Posts Tagged ‘ life ’

What I would say to my mother, but can’t

This has been on my mind for a while. My mother has dementia. While she does recognise me by face, she doesn’t know my name most of the time & we cannot have a real conversation.

I have been thinking about all the things I wish I could say to still her but can’t since she can no longer understand most of it..

1. I Love You.

2. When you said, eat all your vegetables… you were right. I even eat karela now. I eat everything you ever tried to make me eat, with no fuss.

3. When you said that you believe in me & that you know I will make my own path in life… you gave me strength. And still do.

4. When I got upset over something & reacted with irritation & anger, I know how bad you felt & I am sorry every single day for all those times. Because now even sorry doesn’t mean anything to you.

5. If I was in your place, and you were in mine, I know you would have done much more for me, than I am right now, with my best efforts. That’s what makes you so amazing.

6. I don’t think I will be half as inspiring to anyone as you are to me.

7. No one will ever love me the way you do. Everyday, you see me and smile and hold my hand. & that’s enough.

8. There are times when I wish you could comfort me and wipe away my tears. Then I realise that I don’t even know when you are sad now.

And a million other unsaid things. I love you, mom.

I can’t complete this post anymore.

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Rude-itis

There is a certain kind of rudeness that occurs in public places, be it roads or malls, where people cut lanes/ lines, brush past without apology etc, and that’s something you tend to come across and leave it be. Rudeness amongst strangers is something we encounter everyday. In a city and country as crowded as ours, I suppose it comes with the territory.

But rudeness in business meetings is harder to understand. This is not really a rant based on a recent event. It’s just an observation over a long period of time & having also heard the experiences of other people. So you are in a meeting, with people you haven’t met before, and despite there being no disparity in “status”, the other person visibly gives off body language and demeanor that’s condescending, for no reason. This continues through the meeting, until you are completely put off by it. Or you fix a meeting, the other person meets you but spends the entire time buried in their laptop or smartphone, looking up, saying hmm, nodding head but not really respecting you enough to look at you while you speak.Or keeps you waiting for an hour or more despite having fixed an appointment & confirmed it in advance, without apology.

It seems like this attitude is a way for the person to gain importance, to make you think, “this person must be really important or intelligent or brilliant if they have such an attitude”. But that’s wrong. Short of annoying you and making you disrespect the person, there really isn’t any favourable outcome. So really, what’s with being rude?

Personally, I ignore the attitude, don’t display any signs of being affected by it & leave at the end with my own conclusions. But I don’t understand it.

When Moments Mean More Than The Continuum Of Life

Over the past few months, all I have been savouring are moments. No earth shattering events, no prominent blips, no fantastic activities that would make for great stories… just some moments that I will always remember, and that mean more to me than any stories that would be a fitting (and expected) answer to the “so what’s up with your life?” question.

What are they?

  • Every morning, my mom and I sit together when she wakes up; she holds my hand tight & talks to me with a big smile on her face. I love it. It’s a bond that needs no words.
  • In the past few months I have met many friends who no longer live in this city/ country and even our regular conversations have taken me back in time and made me feel many years younger. Ok, maybe I am just getting old.
  • I recently attended the wedding of one my closest friends and I was just in a serene, happy state throughout – and my life was on pause for those 3 days.
  • I occasionally listen to a few songs (that I love) on loop  & that has made my morning drive something I treasure – even with killer traffic. No, I don’t do that if someone is with me.
  • The flowers blooming in all my plants, with their myriad colours, make me pause to admire them & yes, I speak to my plants!
  • Some conversations have given me unexpected clarity – about myself, about life. No, I haven’t discovered the meaning of life.
  • I have made some great new friendships that I would have thought were unlikely. And it’s always a good feeling to have more friends!
  • I am trying to develop a new hobby – but more on that only if it works out!

Doesn’t sound like much, does it? But it is! I couldn’t have been happier than I am, with all these little moments, making for a great life. This fragment from As I Walked Out One Evening always plays in my head.  “And Time will have his fancy,  To-morrow or to-day.” W H Auden

 

Back To The Future – My Version

I received an email last week, with the subject: happiness. When I read it, I was stumped. It was from a site called FutureMe, and was in fact from myself. I had forgotten all about it. This site lets you send an email to your future self, and you can set the date when you want it to be sent. It was spooky, to say the least, to get an email from the past, a mini “back-to-the-future” experience, especially since I had no memory of doing this, and I do have a pretty good memory.

So there was no Doc, no fancy time machine, no big clock that allowed me to set a date, no lightning. But it was pretty significant all the same.

This email was from last week, three years ago, and was a message I sent to myself. I won’t reproduce the message here, because it is private. But essentially it was about what I was going through then, and wondering if I would have found the answers, by the time I read this email, three years hence. There were a lot of hopes I mentioned in it as well. As I read it, I knew that while I hadn’t found the answers to a few things, the questions had changed! The things I was most concerned about then, have turned out to be things I needn’t have worried about. Some things have remained the same, but in doing so, are no longer a matter of concern either. As for the hopes, well, they remain hopes. Probably because they are best left at that.

It’s strange how much time one spends thinking or feeling about things that seem so critical to life, and then finds a few years later, that while they matter, they haven’t taken the form one feared or expected. It is in fact this very unpredictability about life that means we shouldn’t worry about these things at all. Just continue to do what you have to do. Easier said. But I found some proof! Sure, I have maintained diaries before, and when I read them now, I wonder why I thought like that. But this was a mail I sent to my future self. So it wasn’t as much a record of what I was doing then, as it was me telling myself what I wanted/ expected/ hoped. But what if things have turned out in a way that your worst fears are in fact quite benign?

