Landscapes of my mind

The emotional landscape of my life is a different universe than the intellectual landscape.

The rules that apply in one break down in the other.
The principles that define one are meaningless in the other.
What is well-formed in one is warped in the other.
They are different universes – neither opposite, nor the same. They cannot be ‘similar’ and one cannot be ‘better’ than the other. They are different.
It is possible for the intellectual landscape of my mind to be rich in choice while the emotional map remains impoverished. Typically this would manifest in me being very intelligent yet reactive, jealous, fickle, holding grudges, resentful etc.
It is possible for the emotional landscape of my mind to be rich in choice while the intellectual map remains impoverished. Typically this would manifest in me having trouble with logic and argument but having an ocean of tolerance, maturity, forgiveness and empathy.
Reality, Nature, Life – is rich in both. When we enrich our choices in both these landscapes, we truly live life. To live in only one landscape at the cost of the other is living only half a life.
I strive to nurture both these landscapes and have richness of choice in both.

I am not inspiring

I have been often told that I am “inspiring”. As a communicator, leader, coach – I am able to paint pictures and tell stories with an infectious passion which leaves people “spellbound – sometimes with goosebumps” (quotes from a participant in a workshop).

However, the truth is – I am not inspiring.
I am inspired.
Being inspired is my favorite emotional state. The whirlpool of positive emotions I feel inside me when I follow a chain of positive thoughts is heady and powerful for me too. When I meet others and talk to them – I am not inspiring them – just myself. And they naturally seem to bathe in the experience of my emotions.
When I look at facts, situations and people – I do not look at “what is” but what is possible – what can be. When I meet people – I do not see the limitations they place on themselves. I see them for who they can be. And I share it with the passion that I feel within me. I inspire people because they inspire me.
A scary thought is – the same would be true for toxic emotions too, isn’t it? If one has a whirlpool of pessimism spinning wildly inside – what impact would it have on those around us?
Isn’t communication merely transference of emotions?

Thank you Firaq Saab!

Almost ten years back, I read a verse by Firaq Gorakhpuri that touched me deeply –

Ae mere ahbab kya kare numayan kar gaye…
B.A kiya M.A kiya, naukar hue, pension mili aur mar gaye…

(Oh my friend, You have indeed achieved a remarkable feat…
You did your schooling, you went to College, you worked in a job, you got your pension and you died…)

The moment I read this verse (Called a ‘Sher’ in Urdu), something resonated deeply inside me. The fact that I remember the verse almost by letter ten years after I read it first holds testimony to that.

This verse was a moment of insight for me and the ‘wow, I get it’ feeling that I had changed my life for the better.

It taught me to look beyond the path that was laid out for me by my family and the society in which I was born.

It taught me – that life is about more than what seems to be the most obvious and the easiest path to follow.

It drove me to look deeper, inside myself for purpose and fulfillment.

Thank you, Firaq Gorakhpuri.

Terrorism and Loveism!!


In the age and time that I have lived – Terrorism is an important world issue.

I was born in 1979, so I missed most of the Cold War action. That was good, because it ultimately turned out to be nothing. A damp squib. I vaguely remember seeing the Berlin Wall fall and the break up of Soviet Union.

But as I grew up, what most definitely changed the world forever happened just a few years back. 9/11 – the digits chillingly the same that Americans dial to get help from Police when in distress.

Since then, Terrorism became an important issue. Probably, the important issue. Whether I will live to see the day a girl would decide to go out with me depends entirely upon whether my country is sending some troops to Iraq. It seems, in the cold war you could blame everything – from a rude neighbor to the weather – on Russia (or U.S depending upon where you were). After Russia decidedly stopped being a threat – there was a godforsaken peaceful vacuum in which the world existed.

Now, things are better. We have Al-Queda. We have an enemy, we have somebody to fight with. And that is great!

If we don’t know who we are against, if we do not know who is our enemy – we don’t know who we are!! Not having an enemy might lead to such wasteful things as introspection and worrying about unimportant issues like environment or poverty or even…. Shudder shudder… hunger-deaths.

We don’t have to worry about those things anymore. We have terrorism. Yippee!! We have to worry about smoking them out of their holes and shooting them down and waging war and counting dead bodies and preparing for bomb-blasts and hostage negotiations.

The world is normal again!

Thank you Osama uncle.

Terrorism – Terror-ism. Philosophy of Fear.

Interesting.

I wonder if there was another way to fight terrorists.

