Fear – It’s about stories we invent

“If it scares you, it’s a good thing to try” – Seth Godin

We fear; most of us.

Some of us fear heights, crowd, fire, darkness, speed, snakes, silence and things like love. It is not uncommon that individuals fear death. About 58 million die in the world per year and over 8.5 million per year in India. It’s ok to be one?

Suspense for some is a thrill, like speeding vehicles. Have you watched the movie “The Birds” a 1963 American horror-thriller directed by Alfred Hitchcock? I had, and the movie neatly tucked in fear for a crow, frankly!

We are not scared of work, but what is in it? We are not afraid of heights, but afraid of falling. We fear people around us, because we fear of rejection by some of them. We are not afraid of love, but fear of not being loved back. We are afraid – to let go, as we are afraid to accept reality that he/she has gone. We are afraid to try again, for fear of getting hurt for same reason again and again. We are afraid of fire, thinking fire will consume us. We are afraid of snakes, feeing the bite and venom will kill us.

Conquering fear is not a right approach.

The picture on right is my daughter walking on fire and on left are me and my wife holding a python on our shoulders. My daughter in a training program did that exercise. She and her colleagues were invited by the trainer in a workshop, to have blind faith. He walked on fire. And then they walked on fire. I saw a man with a python on his shoulders looking for his living by putting it around probable customers. My response was – “If he can, why not I?” I invited my wife who obliged.

It looks that fears are stories we invent ourselves. Seeds of fear probably are embedded in our sub-conscious state. Over-thinking leads to stories that may not exist. Action breads courage. Successful people handle fear better, taking risks. A cat can never catch a mice if she wears a pair of gloves. Like a winner is afraid of losing, others are fearful of winning. Test of courage is to bear defeat without losing heart. The problem is that most people cling to their fears, because it’s part of who we are. If we aren’t ready to face our fears, probably we won’t transcend them. Fears we face, remember to listen to yourself, and  use inner GPS.

In understanding fear, we need to accept anxiety. Not try to fight it. Instead watch anxiety. Just watch it and when you notice it, scale your level of fear and start to breathe longer on the out-breath. And expect the best outcomes.

“Fear is simply because you are not living with life, you are living in your mind. Your fear is always about what’s going to happen next. That means your fear is always about that which does not exist. If your fear is about the non-existent, your fear is hundred percent imaginary. You’re not rooted in reality. You are rooted in your mind. Rooted in reality, there would be no fear” “Fear is not a product of life. Fear is a product of mind. When we live in tomorrow we fear. If we live our life, it will be worth dying. Otherwise life will be regret.” Sadhguru.

‌”EVERYTHING YOU WANTED IS ON THE OTHER SIDE OF FEAR”.

 

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Thumbs up

Not often we look back.

The other day, I was flipping through an old photo album looking at my second daughter whose thumb she was sucking as a young kid. There are ancient stories on thumb sucking as early as 19th century by Heinrich Hoffmann

Yet another story is about Ekalavya. Drona was with his students in a forest and Arjuna saw a dog with lots of arrows in its mouth and was unable to bark. They finally arrived at Ekalavya. This distressed Drona who had willed he will make Arjuna the best archer. Seeing Drona, Ekalavya bows and Drona asked him who his Guru was. He said Drona. Drona asked him to offer Guru Dakshnina and Ekalavya was asked to give his thumb. Ekalavya with respect cuts and surrenders his thumb – sacrificing to retain values.

The grip of the thumb is very important for us. Thumb can touch all other four finger tips. Thumb contrasts with each of the other four by being the only one that is opposable to the other four fingers. Thumb has two phalanges rather than three.

We use thumbs up as an expression of approval. The story of Roman gladiators on thumbs up appears to be not right. The film Gladiators showed this as sign of approval. It also was used for the flight readiness of an aero plane during world war. In the digital space thumbs up is a victory sign.

The thumb gives us control in the use of hand and even insurance coverage for the thumb in damages caused during an accident is pretty high. Even the SpO2 measure on a thumb is higher. SpO2 measurement from the fingers of the both hands with the pulse oximetry, the right thumb has statistically significant higher value. The right thumb has the most accurate value that reflects the arterial oxygen saturation and shows the significance amongst other fingers.

