The missing part in life..

Sunset Boat Tour Naples - Sweet Naples Tours
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Well, I very frequently answer questions on Quora. And even though Q&A platform hosts a plethora of topics, I find many questions coming from teenagers or young college going folks about life. They seem to ask very depressing questions about having lost interest in life? Or have failed in life at the age of 19? ( which stunned me for a while..) or having failed in exams repeatedly and so lost interest in life? And even few of them write about having no girlfriend, and so depressed in life and even going to the extent of being prepared to commit suicide?

I find that many of the questions and worries arise at that time are due to over-expectations from life. At that age, we feel the world is perfect, because we are taught so at school. We think we should never fail, because we have always been good at school. We think if we fail, that’s the end of life, because our friends will move on to the next class or some good college, and we have lost the race. So, we have lost the chance in life to rise.

When I read these questions, I feel very sad at the thinking of these teenagers or young folks. Ofcourse, I am not very old either, but atleast I have crossed the stormy waters of teenage and even to certain extent the good old college days. All these questions come from over-expectation from life. Because the canvas of our understanding of life is very narrow at that time. And due to which, it is very easy to get entangled in the negative thoughts and ideas. So, whenever I see such questions, I feel it as an obligation to write answers to their questions to try to convince them with the reality of the world, and so they can start thinking positively about life. Here are some of the questions which asked.

https://www.quora.com/I-failed-in-life-I-used-to-be-a-topper-but-left-with-nothing-I-ruined-my-life-I-am-19-now-I-have-no-hope-in-life-and-waiting-for-the-end-Can-you-motivate-me-with-some-examples/answer/Abhishek-Karadkar-5

https://www.quora.com/Is-there-a-way-in-life-to-lose-gracefuly-Im-30-I-havent-had-a-gf-in-10-years-Im-a-college-drop-out-Im-autistic-I-live-with-my-mom-I-work-for-minumum-wage-I-want-to-die-every-day-Why-am-I-still-alive/answer/Abhishek-Karadkar-5

The above is a classic case of over-expectation from life. I find the problem is until school, we are being raised up in an almost ideal world, enclosed within the school premises and safe home environment. We are being guided by school teachers and even college mentors about the career decisions we need to take in life, or what subjects should we choose etc. But no one teaches the most important subject which is life itself! We hardly fail until we get into college, and even in university, we always strive to be A-grade student throughout. We have stable relationships until we reach college, where our parents support us, financially and emotionally, our school or college buddies are with us, and everyone is nice with us. But things change when we leave the secure home or college gates, and venture out into the world of job or business. We get hit with new deadlines, with work pressure, and no one seems to be trust worthy. Suddenly, we see we are failing at our work or even our relationships start to crumble, and then due to being raised in a near perfect world of a nice and goody environment, we suddenly lose interest in life. One breakup, or one failure shatters us completely. And slowly and steadily, people start losing interest in life, many blame of being tricked until school that the world is a good place, and they blame everyone in this world, except themselves. And then people ask the above questions when things totally go wrong or in a bad direction..

So, I wish we were taught in school or college itself that this world is not a perfect place. It is not fair either. When we are taught about physical education and science of how the world works, we are just taught the principles of how it works ideally! Rather, we need to be made aware of how imperfect this is and it is our moral obligation to make it perfect. We are lauded for our grades, and achievements, and special care is taken that no one fails, just to be politically correct. Rather, we should be allowed to fail and experience what failure is. Because it is better to fail at an early age, than to fail later in life. We are being conditioned to concentrate more on exams and preparation for cracking the tough exams, but the real puzzle is life itself, and no one even dares to crack this puzzle. People expect that we will learn as we grow up and get the experiences as time passes. But we are not taught that a set of bad experiences can shake our self belief and crumble us down. Because we are set to sail the boat in the stormy life, all alone. Its almost like sailing the boat without even knowing how to steer the boat in the right direction. Then when the storm of emotions due to some bad experience like failure in exams or getting a job, or even losing a loved one like parents or girlfriend hits us, how can we expect to sail this boat safely?

Hence, I feel this part is what is missing in life. That’s why people ask such depressing questions on such platforms, and many even take the worst steps which inevitably decides the fate of their life. I feel this over ideal, over safe, over secure, over caring life in school or college is something a obstacle to know the reality of life. Even though many of us, like me, learn it the hard way sooner or later. But isn’t it nice to know it before? Like for example exams like IIT entrance, SAT, CAT or GMAT for MBA entrance, or even UPSC for Indian Civil service are just entrance to a career stream. But when we are in school or college, we are taught that if we crack these exams, then life is SET. Then Life is the best with no money issues or job security problem. Its like a safety net for life. I was also eluded into this WEB of LIES… To my 28 year old self, I want to ask now that was it really worth preparing so hard for those exams? Has life been so good for me? Has it provided me a safety net?

My answer is a big NO! Infact, I faced some of the toughest problems in my life even after I had secured admission in one of the finest universities in the USA, or even after I landed a well paying job. The exam preparation didn’t help me to solve my life problems. It just handed over me to the gates of a career which I didn’t know whether it was right for me or not. It did not make me happy. Even after passing the exams, or getting a degree, I wasn’t happy. Why? Because they were never my life goals or something I deeply wanted in life. They were the tasks which were assigned to me due to the influence of peers in school or college. Everyone was persuing them, and so we do not want to fall behind. So,we also enter the rat race, and slog hard to pass them. And then we get blacked out! So,the problem is even if we pass or fail them, life doesn’t change much. Still people give so much over importance to them, that they get depressed when they fail in such exams.

So, this is the missing lesson of life. I learnt it through a hard way that above all such school or entrance exams, it is the life’s exam that matters the most. And the bad part is there is no syllabus, no particular exam dates, no graders and no evaluation of it. We have to give this exam everyday, any time, with surprises and shocks, and we ourself have to evaluate whether we passed or failed….

So,till then, lets keep filling these missing part of wisdom in our life, which act as a wheel to steer our boat in the right direction…

© Abhishek Karadkar and abhiknotes.com, 2021. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Abhishek Karadkar and abhiknotes.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Copyright © 2021 AbhikNotes – Powered by WordPress.com

Filtering the noise..

