Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Life is not normal until we live in fear..#Mumbaiterroristattack 2008

Now the world powers will be able to understand the strategic role India plays on the world map, some lamented. Some tried to liken the attack to 9/11 and some tried to contemplate the possible terrorist organizations that led the massacre. Some watched in horror and some in amazement with extreme disbelief. There were onlookers outside the hotel Taj to see our brave army and navy commandos in action. We watched each move and action commending our army who laid their lives for the safety of their country men and women.

But while the news was flashing with latest updates each minute, what really made me bewildered and choked my throat in pain was watching a baby girl who had lost her parents in the attack, a 13 year old boy who had lost everybody in his family - his parents, his siblings, and on top of that, he himself was so badly hurt that the doctors didn’t have the courage to tell him the truth. Then there was a man who was returning to his hometown after a vacation, lost each and every member of his family in the attack. Those eyes, those vacant gloomy eyes kept me up many nights. I woke up in fear a couple of times as the scene of those miscreants disguised as patrol jeeps opened fire at the hapless crowd running towards them for help thinking they are police officers. The trust was broken, the faith was shattered. These are the common people of any country who suffer the severest consequences without any understanding of whatever happened and why? What would that baby understand about the world politics and what would she care why some terrorist organizations have a mission to destroy some countries. What would a 13 year old with dreams and aspirations in his eyes understand why some don't want them to have any dreams!

After a couple of days, the media reported that the situation has come back to normal. Local trains started, people resumed their work, and everything is under control. Really? I asked myself. Just because the Bombay stock exchange is back in action full swing and the sound of those locals have started roaring again in the city, life really became normal? Are these the parameters to gauge the normalcy of any situation? How many of them are fearless now that nothing can happen to them the next moment? How many of them feel safe going to work in a high rise building without any fear, and how many are even enjoying their fun leisurely activities such as shopping without fear that some gunmen or shooters would not just pop out from any vague corner and start shooting at the crowd! Would the life really ever become normal for that baby who would recognize her parents only through pictures? Where would that 13 year old go for guidance and support in his life? How normal will the life be for that man who would go back to an empty house and empty walls with pictures of his family all over?

Until we live in a world where things happen beyond the understanding of a common man the life does not turn to normalcy. Unless we are able to board a flight without fear that there would not be any liquid explosive planted somewhere in the form of a shampoo bottle or toothpaste, life doesn’t become normal. We are getting accustomed to living in a world where there is no safety for life. Every time after such incidents, the intellectuals sit in a panel and discuss all about where and how and what these terrorist organizations are doing. Which country and which place will be their next target and how some had intelligence report about this massacre but the Indian politicians in this situation failed and didn’t take any adequate measures to possibly prevent the crime. It is customary to watch reports of ongoing  investigations and the world leaders pinning blames on terrorist organizations of a particular faith and discuss intelligence report.

Unfortunately, until there is an organization out there whose mission is to destroy the world peace and whose hatred for the humanity is so profound that it is brain damaging the young minds to sacrifice their lives for the mission, the ultimate goal of which is to annihilate the world in flames, we cannot claim that life is normal.

When I turn on the security system at night before going to bed, and think that I have probably secured the safety of my family for the night, my heart bleeds thinking about all the kids and babies, the most innocent victims of  such massacres, now have nobody to turn to for their safety in this unsafe world...

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Laughter is a matter of perspective......

Oops! I poured diesel in the gas tank of my lawn mower. What did I do? The engine seized and it wouldn’t start. Called up for the technical help and the guy was asking me questions I had no clue about. I never tried to figure out the intricate details of these kinds of machines. I felt ashamed and embarrassed. I was looking for ways to shield myself. Then suddenly I saw a kid playing outside my house who bumped himself onto something he could have easily avoided, his friends laughed loud, the grown ups ran to find out if he was ok but that kid got up and joined his friends in laughing at himself. His laughter was a shield for him. He wasn’t embarrassed or ashamed for his mistake, his face was radiant with laughter and the kids were cheering him by calling him cool, funny..

