I’m Just Choosing

I wish to fly 
I’m unloading 
I’m not insensitive 
I’m just choosing 


It’s just another week.
It’s been a regular month.
It’s an ordinary weather.
It’s an average list of chores.
It’s the daily hum-drum.
It’s the same faces around.
But,
But I’m making the most of it.
I’m trying to make my state-of-mind extraordinary.
I’m day dreaming travel and researching hostels.
I’m considering my options and being hopeful for the long weekends.
I’m sprinkling plans and I know some are about to stick.
I’m making me.
I’m making myself happy.
I’m being more than just my immediate surroundings.
I wish to try
I’m learning
I’m not incoherent
I’m just choosing
Am I delusional, you may wonder.
I’m childish and dreamy you might say.
I’m unreliable you might believe.
But I’m happy Is all that I care.
I’m trying is all I know.
I’ll get my tickets stamped, is all that I need to believe.
Sure you wish I saw the reality that you see
I understand that you are uncomfortable with my antiques
You do genuinely try to make me normal
Everyone’s wishful for me to adhere and conform
But I’ve seen people cry under the happy masks
I’ve heard the gloomy silence behind your crackling laughter
I’ve felt the burden of the unshed tears
And I know they weigh me down
I wish to fly
I’m unloading
I’m not insensitive
I’m just choosing

IGNORANCE

“Not engaging in Ignorance is Wisdom”

The concept of Ignorance and its usage in life has always felt like a cross-roads situation to me. Certain questions such as: Whether to ignore or not, How much to ignore (in terms of quantity and percentage), Until when to ignore, Where to draw the line, For whom to draw the line, How to judge the eligibility of the situation and person in question, etc., etc… have lead to confusion and lack of clarity that has in turn led to further complications.

And the most commonly used and referred to quotes have done next to nothing in order to help me with it:

“Ignorance is Bliss”
&
“If you think education is expensive, then try Ignorance” -Derek Bok


I mean, I’m sure they are words of
great wisdom that have been spoken and written with great insights, but I wish they came with a booklet of instructions!

Think of a situation where you are at a market place (age no bar), and you over hear two friends having a conversation about a third person (who is not present at the site). Now lets assume that this third person is a public figure. With no intent of eavesdropping, you do hear a remark that is the opposite of the opinion that you hold about this public figure, who according to you is an influence in society (positive or negative).
So, do you try to get involved in their conversation or do you continue doing your own work-because BLISS!

In an alternative situation, lets say, you have no opinion because you are not familiar with this personality and their work in society and the world. Then do you let it pass or try and remember the name in order to educate yourself about them? Because for all you know, this person could be running for the Presidential elections of your country in the near future or be involved in the biggest scandal of the century or could just be dating your sibling in the future?

My dilemma being, how do you accept ignorance and agree to ignore acceptance. And is ignorance all about ignoring or more about accepting ignorance?

Hope all of you have an interesting week ahead!
I will be dwelling on my confusion for some time now, and will update you on my progress sooner than later.

ATTITUDE

it is an energy neutral term and yet is most commonly thought/ used in a negative context

This week’s word is an energy neutral term and yet is most commonly thought and used in a negative context.

“ATTITUDE”

a point of view, vantage point, frame of mind or perspective of an individual or a group, towards another individual, thing or situation

A predisposition or a tendency to respond positively or negatively towards a certain idea, object, person, or situation. Attitude influences an individual’s choice of action, and responses to challenges, incentives, and rewards.

(as defined on BusinessDictionary)

The word attitude has always interested me, just the way a hot pan interests a child who has been specifically told not to touch it.

Look at the definition and meaning of this word people! Not once does any definition say that it’s about the unacceptable or negative behaviours or situations. And yet how often is it said “You have attitude”, “You better watch that attitude of yours”, “I don’t like him, he has an attitude” and on and on…

If Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s words about attitude-

“The meaning of things lies not in the things themselves, but in our attitude towards them”

are to be believed, then our attitude towards attitude is what needs our attention.

I’m not sure what started it, but the common connotation and usage of the word is heavily negative, even though it is something that helps distinguish one from another. Its as unique as personality.