Today, it seems that the world is becoming noisy and chaotic day by day. Not because of any unexpected event or political debacle ( which though keeps happening everyday), but more so due to the consistent, unstoppable noise we are allowing in our life. This noise comes from social media ( Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn), Television, news channels, YouTube videos, Netflix shows, text messages, Gmail or Outlook emails, Zoom or Facetime calls, WhatsApp group updates, sale offers, discount coupons, free subscriptions, loan requests, new deals and what not…..All this marketing and information tsunami bombards us in a gargantuan way!

I wonder if we are ( or have) forgotten to live a calm, serene life. Our life is slowly becoming as if we are living to absorb all this gigantic information created by us for our own disposal. Hardly can we stay away from our cell phone or laptop nowadays. Psychologist have invented a new word for this – ‘Nomophobia’, which means the fear of being without a mobile device, or beyond mobile phone contact. Did anyone imagine our life would become so much entangled in this web of information and our minds occupied to remain online, 24X7, just that we don’t miss some update or important information? After all mobile technology, or say Iphones were only invented, and brought into market after 2007. and it took few years to get them universalized worldwide. So, roughly, its been just a decade since our life has been caught up by the mobile network.

Even, social media has been there since last 10-15 years only. LinkedIn started in 2003, Facebook in 2004, YouTube in 2005, Twitter in 2006, (all straight in a row, more of a coincidence I believe) all became ubiquitous in the last decade itself. Internet has been for a while, but since the beginning of 3G, 4G and onset of handheld, touch screen based mobile phones, we completely became connected to the Web. Infact we have become so used to Google, that we call Google as Internet. And even worse, when Google went down few weeks before ( just for an hour or more), people tried to google on Google to know why Google went down! Nothing more can show how dependent our lives have become on the internet, social media and phone technology.

But amidst all this never ending pandemonium of data, I find that our day just gets spent in absorbing the information we are thrown at. We get the news from news channels and news apps. And the news channels have programmed their transmission to send breaking news every hour, which never breaks! The social media wall sends millions of tweets and posts every day, which the advanced data analytics breaks down into whats trending, and what hot in the market. The marketing companies are more than vigilant to keep posting us attractive ads, coupons, discounts, offers consistently as everything is done online these days, including shopping from food to clothes, gadgets to beauty products. These apps are equipped with AI such that if I don’t open or use a particular app for one day, it sends me some of the cutest messages like ‘We miss you’, ‘Hey Foodie, are you hungry’, ‘Hey, its been a day since we last saw you!’. C’mon, we don’t shop everyday, or even eat outside everyday. But these apps and their cutie messages, will make us visit their apps and shop even if we don’t need. That’s capitalism 101 here.

Now, as most of us have seen or faced this chaos everyday, it is difficult to stay away from all this. Ofcourse, we have the option to disable the notifications, or even not use the apps at all. I tried to deactivate Facebook several times. I reduced my YouTube channel subscriptions. But then after a few days, I simply couldn’t avoid to take a glance of whats going on the Facebook Wall, or even checkout a favorite YT channel. I couldn’t sever my greed to visit these shopping apps during festival sale, or even on a particular day like Valentine’s day, just for the offers or discounts. Ofcourse the endless emails or WhatsApp group updates is something not in our control, except to mute them. But again, the problem of losing out of some crucial info or even a friend’s picture makes us dwell in for sometime during the day. Infact, during the coffee breaks, or even rest room breaks, all we do is hang on to our phones and scroll through the social media. We pride ourselves in staying busy every minute, but I wonder if this busyness is of any real importance. Because most of the content is just surfed, and skimmed, which hardly makes any impact in our life.

Hence, this filtering of noise in our life is something of a herculean task now. I do not yet have a answer for this. Many psychologists and tech experts advise to minimize the use of social media and phones, and even follow a ‘No-Phone Day’ on weekends, or Sunday. But the real question, is it even possible now? Has our life become too much entangled in this web of networking? Is there any way to filter out this noise from our life? Does uninstalling apps, or deactivating social media accounts, make our life calmer, better and happier? Is it possible to live almost an isolated life without this swathing world of information age?

I do not have definite answers, but I do know these questions and quest for their answers is what matters more than all the fancy offers or breaking news out there. Our health, our mind, our career, our productivity, and even our relations with our family and friends is dependent on this. I hope we find a balance by filtering this noise and reliving a calm yet productive routine.

The Truman Show!

A short review on how ‘Trumanized’ the world has become

I recently watched ‘The Truman Show’ movie. Even though it has been more than 2 decades since this movie was released, but after seeing this movie, I can relate the world resembles much like ‘The Truman Show’ more than ever! I would like to express some of my observations about this movie.

First of all, kudos to Jim Carrey and the whole film cast for such a spectacular performance. The acting and its story theme make us glued to the movie throughout. But more than acting or the subject of the movie, I am enamored by the depth this movie has. This movie depicts the life of reality show which happens to be portray reality in an abstract manner. Because, unlike the usual daily soaps or reality shows, this movie actually shows the real world itself. Because, I find not much difference between the world we live in today, and that of the world presented to Truman in his name show! Today, we are surrounded by hundreds of gadgets and devices on which our life is dependent on. Everything is tracked, and surveillance has become the oxygen of this world. Just like the intricate network of 5000 cameras captured every minute details of Truman, so does all the ‘Internet of Things’ does for us. The information we Google, the friends we make on Facebook, the messages we send on WhatsApp, the pictures we like on Instagram, the videos we watch on YouTube, the mail we send on Gmail, the apps we downloaded from AppStore, the online shopping we make on Amazon, the places we travel to on Google Maps, the restaurants we visit on Yelp, the jobs we apply for on LinkedIn, the hotels we stay in, the people we date on Dating Apps, the car we drive, the books we read, or even the credit card we use for purchases…OMG, doesn’t it sound like ‘The Truman Show’?

And the worst part is that we have become used to all this. We have indirectly accepted all this by our own consent. As Christof rightly said in this movie,

We accept the reality of the world with which we are presented. It’s as simple as that.