The biggest ability a person can have is to be able to laugh at oneself. That laughter and that smile can do wonders to pull you out of that stressful situation and can invigorate your mind. Whenever I get stressed out I choose to laugh. And the funniest thing is, when I choose to do so, there are a millions of things that I can find to laugh about and they all happen to be mostly about me or about my own situation. The goof ups , the mistakes and sometimes the blunders I commit, they all look funny if I choose to look at them that way. I laughed out loud at what I did with my lawn mower and felt really good. In fact things look a lot easier, the answers start popping right in front of you because the mind is so relaxed. It is all a matter of perception.

Substantial research indicates that humor and laughter play a role in exercising the internal organs, getting more oxygen to the brain, boosting endorphin level, strengthening the immune system, and improving the optimism and outlook about his or her overall well being. We all read that and move on and start wondering but how can I be happy under these circumstances? I am not upset for no reason ? It's my horrible situation which makes me feel like that! Although, talking helps, no doubt about it. But that is a temporary stress buster. Just letting the steam off your shoulder does not put off the fire burning inside you. You have to pour the stream of positivism to extinguish that fire to ashes. And that can only be possible when we have the perspective to look at things in the lighter way and be able to laugh at ourselves. Being able to do so have the power to pull oneself out of any rut. “Don’t we have enough worries and tensions already due to the high stress life we are living in? But if we had the ability to laugh then we didn’t have to falsely intoxicate ourselves to pretend to move on and to put our past behind.

Nothing lasts forever.. but if we didn’t have the ability to be happy and enjoy the things around us then I believe we lost an opportunity to seize a moment from that passing phase and make it memorable for the rest of our life.
Laugh and the world will laugh with you…That’s the biggest gift you can give to yourself!

Monday, July 14, 2008

Fit Body, Fit Mind.......

The biggest selling magazine and most popular sites that you might inadvertently stop by while surfing through the net, is regarding the fitness of the body. Shape up your body for summer, tone those flabs, loose 10 lbs in 5 weeks are the most popular headlines that we come across. Are we getting obsessive about our looks and features? Is it because of this burgeon fitness industry? Well, even if that be the case, it sure does have one big advantage to it’s credit! It’s making us conscious about our health and appearance these days. Its making us go toward living a life which is enriching for our mind as well as for our body. And that according to me is a very positive change. Fruits and vegetables are in and the junk food is out. Preference toward more natural, environment friendly products are in, which also happen to be fuel and energy efficient, and products which are high in energy and fuel consumption are loosing ground. And the timing cannot be any better than this when Going Green is the new mantra of this age.

The western countries always paid a lot of importance to the physical attributes of people, sometimes to the point of becoming anorexic(the rate of obesity still pretty high nonetheless), but it feels good to read and hear that countries like India where until sometime back it was ok for people to be a little on the heavier side, married men and women especially never really cared how they look , in fact they do end up expanding their midriff after a while, have started becoming conscious, and in effect are paying a lot of attention to this new phenomena of taking care of their physical appearance! The reason for this change can also be attributed to the flourishing fashion industry that’s making a big headway. Gap, Dockers, Gloria Vanderbilt, Gucci, Tommy Hilfiger, Izod and many more…..are all pompously flashing their brands in the big cities these days. During my earlier visits to India, I would never buy jeans from there, coz regardless of the brand, the fittings were typically suited for the mass population which to me didn’t appeal so much, as I always struggled to find the right fit. But its not the same anymore, the boot leg with slender waists have found their way in India, thanks to the fitness conscious nation that they are trying to become.

Pilates ,Yoga, racquet club, pool house, meditation classes, swimming lessons are springing up in every nook and corner. Every time I step up on the scale, I shriek, albeit in excitement, to see that I have lost another 5 lbs and my BMI is pretty much in the range of where it should be! As per the dietician, a person should not loose more than a pound per week, sounds easy right? Well not really, unless and until one is really consistent and disciplined with the exercise and diet routine, it would be very hard to shed off those pounds off of our body.

