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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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.

 

 

Nostalgia and Dementia

About 35 years ago ….. This morning I barged into a cell of memoirs of that day.

A college mate of mine Venuraj told me on phone that his ankles are paining. I then looked at my ankle. Found that my toe nails need a trimming and went to collect the nail cutter. That was it.

That nail cutter was gifted thirty five years ago in Jeddah by a friend’s friend who shared our apartment for a few nights before he boarded flight to Jordan. He worked for Panasonic National. He said “You keep it”. None ever gifted me a nail cutter, may be with crystals. This nail cutter is unique and precious in many ways.

Nostalgia; a friend of mine told me is like dementia. I found it to be an interesting comparison. Dementia is unsoundness of mind resulting from organic or functional disorders leading to loss of coherent thoughts. Nostalgia is about poignant fixation or longing for something that happened long ago.

It appears both are demerits. I wonder though! When it sounds and steps on memories, nostalgia turns purple. It connotes love and that kind of?

I lived longer than someone and came to this world before India was independent. Nostalgia plays music in my old heart to tickle and fondle my memoirs.

Today the Gen Next will not bother to know because they have a valid reason. It does not tickle them anymore. What tickles them probably are smart things like cells, robots, AI (artificial intelligence), drones, remotes that run automobiles and speed. The flow of nostalgia is in any way trickle by trickle. Very slow like pain in the ankle of Venuraj.

No wonder when a close school friend of mine called up to ask “why not we four meet?” made me vibrant and speedy in action to meet sooner. And we did speak that night in calm and laughter only about nostalgic stories that bind us still. Football we used to play, jokes that made us laugh; cutting chai that we used to share; the kalumakai (mussels) fried in original pepper from that corner shop that does not exist, and about the shop near Malabar Christian College, Kozhikode that has gone into oblivion as a road widening took place and traffic signals have been planted. We spoke of times when there were no city buses only bullock carts and a few horse ridden vehicles, and by no way no traffic signals.
Change is forever and un-stoppable. We understand and appreciate that factor, as none can stop dementia or nostalgia. It flows and carry on with it good and bad things.

Unfortunately in dementia we forget and in nostalgia memoirs filter only goodness and leave the spoilt occurrences to waste. That is why the most often repeated concept of forgiveness comes into picture. The four of us had fought and split but we are congruent in one as much as we trace history and look at what is happening. And hold our fort of thoughts into future with a back drop of how illuminant was the days we passed by. As we grew we never thought we were making memories. We just enjoyed the fun of living.

Some moments we passed through have become treasures. They fit into our bags of assets. More valuable than some of the gifts (unlike the nail cutter) and materials we made in due course. School holidays when we used to go to uncle’s houses to recreate times shared with cousins and their neighbor hood, lakes and valleys, mountains and rivers, playing kites and running and falling.

It appears the second trip down the memory lane is a treat like the grandma’s coconut chutney. Even the eight year old grandson of mine Darsh listens as he is unfolded with an old photograph of his and asks in excitement questions that his nerves wonder. In us are those fond memories, aside us are our friends and intimate relationships and in front of us are challenges that makes future.

I miss being the child.

That brings an opportunity in all of us. Not to forget to awaken the child in us. Being lonely is a possibility and is the worst poverty of this time, as you age. Remember fear was not a part as we grew up, fear is taught en-route. A child does not fear – he just tries.
Like we four old friends met without a reason but celebrated the occasion.

“Be happy for no reason, like a child. If you are happy for a reason, you are in trouble, because that reason can be taken away from you” – Deepak Chopra.

Rocks, Stones and Pebbles

You and I love to walk on the sea shore or on the river side once in a way. Who does not? At times, may be when a small sand particle gets into our foot ware, we think of that tiny pebble. Otherwise why we spent time thinking of non-interesting sand that is essentially pulverized, weathered rock that toss up by the waves. Sand is basically a material made of breakdown of rocks over thousands and millions of years.

My wife and daughters have been collecting small pebbles of rocks wherever we went in India or abroad and at times request friends who go places, to bring a small pebble or rock. The idea being “DHARTHI EK HAI” – world is one. As we collect we appreciate the world we live in. We understand the limit of our world as we look at cosmos. As we look at we individuals as a tiny molecule in the huge canvas of cosmos, that makes it sensible. We have a life span of restricted time period. Compare that short period to the tiny sand particles that took millions of years to form?

The highest peak in the world is Mount Everest at 29035 feet above sea level. But that is not the tallest. The tallest mountain is Mauna Kea in the islands of Hawaii. Mauna Kea stands 13796 feet above sea level and extends 19796 feet below Pacific Ocean.

At times we say we touched rock bottom of our lives, it seems a comparison. We say hidden are most of our feelings; like that of Mauna Kea. At times we burry our feelings that burden us like Mauna Kea submerged in the sea. At such times we need to reflect of what Sir Edmund Hillary said “It is not the mountain we conquer; but ourselves”.

In our lives we often climb big rocks, small stones that we trip and fall and sands where we make footprints during our journey of life. We need to remember then of millions of years that rocks take to become sand as water cuts rocks on a dimension of time. Do we overestimate the turmoil we consider as huge in comparison?

It says “River water cuts rocks not because of its strength but by its persistence”. We had a chance to kayaking on the river Sutlej that emanates beyond Indian borders and pass through Shimla. Remembered sitting on the banks on a sea of pebble stones. Close to that place was a hot spring on the banks of Sutlej River that was extremely cold. That spring was hot and was unbearable for hand touch. It is such phenomena that we witness to understand that co-existing as in nature is a lesson to learn for social existence. These lessons help us to build our attitude and thus our character.