Christof, the creator of ‘The Truman Show’

Today, we accept the world presented by news media, entertainment movies, TV shows, podcasts, talk shows, internet and social media as being the real one. It is like we have become a part of crowd psychology. The way of eating, shopping, dating, traveling all being inadvertently influenced and standardized. Monopoly is the real law book these days. If all the information networks decided to make a villian out of some person, then there is no way the world can oppose it. That person is bound to get victimized. And ironically, all the media pride themselves on free speech, freedom and liberal values. In reality, it is their imposition of information and opinions on the world which thwarts the freedom of all the people. But unfortunately, we all have become like ‘Truman Burbank’. We simply don’t even know that we are stuck up in a world of ‘seahaven island’ owned by tech billionaires, media moguls, oil barons and business conglomerates which have turned this world into a studio to make us accept the reality as they want us to see.

Image result for truman show studio from space
Image Credits

And this show did one marvelous thing. It predicted the future of the world. After its release in 1998 ( the same year when Google started), most of the today’s giant social media( FB, Insta, Twitter, YT, Uber, Maps, WhatsApp) and government surveillance program( PRISM), all happened in the last 22 years. Even the Iraq invasion was imposed by the Bush administration under the false pretext of Iraq having WMD. And you know, the world accepted it. Because we all were ‘Trumanized’. Had it not been the audacious whistleblowers like Ed Snowden, Julian Assange, Chelsea Manning, we would not even have realized about such clandestine programs. Had it not been Chris Wylie, then Facebook’s Cambridge Analytica scandal would never have become known. Because these people refused to accept the world as it was presented to them. After all this is the basis of scientific mindset isn’t it? Not long ago, the Church used to preach ‘The world is flat’, some conservative Hindus used to ban overseas travel under the reasoning of committing sinful acts, or even conservative Muslims used to impose Shariya law and ban women education, compulsion of Hizab etc. But it was this curiosity, scientific mindset and the brave men and women who refused to be a part of this show, and challenged them. We owe our today’s progress of the world to them.

So, finally, as said in the movie by Christof, ‘If he was absolutely determined to discover the truth, there’s no way we could prevent him“. Similarly, we have the freedom to choose our own opinions, our ideas and our thoughts. We have the right to accept and reject what is bombarded at us by the world. There is no need for everything to be standardized or even labeled under some ideology. This world is diverse, and beautiful. Even we humans come in all forms of color, race, languages, tradition, culture and behavior. We don’t need to embrace what the media tells us always. We don’t need to eat a particular burger or a soft drink just because the marketing team desperately tries to convince us. We don’t need to buy a tech gadget just because the media tells its a cool thing! We don’t need to embrace the life of Page 3 models and actors, assuming it be charming. We can and must maintain the freedom to live as per our conscience. Ofcourse, it isn’t that easy to sail upstream. But as said, if we are absolutely determined to not become like Truman, then no technology, no media propaganda, or surveillance can stop us from living a free life. We can live a life which does not allow our opinions to be influenced by what trends in social media. Just like Truman stepped out of his studio exit, so can we exit all the hatred, wrong bias, narrow opinions from our mind.

I wish I had known before..Part 1

I wish I had known somethings early in life such as …….

Today, I am writing about few things in life which I wish I had known before….But I think most of us get to know this only through experience, or maybe few of the lucky ones might get this wisdom early in life as well. But here’s my first wisdom I wish I had known before…..

Early success in life is not really a big thing

Yes, this is because when we are in school and university, we often are very disciplined and studious. We take our study and academic life very seriously ( atleast many of us, and I took it pretty seriously). So, with that hard work, we get the good grades and marks. And we think that is success. Because, after all, in school and college life, marks or GPA is the only yardstick to judge if we are progressing or failing, isn’t it? But that early success is really not a big achievement. Why?

Firstly with that continued success ( I say this because I used to be either a topper, or always amongst the top five in class), we become complacent, and even limit ourselves to our studies only. We form a fortress around ourself, with what is called as comfort zone, and then we are happy with that success inside that comfort zone. We make friends who are just like us, either toppers, nerds, or achievers. That’s when groupism starts, as we limit ourselves from getting to know the other things in the world. Now, I know studying is one of the important parts of school and college life, as it imparts the future perks like good college, scholarships, good job and lots of nice things in life. And I agree with that, as my life would not have been as comfortable ( atleast to a certain extent) had I not studied and got good grades.

But the problem is we often sink ourselves into that world of success early in life. And in that process, we miss out a lot. Because schooling, teenage and early 20’s life never ever come back again, once its gone. And once we are adults, we have to work, there is no escape except if you are born in a Kardashian or Paris Hilton family. And the adulthood brings with it all its own set of perks like responsibility, stress, work pressure, deadlines, financial obligation, relationship commitment, marriage, kids etc etc. So, failing in adulthood is not a good option. We have to work and achieve some degree of success, depending on our ambitions and goals.

So, only childhood and teenage life has that advantage when we really don’t need to work so hard. Because as I had seen in my generation, and it continues till today, that kids, teenagers and collegiates are so much stressed out regarding their grades, homework, assignments, exams, projects and what not. The coaching classes have created even more mess into their life, by having 6 to 8 hours of classes. They not only have to study in school, but also at home, almost till they go to bed. And with the ed-tech companies and digital apps, now, there is no longer any restriction to study for x number of hours only. With apps and online education, 24×7 classes and coaching is ON…. Even kids as small as 6 to 8 years old are introduced and forced to do coding by a startup in India. The rat race for IIT coaching was there at that time, and now it has worsened. These poor kids and teenagers have to spend their 5-6 precious years just to get the early success in life, by cracking a particular exam, or getting 5.0 GPA to get into MIT, harvard or even become like mark zuckerburg.

