MLC Stage 2: Contemplation – Who, What, How

Essentially, I am conflicted, between
a. the ego trying to deposit monuments on life’s canvas
and
b. the fact that the ego can only drive you to chase senseless materialistic derivatives that are temporary emollients for the soul.

Ergo, to ego or not to ego?

Should I just be sitting on my veranda, smoking a pipe, and watching a sunset?

Ayurveda, one of the only deep paradigms I have recently had a brush with, says that the human body needs to eat, defecate, and have sex in the right amounts.
Similarly, the mind needs to meditate, learn, and think in the right amounts.
And we should be fine. Apparently.

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Mid-Life Crisis: Stage 1 – Arrival

Life is like a full-time job. When you’re born and start showing signs of intelligence, is when you’re recruited. Intelligence – the only thing you’ll be interviewed on.  Age 4. You’re handed a schedule of job responsibilities right at the outset. Like a newbie at a job, you’re all excited. You set up your machine, your email, your bookmarks on your machine. And then you have to work toward the set of responsibilities you have an unspoken agreement about.  You go through your induction and initial training period – you get an education. Go to college and acquire communication + project management skills. Your first homework assignment is your first deliverable. Every expectation is already in place and you march on with the supreme confidence of going in the right direction. You get a graduate degree, like winning an award or recognition at work. And you keep delivering, performing, growing in supreme confidence, and then you move on to your Masters degree or next high paying job. So when you finally take on a job, you’re really being put to test about your capabilities. You’re proving you understood every little piece of instruction passed on to you in your alma mater. And you march on. Soon enough life gives you other forms of recognition – your car, your spouse, etc.

Eventually you reach a stage where every little piece of instruction you studied has been put to the test, you’ve passed, you’ve scored well most of the times and sometimes you haven’t. But overall you did well. At this stage is when you start settling down (at least you’re supposed to). And then you’re confronted with the dreadful “What next?”

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white noise

The white noise that forms the innocuous background to your everyday activities such as washing the dishes or folding clothes, if you start observing it, it seems almost like a film is playing in your own mind that you aren’t watching. Take the voices in your head, for instance. Entire monologues from some part of the brain that is dissatisfied is grumpily murmuring dissent, or one part of you that is over the top happy is humming a silent tune that you’re bobbing to while you walk.

image courtesy: web

it comes it goes

It’s like discovering a full new you merely by turning your attention inward when you aren’t forced to do it. Of course all of this is disturbed when you try to meditate, so it’s not the same. Like the mere act of observing the unobservable causes the activity to stop. But try not to observe it, and just eavesdrop, then they don’t shut up. Do this kind of observation long enough, and you’ll see patterns emerge.

I imagine artistic and overly dramatic alternate universes. That’s my background noise pattern. A big revelation this morning. Accidents are a prominent theme given how fattu I am. Sex, for example, is another fairly common context. And another theme is imagining the full life of a character I have no clue about and seeing their imaginary just-concocted life flash in front of my eyes.

This morning while walking to the cafeteria, in the wake of a conversation I was passively mulling over, looking at nothing in particular, I was crossing the street. A car came to a halt on my right to allow me to pass. Almost as if on cue, my brain spun off a disaster in an alternate universe. A series of images play in my mind where the van runs me over –  time-lapse photography in an art film style- the driver of this white mini van misjudged the braking. The van moved in slow motion. It knocked me over and went over my left leg and broke my tibia. Cut to an image of Mo taking a flight to my city as I was carted into an ambulance. People miming phone calling ensured I was insured. I sighed in relief at the thought that I was. End sequence. No perception of pain. Very crisp images. And very colorful. As if the whole purpose of the movie was not the sequence of events but the play of color on the screen. Exactly like cinema – where the response to the display is the ultimate goal of the capture and not the experience being captured itself. If you’ve seen Nostalgia by Tarkovsky, the scene with the woman walking across the dry water pool is the style I am referring to. Or the Run Lola Run style. Just to put this in perspective.

Every time I drive and some jerk pulls up too close in front of me in my lane and suddenly, I visualize the full chain of events resulting from me not braking on time. When Mo drives and does so in his usual flamboyantly flagrant style (read God speed), there are brief periods of time when I imagine each and every potential car crash we could have gotten into. Like a video game race track with cars flying into freeway boundary walls like flitted flies.

Another example: my workplace is full of characters that do not talk much. So these people become just moving images to me. And sometimes, when I am dazed, sleepy, or distracted, I catch a glimpse of this character from the corner of my eye and Voila! A full film plays in my head in like 2 seconds. Somewhere in the weeks of silent observation, my subconscious strings together vague hairline observations about this person, and suddenly in a dream state – out comes this flash about his/her life. What he eats, whether he has a sister, how shy is he, how many kids does he have, what’s his secret identity, how he will nearly die, how he will get a prosthetic and a heroin addiction that he will triumph and marry his cousin who would take care of him, and how I will save the day and his life (sometimes :P). I have to admit though it happens more often with males than with females – so there is a gender bias there. And the character must essentially have intrigued me to begin with.

Very often this movie in my head is a narrative – just like Fight Club. In fact, if I could have it my way, Tyler Durden (male) and Georgia Lass (female, Dead like me) would narrate each of my movie sequences all the bloody time. And Soo would provide all the backing dark humor visuals – always comic book characters.
On the days I do yoga – the ability to watch the full length of this self-subconsicous-directed feature film is enhanced. I can even do it while working, or when half asleep – sometimes even direct the film. But the film doesn’t stop playing. The smoke keeps swirling. With a lifetime of a matchbox to go yet. Or half.

Einstein came close to being God

Ever notice how energetic a baby is when it’s first born. Hands and legs kicking, twinkle in their eye, full of life. I came up with a theory last night.

A man (and this is not gender bias here) is most alive when he is first born. After that he begins dying everyday. Not in the pessimistic sense. A person who is 28 years old, is in fact 28 years deader than a baby who is just born. Energy levels from the first day on are constantly on the conserve and decline.

Around the time you reach teenage, you can’t take the decline of energy any more so you resort to consuming other forms of energy. Now this could be anything. Food, drinks, and drugs apart, you consume knowledge and energy from other people. Social groups are an outcome of direct need for energy. Social associations such as a relationship are the outcome of the need for a shot in the arm of energy. And a person who can give us a shot in the arm everyday, more or less ends up becoming our life partner for whatever duration his/her supply lasts. A baby on the other hand is most independent in terms of crutches. He only needs one woman and some milk.

And then we grow older, and our need for energy far surpasses any amount of need we felt earlier, which we expect our children and grandchildren to provide. Until we don’t want to deal with this energy in packets and finally kick the bucket. When we become energy – just a quantum – according to some theories or converted to potential energy sources for other forms of existence.

Science has other terms for this – biodiversity, ecological balance. We up the tempo of biological phenomenon with our emotions and choose to have an enjoyable or suffering trip. But at the end of the day, it all depends on how much or how little energy you consume from your environment.

This didn’t come out the way I wanted it to.