Other than the obvious benefit of feeling good after the exercise session, there is growing evidence, including a new study from the British Journal of Sports Medicine that shows maintaining aerobic fitness through middle age could delay biological aging by 12 years. And it doesn’t stop here. It has it’s benefit in much wider ramifications too. As the saying goes, “an inflexible body is the cause of an inflexible mind” . Many body-mind experts believe that developing a flexible body helps to develop a flexible mind (and vice-versa). They believe that when the body learns how to be flexible, that the mind also becomes more flexible and creative, open to news ways of solving problems and enhancing creativity. This helps maintain a youthful body and a youthful attitude. The best answer we could find to substantiate this, lies in our own social surrounding. The moment we start aging and our bodies start loosing the vitality of youth, it starts reflecting on our attitude as well. Have you noticed that more often than not, its always hard to argue with an older person as compared to someone in their 20s or 30s? How very well linked the inflexibility of their body is to their mind? Trying out something new and showing interest in learning new skills seems bothersome to them. They are happy in their set own set up justifying the cliché, “you can't teach an old dog new tricks”, referring to the inflexible thinking sometimes associated with stiff body.

Hence while our waistlines are shrinking to fit into sizes 4 or 6, and may be in the process making our wallets feel a little lighter too by helping the economy in spending on newly launched brands in the market, the good thing that’s happening at the hindsight: we are keeping a tight check on our level of cholesterol and trying to make sure that our midriffs are not expanding beyond proportion .....………..

What say?????

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Is feminism outdated????

Whenever the question of feminism occurred, I thought to myself, ah, that’s an outdated concept. Society has come a long way since women did not have any powers to live the life she wanted for herself, it has come a long way since the time they did not have any freedom of choice and it has come a long way since today they are just not a “woman” anymore, but a person of strength and character and integrity and at the same time, also someone who can falter and make mistakes and not always come out as epitome of perfection. Just because they are venturing into the path predominantly occupied by a man they do not have to be more-than- perfect to prove themselves.

Boy was I wrong……. witnessing how the media treated a woman candidate in her race for the highest office of the country. People had sympathy with Hillary Clinton for the first time when she lost the election and she deserved more sympathy on the day she quit the race and gave an emotional speech. Nobody ever liked her before because she did not flash the “woman contestant” card, rather somebody who had more experience, better plans and was resilient and strong and powerful. Throughout the campaign ,the 2 terminologies “an African American and a Woman” have been likened with each other as if being a woman is a class in itself; as if by virtue of being a woman they fell into a different category altogether.

I am truly appalled at the hypocrisy of the society. When Hillary Clinton said “today we made history by choosing an African American a nominee for the Democratic Party and a Woman being successful at hitting 18 million cracks in to the glass ceiling” the crowd went berserk and tearful. She had to play that “woman card” to get the mass moving I was thinking to myself. A woman is always required to maintain a balancing act between the tough and the feminine. Believe it or not, this primary season was undeniably disrespectful to a woman who instead deserved our utmost respect, just like any other candidate running for the highest office. Sexism played a big role into her failure!

The moment we start getting comfortable into the fact that society indeed has changed; a woman is not treated any differently from a man and has been offered the equal opportunities and equal status being crowned upon a man, we take a somersault back into the reality which seems way too different when confronted with a situation like this.

Seems like, it’s really hard to break the convention and the mind set. She had to fight during her school or college days on being mocked by the male students that a woman cannot become a president. 35 years later she is still fighting for the same, hoping that someday that won’t be a dream anymore……………..

Did feminism really become outdated?

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Is there a link between Money and Happiness??

Happiness is a state of mind and it sure is not dependent on money. Look at that child outside, he is so happy playing in the mud or the sprinkler or just swinging or sliding in the park. This is inherently who we are. Nobody needs a billion dollar to be happy. At the most basic level, if we are in touch with our real self and can allow ourselves to let lose sometimes and enjoy the nature outside, or listen to our favorite music or just immerse ourselves in a good book, we are at the best of spirit and feel happy and liberated. Unfortunately, growing up, the definition of happiness changes as the detachment with inner core start taking place and we start desiring or striving for the materiality of the world. Liberation of mind or soul becomes an alienated concept then.

Then what is the real link between money and happiness? Is it true that the rich are really unhappy? Let's check out some interesting facts: USA the 10th richest country in the world is ranked 150th out of 178 countries. United Arab Emirates, the 5th richest country with per capita GDP of $49,700 is ranked 154th on the Happy Planet Index

Having said that; we cannot either deny that money is an important aspect of our lives. We are not talking of more or less here. But everybody needs the sufficient amount of money according to their means to live a comfortable life. Theory of marginal utility comes into play when we are talking of whether after a certain amount, after fulfilling the needs, that extra dollar or rupee will make any difference or not. But unfortunately, the large sections of our society do not get to that point in a life time. We are not talking about the Trumps or Mittals here. For an average middle class, having a home, a car, savings for the retirement and sufficient funds to be able send the kids to college are the most basic needs. And in order to fulfill them they work throughout their lives, often sacrificing on spending that quality time with their family due to the unique circumstances they face.For that type of an average family, not having money or enough money will be a cause of unhappiness and frustration.

