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 14, Empathize

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

tretar-empathy

In the times of most pain, I have looked around and taken strength from the people who know struggle and have embraced life on top of it. It is this empathy that makes you value life for what it is. Life is neither a fairyland nor a devil’s inferno – it is a journey touching upon both, swinging between the highs and lows; a journey whose reward is simply in living it without judging for good or bad.

One of my friends used to say that it is not the big setbacks or tragedies that break a man, it is the daily drudgery of life that weighs you down. It is this drudgery or our perception of it that needs to be changed. And your biggest contribution can be to reduce the burden of this drudgery on others. By understanding or caring for someone’s pain, you can make it lighter for both of you. When you have felt the pain yourself, you can identify it in the eyes of others.  You will come across the ones that will make you realize that yours wasn’t unprecedented. And that in your pain, you are united with million others, those who speak in silence.

And, I am not talking about someone suffering from a physical pain or malady, someone who has just hit a tragedy – no, I am talking about the everyday circumstances and life. Everyone is facing some pain point and is sad over something. Life is not easy for everyone but the struggles vary from manageable to more pressing. This sabziwalah in Chandni Chowk just worries about having enough to feed his family everyday.  There’s no need to be sympathetic towards another person but it takes a lot of understanding and sensitivity to  be compassionate. Perhaps this says it best-

We must learn to regard people less in the light of what they do or omit to do, and more in the light of what they sufferDietrich Bonhoeffer

I believe that empathy is the core of being a human and that one cannot truly love unless he can understand the pain of another person.

The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.Elisabeth Kübler-Ross

P.S. Life is short. Make it count.

  

Announcing a new project – TRETAR

tretar
Update: This project was completed on 31st Dec, 2014 and this is what I got out of it.

I wanted to do something that I have not done before – a unique, fun project for 2014. So, combining my love for photography, travel and poetry, I have decided to work on a project called TRETAR – which is a Swedish word that means second refill of coffee. For this, I will publish one new photo composition every 15 days (so, 24 this year) depicting a scene from a new place. So, this also ensures that I would have traveled to at least 24 places this year. This composition will be a photograph and a related piece of prose/poetry – (may or may not be original, although I’ll try to come up with something original). I have not planned it and I don’t know how I am going to do it. The only goal I would have with this composition is to ‘make you feel surreal‘. I may or may not succeed but that should not stop me from trying it.

 

rip-steve-jobs-02This blog has been a journey of mine for last seven years and I have written without any particular focus. But those pieces are now fitting in when I look back (missing Steve Jobs anyone?). From a small town to the life in New York, I saw things bigger than life, I saw whats called material success, fun and frolics. I leaned towards entrepreneurship as I gained control of my life because this is what motivates me – freedom, and entrepreneurship is perhaps the only way to attain true freedom. Giving up on the bread and butter and luxuries, I came to India to perhaps start my life from scratch. I understand I am a creator by nature, I enjoy creating things and being stuffed in a cubicle was making me dead. I am glad I got out in time. This is a phase when I am freeing myself from bonds and depending less on the so called social perception. Its hell many a times but whenever I come back to my senses, I am thankful for it. I am trying things out – succeeding at times and failing sometimes. I am slowly gaining my confidence in enjoying life. Yes, I realized one thing, when you have tried to fit into the society for too long, you forget to enjoy things and your individuality – you are made to believe that there’s only one way and thats what you have to follow – the accepted way of society. If you try to change or make your own way out, you will be condemned and judged. To that, I just say – ‘don’t give a damn’.

 

All of us are going to die at some point – I know, I know but I’m not telling you the oft-quoted saying of what you think on your deathbed. So, where was I? Yes, we are going to die sooner or later. At some point, every human on this planet would have no memory of this generation, forget alone remembering you or what you did. But you will remember what you did NOT do when you are older. So, don’t give a damn to what others think (if you do the thinking for them, then what the hell are they here for?). Just do what you feel is right. So, I wanted to revamp the blog now that my vision is more clear (including the new header design, do you like it? leave a comment below). I dedicate this year to ‘cracking the code of life’. I hope you will join me on this journey.

 

ntonweb2014

 

With that, I am going to announce one more thing – I am going to publish my book this year – no matter what. Its called Seven Conversations. I don’t care if a publisher picks it up (which is still in process), I don’t care if I have to self-publish it or even give it out for free. This book is the essence of everything I have learned so far in life and I am going to make sure it gets to people. I don’t care if they like it or not but it will be out there. If you subscribe to this blog, I will post out the information on the book soon.