Come to think of it, it feels like an elaborate sadistic scheme. Like one fine boring morning someone decided to make a list of words such as breasts, ATTITUDE, sensuality, menstruation, depression, etc. and met up with a bunch of buddies. He shared the list with them along with his plan- “I’m going to create a certain amount of discomfort around these words and lets see if it goes viral”. And it did! *face palm* *eyes rolling into my head*

The taboo on it is so strong that when we intend to use the word ‘attitude’ with a positive connotation we tend to used the word positive or a synonym of it to explain our context (good, bright, growth oriented, etc…).

Am I getting to any point with it?

NO

Well this is just my rant about a phenomenon that I refuse to understand.

ENVIRONMENT

This week I have a word that is used by all of us in varied contexts, tongues and tones. We have used it to reason our way through situations, and we have made it the cause or the consequence based on our requirements. That makes it a term worth discussing and talking about.

ENVIRONMENT
-the surroundings in which you live/work, and the way it impacts and influences your being-

Oh I know, it is a rather subjective term that has a volatile definition, changing composition from time to time, people to people, setting to setting…
But bare with me a moment longer… then, well!
You can judge this choice of word all you want.

So here is what I picked up from a book on Marketing Management. It says that all products have two concentric tiers of fundamental factors that form its market. The first circle has the Micro Environment while the next is the Macro Environment.
And VOILA! That was enough to have my wandering mind day-dreaming again.

Following the same theme, I realised that as humans we too have a Micro and Macro Environment that effects us as individuals and as members of the society and the world at large.
Our Micro Environment is made up of factors immediately surrounding us- family, friends, religion, culture, school/ university/ work place.
The Macro Environment is made up of factors bigger that us and our vicinity- economy, politics, technology, world climate.

Based on this logic and the definition of the word ‘environment’, everything and anything that happens around me and around the world can have a direct or indirect impact on me, as an individual.

And just like that the world has become a small place. Encompassed within the two concentric circles of my own environment!

My Religion, My Resolution

I got in bed an atheist but a conversation made me a believer before I could close my eyes.

One more year is about to begin with one more box full of memories to look back upon. With the temperature dropping and the festivities picking up, I’ve been feeling all sorts of things.

You know how I’ve spent nights being grateful* to this year. I’ve been introduced to a new phobia- the fear of not having any travel plans finalised, and have internalised it more than necessary. The RJs and everyone else are singing the jingles and discussing New Years Resolutions.

As a person in dilemma regarding my New Years Eve plans and a higher chance of spending it in my fuzzy socks and beanie with a book and some music, I’m gladly surprised that my procrastination over making resolutions has lead to an enlightenment of sorts. I’m a person who can day dream situations, events and detailed conversations. One such episode had me waking up with a religion while I’d gone to bed an atheist by general definition.

It was an episode of an imagined debate, backed by my take on religion (that it’s a tool of instilling fear in order to create order, which has long been used against the society for power), I realised something about my own belief system. While I’m not a believer of any specific, well-practiced school of religion and way of living, I do identify with bits and pieces of the religion that my family ardently follows.

In an entire debate staged in my mind where I’m arguing against the idea that all non-believers of the textbook religion are atheists, while my alter ego is trying its best to tell me that I’m an atheist and that’s all right! I knew that the debate was quite useless as it wasn’t leading up to anything. But hey! what better place to have such a redundant chat than the thinking seat on a winter night, when the touch of the ceramic against my backside had sent shiver up my back?

So I entertained my own banter, assured that this was the best way to take my mind off the weather and my cold seat. In no time, the banter spiralled and I was telling my alter ego that I’m a person of science and humanity, and that comprises my religion. This new turn of events made everything all the more interesting and suddenly it followed me into my bed at the dead of the night.

For the first time that night, I became an active observer to the antiques of my mind. i was now of the viewpoint that the world can do with one less parameter of division. Instead we are in dire need of a common ground to come together. While climatic change and cruelty against animals is doing their bit, I advocated that right now there is a need for something bigger!

And that’s when I mouthed the word ‘HUMANITY’!

I’d suddenly convinced myself in the charade of this day dream, that Humanity is the religion that the world needs. Don’t get me wrong, all the existing religions are amazing in their own way and I in no way think that they need to be done away with. All I mean is that the primary religion of each individual should be humanity while their sub-religion could belong to their choice of God and Scriptures.

