What did I learn from writing Tretar series?

newyear

You might remember how Tretar project started in a moment of whim. A year has gone by and I was thinking working on it has helped me become, perhaps, a better person. This is what I learned from it:

Commitment. (To know that without commitment, promises and hopes will never see the daylight)
I won’t lie that there were times when I felt like taking a short cut or skip a Tretar entry. After all, I had made the promise to write a new entry every fortnight. It was the beginning of the year and I was drunk on the promise of a new year, a change in destiny and how 2014 would be nothing but smiles. I did not think that time flies and 24 ‘make-you-feel-sublime’ posts is no joke. 24 photographs not either. I struggled to write mid-way and was tempted to cheat. That is what we do when we are happy, we make promises. But I wondered how I can cheat myself? I would skip an entry and no one would notice but I would. So, I did not give myself any option to break my commitment. And, I think that is what life is about. I have had stroke of inspirations at times (I love my entry ‘girl with a tattered jeans’ which I think is one of the best I have written) and I have had lows – but what matters to me is that I showed up and wrote whenever I had to. No matter where I was or how I was, I wrote on every 1st and every 15th. This series was a relationship with my blog and I could not let it down. If we take our commitments seriously, end results are bound to be something you can be proud of.

Patience. (To understand that Rome was not built in a day)
In an age of instant gratification, it is tempting to post short stuff on Facebook more frequently than writing longer articles or blogging. But with the success of my book and satisfaction of finishing Tretar series, I can say that beautiful things take time and patience. Longer efforts tend to produce rarer and more beautiful results which are worth the wait.

Act. (To realize that showing up is more important than perfection)
Previously, I would start writing posts but many would never get out of ‘drafts’ folder. This is because I tried to keep perfecting them and they would never match the standard I sought. With Tretar, I had deadlines and I realized that writing them on time mattered more than writing them perfectly. I would not have 24 posts if I did not have a reason to act. This is what one should follow in life and work too. Perfection is an outcome of persistence and showing up.

Fun. (If you have to do something, make it enjoyable)
I wrote every piece because it made me happy, I wrote what I wanted and how I wanted. This is the most liberating thing in the world – to do something for your own happiness without getting trapped in the scale of popularity and likes. Better yet, do things at your whim, for no rhyme or reason. Enjoy the spontaneity and novelty of such experiences.

So that was an exacting, and hence, rewarding journey of Tretar. Here are the 24 posts all in one place. Which one is your favorite?

Tretar 1, Why we look at sky
We are made of stars
Tretar 2, Back to fairy tales
Someday we come back to loving the fairy tales
Tretar 3, The People That Define Us
Four kinds of people that surround us
Tretar 4, Living the Journey
To know that the journey is the real destination
Tretar 5, the Song of the Quiet
Being comfortable with your introvert self
Tretar 6, Fighting for the Basket
Setting your priorities straight in a dialogue with your future grown up self
Tretar 7, the Gift of Darkness
Turning darkness to a gift
Tretar 8, the Wings of Faith
Technique might not make you fly but believing might
Tretar 9, Disturbing the Universe
Have the courage to defy what universe has in store for you
Tretar 10, the Curse of Choice
When you want something badly, eliminate the alternate choices
Tretar 11, Eternal Sunshine of a Worriless Mind
The priceless realization that things that make us happy have no correlation with prices
Tretar 12, I came from the Wilderness
The splendor of the wild and how we are like those animals
Tretar 13, Spirit doesn’t Retire
Because we are eternal
Tretar 14, Empathize
Because everyone has gone through a turmoil and we are better off understanding than judging
Tretar 15, a Journey on Rails
A glimpse of magical world of railway stations
Tretar 16, the Girl with the Tattered Jeans
Because things we love most can wear out and that does not mean we should stop loving them
Tretar 17, Stay True to Yourself
Don’t live someone else’s life
Tretar 18, Making Choices
An eternal tug of war between ‘should’ and ‘must’.
Tretar 19, Colors of Life
We live to experience passion, love and miracles of nature
Tretar 20, Embracing the Change
Every beautiful transformation begins from a painful change
Tretar 21, Revealing your Truth
Knowing your purpose
Tretar 22, Reasons of the Heart
Because your journey is your unique path and it doesn’t have to make sense to anyone else
Tretar 23, Today is my Favorite Day
Enjoy today, because it is happening
Tretar 24, You are the Universe
Stop acting small, you are the Universe in ecstatic motion

  

Tretar 24, You are the Universe

[This post is the last post in an ongoing series for Project Tretar. You can read previous posts here]

A year and 23 posts later, it is time for me to write the 24th. No doubt I shall put a piece of my heart into it.