Like thumb, some of our thoughts are dominant. Understanding and prioritizing our thoughts is important to filter our feelings and come up with attitudes that carry us forward to win-win situations.

If not, we crucify our moments and that may lead us to biased failure oriented feelings of anger, mistrust and judgment. In keeping relationships stronger with those whom you want to connect thumbs up or win-win is an attitude. Like the thumb we should be able to touch the tips of all finger tips of our relationships. Imagination has a lot to do with winning. We need to know the strength of thumb and our core strengths.

 I am fascinated about Usain Bolt and his record breaking story of winning. Between 1965 and 2005, the 100-meter dash world record improved from 10.06 seconds to 9.77 seconds, gaining an average of 0.007 seconds per year. Extrapolating the continuation of this improvement rate, would have predicted that the world record would break the 9.60 seconds mark around 2030. Instead, four years later, Bolt established a new world record with a time of 9.58 seconds, a 0.19 second gain over the 2005 record. How was this possible? The answer lies in his answer: “Somebody said I can become immortal”; Bolt said. “Two more medals to go and I can sign off. Immortal.” This is the way to handle future with confidence.

A win needs a lot of ingredients. Two on top of the list are will power and self confidence. A thumbs-up to these two is a good start for a perfect winning day. As we use our thumb to advantage we need to have positive feelings dominate our thoughts. The strength of our faculties is to be applied ignoring the weaknesses.

Not that we win always. Sometimes we win. Sometimes we learn how to win. For this we need to know our core strengths that lie in us like the SpO2 levels in our thumbs.

Bruce Lee, another winner stated: If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you will never get it done. Its focus, it’s the way we use our thumb to grip on matters of choice.

Not so long ago, I read a message – Opportunities are like a biscuit dipped in tea. If you wait for long, biscuit falls off.

 

Create your own happiness

Day before I saw in the kitchen sprouted green gram, my wife planned to add to tomorrow’s salad. Thought of the effort the seeds put in to sprout against the comfort of being within the shell. Freedom is what the seeds sought with natural environments. 

Let me at this context ask – when was the last time you dipped your head in water either in sea or a river, not in a swimming pool?

The meager excitement I had recently as I dipped into rivers in UP and in Kerala, made me rejuvenate and freed me to think: I missed it for long.

Freedom is a response to chose from varied alternatives that at times shackles us in our own minds. We tend to be in our own built cages.

If we miss to embark upon freedom, like the sprout naturally blossom into flowering plants or breeding fruits, we miss it all.

Most of us unknowingly sit in our own compartment, like a bird sits in a cage with an open door, unable to enjoy and feel freedom. Our minds close eyes from seeing beauty of sun rises. Our minds close our ears not to listen to the chirps of the birds. Our minds close our feelings to understand the aftermath of the recent cyclone. Our minds consciously stop us even to dip our heads in the depth of waters. Fear may be one element like fear of unknown, fear of losing comfort. 

As we enjoyed the boat ride to Thriveni Sangam I chose to get wet, in that amalgamation of rivers. Lost myself and dipped, my head inside the depths of water. As I embarked on to the row boat, I asked myself – when was the last time I dipped myself head down? I rejoiced freedom in a multitude of ways as I dipped in Pampa River and tiredness due to sleeplessness overnight vanished. I felt I was like the seed that sprouted. At ease. Enjoying chillness as the atmosphere was heavy with mist around mountains.

We need to think less about seriousness in our lives. As we hardly have a choice to stop what happens around or in us. Having acquainted with cryogenic industry producing oxygen for long, I have often been asked: when you produce oxygen from thin air, will the content reduce and make an imbalance? That is a good doubt, but the balancing mechanism of nature does the trick. In one way we breathe out CO2 and is consumed by plants community. They breathe out O2 and we inhale. Life is about balance. Some call it work-life balance. We need to balance between reaction & response – handling our lives to make it more interesting, enjoyable….. to be happy.

We need to tilt and adjust our priorities of the moment we pass through. None of us can align and correct ourselves to suit situations always for others recognition. We need to please ourselves first and in that process if others are pleased that is double win.