Hence, I think that early success and working until getting exhausted is really over-rated. There is no need for all this. Because later in life, they have to work until they get retired. There is simply no escape. And I think that if they work too much in their early life, then the possibility to get burned out and hence, lose interest in life is more. This happens, and I am also a part of it. Sometimes, I just dont want to work anymore, even though I like to work. Why? Because I have been doing that since my school or college days, and so I am not only bored to do that again and again, but also I miss my old days for not having done few things which were easily possible. Like playing a particular sport, video games with friends, going out for trekking or cycling with school buddies, dating a girl whom I liked ( but not possible now as she is either married or dating someone else or away living in some other country), or even reading books of famous authors like Ernest Hemingway, Albert Camus, or Isaac Asimov.

And I miss doing those activities, as I was just busy at that time in persuing that early success which no one cares today. That success made me miss other things which could have made my life more enriched with experiences. That early success made me live in a bubble, where I felt academic or college accomplishments is all that mattered. Oh Boy, I was so wrong! That early success even made me lose the opportunity to spend quality time with my family, friends or even the girl which I liked. And most important of all, that success made me unaware of what failure is. Because as said by J K Rowling and many successful people, that it is failure that teaches the lessons which enable us to grow in life, and not success. As J K Rowling said.”…that I had a knack for passing examinations, and that, for years, had been the measure of success in my life and that of my peers.” But even she realized later that her early success could not prevent her from spinning down into poverty, committing some mistakes and getting depressed. Because she admits that she had been avoiding failure, and had been in an illusion that her early success will enable her to ride the journey of life. But later did she understand the importance of failure, and how it teaches the vital lessons of life.

That’s why it is said that “Failures are stepping stones to success”. Hence, I wish I had known earlier that it is OK to fail early in life as life is always simpler when you are living with your parents, and you are not bombarded with colossal responsibilities. And you have time, and space to fail, and rise again, again fail at something else, and learn from it to rise again, when you are 16 or 20 years old. But once we enter the field of adulthood, I do not believe the world opens its arms to embrace you with your failures. So, the room for improvement is highest when we are very young. Ofcourse, it does not mean we cannot fail at later age. Yes, we can but just that the efforts to climb up amidst all the paraphernalia is not very welcoming.

Hence, I would say that just as we were taught the poem “Early to Bed, Early to Rise…..when we were kids, I think we can tweak that a little bit, such as “Early to Fail, Early to Rise, makes a person healthy, wealthy and wise!”

© Abhishek Karadkar and abhiknotes.com, 2021. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Abhishek Karadkar and abhiknotes.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Copyright © 2021 AbhikNotes – Powered by WordPress.com

Hope is a good thing!

How to be aware of the power within us!

The heading of this post might remind few of the readers about the epic movie “The Shawshank Redemption”. That movie is one of my favorites! In that movie, Andy Dufresne tells Red, that “Hope is a good thing, and no good thing ever dies!”. I find this quote to be so much valuable in our life.

Because everything changes in life. Just like day and night, young and old, summer and winter, so does our situations, our successes, our failures all change with time. Similarly in life, we see events happening, and some events are so deep, that their effect remain with us for a long time. We feel that this will never change. We start losing hope, and then suddenly, out of utter darkness, there comes a ray of light which makes darkness disappear. That ray of light is the hope. A small good event can change the entire situation. We ought to keep faith in that ray of hope.

I particularly like the Austrian psychologist Viktor Frankl’s book “Man’s Search for Meaning”. It is one of the splendid books ever written. For me, that book is something which charges my battery with renewed hope and faith, whenever failures or setbacks bombard me. That book is like a charging station of positivity and synergy. The book is very simple yet heart touching. The author had to undergo the worst experiences in Auschwitz, yet he managed to not only survive but also find hope and faith in such a hell. He even helped several of his colleagues to overcome depression and losing hope in life. The author simply argued that “Life can have meaning even in the most miserable of circumstances and that the motivation for living comes from finding that meaning. That we humans have a power to choose our response to situations, however gruesome they might be, And in our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

I find this to be so true even in our daily life. Thank God we are in much better situation as compared to the infernal concentration camps. And we have the same power to respond to the situations we face in our life. Stephen Covey quoted ” Look at the word responsibility—“response-ability”—the ability to choose your response. Highly proactive people recognize that responsibility. They do not blame circumstances, conditions, or conditioning for their behavior. Their behavior is a product of their own conscious choice, based on values, rather than a product of their conditions, based on feeling”. Isn’t the message by Viktor Frankl and Stephen Covey resonate on the same note?

The Peter Parker principle says “With more power, comes more responsibility”. I would add on to that, No power does not mean no responsibility. Because, whether the situation is good or bad, we all are “Response-Able”. Our response does not depend on the power. Rather, I find with positive or pro-active response to any situation, comes more power to beat the problem!

We all have the power and freedom to choose the response. We can either give positive or negative response. Everyone has the ability to respond. And this power to respond is a hope for us, that every situation can be changed. If some of us remember the movie Cast Away, we can relate how Tom Hanks desperately tried hard to get away from the island to reach civilization, but the stormy ocean waves destroyed all of his attempts. Until one day, he finds the same storm delivers a metal enclosure, and suddenly Tom receives a brainwave! He finds hope that he can escape using that part, and finally he builds a much stronger boat that can withstand the waves, and sails across the mighty ocean to get noticed by civilization! That’s hope and faith, my friend!

So, never lose hope, never lose your response, however dark the night may be!

Professor and the boatman!

How an interesting story can tell us a lot about life!

Boatman vs Professor – RonelDamian
Source

There is one beautiful story of a professor and the boatman. I assume many of us might have read about this in school. But I guess with time, we often forget the good things we learnt before. So, let’s start this post with this interesting story.

The story begins with the professor, a very erudite and learned man, who decides to cross the river to reach his destination. He sees a boatman, and asks him if he could cross the river. The boatman agrees and thus begins the journey of the professor across the river. The river is huge, and due to recent rains, it is flooded across its breadth. The professor soon gets bored, and starts talking with the boatman to pass the time. He asks the boatman ,”Do you know about science and engineering?”. The boatman is confused, and tells the professor, he does not know anything about it. The professor tells the boatman,”Your 25% life is wasted as you do not know about science and engineering which is so important in today’s technological revolution”.