Certain jobs demand people to work in tough conditions such as in shipping. Freezing weather and the turbulent ocean of Baltic are just a few challenges to mention. Are they happy doing that? Most likely the answer will be in negative, but they do that anyway because of the obvious reason. Financial security and financial freedom are definitely very important to an average person. Practically in fact our mind is never at peace if we don’t have a secure life financially. I am not talking about buying a Gucci handbag or visiting Switzerland for a vacation. Well better still!!

Success often means material success. At the college placement, the person who has the biggest smile and adorns the most confident demeanor is someone who got the biggest pay packet. People working on Wall Street do not have any time for their family or worse even for themselves, but talk to them, not even one single person would consider quitting for lesser salary but more comfortable life and time for themselves. Money presumably becomes a source of bringing happiness for those who get so used to it.

Hence, although we cannot really do without the money either, but that ever increasing mad rush running after it often reminds me of that quote:

It's good to have money and the things that money can buy, but it's good, too, to check up once in a while and make sure that you haven't lost the things that money can't buy. ~George Horace Lorimer

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Can humanity exist without religion

On a normal regular day, I would debate strongly against the idea that there is absolutely no connection between humanity and religion. Religion is a creation of humans based on their own thoughts and different belief patterns. Hinduism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Jainism, have all evolved as people started to differentiate and started to create boundaries based on their own unique identity and patterns of belief. How come these two need to be dependent upon each other? The existence of humanity has nothing to do with religion at all, I always thought!

But just as I was writing this particular piece, the horrific story from Austria about that “house of horror” and the startling news from Texas about polygamists started to unfold. It was so disturbing and excruciatingly painful to read about it and see the clips on TV. What often crossed my mind was how come this man never feared god? Why do people believe and think that there is nothing beyond this corporeal universe? Why don’t they think that there was a purpose behind the creation of this universe and we all came here for a much higher reason and there is always much more to life than just the gratification of our senses? I never consider myself a very religious person as I probably do not have a lot of patience to sit in front of any idol and chant the mantras or do the incantations. Religion for me is about respecting our environment and not hurting any living being on this earth. There however, has never been any proof of the existence of god on this earth, different schools of thoughts have different theories to prove or disapprove that and it’ll remain an ongoing debate forever, but regardless of whatever it is, there is some supernatural power over there, which is beyond any understanding, which is beyond any reason but which is all pervasive and omnipresent. The meaning of religion is to find God, whichever way one may want to go about it, but the ultimate destination remains the same. And by and large whichever belief system one might come from the basic tenet is the same, they all teach the love for humanity.

If humans understood this particular fact, these kinds of chilling horrific crimes would never be committed. All religions teach sacrifice, selflessness, patience, tolerance and love for the mankind. The Hindu scripture Gita teaches that “one cannot escape their deeds; they do have to pay for them”. It is not about visiting temple or going to the church or paying tributes at Mecca, it’s about understanding the basic tenet of it. It should be taken as a guiding factor to teach and show us the light along our pathway.

Believing in God and understanding that we are mere corporeal beings on this earth would make us more humane!

Thursday, February 21, 2008

This too shall pass...