While I haven’t yet the clarity of what this religion will entail, I do have something that are pretty clear.

This would mean placing people and their feelings before things and my attachment to them.

This would mean being more considerate and less demanding.

This would mean sharing rather than scavenging.

This would mean being polite…

POLITE.Yes, that’s what it’s got to mean!

And quickly I came up with three basic ways how I’m going to be polite and try to spread my new found religion.

1. Instead of saying “sorry I’m late”, I’m going to practice thanking “Thank you for waiting for me”.

2. Instead of letting someone know that “Hey, you’re real bossy”, I’m going to try “You have great leadership skills and I just had an idea…”

3. Instead of losing my mind and saying “Leave me alone” I’m going to attempt a “Can I have a minute/some time to myself, before we continue to/with…”

Of course, three changed habits are not going to change the world, but I’m willing to believe that this attempt will change one heart at a time.

So here’s The Hazy Whisperer signing off for this year and looking forward to a more engaging and productive new year with all of you!

The above have now become my resolution for the years to come and if you have any thoughts to contribute to Humanity- a global religion, please do share.

A fruitful and comforting new year to all of you!!

Churning Wheels: Needs

All humans have the same needs made unique by the combination and proportion in which we need them.

(This is the third and last article of the Churning Wheels series)

If we were to be absolutely honest with ourself, place our hand on our heart and admit. Admit to how often have have we measured ourself up against the world or others against ourself! And in doing so, we have all used accomplishments as the most handy tool for measuring and comparing. While its easy to quantify most successes and its easy to draw conclusions and arrive at results with numbers, have you wondered why?

Why are achievements the way to measure us and grade our abilities?

As one part of my two-fold plan was satisfied, I found myself at relative ease. There was one more view to explore and a decent amount of clarity on the topic if not the content. I began with what I already knew- Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. It is one of the most often referred to theory for understanding any behaviour and growth related situation across fields.

According to a Mr. Maslow, human needs are of five kinds, arranged in a hierarchy from basic necessities to the ones concerning higher levels of the self. The hierarchy begins with:

  • Physiological Needs (food, water, sleep, sex)- at the bottom
  • Safety Needs (clothing, shelter, employment, health)
  • Love and Belonging Needs (family, friends, society, intimacy)
  • Esteem/ Ego Needs (respect, achievement)
  • Self-Actualisation (meaning, inner potential, creativity)- at the top
  • 4136760-article-what-is-maslows-hierarchy-of-needs-5a97179aeb97de003668392e

On the basis of this theory, it was proposed (still holds true) that all living being, irrespective of their individual differences, have the same needs. My churning wheels liked this pyramid as it helped me answer the unasked questions. But somewhere I wanted more. Something beyond the philosophy of survival.

At this point, I’m not sure if I was curious for the over-achieving yet unhappy man. Or was I curious because even I have felt dissatisfied when I had no reason to be. By now, I had repeatedly asked myself if I was truly happy. And I instantly had known that my happiness wasn’t always honest, sometimes it was just an over joyed laughter that did not touch my eyes.

So while I read further I found that the five needs are often categorised by some, under something called the ‘Trio of Needs’; namely Power, Affiliation and Achievement.

  • Power: it is closely associated to the ego need of individuals. It is the boost in self-esteem when one exercises control over their surroundings or on the people around them
  • Affiliation: It is similar to Maslow’s social needs. It suggests that human behaviour is strongly influenced by their desire for acceptance and to conform. The need for belonging and companionship
  • Achievement: This can be related to Ego and Self-actualisation needs. It makes achievement or success feel like an end in itself.

Different people place different weightage on each of these needs; the ratio changes but rarely does anyone completely omit any. I noticed that the Trio was far more fitting for my situation because if doesn’t try to explain the basic physiological needs along with safety. It just gets to the point of where we make choices.

We do not choose whether we are hungry or sleep deprives, whether we need to feel safe or wish for a healthy functioning body; they are constant and unchanging. But we all, at multiple points, revise and rearrange our priorities. So maybe the question is about how we prioritise? Maybe it is as simple and important as asking ourselves how we feel, from time to time. And based on the answer to that we could create our ratios. The trio are the three parts of a see-saw, the centre is always the one keeping the other two ends in place and balanced.