Steem Cartoon : The Professor and The Boatman — Steemit
Source

Then, the professor asks the boatman, “Okay, then tell me, have you read about geography, climate, and environment which is necessary to understand the earth and its wonderful seasons”. The boatman is again confused and just nods his head. The professor laments on the boatman, and says “Oh no, you have wasted 50% of your life. Anyways, let’s keep this aside. Just tell me, do you know anything about economics, how money works, and about banking, finance etc. anything?” The boatman by then is extremely sad and says, “Sir, I do not know anything about this either”. The professor sees the boatman’s situation as pitiful, and tells him, ” My dear, you have wasted 75% of your life!”

During this conversation, the boat has crossed halfway. Then, suddenly, the boatman sees something and asks the professor” Sir, do you know how to swim?”. The professor laughs and says, “No, I never got the time to learn it, as I was busy studying the world, science, politics, philosophy and economics”. The boatman tells the professor “Sorry sir, we have a hole in the boat, and the boat is going to sink!”.And then before jumping to save his own life, the boatman says to the professor” I think you have wasted 100% of your life!”. 

Steem Cartoon : The Professor and The Boatman — Steemit
Source


Now, what’s the moral of the story? Well, this is a very interesting story, and it’s one of my favorites. I find this extremely relevant in our modern day life. We all are to a certain extent living the life of the professor. We study in school and college about the wonders of the world, about history, about science, but then do we even apply them in later life. We slog and work hard the whole life in earning money or making a living, but we forget that money is made for us, and we are not made for money. We have harnessed the power of science to solve physical problems which has reduced efforts, in other words made us lazy and dependent. But we have not harnessed the power of our mind and brain to the fullest. That’s why we worry too much for small issues, get nervous or depressed easily, stress out our life over petty relationships or serve our big ego. We forget that we are social animals, who are expected to care for others and live together. But we just maintain our animalistic instincts which can roughly be scaled down to eating, sleeping and mating.

So, what has happened, in short, is we are wasting 100% of our life, in spite of all the learning, earning, fighting, gossiping. Because, like the boatman, we are not learning how to swim, which means understanding what life is about, and how to live it beautifully. Books can be written ( or are already written by famous philosophers and writers). So, “Not learning how to swim means not learning how to live”. That, we are not living our life to the fullest. That we are working on those things like money, house, or car which ain’t going to save our life, on our deathbed, or even save our life, when we are depressed. Only by understanding the importance of life which means having a disease free, strong body, a stress free mind, a social and caring personality, by loving nature, family and country is going to help us swim the vast ocean of life, which is filled with enemies like sharks, ups and downs like surface waves and encompasses a depth of uncertainty and problems which needs to be overcomed to keep ourselves afloat! That’s the moral of the story! 

Poking nose in our affairs!

Why Indian relatives, neighbors or few friends like to poke their noses in other’s people’s personal life.

I have always wondered why our family/relatives love to interfere in other people’s affairs? Why don’t they mind their own business? Being an Indian and having lived abroad as well, I guess this is more so seen in Indian families. Nothing to be proud of, though!

Yes, Indian relatives can be really irritating. Like recently I watched “Never Have I ever” and Devi illustrated the definition of “Aunties” as being a specific group who are allowed to have opinions about our life and our shortcomings! In other words, they simply poke their nose in other people’s affairs. Just to clarify, this is no way resembles only a specific gender, or community, but is widely seen to be a characteristic of Indian genes!

Now the question is why don’t we Indians mind our own business? Like sarcastically, most Indians in real life hardly do any business, and so maybe we like to interfere in other’s business! Anyways, jokes apart, but this is a real fact that Indians often get bombarded by questions on their personal life from their relatives or even neighbors to quite a large extent. Like, for a school going boy or girl, the obvious questions are how much marks did they score in exams, or even practice tests! Who is coming first in class, and why he/she failed in so and so exam? Why the heck are they concerned of other kids exams or performance?

Similarly, the relatives love to add fuel to fire by asking about any on going love affairs for a college going guy, or when is he/she going to start a job? Or if they are working, then how much are they earning? Then, even if in a rare case, all the above questions are diligently answered, but their appetite for curiosity doesn’t stop there. It continues with when is he/she going to get married? When are they going to have kids? and it goes on and on and on….

This is the only problem in Indian society, which is not restricted to any community, or caste, or religion or state. Its universal! I wonder why the relatives are so much interested in others affairs. I mean seriously, what are they gonna get by asking such stupid questions? Why does it matter if someone is dating, or not working, or not marrying. Its their individual problem and as long as its not directly related to whoever is concerned, I guess the relatives or neighbors should learn the basic decency to stay away from other’s affairs. Because this is not only highly unproductive and time wasting, but also leads to increase in frustation or worries for those who are being tormented with these forceful pressure to answer such senseless questions.

As far as I know, the western society is far more mature and advanced, when it comes to interfering in other people’s affairs. I have never seen anyone asking about grades, or job status, or about relationships to me, and neither to each other publicly. Ofcourse, such conversation do happen between parents and children, or between people who are in serious relationships. But still, their relatives or neighbors never ever ask such questions. I did not even knew who my neighbor was when I was living in the States. I just saw them few times, but apart from occasional hello’s or exchanging smiles, no conversation happened. While on the other side, in India, even the family living two floors above me keep on asking what am I doing. Those relatives with whom I never talked in the past 5 years, suddenly start asking about my personal life. This is preposterous!

I am not saying that Indian society should start following like western society. This ain’t gonna happen anytime soon. But the underlying fact is that there has been a huge change in generation in Indian society. My generation ( Millennial) who are born in 90’s or early 2000’s, who grew up in a country which was liberalized in 1991, who spend time on western created social media, and love to watch Hollywood movies and TV series, and some of us who are even educated abroad, have been tremendously influenced by some western concepts like individual freedom, having personal space or privacy, and with a tendency to stay busy in something, be it work, surfing internet, watching netflix or playing video games. We find asking questions about others life, unless it matters to us, to be a violation of personal right of freedom. Hence, we abhor to intrude in other people’s personal life.