 

Now, back to TRETAR – I am going to use Facebook to decide upon which photographs get liked and selected every 15 days. At the end of 2014, all my readers will receive a soft copy of the photobook and who knows I may even get it published. This is how it’s going to work – subscribe to the blog (assuming you like any of the things I have written above) and you will receive updates about the photo-entries.
Get TRETAR and BOOK updates on your email
Many people die at twenty five and aren't buried until they are seventy five. Don't be lost in the grind of life. Feel alive.

I think 2014 is going to be awesome because this time, I am not leaving it on fate, I am doing what I believe in. How about you?

 

Find all upcoming posts for Tretar here.

  

Before I die

beforeIdie

Uncertainty is an uncomfortable position. But certainty is an absurd one.
-Voltaire

I’ll confess I hate uncertainty but come to think of it, what would be worse than knowing everything that is going to happen. Not knowing gives me hope and reason to wake up tomorrow. I am a brooder, I spend time brooding on the outcomes I don’t know. The permutations of what can happen run crazily in my mind. But I am working on it (being helped by good company I keep and yoga/meditation classes).

I don’t know the outcome of my book, other projects and some personal endeavors and yes, it would be great to know whether they will be successful or not. But would I have written the book with same passion/sincerity if I knew the outcome? Probably, not.

And this comes to the same point – accept the life in its current form and restrictions. It does not mean that we shall not make an effort to improve it but lets not spend time fretting about things beyond our control and enjoy life for what it is in our hands.

I took the above photo at a quaint cafe in New York. Before I die, I think I just want to live! And more importantly, make an effort to live. Bungy was one of the items I checked off my bucket list. And would love to be a published author too.

What’s your answer to ‘Before I die, I want to ___________’?

  

Life goes on

[Reposting for inspiration sake and reminding myself of few things. The post was originally published on Dec 4, 2011 @ 19:41]


I had been waiting to write a perfect post, to write it perfectly and to have some magical effect. But then I realized, life does not work like that. While waiting for those perfect moments, we miss on many good ones, many great ones. Life doesn’t have to be lived waiting for those milestones because sometimes the smaller, less significant moments will capture its reality better.

I started painting again after a long time. And the moment I put the first stroke, I felt like an idiot for not doing it all this while. But its fine because I know what I missed. This year has been a phase of awakening for me and as I go through it, it feels liberating. I believe life needs such stirrings else the essences of life start to precipitate at the bottom of the jar. I don’t want to lose those, I want to keep stirring my life so that I can keep feeling alive. Stagnation has no place in a life worth living. When one stops growing, one does not stay stationary – one diminishes.

And this reminds me of my first case study in MBA program. It was a case on Iggy’s bread and ignoring the nuances, the question to me was whether the successful small shop should try growing or not. It was a valid question to me at the time. If a business is doing great in its present form, does it need to grow or innovate or evolve? The answer is seemingly more clear to me now. There is no alternate to growing – it does not have to be in size but it needs to be in one’s position, understanding, grade – whatever you may want to call it. Because when you don’t grow, someone else is and comparatively, you’ve shrunk. In business world it’s a race to lead and even once you win that, it’s a race to keep ahead – it does not stop.

At human level, the competition is more intra- than inter-. I think the growth happens when you think you are beginning to understand better and know more. Then comes a point where you realize you don’t know enough and you possibly can never know enough. This is an important milestone and the real life starts now. And then, you keep growing as you discover the enormity of life – your priorities become clear and you learn what should not bother you. Eventually, it is said that you attain nirvana when you come to terms with the insignificance of your being. That is the hardest concept to me, I don’t know if I want to reach there. How can it be insignificant? But, lets not jump the guns. I am happy knowing that I am at the point where I know my ignorances. Where I know what I can never be and I’m at peace with it. It lets me enjoy what I am.

Thanks to a friend for passing this wonderful post – http://alexmaccaw.co.uk/posts/traveling_writing_programming
I want to do this too. I have already started writing the book I always wanted to, I hope the traveling can begin soon too.

Then, I love this video from my friends at Holstee –

And finally, this gem of talk by Elizabeth Gilbert that I bumped on quite accidentally. Frankly, I started writing after watching this –

And, let me end with what she says at the end –

Don’t be daunted. Just do your job. Continue to show up for your piece of it, whatever that might be. If your job is to dance, do your dance. If the divine, cockeyed genius assigned to your case decides to let some sort of wonderment be glimpsed, for just one moment through your efforts, then “Ole!” And if not, do your dance anyhow. And “Ole!” to you, nonetheless. I believe this and I feel that we must teach it. “Ole!” to you, nonetheless, just for having the sheer human love and stubbornness to keep showing up.