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 – –

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.

Content and Pattern

The conscious mind loves content and sub-conscious mind works on patterns. We love to keep engaged with stories and theories around us and that’s the part of Conscious brain. The sub-conscious however though excels at pattern recognition and most of the time is extracting patterns from the the content that is being fed through the conscious mind. Like anything else in our lives, we need a good balance of these two.

I feel like in this link happy world and facebook shares – we get bogged down by a lot of stories. A lot of them unnecessary. But we read them, we talk and chat about them. What it does however is it kinda creates this fog in conscious part of the brain. This further creates confusion to sub-conscious as it’s not able to extract concrete patterns out of it. This results in sub-conscious mind creating contradicting patterns. Which actually hurts us more than anything.

I believe checking out facebook (a lot) is like death by 1000 cuts. It’s slow but eventually the brain goes numb. I am not against FB in specific but in general how this social media sharing is used in day to day lives.

I feel what meditation does is basically stops the content to the conscious mind for the amount of time and thereby gives subconscious mind a opportunity to sort out stuff. And I think there are many other activities that we do – something deep like that happens. Like when we say the morning sun took my breath away. It’s doing more than that.


Emotional Reserve

I think we all have this thing called Emotional Reserve. The capacity to respond emotionally to a situation or to a person. I think it comes with an upper limit and a lower limit as well. In addition to that we also have 2 kinds of emotional reserve. One positive and one negative.

As we go about our lives, we build up and stock this emotional energy. We use positive to balance out the negative. The way to deal with negative emotional reserve is to find a way to let that out. We do it many ways – physical, mental etc. The ways we let the emotional charge could be – writing, talking to friends or family, just yelling it out in a shower, working on something or even sex. Unlike negative reserve which needs to be drained now and then, we need to do the exact opposite of it with positive reserve. Do some conscious acts – to build it. Follow a routine, play with a baby, be generous with words, acts – meditation and sitting in nature, being in the present.

The positive reserve can be used to balance out the negative reserve but it doesn’t work always. Otherwise we wouldn’t need anyone else in this world. This world exists as an exchange medium of these energies. At the end of day we are left with what we did with these both reserves.

All this sounds very, very obvious. Yep. This whole blog post is my way of letting go of some of my negative emotional energy.

Coincidence – when Universe whispers

I would probably sound very cooky in this post, but it’s ok. I still want to talk about it.

There are moments when I think I feel very connected to – I don’t know how to describe it but let’s call it nature. Like nature in a sense – the omni-presence that is all around us, whether it’s natural or man-made. It was one of those days. I was reading – The World is Sound¬†and was thinking about how I have always felt this connection to the Universe though sound. I am not a musician but I have this ear for anything that is beautiful and awe inspiring. Anyhow, I felt connected and then I was driving to see a friend and turned on NPR. There was a talk going on, I tuned in half way through. The speaker was just amazing. Funny and really deep thinking guy. A guy who rolled with punches in his life but still can make others laugh. I was dying to know who that is – but the program keep continuing without interrupting or telling who that is. I could tell the person who was interviewing is Ira Glass Adam Savage, but have never heard of the guy being interviewed. I was getting extremely excited because whatever this guy was saying was something I feel deep down. I felt instantly connected.

After like 30 mins of driving and reaching my destination I was still in car sitting and waiting to find out who that is. It was City Arts & Lectures¬†episode and the guest was Marc Maron. I was intrigued and wanted to find out more about him. After googling him and reading up I came to know that his date of birth is same as mine!! I mean I know it’s stupid to see coincidence and I am just joining the dots like a child but what are the chances? I was shocked – because whenever I listened to a stand up comedian I would laugh and forget about them but this guy made me feel very connected to the stuff he was talking about – about life, money and how he does things he does. It completely synced with me and moved me.

It felt like I was connected to something higher than me before and it responded back to me with this amazing experience. It was just mind blowing. Coincidences abound my life, regularly but this one was big and meaningful.

Nostalgic Water Pot

Today has been a weird day. I am exhausted physically and mentally. When I do, I think what happens is I tend to get Nostalgic and long for some spiritual connection. I don’t know what it is but I can only sense a longing. It’s not physical or mental but just a little flickering presence of spiritual longing. I catch myself humming bhajans which I have long forgotten and I keep wondering about the path I am on.

Our lives are defined by destinations we seek. At least at this worldly level. The spiritual world is however is defined by moments. A moment of awakening and a moment of just pure witnessing. I don’t know what it is – I can’t put my finger on it and say this is it. If I do that I will bring it to this physical realm and it loses it’s meaning. But I feel like these are moment defined by images and music. That’s the best I can do.

