Saturday, October 18, 2014

Father and Son...

"See the trees that grow so tall today, my Father" said The Buddha. "Millions of years ago, trees did not exist, our soils were covered merely with plants. But, then came a time when dark clouds descended on to our soil. Dark clouds that hid the rays of our warm sun. The weaker plants could not survive this, but there were some that braved their way forward. They pushed, they reached higher; they overcame the dark clouds and found the warm rays of the beloved sun. Today, we have trees, my Father. The wood that warms our homes may have never existed if it were not for those few brave plants."

The Father reflected on the thoughts of his son, as he continued, "But, today the dark clouds are no longer around us. Today, my Father, the trees need not be so tall to reach the sunlight. But there they stand, in all their magnificence, as tall as ever. You say to me today, let these trees become the plants their ancestors once were. You ask me to follow a path that you followed. But, why is it that you are not able to see that the path I follow today is on the path where you have left me. I have come from you and I can only take the path forward."

Upon hearing these words, The Father sat down. He understood what his son had said, but it did not solve his problem. "Son," he said, "you are a far better storyteller than I... But, as good a story as you weave, I cannot agree with your decision."

"But, I do not ask for you to agree with me, my Father... I merely ask that you agree that we can disagree."

Friday, August 15, 2014


Things can get quite frustrating at times. We have evolved and really grown as humans, I suppose. Not many of us accuse a woman of being a witch and burn her in the market square anymore. When a nation tries to conquer another, several communities around the world at least make a loud noise about it now. We know a lot more about our universe and can easily understand concepts, such as, evolution and gravity. But, judging a book by it's cover is still something we are quite hooked to. I say that just by seeing the number of idiots that get hired for jobs they don't even understand. While working, they then either learn the job or just rely on Christmas miracles 80% of the time to sort things out for them. And it all comes down to the friends you have, the passport you carry, or just purely the colour of your skin.

I feel frustrated not because the wrong people get hired for a job, but because you can sit for months analysing your own skills in your mind and observing your strengths and weaknesses, and thinking that if you were only given the chance... If you were only trusted based on your experience and not judged based on your nationality.

And, then I wonder if all you should do is just accept and move on. Accept the fact that growth in an organisation or job for you will always be slower, will always take a bit longer. Just accept that 95% of the people around you cannot see beyond certain elements that have no relevance to how well you'd do your job.

But, I think we all have a bit of both, the Ying and the Yang in us. One seems to be quite cautious and responsible, asking me to just accept where I am and be patient; while the other, seems to be a bit adventurous and a dreamer, asking me to take a leap of faith and reach for the goals I really want to achieve for myself personally.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Gone fishing...

I think I am planning on taking a fairly risky step in the coming months. And, I find myself really thinking it over and over again. I ask myself whether I should really take the chance, or just keep my head down and live the way I am living for now. Perhaps wait a bit longer? Wait for the right moment?

There seems to be this constant battle in life between passion and monetary survival. Ever noticed how majority of the motivational speakers are either talking about the secrets of becoming rich, or the secrets of finding immense peace and happiness in life. Sure, there are the cancer survivors, injured ex-athletes, etc. But, the majority is about money or passion. On one end, Deepak Chopra tells you to go do what you want, forget about the money. On the other end, Donald Trump tells you "hey, want to know how I made that first million?" Oddly enough, Donald Trump and Deepak Chopra would probably catch up at a bar for a beer as well at some point in time.

What I love about Taoism is that it seems to be the only religion (if one could call it that) that accepts opposing forces as an inevitable nature of the universe. Other religions seem to somehow try to guide you on what to aspire to and what to avoid. But Taoism seems to just say "on the left corner, ladies and gentlemen, weighing in at 600 pounds, MONEY! And on my right, the ever so virtuous, feather-weight champion, PASSION!" The crowd may pick favourites, but the Taoist just accepts that there is a ring with two opposing forces. What's to pick from that?

I often think back to this experiment David Bohm wrote about. I never really had the time to read his whole book, but the experiment was something so simple, and yet so meaningful, that it stayed with me. It was focused on a fish within a square fish tank. There were cameras placed on each face of the tank, and screens set up in different rooms. The person in the first room saw the fish moving left to right, but the person in the second room argued that the fish is moving away from him, not left to right.

It's a silly experiment in some ways. But, all it highlights is how we perceive things, and can often be restricted to what we see. We are willing to fight for the version of reality we see, because we believe there could only ever be one possible truth. And, after all, that is what we seem to understand from our religions as well. Pick this or that. God will judge you in the after-life based on the choices you made. And when you leave the church, or the temple, you walk into your office and realise your life on this Earth will depend on the choices you make. You either pick that dull, soul-crushing, most days insulting, $ 100,000 paying job, or you become a painter and live off charity from friends and family for as long as possible. 

Life is about choices. There are small everyday decisions, like which brand of milk to buy (like who really gives a shit, you idiot), or the really major ones that can really impact everything you do from here on. But, what if, the choices were just two TV channels. Animal Planet or Nat Geo Wild; both showing me the same fish in the same tank. But from one view, the fish moves from left to right and from the other view, the fish is moving away from me?