But the relatives are one or two generation older to us, and they were brought up in society dominated by socialism, patriarchy and centuries old religious propaganda. Their life or career choices were limited ( for which I feel sorry for them), they had a difficult upbringing, often in strict conditions, bound by family virtues or so called family prestige. Also, they did not have many options to spend their time like social media, Netflix, internet or video games. All they could do was either reading, listening to radio or gossiping. I guess the gossip part was the easiest and entertaining, due to huge population and dense neighborhoods. Even privacy was something of a luxury for them. The walls seemed to have ears, and everyone knew or wanted to know about other’s life. That’s why asking questions about other’s personal lives, or giving free advice became kind of la coutume.

But now our generation being different, and with the world changing so rapidly, I think its time that relatives, neighbors or friends understand this, and learn to accept other’s personal space. There is already a lot to worry about, as life has become more complicated then ever. Our generation is going through a lot of uncertainties in life, be it job security, or relationship issues, which inadvertently makes us stressed out and concerned about future. Adding the incessant bombardment of gossips, or questions from relatives is simply unbearable!

Atleast, I have decided to listen to my favorite scientist advice, which is

Richard Feynman

Life is real short..

Steve Jobs once said in his commencement speech address that “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” If we keep the humor aside, then it does convey a deep aspect in our life.

Our life is real short, and we keep thinking that life is a long journey. We get involved in petty conflicts, we keep working for the job we hate, we keep talking nonsense things about others the entire day and listening the same from them. We often fail to realize that the end of life can happen anytime.

We need to spend our time on those things which we want to do in our life. We keep scheduling them ahead and ahead in life, but who knows what will be there ahead. We save money for a rainy day in future, but miss out the present joy by worrying about the future. Though there is nothing wrong to save money or invest for a better life ahead, but sacrificing the present joy, and happy moments for some bright sunny day is not always the wise choice. As we do not know how long we are gonna live, hence it is better to keep enjoying everyday life has given us, and also make sure we can enjoy the future similarly.

We need to be very mindful of how we talk, behave with people around us, especially within our family and friends. We often forget how our parents, family and friends are incredibly vital in our lives. Rather, we fight with them, keep some distance from relatives due to certain conflicts, compete with friends due to jealousy or envy, and even drag our family to courts for property or familial matters. I am not saying everything should be goody goody relations with family and relatives. That is not always possible, but the problem is often we spend so much time of our life in fighting with them on some issues, and we realize how petty that thing was when they suddenly die or pass away. We then feel guilty of how we behaved with them, then blame ourselves for the mistakes committed, and for not giving them few nice moments which they surely deserved.

Hence, we should always keep in mind that life is short not only for us, but for others as well, and there is no point in fighting over small petty issues with them. If we can’t live together with them, then atleast we can get separated amicably without fights or quarrels. Often divorce filing is one of the worst experience in a couple’s life, and by keeping in mind, that life is small and too valuable for not getting involved in such fights, then we realize in the long run, such legal procedures are just a waste of time. Also they make our life more miserable. It is better to live together or get separated without wasting time in long, costly legal fights.

Concluding, we need to just be aware that each day given to us is a gift by life, and it is important that we do some good work before the day ends. We never know what’s going to happen the next day. Everyday, even if we do a tiny amount of good work for others or add some value to the world, then our day has been worth lived……

Life is what we make it..

I recently read Peter Buffett’s book “Life is what you make it” . After reading the book, I found it to be a very interesting and insightful book. First of all, I was not aware who Peter Buffett was. This is because he introduces himself as being a musician, composer and author. Later did I find out that he is also the youngest son of the legendary investor Warren Buffett. This not only raised my eyebrows but also surprised me of the humble attitude and unconventional career selected by Peter, considering his father’s legacy. Ofcourse, this is perfectly fine as everyone has his/her freedom to choose and to practice any profession. But we live in a world where nepotism has become the abiding law( especially in India) and only few people like Peter dare to venture out of their own inspite of the riches laid before them.

I found the book to be somewhat a mixture of Peter’s experiences in life and based on this, he has expressed his philosophy of life. He certainly credits a large share of this wisdom to his parents, and his cultured, mid-western upbringing. He has shared how his mother and father instilled in him a sense of self-respect, work ethic and independence since childhood. The kids were given a fair share of money after they turned 18, and were told not to expect anymore! Peter mentions how he foolishly spent the entire money and shares ( which today might have been worth of millions). But he does not regret about this, and has learned about value of money and life from these experiences.

Peter further adds his understanding of life, and how one should be committed in life to achieve anything. He has illustrated multiple examples of his father’s achievements and the way he achieved them. Even though he comes from a distinguished family, but his life does not reflect any thing even close to a spoiled rich kid. Rather, his simple living coupled with hardships he had to endure to gain recognition as a musician and composer is very exemplary.

He mentions commitment in life as a vital ingredient for tasting the food of success. In his book, Peter writes “Commitment moves the world. It both powers and heals us; its a fuel and medicine together. It’s the antidote to regret to apathy, to lack of self-belief. Commitment batters down closed doors and levels bumpy roads. Commitment begets confidence and also justifies confidence. Commitment enlarges our efforts by drawing on those deep down resources that lie fallow until we determine to discover them and use them.”

I really liked his emphasis on commitment, because it is indeed one of the most lacking aspect in life. Today, we see excess of goals and desires, but lack of commitment and consistency to achieve them. Surely, Peter has seen his father’s commitment in life, and this must have inspired him to accept the importance of commitment.

Adding further, Peter writes “Until one is committed there is tendency, the chance to draw back. Concerning all acts of initiative and creation, there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would come his way. Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now”

The gist of the book can be summarized in Peter’s words “Life is what we make it, and part of succeeding lies in breaking through to a clear understanding of what our own success should look like. No one else can tell us how to measure or describe it. No one else can judge whether we’ve reached our goals or fallen short. The world can throw rewards at us, or can withhold them. That’s the world’s business. But the world can’t judge the fundamental value and legitimacy of what we are trying to achieve. That’s our business. The success we define for ourselves is the measure that cannot be tarnished or taken away”

We are stronger than we think we are, We have courage that we do not recognize until we need it. We are equal to challenges that we haven’t even imagined yet.

