Map and Territory

Couple of months back I was reading an amazing book called “Tao of Physics” which basically talks about how quantum physics and spiritual realm are similar. It talks about what mystics have discovered about 5000 years ago holds true in what a quantum physicist has to say. In there I came across a para which blew me away. Allow me to explain ( I wish I could quote it but I don’t have the book anymore with me)

Most of the people who consider themselves to be spiritually advanced kinda consider themselves to be knowledgeable. Most of these people once they reach the saturation of their knowledge realize that reality that we see around us is nothing but a big mesh of tricks which our senses along with our mind plays on us. So this usually ends up in this knowledgeable person raising to the occasion of enlightenment declaring that the world around us is magical, mystical and an illusion. What is missed in this is though – how cunningly dualistic is our mind. As soon as we realize that this world as we experience is an illusion – the mind plays its best trick, tricking us into thinking that this so called “illusion” is out there. That this perceived illusion that we have called out is out there and the mind is a friend of ours in identifying it.

But the truth is: the illusion is not out there. It’s actually played out in our heads! We tend to think that it’s out there because then it becomes easy for us to label it and shelve it and go back and watch our favorite episode of ‘LOST‘. But in reality (so ironic) that illusion is in our minds. We carry our own illusions in our minds. This has been labeled by many people in many ways. Some people call it – “Map”. We carry a map of reality in our minds. We try to sift through this so called territory with our maps.

Another populist saying in this arena is “Map is not the Territory”. We keep thinking and identifying that what we see out there is reality and we form assumptions, make decisions totally blinded by the fact that we base all of them on the internal map of the territory. What a kicker would be is – that there is no actual territory. Our languages define how we think. Just close your eyes and check what do you see when you hear or read the word ‘Territory’. I bet its some 3 dimensional landscape or some high view of google maps! But for the lack of words what we refer to as territory actually doesn’t exist in reality. Our maps along with our minds make us believe that what we got is a map and there is a huge territory out there to explore.

Check Schroedinger’s cat phenomenon, check wave particle behavior of light, check Heisenberg’s uncertainty theory. It says in gist – the thing that is being observed is totally affected by the observer. Which means that in any given case, observer is part of the play. He/she is not separate. Which makes us wonder about the territory we have been talking about. At some deeper level you can feel that the territory is us and the map is just some contrived way of looking at the blips in territory.

I better stop before I get labeled as crazy. 🙂
Wave Particle

Tracing my Creative Self

I am a strong believer of creativity. I believe that’s the only thing that differentiates us from each other is how creative we are. Anything could be copied if tried hard enough – not creativity. I think everyone is creative and I believe it’s just a matter of time, care and nurturing to bring the creative self out.

Creativity means many things to many people. For me, finding creative solutions to everyday problems. For someone it could be crafting the best and innovative curriculum. Depending up on what is most important to us we try to seek creativity in that area.

Have you ever used a drawing book where you get a tracing paper on top of the diagram? I think creativity is just like that. It’s already in there within us and we just need to trace it out in our lives. Recently I have started to read a book which gave me one of the most important tool of my life – “The Artist’s way“. The last time I read that book, I was so over joyed by the first chapter that I stopped reading it! I started doing this exercise of “Morning Pages” and it has forever changed my life. Now I have decided to continue reading the book.

It’s a long and exciting journey of finding and tracing out my creative self and I am looking forward to it. In addition to doing my journaling every day as a process from the book – I have also set aside time for my “Artist Date” every week. An Artist Date is some specified amount of time where you spend with yourself nurturing your creative self. Last week I went out and watched a movie. This week I am planning on to go to Citylights bookstore in San Francisco.

The Artist\'s Way

Movie themes I love

I watched Iron Man yesterday. It was kinda cheesy, but it did satisfy the geek in me. As I was journaling today I realized I like movies for with mostly two themes(so far).

  1. I like movies where the protagonist does something ingeniously. Something he/she builds, or something original. Something new and creative.
  2. I like movies where the protagonist starts out to be an underdog and eventually wins it.