So if I feel under-confident then temporarily I could place achievement at the centre, it will boost my self-image, improve my confidence and eventually increase my power quotient. When achievement alone stops satisfying me, I will have to ask myself again what I need, and it might be time to rearrange. When I fail to feel happiness inspite of all the success, it will be time to put achievement on the other end and let affiliations sooth me back.

And while I play see-saw, I will have to remember that my constant needs are the grass bed at the bottom- unassuming and easily taken for granted but also the one that catches me when I fall.

Have I arrived at the right answer? Do I have all the answers? Is this a go-to formula? Is it fool-proof?…. Well I’m going to find out sooner or later. Until then I’m going to ask myself about how I feel and try to remedy it as and when I feel discomfort.

References:

Philosophy and Psychology of Branding |Solomon Managament Consultants. (2014, April 23). Retrieved November 12, 2018, from http://www.solomon-mc.com/philosophy-and-psychology-of-branding/

Schiffman, L. G., Kanuk, L. L., & Kumar, S. R. (2010). Consumer motivation. In Consumer behaviour(10th ed., pp. 88-116). Dorling kindersley (india) pvt.

Churning Wheels

“Humans see what they want to see.”
― Rick Riordan, The Lightning Thief

I sat there in the evening breeze looking out the balcony, changing my view from the carved metal railing to a monochromatic sky as my feet pushed the swing back and forth. My companion, pushing along- in sync with my feet, was a straight A, trophy hoarding, an apple of everyone’s eye kind of person. In the company of heavy silence, where the grey skies seemed to be mimicking us, my sense of self was undergoing a metamorphosis of sorts. My self-concept wasn’t altered much at its crest, but it did change attire as our seldom-worded conversation progressed.

It first began with being a small bundle of rather morbid feeling nerves. I mean, the only straight ‘A’ that I’ve been consistent with is the last alphabet in my name! Slowly, after some self-cheering I realised that I couldn’t possibly be all that gloomy, I mean I do have people who love me despite all my flaws. Don’t the bees only stick around if there is some honey to have? So there had to be some amber in me.

Over the seconds that bloomed into minutes and blossomed into an hour, I found myself feeling happy about my muddy pond even if it wasn’t a golden bowl. Don’t get me wrong; I did not dim out the star to make my glow bug bum look brighter. I just started to realise that both our sparkles glow well, just in our own unique colours. In this mental monologue I had come to also realise that there was something disturbingly different about our independent sparkles- could it be that mine was in my eyes and his was in the eyes of the people that looked at him?

Being the hopeless romantic that I am, with the desire for a story, my violent curiosity uttered the first audible dialogue- “What’s wrong?”

Were those the right words, should I have bothered, will this have a desired response, was there a happy ending at the end of this- I was still unsure.

Well, the first response was an instant passé smile; as if asking me to mind my own business in the most gentlemanly manner known to mankind. But some delicate prodding by shamelessly extending an expectant look with sub-zero words uttered, changed the direction of vocal dialogue delivery.

What began with a sigh, went onto being a jumble of words trying desperately to catch up with the speedy mixed thoughts and thoughtful pauses. He said, “I’m not sure what it is. Its like- I design cars from the scratch and yet your joy of driving a hand-me-down is far more potent than what I feel… You know, I’ve achieved more that most people my age and have never done anything that I’m embarrassed of- not that I’m trying to boast. Everyone’s parents wish for their kids to be like me, my parents couldn’t be more proud of me… Sorry, I’m just rambling… Uh, I’m just not feeling it! I have all reason to be happy, but I am not. You know what I mean?.. Or not?… I’m sure I sound like a loony right now. Forget whatever I just said. I don’t seem to make sense to myself sometimes… What I’m trying to say is that your smile intimidates me.”

And just like that the tables had been turned, roles reversed.

Now I was the one with a passé smile while he just gave expectant glances and gallons of empty silence for me to fill.

There sure were thoughts in my head. There were appropriate questions that I could ask. There was just one little problem- too many wheels had started to turn at once. It felt like my brain was supplying so much data to my tongue at once that it couldn’t choose the best alternative to provide as an output. Now I was lost, not for thought, but because I had too many thoughts that prevented my clarity of thought, you know what I mean?