I attended this session once, a philosophical/ spiritual discussion & the speaker said, the problem with the pursuit of happiness, is that you are always in pursuit. So you can never find it. Stop the pursuit and it will come to you. Sounds simple but trying to put it in practice is tough. This doesn’t mean you don’t do what you have to do. It just means you stop taking that moment and projecting it into a big ‘what if’ and building a whole set of expectations to go with it. This involves struggle and this involves friction. Whereas if you simply do what you do, in that moment, leave it there and go into the next moment, you stop struggling. You surrender.The crux of many of our historical & mythological texts. I have been trying to do this for a long, long time. Succeeded a few times, but sank back into it. This email really had an impact on me.

The very fact that many of those things had changed in context, and in doing so changed in significance, reminded me that my present should not be doing the same to my future. Projecting/ expecting/ wanting. It’s not the pursuit that matters, it’s the relentless surrender.

Am I writing to a note to my future self now? No. I don’t believe I need to.

Hostels & Startups: 2 Must-Have Experiences

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There was a time when I felt that one absolutely essential experience in life was to live in hostel. After I had to do so for post-graduation, I understood its value. Something new got added to the list – working in a start-up. Having done so for now my 6th year, I can say that it is an experience any working professional should go through to be able to broaden your world view. What is it about these experiences that shapes what you become?

Ability to handle unpredictable situations

Whether in a hostel or in a start-up, there are many things that you can be thrown into, that you could not necessarily anticipate. There is no choice but to adapt, and learn to live with that, and be able to handle it without letting it overpower you. In a hostel environment, you do not have a choice but to be able to co-exist with your classmates. Even if you are caught in conflict situations, you have to find a way to resolve them. You see your classmates everyday, they aren’t going anywhere and neither are you. So the only solution is to take all this in your stride, and find a way to see them the next day & the day after that without letting things rankle. Similarly in a start-up, you can face anything from recruitment issues, to a few unprofessional employees who choose to behave irresponsibly for no reason, to a dissatisfied customer who doesn’t see reason – and you don’t have the luxury of heirarchy, of letting someone else handle this. You have to take a  deep breath and get into each of these situations, switching roles from HR to client servicing to administration seamlessly.

Fearlessness

This gets reinforced constantly. Living in a hostel, you will find people with different levels of aggression, some who aim to intimidate, others who intend to do what they want, even at the expense of others, & you have to be able to stand your ground without getting trampled over. Sure, this is to some extent an innate part of personality. But it needs a mindset that isn’t afraid of who says what & who does what. There are situations in which you have to be fearless. For e.g. job placements – the all important goal in a b-school. You may have an off day and be unable to impress the interviewer, you may be in the last few people to get placed (as I was) despite having a good track record. It isn’t the end of life (though it may seem like it at the time). You do the best with what you have & take the next opportunity that comes your way. When it comes to a start-up this is even more important. You could lose a big slice of business, you could lose your best talent, you could be thrown into a tricky situation in a meeting. It’s all on you. So you need to have the belief that you are not afraid, because fear breeds poor decision making. It’s only fearlessness that gives you the ability to overcome, to build, destroy and re-build.

Speed of response

How quickly you adapt to any situation makes a big difference to how you handle it. This could mean dealing with a mosquito swarm (of the kind that would give a bee swarm a downgrade) or a new expertise you need to acquire overnight because it’s suddenly a consumer favourite and hence your customers expect you to have it. They don’t care about how many resources you have or what it would take to develop. It’s the speed at which you respond that can save you from being bitten (literally & figuratively).

Focus, amidst many distractions

It isn’t easy to stay focused on your target if you have people around you who are pulling you into another direction, or if you are in a situation where you are tempted to take the short-cut, knowing that it will harm you in the long run. It’s important to not lose sight of the goal & more so in a start-up, if you waver from the goal, it has business implications that can spiral beyond your control. It’s easy to go running after every shiny new toy even when you know that it isn’t central to your (business) goal. But you will learn how detrimental it can be, and if you learn fast enough, you will ensure you don’t stray from the goal. The distractions could be ego-battles in the midst of assignments with deadlines or the temptation to start a new business line though it’s not aligned to the central vision. You have to ensure you focus on the target (even if it’s a moving one).

At the centre of it all, is the passion & energy that you are surrounded by. Nothing quite like it anywhere else!

What the past 5 years have taught me

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These are just a few things I have learnt. There will be more posts on this!

1. When you cross 30, your body begins to expand in ways it never did earlier even if you change nothing. So you are going to be running to stay in the same place. Accept it.

2. You become far more accommodating of people’s opinions; even the ones you never saw merit in earlier. It is liberating to be inclusive.

3. If you experience any kind of pain/ difficult situation in life at this stage, it changes who you are as a person & you cannot go back to what you were in your 20s. It’s like being an elastic band, only the new one can snap back.

4. You appreciate your parents much more for all they put up with for your sake, & their ageing truly strikes home what mortality is.

5. Many of the songs you thought were cool, are now cringe-worthy.

6. When you meet your girlfriends, there’s a subtle shift in topics of conversation. In the 20s: men, weight, other women. In 30s (If Single): men, weight, biological clock (If Married): men, weight, babies. I did say subtle.

7. There is nothing like the close friends you made in school or college as that’s the only time you gave the friendship everything you had.

8. Simply not responding to anything negative can make a sea change in your attitude. Don’t react to the email, phone call, sms, or face to face conversation. There is nothing else you need to do. Just don’t react. You may give into the urge sometimes but the times you don’t are well worth it.

9. Your ego can get bigger or smaller. It all depends on whether you see the world as a place to learn or as a place to conquer.

10. Make that bucket list & start to tick things off. There is nothing permanent about your means, health or freedom.

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