Last time I was visiting India, visiting my grand parents in a remote village – I came across a woman who was heating up a pot of water. It was twilight. People are back from fields and they are done with their chores, worries and anything related to physical world. That single mud pot, boiling water under a fire created with twigs etc – was etched in my memory. It was my window to the other realm. At that moment, I stopped and took all of it in. The image of what I was seeing was trivial, but what it represented to me at some deeper level was profound. I can’t express it – but when I think of that water pot, it reminds me of something big. Something beyond me. I just had a glimpse but it felt like eternity. I captured it and am carrying it with me. That moment.

This feeling of longing also reminds me of a particular song. Here it is. When I listen to it, it completely takes me over and makes me forget everything around me. It plucks the nostalgic strings that not know of.

It is indeed a rendition of a beautiful bhajan. A bhajan that captures how Radha used to feel when she used to miss Krishna. Again those things are labels, names, ephemeral – the essence of it is – longing. Which is exactly what I am feeling.

This is me

Watching this moved me a lot. This was me growing up. This was me in every social situation that I came across. This is still me. I vigorously cut those cutouts and work very hard to fit myself in. It never worked perfectly and I ended up carrying so many of them with me. This is me. This made me both sad and happy.

The Astronomer in Me

When I was a kid, I don’t know when exactly but I wanted to become an Astronomer. I used to tell people and the inner me that when I grow up I will be an Astronomer. It made me immensely happy. That kid in me was just dreaming up things. I used to visit my grandparents’ place – a remote village where people slept at 7pm and skies were clear – I could see million stars in the sky and never have to think that it won’t be possible to touch them one day. I was a dreamer.

As I grew up I changed my life goals. I switched from Astronomer to a Number Theorist. I was obsessed with numbers and would dream up numbers. Then came a phase where I dreamed up of being Physicist. Like a serious one. I even dreamed up of becoming an Astrophysicist! Sigh.

Tonight was an emotional night. I met a lot of friends and couple of drinks later, as I laid back in a hammock to witness the night sky with my daughter as I started to tell her stories of Moon and Stars – I witnessed a bright sky (8PM) and one single star. The ambient light of Oakland has let only one star to glow in the sky. It was a sad state. It moved me. It looked like my lonesome dream of Astronomer stuck in space time. It was pretty sad.

I spent some time on feeling nostalgic about it and realized that dreamy Astronomer boy is still within me. I had a very rare glimpse of that boy who would spend hours just staring at sky and wondering how they lit up, far far away. I miss that dude. I miss that Astronomer kid. Long time back when we moved into our new place I was excited that we have a new place and ample space to finally have our own Telescope to look at sky – but then Sangita mentioned – that in this country having a Telescope is creepy that you use to look into your neighbors houses! Thanks Hollywood for killing millions of kids dreams!

It’s ok. I can still look at bare skies and transcend into that kid who still has that gleam of excitement about being made out of stardust. I love looking up night skies and having that feeling.

Parenting through Incentives

Off late, I have noticed a weird behavior on my behalf. It is with respect to my daughter who is 2.5 years old. I have noticed 3 dominant reactive patterns of behavior in me. When I am trying to get something done by my daughter or make her to do something I usually do one of the 3 following things.

  1. I try to scare her by saying that I will withhold love. For example, I would say – “Ok, you don’t seem to be interested in getting ready for school – so I am leaving you here and going to my work”
  2. I try to compare or show preference to something/someone else. For example, I would say – “Ok, if you don’t get ready soon I will take Tina (her toy) to school and you will be at home”
  3. I try to cajole her with incentives. For example, I would say – “Ok, you can watch one show or you can eat one yogurt squisher if you get ready for school”

I know all those sound very brutal, but I have been so implicitly using them that it took me a while to catch myself doing it. I spent some time trying to understand where this stems from. I mean, these are learned behaviors which I am modelling for my child and she is going to learn them too. If you think about it – the above list can be easily modified and applied to how we do our jobs. A employer would basically make you work by –

  1. Scare – If you don’t do your job – you will be fired.
  2. Compare – The others are doing a better job than you.
  3. Compensate – If you finish this in half the time, you will get a bonus.

These methods involved in getting someone from point A to point B – seems universal. Upon digging a little deeper I realized there already exists a Strategy of Persuasion in Indian philosophy called – Saama, Dana, Bheda, Danda. Saama is Persuasion, Dana is bribing, Bheda is threat, Danda is punishment. There are 3 more in that list – Maya – deceit, Upeksha – ignoring, Indrajala – jugglery.

Not matter what other connections I find – in the moment I don’t feel right about this. I don’t think parenting can be done with above techniques. It’s easy to follow those techniques but I think it’s creating a bad model for your child. Unfortunately I don’t know (at this moment) what my alternatives are. I mean I don’t have any other ways to get my daughter inspired to do something. I am in a dilemma.