Raju and Meera will remain in my memories for long. They are connected with the rivers we were near Allahabad. Raju was about 18 years of age and was rowing the boat we were tugged in to reach Sangam. Poorly paid, his smile and stories enticed that small journey with him. Meera sold floating buckets all made of natural elements flowers leaves and a little wick that can be lit before one float this on river Ganga. At Rs.10/- a piece she made her living with tremendous amount of happiness visible on her face and spreading that infectious happiness to others around. We do not seek happiness, rather we tend to seek pleasures and in that bargain pain. We swiftly make our life out of balance.

Enjoy the lit things … sum it up and that makes a huge bundle of joy.

 

 

A sigh

Not far ago, we took a view around the Bridge of Sigh in Italy. In a movie inspired by the bridge, Diane Lane kissed her lover near the bridge at sun set, to fulfill a dream. This bridge is a tourist’s attraction. It began construction in 1600 to span the Rio di Palazzo (Palace River) while connecting Doge’s Palace to a prison.

According to folklore when prisoners crossed the canal on the bridge they sighed in despair as they approached their end of freedom. The bridge’s name gained popularity in the 19th century in Lord Byron’s poem – “I stood in Venice on the Bridge of Sighs, a palace and prison on each hand.” Life not even for a prisoner is in balance. In one hand hope persists and in other pain.

I recently breathed a sigh in watching a scenario as I walked past a lane close to my home in Kozhikode, Kerala.

Bridges bridge gaps between hopes, aspirations and despair. Bridges bring about a balance. Feelings arouse the inner hidden episodes with a sigh, a sigh that probably releases stress.

“Presence of mind” is an often used term, but difficult to practice. As most of us are out of balance with our past memories, moods and ego states. When our mind is not in the present, it is difficult to handle. Engaging with the present probably is presence of mind.

An example of sinking in sadness and moving through such conditions is depicted in a PIXAR film “Inside out”. Lesson learnt from the film is about “emotional literacy” not taught is institutions. This is our ability to notice, recognize, interpret and respond to our emotional links. When we practice this we are able to embrace the way we feel with own and other’s emotions and manage our thoughts. Emotions tell us stories – some sad and a few happy. At times we indulge in self pity. We need to stand up for ourselves. My mother once told me – “your legs are for you to stand upon”. “The moment we doubt whether we can fly; we cease for ever to be able to do it” – J M Barrie.

We all tend to live in our “In-BoX”. Filled and overfilled with matter that enter, that restricts us to an enormous burden of tensed feelings and stressful situations. Delete button is rarely used, to detox. If our in-box rules us, how that can help us for an easy walkthrough the path? A need exists to detour, de-clutter and sit for a while and have a sigh of relief. The bridge we pass through recognizes the attempt of finding out who’s that “me!
Like our bodies are servants of our mind, our mind should be our servant. A strong body and a bright, happy, cheerful countenance result in a bounty of thoughts of joy and good will. We bridge the extremes with a sigh of comfort, contentment.

The walk through the lane that afternoon made me watch and sure, you will appreciate. An elderly person was sitting in front of the huge scattered debris with a tool in his hand. The place was fouling. He a rag picker was separating plastics from the bio-degradable matter and inserting the torn plastics as an asset into his bag. When I looked at him he stared at me, and soon released a sigh of relief and smiled.

He did not know about the environmental impact or the non-bio-degradable composition of his asset he was picking. He simply attempted with a smile in his face, to separate the two. Bridging a gap between, so that he deposits the assets he collected at a renewable material store and makes up for his dinner.

A sigh was an instant outcome from me.

I then went back to the story of the prisoners in Venice in those years in 1600, when hope prevailed as they entered the Bridge of Sigh from palace surroundings to the prison rooms.

Hope that leads us – The bridge between sighs.

Dustbin in brains!

Yes, it happens.

Yes it happens to you and me.

Yes – it can happen at any moment in our journey of lives.

No wonder why Clayton Christensen said “I believe that we can, in a deliberate way, articulate the kind of people we want to become. For the rest of life one can initiate what happens, utilize to help you become the kind of person you want to be”.

What we need to do is to observe and learn from some simple things around us – Very intricate designs that weave around us.
Look at the recent researched subject of ORDINARY pumkin flowers. Yellow ants on pumpkin flowers!

