You’ll Change in the New Year

mona

Wherever you are, whoever you are – rich, poor; young, old; lady, or gentleman – one thing you are going to confront soon is that this year too has ended.

The calendar will change: the date, month, and year will change. But if we look at it another way, nothing is actually going to change. The days will be same, you’ll be the same person, and the things will be same – at least they won’t change because the year has changed. Then why do we celebrate the New Year, or why do we even have new years?

In this technologically burdened life, we are busier than ever. In this race of staying connected, we have been slowly departing from our own self. We are losing the connect with our soul; I feel this, and maybe you also feel so, sometimes.

So isn’t it wonderful that we have events – because that is what they have merely remained now, events – like New Year, Christmas, Holi, and Diwali that remind us that there is more to life?

“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.”
~ T.S. Eliot

2015, for me, had been a great year, unlike 2012 which was a bad year. If you compare the calendars, these both years were same, but 2015 was a great year because the lessons of the previous years made me a better person. They taught me to consider each day a blessing and not overthink about the past or the future.

So to rephrase, things aren’t going to change, mostly. The days will be same, the months will be same, and the events will also be the same. But what will change is you. In the new year, you’ll be a better person, a better human. And that is what really matters in the end.

So, be prepared. You are about to change. Aren’t you?

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Into the Bottle

Bottle

Three steps to the motel, three to the ravine;
Three steps to the bottle, that could be mine.

Three men are wiser, but we were nine;
We drank, danced, drenched till we were fine.

***

An ode to the place I’ve been living for more than seven years. Where all we have is a dingy restaurant, a dwarfish wine shop, and a shabby road passing through a ravine where landslides occur almost daily.

We Lost Our Hero

Dr. Kalam

The enormous auditorium was tightly packed with people occupying the chairs, narrow spaces in between, and the corners. Once inside, there was no space to move. The main door was barricaded by police and there were people desperately waiting to get inside. People had entry passes, but the hall was running full to its capacity. The auditorium could not accept anymore, and the security had to shut all the doors. The excitement kept building on.

I remember clearly, our hearts were pumping extra blood that day, and each eye was fixed towards the closed doors on the left. When our our hearts couldn’t contain the excitement and were running like a steam-engine of a locomotive, the door near to the stage opened and first entered two burly security men, and behind them entered a meek, smiling man waving enthusiastically at the audience. This was it! This was the moment when our hearts stopped pumping the blood. The entire auditorium, filled with college students & their wards, stood up and started clapping fiercely in unison. The man was none other than the ex-president of India, Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam.

kalamsketch

Dr. Kalam went on to the stage and waved his hands for everyone to sit. But who wanted to sit at that moment? Every soul present in the auditorium continued clapping with joy, and the echo kept on increasing. Dr. Kalam, the humble, simple soul stood there on the stage with folded hands and kept thanking the audience. For me, it was the first time when I witnessed what true respect and true love was. There wasn’t a single soul in that large auditorium who didn’t felt what I did, else the echo of the clapping would have been like any other event. After much requesting, people agreed to sit down. I glanced to the left and to the right. Each face was sparkling with immense joy.

Dr. Kalam was there for our graduation ceremony in 2009. He talked like a passionate man. He talked about education for all, development, love, compassion, and service to the nation. We noted his message, we clapped at short intervals, and we were uplifted by his sheer presence. That was the grace and aura of the man.

Dr. Kalam was beyond caste, creed, colour, or religion which, unfortunately, still matter in our country. The scientist, the missile-man, the president, and the passionate patriot resided in each of our countrymen’s heart. He was the pride of our nation. We loved to talk about him, we loved his ideas. And above all, he was the only lotus in the murky waters of Indian politics.

kalamquote

Sadly, yesterday night came the bad news: Dr. Kalam left us for his higher journey. This broke something in my heart, a feeling I haven’t felt since long. A constant pang is striking me now, as if I’ve lost someone my own, someone I loved deeply and cared for. But then every journey has an end so that we can begin anew. Our hero, I’m sure, by now must be smiling in his new abode, as he did while with us, and must be showering love & compassion on everyone around. I won’t say goodbye or rest in peace, because Dr. Kalam will always be in our hearts. He’ll never depart.

The Slow & Steady Path to Happiness

Buddha

I wake up in the morning and find everything calm around. I’m not out of the bed yet, and my eyes are still heavy with sleep, but my mind has already started racing like a wild horse. Racing laden with thoughts of forgotten yesterday, worries of uncertain tomorrow, and anxieties of yet-to-begin today: things I’ve no control over. It is like a scene from an action movie where one moment everything is still and the very next everything starts exploding.

The wandering thoughts create noise on all spheres of my brain. The greatest impact of this noise is that it clogs my creativity, clogs the power to imagine, clogs the power to think clearly. Because before I can contemplate, I’m worried; before I can imagine, I’m resolving things of the future. So I close my eyes to shut it all out.

Inside my mind it is like a busy square with the thoughts like cars – large and small – all honking and wheeling in a haste. Then, with the eyes closed, I fall asleep again only to raise after few minutes with the mind still racing as before. And the assault of the mind continues throughout the day, until dinner when my mind is more exhausted than my body.

So what should I do? Should I change my job? Or change my society? Or change my life?
How can I escape this noise? How can I detoxify my mind? How do I get out of the habit of thinking (and worrying) all day long?

I’ve identified and acknowledged the problem and I’ve started working on it. I took a closer look of my daily routine and realized that the problem is not the job or society but my own life. And things need to change!

So the first change I’m trying to incorporate is: Quality Internet. I’ve resolved to not check my email every fifteen minutes, to not unlock my cellphone on every notification, to stay away from my laptop as much as possible. For this I’ve started to keep the mobile internet off most of the time. I’ve started to leave my office chair after every half an hour and walk around. This is the first change I’m trying to accommodate and convert into a habit.

Second change I’m working over is morning walk & exercise. Not a heavy workout like the pros, but a light jogging to the nearest park, some relaxing exercises, and small ‘sitting idle with closed eyes’ in a fresh, cold morning air of the mountains. And this is one change I’m actually enjoying more than I had expected. It greatly helps the mind to calm down, the stray thoughts to vent out, and my body is charged for the day.

I feel blessed that I live in the mountains where I can take in as much as fresh air as I want. When I finally sit in the park with my eyes closed, I see more than what I see with open eyes. I hear mynas chirping on a tree to the right, then I hear bleating of a goat on a distant hill. Next, a wild rooster hoots in a bush nearby. And the sound of the fresh stream strolling down the hill is music. This jogging, exercising, and relaxing takes thirty minutes of my morning time, but these well-spent minutes make the greatest impact on my day.

The third change, not a change actually but it now has a new meaning for me, is morning music. I tune in to instrumentals & devotional music in the morning and though I should actively listen to it, the passive listening (with some work at hand) is also a pleasurable and uplifting experience. I used to listen to music every morning before also but after the jogging & exercise, music sounds even better.

“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” ~Confucius

Now this is not a final routine and I’m not seeking perfection. In fact, the pattern of my daily exercises is not even fixed, the music I hear has varied timings: sometimes I listen for ten minutes, sometimes I get more than an hour. But the experience has a promise of cure, and it seems a lifelong journey…

***

This article: ‘Want to be happy? Slow down’ at TED Ideas has greatly motivated me and reinforced my faith that I’m on the right track. Please do read it. And Stay Happy!