Sunday, September 15, 2013

That thing we call love

Is fleeting, is flighty
Is forever, is mighty
Is calming, is exciting
Is grounding, is intoxicating

Makes you smirk, makes you cry
Makes you gasp, makes you sigh 
Makes you swoon, makes you cling, 
Makes you glide, makes you sing 

Makes you weak, makes you strong
Makes you cheat, makes you wrong
Makes you  laugh, makes you scream, 
Makes you still, makes you dream

Full of generosity, mixed with desperation
Full of passion, mixed with affection
Full of kisses, mixed with hugs
Full of hopes, mixed with shrugs

Craved by all, trusted by none
Indulged in many, complete with one
Elusive to few, baffling for some
Easy to lose, difficult to come

Filled with warmth, riddled with fear
Resides in smiles, gets stronger in tears
Found when not looking, hides otherwise
Lives within us, is sought outside

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

An Illusion we call Control

It is said that to make God laugh, tell him your plans. So here goes God, chuckle away....

Yesterday's plan- Office + surprise Sanil at his school field trip in China Town. 
Yesterday's Reality- MRI at Mount E

Weekend plan- Satyagraha or Shudh Desi Romance followed by a nice meal with mum and dad
Weekend Reality- Homebound and walking around on crutches

Thursday's plan- New business meeting + coffee at my favorite café (recent favorite as the Barista is quiet cute and a charming flirt) 
Thursday's Reality- Rude visit by an old injury. Followed by paramedics and ambulance

When you read in books or hear people say how their world turned upside down in matter of seconds, you know how it could happen, but you understand it truly only when you go through it yourself. Till then you blissfully feel that you have control over your life. Well some aspects at least. Like I never worry about recession, earthquakes, critical illnesses, death, war in Syria. I really don't. Because these things are too big for me to control. So I simply leave them in hands of God.

However when it comes to 'smaller' things, like my own health, my work, my family, my weekend plans, my meetings, I believe I can control the process, if not the outcome.

So when an innocuous routine moment changes the course of your months to come, it's a rude awakening on how powerless we really are. We only have the illusion of control. An illusion that is blinding as it makes us believe that we are the directors of this blockbuster called Life. When in fact, as Shakespeare had said ages ago, we are merely actors and we have our entries and our exits. 

Like in Singapore we say, "So how?" How do we go on with our lives knowing things may never go as we desire them to? And we may never reach the destination we are planning for. We may not even exist the next minute!

So how?? What do we do now??

The key words here are "desire", "destination" and "exist"

1) Desire- The core philosophy of Vedanta is 'You get what you deserve, not what you desire". I have been trying to imbibe this for a few years now, but keep failing. Especially when I feel my desires are very ordinary. I am not asking for life's riches, fancy cars, cool yachts (though that would be on the nice-to-have list), stunning penthouses or even designer hand bags. My desires are simple, at least in my head they are.  

I am slowly coming to grips with this. My simple desires would be ambitious for many others who have less than me. So what makes me think I even deserve what I have right now? I must have done something right to get all what I have. I need to learn to appreciate that, while working towards what I want, but not clamoring after it. No easy task! But then if self-actualization were easy, then the world would not be such a screwed up place.

2) Destination- Since childhood we have been taught to reach a certain goal. Be it being at the top of our class, or getting in the school play, or winning the Gold medal at sports day. The end or the destination was the focus. Some of us who were lucky to have the right influences or it was inherent in our nature, learnt to enjoy the journey. We understood that it was more important to love what we learn (history and geography for me), rather than our grades. We learnt the joys of being a part of something big, as opposed to playing the lead. We relished the thought about bonding and having fun with friends and team mates instead of merely competing in sports. But somewhere in the practicalities of life, we lose these precious lessons. It's time for a refresh.

If we don't enjoy the journey, it's very unlikely we will savor the destination. Because we would in all likelihood be irritable, bored or worse still disappointed with the journey to bask in the destination experience.

3) Exist- As I have mentioned in my previous posts, we don't know where we come from, we don't know where we are going and we certainly don't know how long we are here for. So it's time to stop existing and start living.

As for me, I have to realize that blips in life can be guiding lights for the changes I need to make to lead a much fuller and more content life. I intend to put this into practice, slowly, but surely. 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Stop the change. Accept.

Since childhood we have been taught to build and mould. One of the first toys most children play with are building blocks - cheap plastic ones during my time, and fancier not laced with lead and not made in China ones for our kids.

Lego was a prized commodity when I was a child. I remember my bother and I had one big Lego set to build a house which we used creatively to make various other things. Imagination was always put hard to work. Barbie dolls were also special. Customizing the clothes and accessories of dolls was an ever enticing prospects. 
Building, moulding, fixing and ,changing things was big part of play time. And grew to be something that came naturally to us. And then stayed with us even as grown-ups.
Now as handy as these skills are in relation to objects, they can be disastrous when used on humans. More disastrous for us than human in question.

Why do we have this inane urge to change others, rather than accept them?

Lets start with our kids. Yes we love them. Unconditionally. However you would be lying to yourself if you say that there aren't things you would want to change in them. I read somewhere that we all have 'fantasy kids'- our vision and dream of how our kid should be. So in various ways we try and mould them to be closer to the fantasy kid we have been raising  in our head.

And if you turn tables around, kids too love their parents, most of the time unconditionally too. But I can guarantee there are things about me that Sanil wants to change. There is always a friends mum who is 'far cooler', 'way thinner', 'much kinder' than me. Hopefully it's not all one person, else I would surely hate her. 

Now looking at our beloved spouses. My agency in India had done an ad campaign years ago for an ice-cream brand, think it was Vadilal (only kids raised in the 80s in India would recognize this name). The headline for the vanilla flavor said "A good husband is like a good vanilla ice cream- soft, sweet, dependable...and can be garnished anyway you like". Isn't this the way many of us treat our men? We like the vanilla, but can't wait to ply on the garnishes- strawberries, chocolate sauce, M&Ms, butterscotch sauce, maple syrup, sometimes to the extent that its masks the original flavor entirely.
This trait is not restricted to the female species alone.  A guy friend once told me "Apne bachchein aur doosron ki biwiyan, sab ko achchci lagti hain". (Everyone likes their own children, and other people's wife). So true! A husband whose wife is working laments how she has no time for him, whereas the one whose wife is a stay at home mom, will whinge that she nags to much as she has 'no work'. 

Our friends are probably the people we are least likely to change. Guess that's why  friendships last a lifetime. Because we accept them as they are. And they offer us the same privilege.

It's a known fact, but most often ignored. We can change only one person- and that's ourselves. Everyone else we need to accept. It's a like booking an all-paid-for-non-refundable holiday. You either enjoy it, or give it up. Because money-back is just not an option.

We need to fight this impulse to mould and change people. Sometimes we feel we are doing them a service by trying to improve them. But actually we are doing a disservice, not to them. But to ourselves. As we are pinning our hopes and joys on changing them. Neither of us can change the other. Both of us can change ourselves.

So next time I am about to tell Sanil that's wish he read more books, I shall bite my tongue and compliment his soccer kick instead.

When I feel sad that old friends do not keep in touch like I would like them to, I will pick up the phone and tell them I miss them.

When a guy tries to impress me with flattery, I will accept it graciously, instead of looking for the ulterior motives.

I will accept people as they are. And if I don't like what I see, I won't let them be a part of my life. Because life is not a store with a no-return-policy. You do have the power of choice.