"Take a saw: what seems important to us is the tips of the teeth. They do the cutting, not the valleys between the teeth. But see, you couldn't have tips of the teeth without the valleys between them. Therefore the saw wouldn't cut without both tips and V-shaped valleys"
- Alan Watts

Saturday, April 26, 2014

The Buzz of Understanding a Light-Year

It's rare to find people being astounded anymore. Not surprised, not amazed, those are experiences you can still come by during an unexpected birthday party, or seeing a fat person's sudden transformation. But, to be astounded, is quite rare. And, to be astounded, is such a beautiful experience too.

I suppose, when you are a child you have such moments, as you learn about a few things that seem so new and... astounding. Perhaps, when you learn about the solar-system, how the Earth takes a full 360 in 24 hours, or how the rings of Saturn aren't really that solid, and definitely not a theme-park prototype created by Jesus... But, even children don't seem to really experience that sense of astonishment, I feel. The reason is, when you discover something unknown out of your own personal curiosity, it can astound you -- but if it's just part of the school curriculum, that's just another chapter in the book your are learning. And, because we have a general understanding of so many concepts now as we are growing up, we just rarely ever get astounded as adults anymore.

For instance, I know I learnt about the solar system and the universe back in high school, and it was all interesting. I remember a viral email that went around some 10+ years back which showed solid balls, painted like the different planets within our solar system, to give the reader an understanding of how huge our sun and surrounding planets are in comparison to our own planet. This was all, interesting -- but not something that just took over my whole mind for a few seconds. It was not until around 10 years back, when I was sitting with a friend on a pointless evening, staring at the skies, and my mind just wandered over a thought. I thought about how, if I were to step out of where I was and go upwards, I'd see my city, within a country, within a continent, within our planet, within our solar-system, within the galaxy, within the universe... And then what? I'd be stuck in an object that I would never be able to observe from the outside. Everything else got boxed in a package as I stepped outward, but the universe was something I could never step out of.

Even now, if I think about that idea, it fills me up. It feels almost as if all my problems disappear, because everything else suddenly starts feeling so petty.

It was just a few days ago, when a scientist on NatGeo said something that astounded me once again. He was talking about how he was observing a storm on a particular star which was 200 light-years away, and he continued to say "which basically means, I am observing a storm that took place 200 years ago." And that, just hit me! I was being taught that a light-year is the distance light travels in a year, which turns out to be almost 10 trillion kilometers. I was being taught the text-book definition of the term, but I don't ever remember anyone really explaining it to me in a way that would have astounded me.

The Orion's belt, which so many of us stare at during a clear night, consists of three main stars; the closest of which (Alnitak) is around 736 light-years away from our planet. That means, the Orion's belt probably doesn't even exist at this point in time as I currently see it; Alnitak could have just died yesterday, but I will only ever see that happen 736 years from now...

Such a realisation, can really change your perspective, if only for a few moments. We all seem to live with this secret thought at the back of our heads that we are the protagonist of our personal movies or books. But, when you realise how vast the universe is and how near-sighted you truly are to ever really experience it in it's totality, that's got to make you feel a bit small, I suppose. And yet, in that significant shrinkage, there appears to be this sense of feeling full... if only for a few seconds while you are astounded.

"The tao that can be told, is not the eternal Tao"
- Lao Tzu

Friday, March 21, 2014

Too Old for Games...

If someone were to ask the 11 year old me, "what would make you feel content?" I would've shared this silly dream I had back then. Back when I tried to spend every second of my free time playing games on my Pegasus; I just dreamt of a day when I'd have one hundred - no, no - two hundred video games stacked up in a personal library to choose from. If only I had the money, because back then buying a AED 35 game used to seem so darn expensive.

Perhaps, if I did have that many games, a few years from now I could've exhibited them at some art exhibition as a collector's item. But, as a kid, I would've never preserved them in mint condition -- I would've been too busy catching up to technology, the Nintendo, SUPER Nintendo, N64, PS2, Wii, PS3... 

I have only ever owned 4 game consoles my whole life, The Atari, The Pegasus, Super Nintendo, and The PS3. Something happened after the Super Nintendo, I think. It was around then that I found other things in life that piqued my interest, but, also, I started growing up and realising that this would never end. They will never create a gaming system that they will look at and say "this is it, we don't need to create anymore new consoles EVER!" 

Today, the PS3 my wife pushed me to buy back in 2011, is kind of being pushed out by it's successor, the PS4. They still sell it in the market and have games for it, but, all the games I was sort of waiting for in any of the series, such as uncharted and infamous, will only continue on PS4. That's a bit disappointing. But, I think I am secretly feeling a bit relieved. As I walked into a gaming store to kill some time today during my quarterly essential shopping (finally found boxers and socks), I noticed the push for PS4. I noticed 'Infamous the Second Son' on the shelf, but available exclusively on PS4. The same will happen for 'Uncharted 4.' 