Peter Buffett

Thus, I would recommend reading this book as it not only conveys the philosophy of life, but also makes an educative read. Peter’s life stands as an inspiration for us to stay committed in life, and inspite of being privileged to live a fairly secure life without any dearth of money, he chose to carve out his own path in life, and has been living a dignified and satisfied life. He did not chose to simply follow his father’s footsteps, but with his courage, and self-realization, he has stood aside from all the glory and fame, and found his true passion in life, which is music. Men like Peter Buffett are rare, and even rare are such books of wisdom!

Peter ends his book by the following words “So, in closing, I will say to you the same thing that I have said to myself a thousand times. Your life is yours to create. Be grateful for the opportunity, seize it with passion and boldness. Whatever you decide to do, commit to it with all your strength…..and begin it now. What are you waiting for?”

Flower in the forest!

It is said that flowers are one of the nature’s most wonderful creation, just like women. As women have the most unique characteristic to give birth and become mother, so does flowers play a vital role in our life too. They are not only beautiful but they also make the world beautiful with their fragrance and beauty, in abundance! We often give flowers to our loved ones as a gift, be it during valentine’s day or when a husband ties the jasmine garland in his wife’s hair. The feeling of love and trust exuberated by the flowers has no parallel with any expensive gifts or jewelry.

Flowers show simplicity, and that makes it valuable. Though they are not that expensive ( depending on the flower though, but most of them are not), but the message of bonding they bring along cannot be denied. It does not matter what of kind of color the flower may be, red, yellow or white. That’s why even in all religions, we have the tradition to shower God with flowers, be it in temples, or in Dargah’s or in church as well.

Beyond this practical wisdom, flowers do have a lot more to express. It is said by some philosopher that if he had some money in his pocket, then he will spend the half of it to buy food, and spend the half of it to buy flowers! Because the food will keep him alive and the flowers will tell him why to stay alive! Indeed, flowers do share this wisdom for why life is important and what is important in it. We all are aware of the life’s never ending problems, and everyday is new one. We are often bombarded by the media and internet of the wrong happenings in this world. We very much get bored with the same kind of work we do and find ourselves stuck in a perpetual cycle of worries and conflicts.

But, a flower blossoms from its bud everyday, and never stops. It’s blossoming does not depend on the viewer’s appreciation. It simply does its work. Doesn’t it guide us with the wonderful principle of working without any expectation of fruit or outcomes. We often work with the end result expectation, and if we know our work is not going to get appreciated, then it becomes difficult for us to continue with the same momentum. But the flower performs beyond expectations!

People plant flowers in their gardens, and then know and appreciate the beauty of flowers. Usually, the famous flowers which are used everyday such as roses garner the admiration. But what about that rose which blossoms in the forest? As rare as hen’s teeth, it will be difficult for anyone to even know its existence. But still there are several beautiful flowers out in the wild forest, and they still blossom without any of our praise. Similarly, this is analogous to the fact that there are so many people in the world who work hard silently, but do not get any praise. There are many people who work quite inconspicuously, and due to which the show goes on! Be it the hard working doctors and nurses who are fighting against Covid to treat the patients, or be it the delivery men and women who handle millions of deliveries all over the world, when people like us simply order online. Even our mother always works hard for her kids to grow up and become successful. She does not even take any pay for the house work such as cooking, cleaning which she has to do 7 days a week for the whole year. In these modern days when a single paycheck isn’t enough, she even has to do her job for supporting the family. Our mother and all the people who work on the background to keep the world moving, are truely “the flowers in the forest!”

Also, a flower in the forest can also be related to the usual tendency of men and women to ignore/take granted for the loved ones and go after the unloved ones. Yes, this is ironic but don’t we assume people and relationships where we are 100% sure of them, and start taking them for granted. One of the legendary Marathi author P L Deshpande humorously said that “Prathamdarshani premala Dvitiyadarshani utara asto”. It means that after love at first sight, it starts reducing from the second glance! This is unfortunately true, because the people who love us often end up last on our list. We take their trust for granted and assume that this will continue forever. And so they become like the flowers in the forest, who are blossomed with their display of love and trust for us, but we are lost in the forest of our worries and pleasing other people (who in reality are not worth the attention and praise), and we tend to forget our loved ones at the end. Hence, it is written by a famous historian Will Durant in his biography that “What villains we are, that only the forbidden or withheld is sweet to us, and the most generous woman is soonest left unloved.”

Of course, it goes along fairly well on both sides. Will had written it back in 1920’s from the perspective of the male dominated world. But today, with equality, we see that this becomes gender irrelevant. Even few men & women become like the flower in the forest, and wonder what went wrong in their relationship, when he/she had all the talents and worldly accomplishments like education, wealth etc but still his/her river of love could not meet the ocean! Sometimes, it become agonizing for few of them due to breakups, and they even end up committing certain acts which was least expected from them. After all, they just wanted to get a recognition and acceptance of being a beautiful flower in the forest by the other equally beautiful flowers in the garden, isn’t it?

Well, As John Lennon said through his song “Love is the flower you’ve got to let grow.” We need to grow beyond the limitations put by the world, and ought to blossom in our own way. Just as a lotus grows in the mud, and still cherishes its own significance, so does we need to act on the problems in our life, and grow out of it. We cannot let the hidden lotus within us to submerge in the mud of problems. To grow out of it is its true dharma!

Stay connected to my blog, more to come soon!


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Small things add up…

Nowadays, when we are staying or working from home, and this being considered the new normal, it is natural to remember the old days ( not very old, but just few months or years back), and it seems that things have come up a a long way. Today, when we find ourselves stuck up in the virtual world of social media, Netflix and work from home, but we forget there used to be those days when we cherished the small walks in garden or in nature, drinking the hot chai during the rains, going for trek in nearby mountains or hills ( my hometown is blessed with many surrounding hills, and I have very fond memories of it), meeting friends in the evening and talking about out of the box topics, or even roaming around the city by car or bike, just for the sake of passing the time.

