Head above the water

Couple of days back I was having a chat with our company’s CEO. Like all CEOs’ he is a very sweet guy and a total visionary. He loves his baby and he has good intentions for it. But as it’s the norm with all visionaries, they lack the pragmatic side (to be honest I am one of those too). Even though we talked about impossible things, it was good to see someone imagining beyond the day to day troubles and issues. We were talking about the company and the difficult phase it’s going through. I don’t know how but somehow we got to talk about some of the issues I have been facing personally. It was a good talk and something he said during the talk stuck with me. He said, “Akbar, no matter what happens, you have keep your head above the water. A lot of people who talk to me are totally obsessed with the problem they have and it makes them not to see beyond the problem where the solution may lie”.

Now I have heard the term “Keep your head above the water” a lot many times in my life. I have never personally used it anywhere, but this got me into thinking. I realized how true the analogy is and it triggered in me a lot of things to ponder up on. Here are some of them…

1. Couple of months back when me and Sang went to Goa – on a crowded beach we met a couple from Bangalore. These people were rich and held very high positions in some top multinational companies. We became good friends. As we were enjoying the water, the lady suddenly started to yell. She was drowning – we have gotten too far into the sea. Her initial reaction was to hold on to Sangita. As she panicked, she started to push Sang down and try to climb on top of her. Poor Sangita started to wriggle and was trying to escape. In all this, everyone around us were shouting at the lady – “Just keep your head above the water”.

As for me, I don’t know how to swim (yet – YMCA, here I come for my summer swimming lessons!). I couldn’t do anything but to try to run away from the drowning people as I have realized that Bacardi coupled with not being able to feel the ground underneath your feet is one bad situation. Later when me and Sangita were playing in water, as Sang tried to teach me how to swim – she mentioned the most important thing – Keep your head above the water when I feel like I am drowning and not to panic as the waves will push me back to the banks.

2. We do have a tendency to wrap our heads around the ‘most current problem’ that bugs us. We just can’t stop thinking about it. Nothing comes to mind. But it’s very hard to realize that this worrying is not going to get us anywhere. This is a predominant ‘belief system’ in my household in India. The belief is – by worrying more about the problem you might actually make it go away. But it’s not gonna go away. The way to get around or above the problem is to raise our awareness beyond the problem. In other terms keep your head above those stinking problems. This reminds me of Einstein’s quote –

The significant problems we have cannot be solved at the same level of thinking with which we created them.” – Albert Einstein.

There are two aspects to this quote –

  • We have created the problem. This is a shocker to a lot of people. All of us, almost all of us tend to believe that the problems we encounter are created by something outside of us (I don’t blame them for thinking like that as it’s a direct influence of mind’s dualistic nature of thinking – oops that’s another blog post). So first thing is to own the problem. To admit that we somehow let that in. This brings in responsibility into the system and actually inspires us to think in different ways to solve the problem.
  • This is the keeping the head above the water aspect – As we ponder on solutions to our problems, it’s only by thinking with an awareness that is ‘above the problem level’ are we going to get to any solution. So, keeping my head above all the problems, issues and tasks I have – empowers me a lot and inspires me to find creative solutions.

3. So, this would make us wonder – How the hell do we keep our head above the water? I for sure don’t know yet how to do it in actual swimming. But how to do in actual life situation – I might have a clue. It dawned to me during one of our very cool and important discussions with our friends Lisa and Sarah. We were having our breakfast and continuing the previous night’s spiritual discussion. Sarah has this ability to question everything that comes in to her consciousness. This led to me thinking and added with the Eisntein’s quote – may be, may be by asking right questions we can raise our awareness to a higher level. A level where we can see all our problems and how they are affecting us. Well this is nothing but the process of introspection. But now I believe, by asking right questions and questioning our beliefs and assumptions about the problem at hand we can half solve the problem. The rest of it will definitely raise our awareness a.k.a keeping our heads above water. This introspection, this questioning is one way of finding solutions to our day to day vagaries.

That’s what I think and it has worked for me so far. Oh, btw that lady didn’t drown. Some hot shot white dude came to her rescue and saved her life. As for her husband – he spent the next 1 hour in water just to avoid his freaked out wife!

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