Let me start with a story that I had heard as a child from my mother. These stories have been picked up from one of those fantasy story books for kids written by an Indian author. There was this king. He had a very very smart and sharp minded minister working for him. Whenever the king would need a sound and impartial advise, he would call out for this particular minister coz his impeccable sense of timing and presence of mind was unmatched in the entire region. Once the king fell sick. He was in lot of pain and the medications he was taking was not doing anything dramatic for him to feel better. He was depressed and distraught. Because of the failing health and weak body he was unable to concentrate and take care of his people and his kingdom . Finally, he decided to announce a reward and prize money for the person who would be able to pull him out of his depression and make him feel good despite all his problems. People came up with innovative ideas. Some organized an evening of dance and music followed by drinks, some sent him his favorite flowers or gifts, some came and recited poetry for him as he appreciated the aesthetic culture and values a great deal. It was all nice, but it all turned out to be very transitory nonetheless. They did provide distraction for the king for a short time but his search for something more permanent and deeper was on. Finally he called out for his favorite minister and asked him to do something that lasts with him forever. The minister came along with a box and handed it over to the king. The king asked his men to open it. Inside the big box was another box, then another and another and another and finally the tiniest one. The king was getting a little exasperated thinking if his minister is trying to play a game with him. Anyways, he lasted until the final one, however with extreme irritation and impatience. He opened the box. What was inside it? Was it empty? Then on close perusal he realized that there’s a tiny leaf in it with something engraved on it. He took it out and read; it said, “This Too Shall Pass." He read it again and again and again and broke into a smile. Suddenly he felt alive again....

The entire volume of a literature cannot describe the non permanence of the universe so beautifully than this one short and simple sentence. I was a child when I had heard it. I may not have completely understood the deep meaning then but I could figure that it has some magical powers to make you feel better. After all, life is a series of incidents, some good some bad. It does not follow a pattern, and we hardly have powers in our hands to control or manipulate whatever has in store for us. But what we do have control over is how we think about a situation. We can empower our thoughts to live a life with zeal and positivism by remembering this one simple truth - “this too shall pass."

In my life, I have gone through several experiences some of which were excruciatingly painful. I lost the best man of my life, my dad, when I was still very young. As that was not enough, we were coming to terms with lot other problems we had never imagined. But at each and every juncture of life if we were able to survive through all of them, it was by remembering this one simple truth that "this too shall pass." What doesn’t pass is the person. My dad never passed, he is still there with me, with my entire family and now that his body does not have the physical form, he is much more powerful in his spirits.

I always wonder why do people give so much importance to the mundane and futile occurrences of life? Nothing stays forever. That’s the biggest and most powerful truth. Most people acknowledge this statement or think about it when the goings are not great. But to understand the meaning of our existence we should also remember this when everything seems to be looking good too. That would propel us to take the right action at the right time to make our life more meaningful and purposeful. What’s the point in starting to take care of our health when it starts to fall?

We cannot control much but remembering this powerful truth might help."This too shall pass."

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Contempleting the Meaning .............

A young couple with a four-year-old girl brought home a new born baby boy. They soon learned though, that their little girl would have nothing to do with him while the parents were in the room. This was very disturbing because she wouldn't say why. They had no idea of her intentions, could she be jealous? But that wouldn't be clear unless they did as she desired. And she insisted it was the only way she would make contact with the baby.

This went on for several days and still the little girl refused to have anything to do with the infant while the parents were there. And she refused to say why. Knowing that they had to begin a relationship between their children the parents came up with a solution. They would listen in on the baby monitor while the little girl visited the baby. So they placed the baby in its crib next to the monitor and allowed the little girl to go into the room - alone. As she closed the door behind her they ran around and listened intently at the monitor.

They heard her across the room to the crib. The crib creaked slightly as the little girl leaned over the rail. Then silence. The parents held their breath in anticipation. Then, in the slightest whisper, the little girl said only one thing to the baby. "
Tell me about God. I'm starting to forget."
Sean Penn told that story on Charlie Rose, and I am sure, most would echo my sentiment of how greatly moved they are to hear that story. Most people relate the term God to religion or spirituality. To me, the way I understand God; it is my inner realization and awakening to things. It's never about going to the temple or church or believing in Hinduism or Christianity or Islam. It's all about finding that inner peace and understanding the meaning of life.

In the grand scheme of things we were all created for some specific purposes and we also had our predetermined particular stations in life, but how do I find that? Who can tell me that this is what I was meant for and this is the course of action I should take as a pathway to the attainment of my goal? Every experience that we go through in life is so unique and unrelated to each other!! Sometimes we just feel there is nothing on this earth that we have control over and that our strings are being pulled over or manipulated through some vague source which falls beyond the sphere of understanding of a mortal being.