When these things were easily done by everyone, everyday ( without even being aware of it), we somehow did not value them. But even those small things add up. We often know and understand more by discussing with friends, rather than internet or books. We make good friends in real life by actual meeting, sharing, with all those fun and random gossip, and not over social media, or accepting follow up request. There was a time when people did not need daily motivation quotes or inspirational videos to stay motivated, but just looking at the real life problems and striving hard to solve them, kept them inspired. There was a time when people did not join weight reducing program to stay fit, but just doing the daily work, traveling by bus, walking, cycling, climbing the stairs, doing housework kept them fit. Gone are the days when every kid had to suffer the punishment at the hands of their parents and teachers, and that punishment somehow got engraved in their memory, which reminded them of not committing that mistake again. But today, on the contrary, we hear that the parents and teachers are punished if they do the same. But even those small things added up in life. We discarded them on the grounds of modernity, freedom and independence, but somehow, we see the need of those things.

After all, we are not meant to be confined to a virtual life or digital image on some online website. We are not meant to be just working to survive the competition or to stay ahead in the success race with family members or friends. As J K Rowling famously said that many people confuse between life and qualifications. We see that in old days, the reasons of stress were poverty or famine or floods or any natural disaster which would destroy the crops or house. But today,we are much much ahead of them, and still our generation has more stress then ever in human history, for what? To beat the competition, to keep social status, to maintain the relationships?? We are stressed out in our work not to make life better or find solutions ( there are exceptions like Elon Musk though), but just with the fear of public opinion, or to avoid breakup in marriage or relationship etc. Today, the equations of life are altered to such an extent where the good old ways of living is simply out of fashion. In this quest to carve out our digital identity in a virtual, encrypted world, we no longer find time for simple, random acts, or loving nature, or even just finding time to be with ourselves.

For the Indian audience who grew up watching the movies during 70’s and 80’s, there were some unique set of movies which glorified simplicity, honesty and innocence. They used to be called parallel cinema. After hearing the sad demise of Basu Chatterjee, many of us were reminded of that era. Particularly were Choti si Baat, or Rajnigandha, or Baton Baton Mein. Today, do we find the satisfied life, or happiness in simple things as depicted in those movies? Even though they were movies, but still those characters and the story touch common man’s life even today. Why? Because they showed reality, they showed the day to day life problems, and also showed the way to live happily amidst all those problems. That tolerance level, capacity to accept the hardships in life, patience to wait and let evolve the beauty of relationships is what we miss today. In many ways, that life was much much akin to nature.

More to write on the beauty of parallel cinema..

The tree and the mountain

I clicked this picture in the Red Rocks Amphitheatre, Colorado. It was a pleasant evening, and when I saw this little tree in front of the giant mountain, many thoughts started coming to my philosophical mind. After all, philosophy is one of my hobbies and I have always loved debating on several philosophical topics with my friends.

So, I find this picture to be very interesting. First of all, its very beautiful. The scenic beauty with the red rocks forming a barren mountain and this tree being the only green vegetation in the whole picture. Wow! I know we can find this in many places around Arizona or Nevada or even Utah. But this Colorado pic clicked my philosophical mind somehow.

I feel this tree represents the human life and the barren mountain represents life’s problems, responsibilities and burdens. Human life is short just like this little tree, and is surrounded by the giant mountain of work stress and societal pressures. As the mountain is completely barren, so are the problems and stress in life. There is greenness in the tree, but not on the mountain. Similarly, it is our life which is good, enriching in itself and not the work or societal expectations.

Just as the tiny tree is standing straight in front of the tall mountain, similarly, we have to stand up and face the mountains of problems in life. This tree resembles the hope and faith in life. I remember the famous quote from the movie “Shawshank Redemption” that “faith is a good thing, and no good thing ever dies”, on the same grounds, this tree stands as an example to grow up in this barren land, in front of the mountain, proudly. So we have to stand up in life and even though there might be huge problems and anxieties,we got to have faith in our own abilities, that we can and we will face them successfully.

This tree also sets a living example that inspite of being the lonely tree in the whole area, so is human life. We come alone in this world and we have to leave this world, alone! Sorry to be so dramatic, but this is hard truth, and we have to bite the bullet eventually. Just as the tree has its short life, so do we. In today’s rat race to achieve so called success, fame, power, love and money, we often forget why are we working so hard and what are we running after. Because all the power, money, fame and human life is short lived, just like this tree. But unlike this tree,we forget to grow and blossom, and by not allowing ourselves to understand the basic purpose in life, we simply keep beating around the bush, and get involved in acquiring temporary pleasures in life. It is sad to say that we waste half of our health to gain the wealth, and then we spend half of that earned wealth to get back the lost health!

We need to find our true purpose in life, our genuine interests and live the life that will help us live the fullest, just like this tree does. It does not care of anyone’s opinions and neither does it stop growing or giving shade to the travelers, due to fear of being alone in front of the huge mountain.Then, why do we forget our work, our responsibilities towards society or humanity and why do we waste our life brooding about the past, worrying about the current problems and being anxious about the coming future?

Just as the tree doesn’t care of the depressing barrenness surrounding it, so should we not overthink or get too much involved in work stress or problems. After all, work or problems in life keep coming and going. We need to remember the famous commencement speech address given by Steve Jobs in Stanford in 2005. He did remind us that “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice.”

Today, we are seeing the impact of covid-19 and fearing the possible recession, but similar fear had mounted up during 2007 crisis, but it did eventually subside. Similar was during 9/11 when the whole world was afraid of terrorism, but eventually, it got over. And same has been repeated so many times back in history, yet we fear, doubt our potential and forget the fundamental truth that “this too shall pass!”.

Hence, I conclude my philosophical thoughts and I am glad to have caught this picture during my travel in Colorado. It reminds me of my life purpose, my potential and gives us a message that no matter, how tall the mountains of fear, stress or problems might be in this barren cynical world, there is a hope and faith in the form of this tree which stands straight with pride to face all those anxieties and fears, grows and blossoms amidst all the problems and performs its duty/work without worrying about the surroundings (past or future).