It is not happy people who are thankful but it is the thankful people who are happy. On that note, I am thankful for every experience, travel, and moment this year. Good or bad, it is what life is about and it is about how we respond to things.

I would like to share this insightful cockroach theory by Sundar Pichai

At a restaurant, a cockroach suddenly flew from somewhere and sat on a lady.
She started screaming out of fear. With a panic stricken face and trembling voice,she started jumping, with both her hands desperately trying to get rid of the cockroach.
Her reaction was contagious, as everyone in her group also got panicky. The lady finally managed to push the cockroach away but …it landed on another lady in the group.
Now, it was the turn of the other lady in the group to continue the drama.

The waiter rushed forward to their rescue.

In the relay of throwing, the cockroach next fell upon the waiter.
The waiter stood firm, composed himself and observed the behavior of the cockroach on his shirt. When he was confident enough, he grabbed it with his fingers and threw it out of the restaurant.

Sipping my coffee and watching the amusement, the antenna of my mind picked up a few thoughts and started wondering, was the cockroach responsible for their histrionic behavior? If so, then why was the waiter not disturbed?

He handled it near to perfection, without any chaos. It is not the cockroach, but the inability of the ladies to handle the disturbance caused by the cockroach that disturbed the ladies.

I realized that, it is not the shouting of my father or my boss or my wife that disturbs me, but it’s my inability to handle the disturbances caused by their shouting that disturbs me. It’s not the traffic jams on the road that disturbs me, but my inability to handle the disturbance caused by the traffic jam that disturbs me.

More than the problem, it’s my reaction to the problem that creates chaos in my life.

Lessons learnt from the story: I understood, I should not react in life. I should always respond. The women reacted, whereas the waiter responded.

To this point of ‘it is my response that matters’, I turn to Rumi-

Stop acting so small. You are the universe in ecstatic motion.Rumi

Katau Sunset

I recently visited few pristine places in a northeastern state of India – Sikkim. The Himalayas (including Kanchenjunga) line the landlocked state that borders with China, Tibet and Bhutan on 3 sides. The sheer size of Himalayas around there makes you feel that nature and universe are so big and you are a glorifying speck of that same universe. Call it a sweet coincidence but my book ended with a conversation in Himalayas and so did my year. This quote of Rumi and this image of the gorgeous peaks remind me that nothing I do or react shall belittle who I am. Whenever you are tempted to react angrily or shout or be mean, ask yourself if it befits the person God has made you to be? Whenever you are ready to throw in the towel, ask yourself if you are really that fragile. I bet a booming voice will answer you back – ‘You are better than that. Heck, you are created by the same hand that created this beautiful world and life. Justify that creation, act as per your stature.’

Be gracious, just like the universe. Be your magnificent self that you were created to be. In storms of your life, stand tall. Don’t let anything or anyone reduce you for you are born to be grand and may you always remember that.

A very very happy new year to you!

  

Tretar 23, Today is my Favorite Day

[This post is the twenty-third in an ongoing series for Project Tretar. You can read previous posts here]

If I could unravel myself in this moment, I would. I would tell you the secret to life. I am an enthusiastic photographer and have captured a lot of moments. While I love my photographs, I also am wary of creating memories – because memories, no matter what, make you wistful. Whenever I look at a beautiful scene in my archives, I remember the good stuff. For example, this photograph from US Route 1 in California (supposedly one of the most scenic routes) is a picture perfect moment. It would seem that the past was so glorious and you are comparing every moment of your present with it. This is because we tend to romanticize memories. Try it out. Whenever you look at an old photograph, you would feel that it was the golden past and present can never match up to it. The fact is you would have felt exactly the same when you were living this same golden moment.

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Our ads, movies, those emotional whatsapp messages are all built around this theme – glorifying the past and being emotional – trying to offload your responsibilities by thinking that the good times have gone by. We like to victimize ourselves but the fact is we are constantly losing our present in this tug between ‘what was’ and ‘what can be’. Such a cliche message and yet I feel that this Tretar series would be incomplete without this one request to my readers – Please unburden yourself of the past and future. Live in the moment. While it is critical to unburden yourself of the hurt of the past, it is also important to not carry around the weight of a past that always seem better than it really was.