And just like that I knew I was going to need some time to declutter and better compartmentalise my reaction…

*continued at http://www.thehazywhisperer.com/2018/11/12/churning-wheels-potion-quotient

The Storm

That’s what the storm is all about!

And once the storm is over,

you won’t remember how you made it through,

whether the storm is really over.

But one thing is certain – when you come out of the storm,

you won’t be the same person who walked in.

That’s what the storm is all about.

– Murakami

Hill Climb

After a while of aimless walking and wandering about, feeling like characters of an improv, in a setting drastically different from our regular, on a lazy Sunday morning…

During one fateful monsoon, I visited Dharamshala in a song like weather. Everything in this little Himachal town was picturesque- the rustic winds, the quality atmosphere and the calm of the hills. The view was warmly accommodating, almost like a welcome with open arms. It was the perfect mood for the cuddles, to stay bundled in cushioned beds and yet so appropriate for the wanderers to get lost. The Tibetan ensemble of the town gave it a foreign land feel and the weather was the right amount of soothing.

A group of three, we were well spread on the general tourist behaviour continuum. There are the kind who are just so over-joyed with the spirit of vacation that they can’t sit still for long. These are the ones who will have a checklist for the trip and will try to cut down on sleep just for that little extra. Then there are the ones who like to soak in all the energy they spend on a regular basis; the ones that just snuggle in and sleep to their heart’s content and rejuvenate through resting, if not hibernating. And then there are the ones who do a little of both and fall right in the middle of this continuum.

Ma- the one on snooze; decided to stay cooped up with an old book that I’ve seen her read multiple times and some masala chai. In awe with the place, Baba- the one in the middle of the continuum, and I- the hyper active checklist holder; tightened our trainers and started to explore the hills. No destination in mind and no plans at hand, we decided to see where the mixture of hills, greens and clouds would lead us.

To my utter satisfaction, I was ticking off many things on my informal list on a single stroll- walking on clouds, watching the far mountain snow glow lava as the first rays of morning sun hit it, hearing water flow as we sat listening to birds chirping, walk in the deserted lanes before they got crowded, clicked a gazillion pictures so I remember how beautiful the place is, made a bunch of wild flowers and growths to press into my book, heard the silent music of the town, observed the houses with their colour schemes and the setting of the place, filled my lungs with the uniqueness and tried to memorise the collective feeling of it all.

After a while of aimless walking and wandering about, feeling like characters of an improv, in a setting drastically different from our regular, on a lazy Sunday morning, we started to head back to our hotel room with the idea of some comforting tea and breakfast enticing us, as we desperately covered our ears from the surprise wind and the constant drizzle.

The uphill climb was a lung burner. We stopped by the very rocks where I has fascinatedly looked at the moss and baba thought I was crazy. Suddenly, I heard him say to himself,
“There is no better teacher than a walk in the nature. Every time we walk down the hill we are ramrod straight with arrogant broad shoulders, head held high with no appreciation for our lungs. Its only when we walk up, well, we bend, look humble and ask each breath to take it easy on us. And its only the uphill walk, the one that all of us dread, that gives us the best view there is. It’s such a beautifully detailed graph”.

I’m not sure if he was talking to me or just thinking out loud. We never spoke of it. But from time to time, I revisit that moment, when my lungs start to burn and I don’t yet see the view that the hill climb holds for me.

… because when a thought first occurs, it is organised into ideas and plans, and then transformed into reality. But the beginning really is in your imagination…

IMG_20170902_154647328

The Grand Plan

‘most businessmen make the mistake of not spending enough thought and time on creating the pragmatic framework for their future dream… instead they become content in being the everyday problem solvers’

Have you felt grateful recently?

Well, I’ve been feeling grateful and fortunate for some time now.

I feel fortunate for having have had the chance to grow up with my grandparents around and still living with them as a constant in our life.

Off late, I’ve been spending far more time with them than I have in the past decade; what with the hierarchy of education year after year. Our conversations have transformed from fairytales, mythological lessons and stories of good morals to the comfortably shared silence while reading the morning newspaper while sipping on tea, a certain amount of spiritual banter, the stories of their youth and dreams for my future.

