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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Blameless

I’ve always been a night person. Never really thought about why. As I stood out on the patio tonight, looking up at the stars in a rare clear sky, I suddenly felt the space that they grant me allowing me to just be. When the day comes on and the sun goes up, suddenly there is an awareness of a need to be somewhere other. To do more. To become. To do better than the present.

The night has no such expectations. The night has no eyes.

The principle of slanted productivity

I don’t know if this applies only to me, but I find that I do things better when I am doing other things. Things that should be done, go by faster if you’re doing things that are enjoyable.

I present my argument with the following scenarios:

a.Working the diet

Of late I have gone on this new calorie shifting diet that, when customized for vegetarians, leaves room for exactly the following things: eggs, beans, and nuts. The occasional fruit and veggies are thrown in for color, but really, for the past 8 days I have consumed a small 3rd world country’s annual supply of beans: garbanzo, pinto, baked, mung, green, black, kidney, you name it. What I also have to do is squeeze in 45 mins to an hour of walking. Now this workout does nothing for me. I live in a very crowded urban area and there is nothing to see except residential apartments and their dust pan sized front yards. So the walk is boring, besides walking doesn’t get my heart rate up anymore, at least not for the first 30 mins. And I loathed this activity. Then on one day when I was particularly tired of my music on my iPod, I discovered Audiobooks. That did it.

I promptly modified my diet to: beans, eggs, nuts, and 1 hour of audiobook listening. And while I listen to the audiobook I walk. The past 10 days have been the most productive walking wise. In that I have finished not only my daily requirement of walking, but also nearly two whole audiobooks: Deepak Chopra’s Magical Body, Magical Mind (Ayurveda, another subject I am simmering a sort of active interest in), and now Anne Lamott’s Word by Word, which is an audiobook rendition of Bird by Bird.

b. Mixing business and pleasure:

When I am at work and have an upcoming weekend activity coming up that I need to plan, my work goes by very fast. And not just my work day, I also work very fast. Like I once spent 3 hours at work researching a Tahoe hiking and camping trip, and then went on to solve a documentation build issue that was plaguing me and evading my understanding. In fact, the frustration with the build issue was what caused me to give up and go looking at Tahoe camping sites to begin with.

Also, if I may mention, this trip turned out to be the most awesome trip ever, spurring a consistent interest in camping for the coming 1.5 years.

c. Doing the dishes

I find that if you gave me a sinkful of dishes to wash (yes, I wash my own dishes and try not to use the dishwasher often), I do it faster and better when I am cooking something else as well as thinking about an RSAnimate presentation I just saw. Or when I am making my morning coffee, I may be half asleep but I finish off my dishes, without a thought – rather than at a designated time assigned for the dishwashing activity.

I realize that this is nothing but mind-trickery and personal mental makeup engineering. The things I don’t enjoy, I don’t do well. But if I don’t have to think about what I am doing, I can do it with no pains at all.

At least on two occasions, and maybe more, I have come back home to a bewildered better half when I said “That was a f^&*ing short walk man.” (or it’s equivalent). I also sometimes surprise myself when I think “Maybe I should have walked a longer circuit.” With this simple trickery, I have solved my problem of desiring instant gratification. I don’t have to wait for the endorphins to rain down on me.

I guess this could be viewed in some universes as not so efficient – in that it offsets the timing on things by a bit – as in the case of dishes. Or that it is a form of escapism. But as long as it works, man! I am cool with it.

Deifying the dei

Deifying the dei

Maybe this is what de-i-fying really means.

Removing the ‘I’s in expression and then re-evaluating what will remain expressed to get an non-“self adorned” measure of the value in the expression. If the sentiment and expression doesn’t fall apart, there may be some value in expressing it. It might even make it to aphorism of the day.

It’s so mathematically obvious.

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PS: This is an opinion.

this needs a title?

There is inherent beauty in the art of making choices. A choice is a measure of care. Be it the file format and zip format that supports streaming or miso soup over steak. If we are the product of our environments, the only real influence the environment has on you is what you end up choosing for yourself. Steak? Man from outside your religion? Yoga? I’m stating the obvious but we all know anyone who chooses things that are not the convention exercises more brain muscle than the average joe, stands out, has more to contribute by way of conversation or example, and can stand the test of novelty more often than once.

I think Choice is beautiful. And dangerous. And fun.