These questions often keep me busy and my mind well oiled. But after I heard that story, I figured that may be I found my answer. As long as we don’t forget the source of our creation and try to stay connected with it in any way possible, there is meaning in life. We are often looking for that one superior cause to make a difference in order to find the meaning, and in the process, trample upon all other opportunities considering them small or worthless. There is, however, meaning in each one of them. We are often trying to understand the entire world and society but never take a moment to connect with our own self and spend time with our inner core. We are trying to bring a change in to the world but never try to figure out that perhaps, our own outlook may also need a change………….

We may probably never find the meaning of our existence,but as long as we don’t forget where we came from and are able to connect with it and understand who we are, there is perhaps meaning in life……………………

Friday, January 18, 2008

Living a Fantasy is better than.................

Sometime back, I came across a statement which goes like “ living a fantasy is better than living an act………” What exactly does it mean? Are we supposed to live in the world of fairy tales or believe in the existence of Santa Clause? I was baffled for a moment thinking why are people so afraid of facing the reality? Why do they fancy themselves to live in a world which is outwardly, which only exists in our imagination or may not be a part of imagination anymore because our imaginations are nothing but fragments of reality.

An act is what is happening on a daily life. Living an act would mean addressing the situation and taking stock of the reality whereas living a fantasy would be trying to delude yourself into a world which does not exist, which does not have any evil in it, where there is hope everywhere, the good always wins over the evil and happiness is the outcome of every story. A world of fantasy is where there is no suffering, no lie no deceit and where desire, hope, happiness, expectations........ still have their meanings alive.

It’s a world in which my six year old or my infant might be living in. My daughter watched a movie a couple of nights back with her dad called “In conversation with God”. That night she woke up in horror sobbing and seemingly very perturbed. I was scared. Asked her what was the matter, and she told me that the movie that she saw had a poor old man in it who was very hungry, didn’t have any food to eat so he was eating food from the garbage, and people, instead of trying to help this old man out were making fun of him. I smiled at her calmed her down. Told her, well its just a story, a work of fiction and she shouldn’t worry about these things at all. She asked, so this man did have food to eat right? People don’t make fun of old poor people right? I replied, no they don’t, and don’t get so upset about all these things. It was a work of fiction and nothing was for real…………

She went back to sleep feeling confident that everything is fine and the world is not so bad after all and whatever they showed doesn’t happen for real………… .......
That calm satisfied look on her face made me wonder how could I ever tell her that the reality is far more worse than that. How could I tell her that the world she is living in right now is pure fantasy. The reality out there is very cruel and ugly. How could I tell her that we are living in a seemingly intolerant society these days. There is anger, hatred, jealousy and revenge. There is a person who is so angry with the world that he decides to go to a mall or school or a church and starts shooting randomly at the innocent defenseless crowd. What explanation do I have for the killings of babies by their own parents? People kill each other in the name of God .Call me old fashioned, but in the in the name of modernity and self expression the young crowd in their teens are talking or writing so voraciously about the topics which could be so explosive in nature. Nothing is sacred anymore, no sanctity, people don’t care, responsible or irresponsible that’s my life…… is what I hear. What explanations do I have, I was bewildered……….

Doesn’t happen for real, doesn’t happen for real, my own words kept echoing………..and I realized, its not about the fairy tales or the existence of Santa Clause. Its about the pure humanitarian values that’s becoming a fantasy for us, and the statement “living a fantasy is better than living an act” made perfect sense to me.

At least we have something to look up to ……….a life of hope and happiness…………….

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Sundials in the shade

“Give me a specific example of what you would like to call the biggest failure of your life and how you dealt with that?” sounds familiar? Well, this was the question I was asked at a recent job interview. I took a long pause. Its not that I wasn’t prepared for this question but the time it took me to answer that question sure must have exhibited my unpreparedness for the interview. The weird part is, before facing any new challenge or going for a job interview requires us to be well acquainted with our weaknesses. Why? Are they trying to set us up for the next set of failures? Why is it not important for him to find out who am I by knowing what I do best or what my strengths are?

Most organizations are built on the assumption that:

  • one can learn to be competent in almost anything
  • Once you identify or acknowledge your weaknesses, the organization will help manifest growth in those areas through the specific tools or training materials that they might be having in place.