It was in Cairo where I and my wife went on a camel back to see pyramids. We chose to walk the distance on a camel back to adapt to that place. Sure it was an amazing experience. Most of us know the way pyramids are built and a lot is unknown. The size of mammoth stones that shaped the angles is a sight that we can imagine. Irregular and equally charming are the rocks and mountains in Rampura en-route to Bangalore. That was a locale movie SHOLAY was shot, Shaped into an array of elegance Sippy chose that place for Shoal to be shot. Jorge Luis Borges was apt in saying – “Nothing is built on stone; all is built on sand. But we must build as if sand were stone”. The story of Hampy is another study of rocks. It took time for those monumental structures to be created, but they last a long time.

In my professional life there were umpteen enquiries with nature between official engagements. One such was a visit to Bora caves away from Visakhapatnam. The Gosthani River, originates close to these caves and flows between the solidified stalactites and stalagmites in the karstic lime stones formation. Water percolating from the roof of the caves dissolves limestone and trickle drop by drop to form stalactites of the cave and drip down to the ground. These deposits have developed into interesting forms and structures inside the caves. These shapes have captured the imagination of tourists. Excavations carried out in the caves by archeologist unearthed stone tools of middle Paleolithic culture dating back 30,000 to 50,000 years, which confirmed human habitation. A similar kind of rock formation as a cave is there near Krabi islands in Thailand. During that visit my wife looked above as she had a droplet of water on her head. While she looked above I was looking down as I spotted a plant growing in that underground environment. That is nature. With the need of water for organic growth drop by drop a plant can grow in that ambience. Marvelous indeed I captured a photo of her standing near that plant. Anything is a possibility to grow and flourish, provided we seek the luck in an opportunity at right time. This study is beyond geology and research into historical evidences that create rocks into caves.

Here we differ and think is it right to quote “A rolling stone gathers nothing?”. The only difference between stumbling blocks and stepping stones is the way we use them. Both are rock formations are in our thoughts. We need to differentiate. After all our thoughts are mental blocks; attitudinal issues. That’s why we need to think out of the box. Parallel thinking patterns. Resolving conflicts, in relationships and moving ahead stepping on stumbling blocks of rocks that appear as mountainous terrains. A drop of water with persistence can give life to the plant and a drop of water can cut rocks with less power than the hugeness of the problems we foresee.

Rocks at times are illusionary clouded in colours of blue, like Alps. Such formations provide us with patterns to dream. We climb and achieve success; we compete with self rather than the surroundings and environment. It is not the peak of Everest that we reach but knowing the strength and capabilities of our minds.

Like the rock, the strongest muscle is our heart and the worst enemy is our mind. Understanding this we avoid unwanted thoughts and manipulations. Pass through beautiful caves inside mountains and take a dip to find submerged Mauna Kea.

Fjord – What’s that?

“Fjord” – I read in news paper as I passed through an article.
My God!

I having passed through a Malayalam medium high school with limited knowledge of English spelling wondered and peeped into Webster Comprehensive Dictionary. Wow, the word exists that lead me to look at the word “fiord”. There it comes, and says see even “fyord”, they are synonyms for the meaning – a long and narrow arm of the sea with high rocky banks. Then remembered a trip to Krabi Islands with my wife on our 35th wedding anniversary where there were such landscapes but never thought to check the word, then. That was 8 years ago. That shows we tend to forget small things, though they make up a lot for our hearts.

That made me curious enough to look at things that I did not know, with a pair of progressive spectacles that I recently bought. Revisit and refocus through that new lens. Yes, stumbled upon glass. Between most of us and glass there is something or other, a love affair either to toast or to buy a crystal or a tinted glass painting.

Some people amongst us are settling down, some are settling and some refuse to settle like butterflies. When life gets confused we need to adjust our focus. Vision improves when we see what is invisible. When you look at things differently, things we look at change. I see these with my new spectacle,
Long back in a program at Kolkata, I made a presentation. I never used a pair of glasses as a youngster, but later used a spectacle and a bi-focal. And at times I used a microscope for dissection to get into details and a telescope for distant viewing to look into future. Having used all those glassed items, what I loved was the use of a cheap toy on earth – Kaleidoscope, made out of broken glass pieces. A tilt and a new picture emerge; a new perspective, objective, new idea that are fresh and glowing a glittery pattern for every tilt.
Our minds should think out of the box and look differences and align patterns in our thought processes that enhance our relationships.

Glass brings back a story most of you may have heard. A newlywed wife on her first few days looks through her window across to see other side. She tells her husband that her neighbor washed clothes that were not as clean as hers. But her husband cleans the glass panes and shows that it was her window glass that was not clean. Perspectives change with introspection. We cannot assign the world dirty unless we clean own glasses. Our perception of others actually is a reflection of ours. Extending glass to stained glass windows it is said: they sparkle and shine when sun sets; true beauty is in darkness with the light WITHIN (us).

Let me turn the page of glass to mirror. In a mirror, we look for effects of time on us but cannot watch our effects on others. Mirror in a way is a true
friend of ours as it does not lie. When we are happy it shows and does not show sadness. There is a story about mirror. Someone sent his son to clean the mirror and repeatedly advised him to do so every day. He did but asked why? Father answers: “This is actually the case with the mind. Clean it every moment, because every moment, just by its nature, dust goes on gathering.” “We will be able to see God on the day on which our heart becomes like a mirror” said Osho. We can see ourselves better, when dust on the surface of mirror gets cleaned. It is the dust of our actions, ego, thoughts, desires and feelings. We need to cleanse to get right refraction of splitting white colour to its magnificent seven that forms like a splendid rainbow. After all, all of us deserve to be beautiful, to self and others. Who does not want to be?

“It is better to conquer yourself than win a thousand” – Buddha.
Mirror yourself, better, more beautiful.