We all struggle with finding common grounds due to generation gap and yet skipping a generation can be surprisingly very companionable. Maybe because I’m the interest on their principle. Maybe because that’s the magic of a grandparent-grandchild relationship. Maybe because they find traces of their youth in my today, and I see a way into my future through their experiences.

While the time I spend with them remains valuable for me and hopefully cherished by them; the more time that I spend with them, the more I think about a particular saying by a management guru. The quote translates to-

‘most businessmen make the mistake of not spending enough thought and time on creating the pragmatic framework for their future dream… instead they become content in being the everyday problem solvers’

Lets assume that each human being is an entrepreneur and their life is their enterprise, the legacy to which are their years post retirement. Then their life partner/ spouse becomes their business partner through a merger of sorts and together they create subsidiaries in the form of off-springs.

While many may argue that most entrepreneurs save for their now metaphorical legacies through monetary investments, by building a home with children, friends and relatives- but my question still lingers. Is that enough though- to be fed, with a shed and bed? To have people around and enough emergency funds that you cut corners for? Is that really all the investment needed for realizing the mirage of future that you’ve wanted to turn into reality as a legacy where your longest companion is the partnership; and this time without the proprietary duties. In the even longer run, one of the two usually comes back to being an independent owner, too.

Have you ever asked a preschooler or a middle school student about their plans for themselves when they grow old? I did. I tried. Their imagination seems to extend, or rather is limited, only upto higher education and occupation. When nudged a little further maybe until realizing the wandering fantasies and having a family of their own of which they are the omnipresent member. This reminds me of most feel good movies, where the curtains fall just at the happy moment, the coming together of two lovers or the achievement of a difficult target, but very rarely- if ever, do they show what happens after the protagonist has achieved their longest term goal. What happens when two people, who have built their entire life one benchmark after another, are left with all the time in the day with no tangible benchmarks to rise to?

How do you live day after day when the daily work that defined your being has been declared outdated; instead is now just a measuring tool of you past? So when I asked a bunch of people a second question about what is their plan from their now to the moment when they materialize their mirage into reality- it suddenly became a serious conversation. It lost the dreamy element. Some had a vague idea, some thought they’d figure it on the way, some said they didn’t think there was much to think about.

When I say I want to be a physically active person through my 60s to my 70s and 80s, I mean that I wish to be comfortably mobile and not bed ridden; and it should also imply that I need to start being a physically active and disciplined person today. Similarly, when I say that I plan on travelling my life’s worth post retirement and enjoy all the hobbies that I’m skipping now, shouldn’t I take the time to occasionally participate in both these areas to understand what travel means to me and know which activities I can call hobbies. With the age and the cognitive ability for being experiment being at odds, I’m not sure if I should be leaving so many untapped areas for the wrinkle days. I mean I don’t wish for the activities intended to entertain myself to feel like time killing ways.

Some say that once they retire, they will resume their honeymoon period that they had to cut short in their prime years. Doesn’t that mean that they need to start learning today about how they like each others’ company and how to make the most of it even without a to-do list and agendas to achieve for the day, week, month and year?

And if all this hustle is for a golden tomorrow, then why are we so quick to shy away from the years we’ve invested our entire life for? Why use getting old as a mocking metaphor rather than a cherished hope? Why fret the greys that’ve begun to crawl out? Why treat them as years lost while they are the years that you’ve invested in order to earn experience and growth?

Maybe there is a conditioned need to feel relevant and at the helm of everything.

Maybe there is a habit of calculating self-worth through the quanta of work done rather than enjoying the quality created through the labour of past.

Maybe because we are so used to believing that we are the controller of our life and fixer of glitches, that the uncontrollable, inevitable makes us uncomfortable.

Maybe along the way we forgot to associate being old with anything that would hold appeal to us at that point of time in our lives.

Maybe because we were so busy being young and pumped that we lost sight of the fact that time will shrink us too.

Maybe because we often keep defining ourselves through associations to our firm skin and pores and seldom spend time developing an accepting foresight of the shriveled bones and ridged skin.

Maybe because we have played an active role in propagating and strengthening the belief that not running the company is the end of the company through unintended or unconscious acts, thoughts and words.

*comment with a song that explains how this made you feel