I am upset when I think I may probably never get to play as Nathan Drake again. But I am a bit relieved that I won't have a game distracting me. I barely find any time in my day to add to my book, there seem to be enough distractions around in the few hours I get off from work. Well, 'distraction' is a harsh word for them, as I do love a lot of the things that take up my time. Nat Geo, basketball, new places for dinner, this blog, time with family and friends; but that's about it. I have been avoiding any urge to get into a new game. 

It is ironic, today when I can probably afford to gradually build my personal gaming library; when I can possibly afford to buy a lot of different consoles and games, I see them as distractions. It's strange how our perception of how we choose to spend our time changes as we grow up. Things we once loved can someday feel like distractions that we avoid. Or, perhaps they become a luxury we can no longer afford as far as time is concerned. 

One of my favourite quotes by Gautama Buddha was "learn to let go, that is the key to happiness." Clearly, as we grow older (and wiser?) in life, we do let go of a lot of things; things that perhaps become distractions we avoid... But, of course, for every passion we seem to let go and classify as a distraction, we really just seem to replace it with another passion. 

"A dream for a dream, and you will forever remain asleep..."

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Da Vinci's Demons...

I think as time passes, I have started to feel quite alone. I do seem to have my friends and family around, all of whom love me and all that. They share their joys and their problems, and I perhaps do a bit of the same. But, for the last few years, I have started feeling a bit detached. It's got nothing to do with them; it's not like they have upset me or offended me. It's just that I have started losing a bit of interest in life and it's problems in general, I feel. I see the pointlessness in life; and, at the same time, I realise that pointlessness isn't necessarily a negative thing. The sun rises every morning with no real point; and yet, it seems beautiful every morning. It's a strange dilemma when you see that something is pointless, but don't really see the point in telling someone that "I think this is pointless."

I suppose, that's where the alone part comes in.

I am turning 31 this month. Of late, as I have been working on myself to stay in shape, I have noticed how much harder it has gotten. My body is kind of losing out on all it's natural goodness, so I need to feed it all the goodness it needs. And I knew it would gradually slow down; which is absolutely fine. But, I feel like my race has almost just started. My race to really become financially secure, to deliver consistently and constantly at work, to fight every other day.

I don't think I have had extremely unrealistic expectations from life; even though I know a lot of people who have known me have seen me as nothing more than a dazed dreamer. And I have been a dreamer, I know that too. But, of late, the helium in the balloons has been dying out.

See, I know I am no Socrates, but I have plenty of insights like he did about life. At times I have said to a few loved ones that my ideas are like balloons filled with helium. I float with them, dreaming away, but appreciate the anchor (practical perspectives) that my loved ones add, as it ensures I don't drift too high up in the air. The last thing a dreamer would want is to reach so high that the balloon eventually pops due to air pressure.

The balance worked for a few years, I suppose. But, off-late I float way too close to the ground it feels. Over the years, the helium has been leaking, but the anchors still weigh the same. I see life a lot closer now, and that's all I feel like I keep doing sometimes. Just observing life. And, it is pointless... not that pointlessness is supposed to be a negative thing...

"I'm the hero of this story -- and I don't need to be saved"
- Regina Spektor

Saturday, January 11, 2014


It's a bit special when you come across a moment when you are feeling happy, but can't really pinpoint the specific reason why you are feeling happy. That's a good kind of happiness. You look around and can actually see miniature bombs exploding all around you; but you stand there, like a smiling solider covered in bubble-wrap... feeling just protected enough for that moment.

I don't know; it's 12:30am. I know there are plenty of problems around me... but, sometimes your vision is blurred, I suppose. You become near-sighted, so all you can focus on is literally that moment where you stand. The moment where you land up on youtube wondering, "which George Harrison song was that?" -- but somehow end up hearing a Paul Westerberg song instead. A song from a movie you loved back in 2003, even though you knew you had discovered it 10 years after its actual release. The song was "Waiting for Somebody" from Cameron Crowe's "Singles."

Man... that movie made life feel so simple for a bit. And, life isn't simple, I suppose. There are just so many people around, everyone doing their own thing, having their own views, own beliefs. And all those books and movies led us to believe that from all those people around, with their own views and beliefs, we would find this one person who would be like the square peg for our square hole and life would just be fine. Like you are stuck in a hospital, with everyone sick around you and "all at once you look across the crowded and see the way that light attaches to a girl." And from there on, life would just be walks down (what would appear to be) streets of Paris, beaches in the Maldives.

And, no one ever tells you, "Hey, you know, those eternal walks in exotic locations are really just momentary, and to get those moments you will need to work your ass off for about a year to save just enough to have that momentary walk."

But, as I listen to "Waiting for Somebody" again today, possibly the first time I am hearing the song after I got married, I feel a little high. Could be because about 1-hour back my wife told me to come to bed, but I remained hooked to the TV and ended up (half-asleep) on my blog eventually... But, mostly I think it's just because I have blurred out all the disturbances in life for the moment. There is plenty going wrong, but for a moment I can't remember what's going wrong... I just hear an old song, as my mind recalls the moment in 2003 when I first watched that movie alone. And over 10 years later I have somebody, and we are more like square pegs - round holes, but that seems to work just fine too.