Is there something called Loveism. Well, the red underline under the word on my word-processor says there isn’t.

But imagine if there was.

Loveism – Love-ism. Philosophy of Love.

Love is the opposite of Fear. Isn’t it natural that we should fight fear with love? Fighting fear with fear could result in overall – well…… more fear!
Oh, you are a terrorist?
Know what, I am a Loveist!!

Here are some imaginary headlines from newspapers not yet published.

Loveists strike in the heart of New York! Police reach in time to be kissed.

Unknown Loveists sprinkle flowers and rosewater over Iraq.

Loveist head – Cupid Bin Bush warns: All those who believe in fear are our next target.

Loveism is a threat to the Weapons Industry – stocks plummet.

Here is a small news item:

Loveists attack London, Afghanistan, Iraq

By our international Reporter,
September 11, 2xxx

In a worldwide attack of chilling accuracy, Loveists today struck three corners of the world – London, Kabul and Baghdad at 8 A.M GMT.

London
Londoners were in for a shock as the Loveists forcibly stopped an underground train and distributed, again, forcibly – footstep counters (small digital devices which count the number of footsteps you take everyday!) and conducted small training programs on how to stay healthy. They segregated the smokers and shot water pistols at them. The stunned smokers were then presented with toy-lungs and asked to care for them. The hunt is on for the Loveists, but as always – they have left no traces. Later on a statement was posted at an unofficial site on internet which said a new group ‘Random acts of Extreme Kindnesses” has taken responsibility for the act.

Baghdad
A group of rebel U.S marines sent a chill down the spine of the entire world by revealing their real identities as agents of “Love Group for Middle East”. They shocked the Iraqis by reciting verses from the Koran over loudspeakers in the city. They had been practicing for months, reports say. They proceeded to the now-famous Abu Gharib prison and made a public apology on behalf of mankind to those who had suffered there. The matter has shaken the U.S army to the core and head in command was sacked the same evening. The U.S marines have been arrested for the heinous act and will be face a court martial.

Afghanistan
At about the same time – a group of about 100 loveists appeared out of nowhere – and in a precisely executed operation erected a plywood school building with a well stocked library and built a huge water tank for a small town near Kabul, all within eight hours. Eyewitnesses say, the authorities were kept at bay by a parade of strippers, who in eight hours of a sleazy dance show – managed to take their veils off and also exposed their elbows. The Mayor of the town was then kidnapped and tickled till he approved of both the constructions as legal.

World Reaction
The love attacks have brought the world community together in expressing their condemnation and disgust. President Gregor Bush of U.S.A in a white house release today said “The Loveists pose a threat to the world as we know it. They stand against the concepts of profit, power and believe only in spreading harmony and love in the hearts of our voters. We will not tolerate this. We will smoke them out of their holes and kill them. For without fear, there is no power”. He was supported by the British PM, Mr. Tony Blare. Indian PM, Mr. Manmohan Sing said that the Loveists were looking for a resolution of the Indo-Pak hostilities without any extended negotiations over hundreds of years. This, he said, went against the very idea of two countries making peace. The Loveists, he said – would never succeed in their loving schemes.
Stop Press
The French however, have extended their full support to the Loveism movement and has been declared a Loveist country.

Ha ha…
Ha ha ha …
Ha ha ha ha….

Very funny, you say?

Romantic but not realistic, you say.

Exaggerated? Yes.
Romantic? Very much.
Realistic? Totally.

How do we know? When was the last time we responded to terror with love? When was the last time we felt fear and said “I forgive”. As a race, when was the last time we did it?

And if we have never done it, how do we know what consequences will it bring?

If U.S, instead of vying for the oil of Iraq, provided water and food to Iraq and Afghanistan and marketed its contributions well enough – are there any chances that some of the hardcore militants would soften? If I am giving you water, will you kill me? Well, maybe after you read my book, no matter what I do, you will kill me – but I mean seriously. If we made a genuine, from the heart effort to help those who hate us – would hatred give way to shock… to guilt…. To tolerance… to understanding…. To appreciation… to love.

Maybe not.

But then,

Maybe.

Is it worth a shot?

Creating in Emptiness

Revisiting this blog, after almost a year. So much has happenned. I really should write more often. Make that – I really will write more often.

A friend left for a month – leaving me with suddenly empty evenings. All current personal projects, brainstorming sessions and pleasant outings came to a sudden stop. When I was done watching the latest movies I had bought – the questions has started settling in… what do I do? Such bouts of ‘not-knowing’ have a history of turning into some of the most creative periods of my life, and I am looking forward to it.

