Monthly Archives: March 2017

a certain uncertainty

After crossing the Atlantic on a 10-hour flight and zig-zagging down winding roads on a 2 hour drive, I forgave myself surprisingly quickly for not having a strong desire to catch up on work emails. The key to flying east is to force yourself to stay awake until the sun sets, otherwise you’ll live like an owl for the rest of the week. Anything in a seated, comfortable, or warm position would be a murder of today with intent, a combination of mens rea – a guilty mind, and actus reus – a guilty act. Jet lag hates fresh air, daylight, exercise, and a strong will. I fought against myself, stood firm, and said, “don’t argue with me, you smart-ass!”

And so, with my hesitant will, I picked up my headphones and changed into my flat shoes. “Let me roam aimlessly outside the hotel,” I said! While listening to the podcast ‘The Overwhelmed Brain,’ I started walking amidst all this fresh oxygen. I became aware of how raw and pure the air feels – it won’t be too bad if I practice what my yoga teacher keeps yelling about – inhale & exhale. I shifted my senses, paused my brain, and activated my vision. I observed the little flowers on the grass and random thoughts invaded my mind. If I start walking on the grass, would I be crushing these little flowers? But if I don’t, how do I get from here to there? Am I being selfish at this very moment? But what about all the little organisms we inhale just by breathing? What about the ants we crush when we walk and the mosquitos we murder?  

Amidst all these thoughts and while trying to focus on the podcast, I experienced an itch to make a U-turn and go back to the hotel; move towards a seated, comfortable, and warm position. I observed and accepted the existence of this itch but it tirelessly returned with an increasing strength every 5 mins. I told myself to keep going, not knowing what lay ahead of me. 

In the back of the hotel by the pool there were a bunch of stairs, but when I looked up to see where it led, I couldn’t see. It reminded me of those moments in our life when we don’t know the end result; we know we are moving, but don’t know where. There is a fear of the unknown, and a certain uncertainty. Within microseconds, my mind filled up with negativity – what if there’s nothing there? What if it’s a waste of my time and effort? Why sacrifice my precious calories? Why leave the comfort of where I am where I can see everything? But I kept going. 

At the top, this is what I found.

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The Hunger Games

When things go our way, when plans fall into place, when we achieve expected results, we feel safe. Any digression from this brings an unease and causes us to doubt. We feel exposed, vulnerable, and unprotected. 

Based on the random theory, we don’t get to pick our environment when we are born. We are stuck with a person who’s supposed to be our mom, our dad, and our sibling. We are stuck with the basics – the community, culture, religion, and capabilities that we are born with. We do however, are given the freedom to select everything else. 

With this set of basics, we are now either Katniss or Peeta, unleashed into the wild to survive, almost like The Hunger Games. The wild consists of the unknown, the surprises, and the challenges that life throws at us. Each person uses a different technique and strategy to bring himself back to safety – a feeling of being in a warm cocoon with a least probability of an attack. To help achieve this mission, we hire an army. In an eclectic manner, we surround ourselves with anything or anyone that brings us instant happiness – clothes, gadgets, money, ambition, working out, adventurous travel – things that bring an adrenaline rush, an instant dose of a happy feeling – serotonin & dopamine. We also hire people who we consider friends – people who are like-minded, people who appreciate us, people who agree with our way of thinking and lifestyle – people who make us feel good about ourselves, make us feel appreciated, accepted, and unconditionally loved.

Anything or anyone else, then becomes an enemy – people who don’t see our point of view, people who challenge our assumptions, people who point out imperfections. While some do it to deliberately hurt us, some do it because they care about us, love us, and only want the best for us. Not all that makes us instantly feel good is necessarily good. And not all that makes us instantly feel bad is necessarily bad. Some medicines don’t taste good, but they are good for us. At times like these, it becomes very important to accurately identify an enemy, so that we don’t shoot everyone in front of us.