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Confessions of an efficient communicator:

Having lived with Americans for 3 weeks, my subconscious communicator self has begun to rotate Rrrs, and “D”fy “T”s. Like later is laderrr. Hahaha and Vodka is being converted to Vaadka – just so the bartenders do not hear it as wodka and interpret it as water. Really.

Sometimes I twirl em RRs even with J. I could choose to speak in Indianese, but then I would never be understood and get way many blank stares as compared to now. There is some amount of ego at play when I think I am giving up my real accent personality. I’m all for the dissolution of the ego when it comes to getting things done.

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Fun facts that one wouldn’t know if they sat inside a cubicle for most of their life:

– Ducks lift one of their legs and stand sometimes. Sometimes they even shit like that. It makes them graceful.
– They also eat grass – for roughage I guess.
– They get cold in cold water and shiver too.
– Their shit is green and white, solid distribution – 70% green 30% white.
– Lake water turns into mercury during dusk hours.
– Watching the sun melt away clouds is like watching the war in Ramayana. Eventually everybody succumbs to the sun’s whims.
– Pine cones can be as small as 1 inch tall.
– Lake Tahoe – restekpah!

Discoveries of the Week

1. The Annals of Improbable Research
Where Apples can be compared to Oranges and hence the analogy is proved invalid. Where the scientists come together with flowing manes of luxuriant hair. Where navel lint matters. Where IgNobel prizes are given out to experiments that “first make you laugh, and then think.”

2. Segway
Go green! Go gas-less!
But first, overcome your vertigo of course!

Time to opine: Enlighten Up

Last weekend I saw this film called Enlighten Up!

So what’s exciting:
– It’s on Yoga. A subject close to my heart.
– It explores the pop yoga culture that offers many variations that may work, may not work. But variations do exist. As do spas and beauty parlors and heated rooms and what not. In the US alone, billions of dollars are spent on Yoga every year, some spend cos its a fad, and many spend coz it works. But it may not work for everybody.
– I like the premise. The documentarian takes a non-believing journalist and exposes him to 6 months of regular yoga to see whether he transforms. The fact that he is a journalist is good coz it makes him objective about the experience.

What got to me:
– I didn’t like the premise so much after I saw the film: 😀
The whole idea of shoving yoga down someone’s throat and hounding him about it is a bad idea. I would rather the director had sponsored his yoga, given him a camcorder, and let him shoot his experience. Self-introspection would have been best. Trying to give someone’s yoga experience a direction in itself is a bad idea. But then this is my opinion.
– The film made the subject do a full day of yoga – 3-4 hours a day, adjust his entire lifestyle around it, and then reflect periodically about changes it introduced.

Here’s what I say:
When I started yoga, I didn’t like it. I’m talking about school. It was boring. It involved being in the same position and breathing for ages. Or what seemed like ages to the young nubile restless mind. However, when I opted for it in times of stress and strife, a lot of that went away. The instructor made it interesting and fast paced. Power yoga did work for me. But I knew it was working for me not because I found it easy to do asanas with every successive class. My benchmarks were based on the activities I perform in everyday life: my job, my routine, my focus, my cooking, my eating even. Everything suddenly became better.

Now, take the routine out of the subject’s life, and he has nothing but his unsettling new atmosphere to contend with. How on earth will he be able to experience the transformation?

Even if a transformation does happen, there is a 50-50 percent chance of yoga getting associated with discomfort for no fault of the subject.

The experiment was set up to fail. But wait, it didn’t entirely fail. I happen to be understanding the meaning of Mu properly at this point in time. So put it simply, it was a Mu experiment. The wrong context of evaluating an idea and expecting results that hinge on a wider broader context of pillars.

So should you watch it. But of course.
The film has an interesting cross section of opinions by people who are affected by it:
– Instructors: BKS Iyengar, Pattabhi Jois, all the neo-converts in the US.
Here is a special Iyengar treat.
– Lots of yogis who speak of Yoga being a means to attain god and spirituality. This opens up an entirely different Pandora’s box.
– Norman Allen, the first American to learn yoga. He now lives in Hawaii and is into farming. I love the scene where he asks Nick (the subject of the experiment) to go fuck himself. Metaphorically! 🙂

So Englighten Up! – yahweh or no way (quoting Stephen Colbert here)?
I say – yahweh.

Enjoyable, and definitely emotion+ thought provoking.