Something similar happenned when I was at home for almost two months after TAPMI (the college where I did my post grad) convocation. I was alone at home in the city where I grew up. The streets seemed unfamilliar with no familiar faces in sight. A whole generation had left the city and a strangeness blanketed the familar ‘black field’, the ‘football ground’ and the ‘community center’. Even the tennis court had looked intimidating then. My only responsibility then had been to make myself available at dinner and lunch. And I spent a lot of time walking to the browsing center and sending ‘Miss You’ mails to modellites – that’s what our college gang called (calls?) itself. After a while of dealing with this sudden silence, something inside me began to stir. A need to create, a need to express. It appeared with doodling on blank pieces of paper, capturing an idea on the blank sides of the newspaper while solving a crossword and slowly… slowly… took form. This ‘stirring’ led to me writing a rought sketch of a screenplay based on TAPMI days. And I started writing a book called ‘What the F is the meaning of life’. Still incomplete, the book is a potential best-seller 🙂 , it’s just that I have not had much ‘quiet time’ since then…… till now!

I need these stirrings, or these ‘quiet times’ to create and express ‘felt’ things. Otherwise I just get too involved in living life. But the stirring is there. I can feel it. That is wonderful. Therefore, the return to the blog!

So, the next month or so – should ideally be extremely creative and soul-satisfying for me. Make that – will be extremely creative and soul satisfying for me.

Also, working on my new web site (which I recently registered) www.abhishekkumar.com .

Will come back.

Wake up call

A person who is sleeping can be woken up.

A person who is pretending to sleep cannot be woken up.

The worst and the most significant lies are those which we tell ourseleves.

The worst actions are the ones that we take, all the while knowing that our soul does not want it.

The worst thougths are those which tell us that we deserve something less than the best that life has to offer.

The worst words are those which we speak knowing that they will offend someone who truly cares.

And even if you do all of these things, you still remain a worthy, good human being – yet become worthless in your own eyes. You become like a street drug peddler, who looks shiftily in every direction, aware of the dangers, on the lookout for an opportunity to make a sale, all the while knowing that what he is doing is wrong, yet doing it because he does not know any better. The street drug peddler, if he could forget himself for a moment, is a wonderful, magnanimous, great human being. So are we. If only we could forget ourselves.

No matter what your age, sex or circumstances, you are mostly made up of unused potential.
Life does not become great or beautiful by philosophizing about it. Life does not become great by listening to preachers or reading manuscripts of wisdom. Life does not become great by making yourself feel good about how great you are. Life becomes what it is because of a simple word. HABIT.

Your present moment of NOW is the only time in which you are alive. In which you will ever be alive. Your present moment of NOW is dictated by habit. Your life is nothing but a cumulative sum of your present moments.

Finally, a quote sums up what I have to say…

Life is measured not by the number of breaths you take, but by the number of moments that take your breath away.

Abhishek’s List

One of the most revealing experiences I had was in Bombay during my summer project with Bates Advertising. There was no work in the beginning and I was spending a lot of quality time in my Xavier’s hostel room. As usual, I was reading up and doing some writing too. It is then that it struck me to make a list of all the things I have been successful at in my life. I went as far back in memory as possible and wrote down all – ALL – the things I had succeeded at. Right from my childhood till then. It was a very intense experience and I almost relived all my previous successes in the process of writing them down. It also helps to have the list ready and look at it in case you want some feel-good moments
in life.

It was a wonderful thing to do. We need to take note of good things we do and not merely feel guilty of bad about things we do not do. We should also celebrate successes in as much as we note down our failures. While it is important to note down what we have not down, noting down our accomplishments makes us feel very satisfied and confident about ourselves. Self-image, self worth and self-respect are very important ingredients for motivating us to achieve further successes in life.

There is one more aspect to this. Noticing your own accomplishments will put you on the right path to surpass your own achievements and make you to draw your strategies on your successes and not on your failures.

Today you do a simple exercise: List down all the things you have done successfully and note down your feelings as you read your list. Remember, it doesn’t have to be success as per somebody else’s definition (like topping school or something!) it just has to be something you consider a personal success. It helps to have such a list handy.

Learning and Education

I have seen that college, school and a general formal education dulls the mind giving the person a sense of cockiness. Compare that to somebody who has not had “proper”, formal education. He would have a more keen mind and a mind more attuned to learning from every single experience.