on their facebook wall! The amount of time we spend at red light is how many text messages we are reading and sending. It’s kinda sad.

I love what this article talks about how we don’t know any more about just purposeless walking – -http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-27186709

And added to that this book really shaped about what I think about how technology is disrupting families.

Big Disconnect

Fallacy of Self-Discipline

There is a voice in my head which dictates, identifies and categorizes every moment of my life what I am experiencing. It feels like it’s the ultimate self-discipline which is basically controlling my life. I seem to try to copy and perpetuate this pattern in other parts of my life. Like, learning something new, acquiring a new skill. I tell myself that the only way to do that is to be self-disciplined and follow it through. But over the years I have come to realize that this is an illusion. A perpetual carrot dangling in front of me. It’s never final, reached or done. This inner voice makes sure of it. Every time through self-discipline I reach a goalpost or milestone – I find it automatically advanced or moved – thereby creating a void in my self. And every time I resort to stronger regiments and strong promises I increase the size of this gaping hole.

The alternative to this has been suggested to live in the present moment. To accept that all the answers that I seek are in me (or us) and will find a way to me if I make myself present and listen. But my self-discipline seeking mind converts even this one into a self-discipline activity – like “I need to meditate more”, “I need to read up more of Eckhart Tolle” etc. This not only adds to my void but makes peace of mind elusive.

Accepting myself as is the greatest gift I can give to myself in this moment.