Let your mind rest and watch. “Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to your life; not so much by what happens to you as by the way your mind looks at what happens” – Khalil Jibran.

You watch the yellow crazy ants that disrupt pollination in pumpkin plants as written in the journal of “Biological Invasions”. Kasragod area in Kerala grows pumpkin plants that are pollinated by bees. When the pumpkin crop was dwindling scientists studied. Pumpkin plants produce male and female flowers. They found honey bees that pollinate for bearing fruits fly to female flowers more as female flowers produce a better quality of nectar. Bees needed both pollen and nectar and they flew between male and female flowers, thus facilitating pollination. In order to identify failure of fruits they covered female flowers with nylon bags. That was a deterrent for the yellow ants that affected bees pollinating. When flowers bloomed next day they removed the nylon covers to allow bees to visit ant-less bloomed flowers for pollination. Then put back nylon covers to prevent ants getting across. With bees doing their job pollination was made possible eliminating the yellow ants and more fruits were cultivated. About 47000 hectars of land in India currently cultivate pumpkins and produce large quantum that we consume.
To me it was lessons learnt.

Avoid being at a place where you have no role to play. Allow natural habitants to perform and achieve what is natural. But often with egoistic attitude we encroach in areas of other’s influences or make caustic criticisms. Isn’t that a waste of energy? Any way, if un-checked like yellow ants we too fall a pray.

In a normal day we work on with a flood of thoughts amounting to more than 50,000 per day. Most of us gets caught with almost everything. There are areas of concerns for some. Very limited areas of influence where we may be able to make a change. Out of those many thoughts, that flood our minds, imagine how many exist where we have a chance to influence?
Work on those and avoid the rest. Let us study how many are those items to check out to influence and make a change. If we use our fingers of right hand it may be less than the count of fingers.

The rest corrupts our minds like those yellow ants that prevent pollination. Food for thought gets affected by invasion into areas that are “everything”.
Witness and watch, observe and forget by letting thoughts pass by. Use the compartment in brain like the DUSTBINS; discard unwanted thoughts.
You allow the flow.

I will try in any case, a lesson learnt by the researchers on Pumpkin pollination.

Live LIFE, one chance to LIVE

There are three triggers for me to capture this photo and post.

One – I chose to replace my cell phone with a new one and my son-in-law ordered through net for one going on discount. Two – a pigeon intruded into my space in the drawing room on the seventh floor through a small slit on the open window. Third weather forecast predicted seasonal rains are almost over, I chose to clean cobwebs and glass frames. Yeah and a fourth one – a forwarded video clip of cine star Simi interviewing Dev Anand and asking him “what do you do when you become old”?

The first incident made me aware that everything has a shelf life and all things in this universe are temporary. Second one reminded me that anyone can occupy your space if you do not live your life. And the third of course was harsh in statement that memoirs are rich if life is lived well? Simi’s question had sprung another question in me – what if I become old? I am just around 73, though!

Now the photo, as I do not really see that photo often though hung on the wall, the cob web cleaner in me took it out wiped the glasses on the frame and was about to hang it all over again. I could hardly believe and was in disguise, and so cleaned the spectacle glasses with lens cleaner and had a re-look at it. Wow – that is me and my sweet heart up in Himalayas (not for our first honey moon, we do that often anyway) in Gulmarg.

A little later I called her up in Mumbai and asked her – Do you still remember our trip to Himalayas in 1980? She said yes, “how can I forget”?

With struggles we encountered like a death in sight case with her in a tubectomy case, a near death case of mine with TM (transverse myelitis) and problems with inadequate funds that stopped but we managed to take our children on yearly picnics etc.; I lived my life with those gaps of need and greed – Gaps that remain as challenges and learning curves.

The sum and substance of this short story is that – Live life; only one chance to live.

Let the weather be unpredictable, we venture out. Let cob webs spring in but clean up our thoughts and recharge. Like those pigeons someone else may live for us if we remain comparing others. So adapt to new things like the cell phone in order to be touch with old friends and people who helped us laugh and had fun with.

And Dev Sab was right: we do not become old, we mature.