I wasn’t sure if marks in any specific examination or not passing a particular exam or not finding the most desired career path or not working for an XYZ company or …………….what, would I consider my biggest failure? Whether not being able to fulfill the dream of becoming a writer or not seeing my name on the Billboard would fit into the category of failure? Life, to me, is a series of successes and failures. The biggest failure? I don’t understand that. Everything becomes irrelevant in life as we move on. We are always looking for something more, something new or something more challenging. In that respect as long as we are living thriving individuals, these will be a part of life and the fact that I am still looking for more should be a good enough example that I never give up and that’s how I handle it!

I recently finished reading a book by Markus Buckingham & Donald O. Clifton, called NOW, DISCOVER YOUR STRENGHTS. It tells us that the “the real tragedy of life is not that each of us doesn’t have enough strengths, it’s that we fail to use the ones we have. The acid test of the strength is that it can be done consistently and nearly perfectly which cannot be perfected without an underlying talent to it”. What an eye opening statement it was! Aren’t we always trying to fit in and fix what may not be our strengths? If a person is good at something he is expected to shift direction in the area where he might be lacking so that he can emerge someone with an all round personality. Result is, we end up concentrating toward building a society of mediocres because this all round personality according to me, is a misnomer. Would Tiger Woods start playing Tennis or Whitney Houston start writing novels to have an all round personality? They are doing what they do best. We listen to Joel Osteen because motivational speaking is his natural talent. He worked around his natural talent and is able to draw a crowd of thousands of people. I have read that writing fantasy came naturally to J K Rowling. In fact she wrote her first fantasy story at the age of 6. No wonder she is no.2 on the list of women Billionaires. She worked more and more around it rather than trying to figure out if she could also lay her hands at writing thrillers…………

Well, I found my answer. I knew my failure was not to listen to my instincts and natural talents and trying fix my weak point and fit in…………..I would say listen to your instincts and play around your natural talents. Do you?

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Beauty Lies in the Eyes...

Ever wondered why just by looking at someone we have never seen before, evokes a spontaneous yet profound feeling of like or dislike, respect or admiration, humor or contempt or just a vague indescribable feeling? Over time, I have realized that it has nothing to do with physical appearances, or the clothing line that one adorns. Although it’s true that “a thing of beauty is joy forever” the reaction can nevertheless be the same… Even the most beautiful face may not be so beautiful to one particular person. The opposite also holds a substantial amount of truth to it; someone with no great features and looks can be the most attractive person we find. What intrigues me is how we judge a person to be handsome or beautiful. Is it their thoughts, their confident demeanor, their body language, or their overall personality? It fascinates me…

We meet so many people on a daily basis. Some can be total strangers and some we’ve created strong bonds with. More often than not however, that very first look and a brief interaction can tell a lot about them. It could also be pure instinct but is our instinct generated through the signal that they send to us? But if that is true then everyone around us would feel the same about them. There would be one homogeneous pattern to it. Rather, we find that what might be beautiful to me may be a subject of total disapproval for someone else. While a painting on the wall that would keep my gaze fixed for a long long time may not even be noticeable by others.

I started wondering, may be this whole analysis or exercise is futile. Beauty doesn't fit into a logical equation. It is natural, visual or emotional but logical? I doubt so. To equate beauty to merely the physical attraction would also be unjustified. There are so many different elements to it. It’s something that reaches out and touches our heart. It’s unique and personal to each individual. It doesn’t matter what signal they are transmitting to us, it depends on how we are processing them, which in turn depends a lot on our own mental makeup. No wonder they said “beauty lies in the eyes of beholder. 

There’s a story behind each individual which in large part shapes their thought pattern reflecting it on their faces. Since there are so many different fragments to it, some of them might touch that sensitive cord of us and some might completely fail to reach us when we come in contact with them giving us that different and wide array of impressions.

I was following the story of Youssif, the 5 year old Iraqi boy who was picked up while playing outside his house and doused on fire making his face completely distorted. A few days ago I saw that the plastic surgery done on him has been very successful and he is fast on the road to recovery. He cheered in excitement to see that he could smile and open his mouth. The things that we take for granted was a cause of major celebration for him. I don’t think I have seen a smile more beautiful than that ever before and a face so full of life.

"It’s not them," I was contemplating, "it’s us!" May be there are no unattractive faces out there. We just look at them differently...