And this very moment (even if it is in my not so fancy room as this gorgeous California cliff) is as glamorous as any past I can invoke. In this silence of the night and company of the people I care for in my thoughts, I can smile. I created something in this moment and for me, that is more beautiful than watching a sunny sparkling day. I don’t want to wait for a day in future when I will read this and think – oh, that time was so perfect! I would rather say that right now – This is so perfect!

“Enjoy it. Because it’s happening.”Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower

“What day is it?”
“It’s today,” squeaked Piglet.
“My favorite day,” said Pooh.
A.A. Milne

  

Tretar 22, Reasons of the Heart

[This post is the twenty-second in an ongoing series for Project Tretar. You can read previous posts here]

It was twisted, it was rough. It was sunny, it was dull. It was hearty, it was dark. It was nothing like I had ever imagined it to be. It did not make sense to anybody and they asked, ‘Why would you choose that?’. But, in due course, it did not matter because I realized that it did not have to make sense to others. It was my journey and as long as it makes sense to me, it has been a great one. This is what this photo makes me feel. The vista from where I was standing said it all – ‘It was my journey and I am in love with it‘.

MyJourney-small

Sometimes, we want to do things for no reason and a good test to know whether that something is worth doing or not is this – does the thought of having done it makes you smile? If the answer is a resounding yes, then please go ahead – do that thing – however silly it may sound or scary.

Do one thing every day that scares you.Eleanor Roosevelt

If you’re reading this…
Congratulations, you’re alive.
If that’s not something to smile about,
then I don’t know what is.Chad Sugg, Monsters Under Your Head

So, my dear friend, find your pulse. Etch your journey on this planet and make it every bit uniquely yours. And when you are stuck, find something that will make you smile. Sometimes, it is the simplest of things that make you the happiest. Dare to choose your act without worrying about others. Resist the desire to be safe and sheltered in the known world. Nothing is more tragic than living by the rules you never understood and to reach the end of your life realizing there was no prize for following the rules – it is a shenanigan created by the society to preserve order. Go for chaos if that is what your heart wants, create ripples, build new rules. Go for the infinity.

  

Tretar 21, Revealing your Truth

[This post is the twenty-first in an ongoing series for Project Tretar. You can read previous posts here]

At one point, I was struggling to get on with my book. Nothing I wrote seemed good enough. And I remembered a quote by some great writer, he said – ‘write the truest sentence you know’. Somehow, that was when a very dear character in my book was born. This excerpt is from the Conversation of Purpose and the character is Satyapoorna the fulfiller of truth. Truth, like the rising sun, can erase all darkness. Have you ever wondered, what’s your truth? what’s your purpose?

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‘Hi Meera, how are you?’
‘I am very well, thanks.’
‘My name is Satyapoorna, the fulfiller of truth,’ the woman added with the trace of a smile.
‘Nice to meet you. Your home is very simple and empty.’ ‘Truth needs no adornments, does it?’
‘No. And you can help me understand the truth?’
‘Well, I am your own truth. I am the truth that lies within you but is still to be revealed. So what I tell to anyone depends on what lies within her and how much is she capable of understanding.’
‘I’m sorry but I don’t understand. What is my truth? Isn’t truth absolute? How can it vary from person to person?’
‘That is what you think but truth comes from knowledge and knowledge is inherent in everyone. When we say we know, we simply mean we have discovered that piece of knowledge that already lay covered within our soul. We have the infinite library of the universe in our own minds. Newton did not discover gravitation from some external flash of knowledge, it was all there in his mind. Some are able to tap it better and others not so much.’
Meera was taken in by the novel concept propounded by the wise lady in front of her. ‘What is my truth? What can I know?’
For the first time, Satyapoorna laughed. ‘You cannot expect me to unleash the infinite knowledge in a flash but the gist is simple. You know the truth once you understand the illusion. What remains after you remove the illusion is the only truth.’

Nistha Tripathi, Seven Conversations

I thoroughly enjoyed writing this full conversation in the book, it was like an act of mental cleansing. Hope you will enjoy it. To read the rest, please check my book (which is now available on Amazon (paper and kindle, India and US), Flipkart and Crossword).

P.S. This picture is of the most magnificent sunrise I have seen in Hawaii.