This itself is such a revelation to me. It speaks a lot about the inner me though. I love to create stuff ingeniously and I love to start off in anything as an underdog.

My Calling

I sleep very sound and have very rich and vivid dreams. Most of the time they don’t make sense, sometimes they make me cry and sometimes they just stay. Recently I had one such dream. I woke up and I could recall what the contents of the dream were. I think it was my calling. I am not sure what I else I could make out of it. It just said – make software for leftovers. In my dream I did this software which would keep track of all the leftovers in a restaurant and inform humanitarian groups about it so that they can pick it up and distribute it to homeless or people who are struggling to afford food.

I know I am such a food maniac. I dream of food too. But seriously I got up and started to wonder how feasible anything like that could be? Well, from where I stand it doesn’t make sense. I could just toss the idea away and forget about it. But being the person I am (a little crazy too!) I thought I would give it a mental try. I mean try to envision what and how of the software could be.

So, having been on the learning path of Flex – I think I would build the application in Flex. Here are some more details:

  1. It would be a Flex application
  2. It would have both a browser edition as well as AIR version.
  3. Leftover maintenance in itself is not a good enough functionality for restaurants – so I would have to build in the functionality for keep track of table assignments (visually would be cool), keep track of orders, A visual graph of wait times computed (to give an idea to the patrons), menus, billing if it’s possible etc
  4. Within this app – there would be a leftover tracker. It doesn’t have to describe what’s leftover but just say how much food or how many people’s food is left.
  5. Someone human needs to do a QC before food is given away
  6. Imagine this software running on College avenue and in one shot you can assess the leftover food and probably feed all the homeless that hangout there (let’s drop our judgments about the kind of people who hang out there for a moment please)

So, there. It doesn’t sound too hard for me. In fact it’s fun and hey I can always blame it on my dream if I screw it up. I am not sure whether it’s my calling or not but I usually don’t get dreams that end up with a message. So, I have 3 months for this pet project which I will work on and if any of you guys are reading this and want to be part of it somehow – shoot me an email(akbarpasha at gmail dot com).

On becoming a freelancer

You know there are sometimes in our lives that we have this inner voice telling us something but we ignore it for a long time and then go through all the ‘physical’ obstacles and then later realize that the inner voice was right in the first place. Something similar happened to me recently.

After I got back from India – I went on frantically looking for a job. I think I attended about 20-25 interviews. I got 3 offers which I didn’t take. While I was interviewing it was becoming very clear to me that the kind of work I am seeking – freelancing would do. But I was really too scared to do that. I was scared to become a freelancer because I was not sure what kind of life it would lead to. Sangita has already made her mind and she became one when she got here, but I was not sure whether it would work out if we both did freelancing.

One thing led to another and after 1 month of searching for a job I realized that the reason why I didn’t like most of the companies I interviewed is because I didn’t identify myself and my values with what the company is trying to accomplish. So, freelancing is one way where I can be very particular about my project selection and totally enjoy working on it.

Now I am a freelancer. How did it change my life? So, far it’s been very good. I am lucky to have some good friends who got me in touch with some really cool people. Slowly I am building up my network and I can totally see all my fears falling apart. Freelancing does made me realize a bunch of things:

  1. I need to be very self-disciplined. I cannot get up late and stay and work in my jammies all day. It kinda puts me in bad mood by the end of the day.
  2. I need to move for a change – I mean I cannot work from home every day. I need to go to nearby coffee shop or a park to work
  3. I need to be very organized with my time. Still working on this one. But my calendar has never been so busy
  4. I need to be very organized with money. As a process of basically trying to write off most of the work related stuff and in a world where your pay check is not a regular occurrence, I need to be very careful with how I manage money
  5. I need to enjoy the freedom which I have. No more stay till 5pm policy. If the work is done, I am out and I can utilize that time to go workout or just cook amazing dinner.

Not sure how future will roll out, but in this moment I am really excited to be a freelancer and I totally enjoy the freedom it gives me.