Doing what you love

“Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life,” goes a mantra for success – an adage that is unfortunately overrated, though. A person can’t always do what she loves to do. Rather, there are very few fortunate folks who do just what they want to do in their life. An extension to that adage is love what you do. Well, nor can one always love what she does. Rather, most folks hate what they do. They do it because they have to do it.

“Passion is the genesis of genius,” says Tony Robbins. Aha, that is precisely the reason we aren’t surrounded by geniuses. The majority of us are stuck doing something for which we have no passion.

That is such a cynical attitude, you say? Sure. But, it also is the reality of our world. Should we then give up? Far from that, actually. What one should do is to find out why they are doing what they are doing. For some, it might be the money. Or a sense of comfort. For many, it might be the best among the available options. Find peace with what you do. That is the first step to reach a phase in your life when you can do what you love to do.

There is also the fact that what you love can very well be temporary. It takes time to find your passion. What you think is your passion may very well be a fleeting interest. As Derek Sivers reminds us, we can’t always depend on our current opinions.

(Our) former self is not always right. We shouldn’t preserve our first opinions as if they reflect our pure, untarnished, true nature. They’re often just the result of inexperience or a temporary phase. Old opinions shouldn’t define who we are in the future.

It is the contentedness, though passing, that matters the most. Do what makes you feel contented, what gives you a good night’s sleep.

That said, there is, of course, another way. Stick to what you are passionate about. Switch paths when your passion changes. There will be hardships because doing what you think you love is not easy. But being satisfied never is. Be firm, stay strong.

So, which way do you prefer?

Today’s posts mark the completion of 30 days of daily posting on my blog. It wasn’t a planned challenge. But I wanted to attempt a routine, in public, of sorts. Prone to miss at least a day occasionally, a streak of any kind is always difficult for me. Plus, a good thing is that I didn’t have to schedule any posts just to make sure I don’t skip a day. I had written all the posts on the day they are visible on the blog. Well, in Indian Standard Time, that is. Even the long-form essays.

With post-a-day done, can I take up another 30-day challenge? I always wanted to post at least a picture every day. But, I am not too much into photography. Or rather, I am not good at it. Plus the worsening environment outside with Omicron in the air, it becomes a tad more difficult to find different places every day. What else?

Fortunate that I am writing this

Since my niece was born on this day three years ago today, the new year celebrations have been quite unfamiliar for us. The whole world celebrates along with us as she grows a year old, every year. Or so we have convinced her and her parents. This year is no different, albeit a tad muted. But still, the folks all-around plan to celebrate.

Knowing how all my plans for 2020 were mercilessly crushed by the pandemic, I had no expectations from 2021. I knew it was going to be more of the same dreadful cycle of panic, despair, and hope. At the same time, I also wished I and all my dear ones sail through, see the end of the year.

As I sit here today, looking at the year gone by, all I can do is smile. It began with a phase as dark as my family had ever seen. But it brought us all close, gave us the courage to stay strong. We got back on our feet, stronger. We learned to live with the virus, masked whenever outside. Vaccinating ourselves. Slowly, gradually, we wandered, unhesitant, outside our homes. Each one of us established our own new rules, routines, and traditions around travel.

We met our friends, got nostalgic for the days that we had left behind. We got hungry, got drunk and laughed our hearts out. I witness my office welcome my colleagues, the floors, and pantries reverberating with grumbles again.

I am fortunate I could do all of that. And a lot more. That I watch my crazy friends share their plans for celebrations with booze and snacks. That I would watch the skies light up with fireworks one more time. I am fortunate that I am about to get ready and join my family to celebrate my niece growing older by another year.

And if you are reading this, know that, in one way or the other, you are too. Just look back and find out why.

Resilience. And kismet. The two words I would remember 2021 by. Wish you a happy new year, you all!

Artwork by David Wirzba on Unsplash

It has been the third day in a row today that I decided to sleep early, get back to routine and failed. I just can’t stop myself from doing what I am doing at my system. Until last week, I used to lay down onto my bed with my Kindle and was sound sleep at the same time every time. That hasn’t been the case for this part few days.

I know what I need to do. I can’t make myself do it. Sure, I have my reasons why I am going late to bed. Nonetheless, I don’t like that a bit.

Sleep routine is a flaky thing — disturb it ever so slightly, and it absolutely falls apart. And takes down the whole next day with it.

To everything that we do, there is always something we haven’t. Time is like a balancing scale. When balanced, more things are not on it than there are.

When I recently wrote this, I had no idea it’s going to only go downhill. There are a lot many things off the scale now.

Managing unreasonable expectations from time

Why is it so tiring to stay positive? Or to keep oneself motivated at times? It happens more so when I expect a lot in return from the time at hand. Why do I do that? A reminder to self. Time is not something I have. Time is something I am. Burdening it with unreasonable expectations is not fruitful. Anyway, there is no limit to our expectations from time.

If we manage to be productive for an hour, we still haven’t done enough as against what we would have in a couple of hours.

If we publish a post, we still haven’t participated in a social community we are part of. If we finish reading a book, we still haven’t read those newsletters or RSS feeds.

If we complete a task list at the office pending for weeks, we still haven’t spent enough time with our child. And the list goes on and on.

To everything that we do, there is always something we haven’t. Time is like a balancing scale. When balanced, more things are not on it than there are. To add anything to such a scale, we need to remove something first. The heavier the thing we put in, the more we extract.

We are balancing our time day in, day out. Acknowledging that we can’t do it all on a given day, we have to let a few things off our schedule for later. Why, then, ruin our days with something we didn’t do rather than celebrate it for something we did?

I recently cribbed about how my smartphone was becoming the pesky little distractor again. I was planning to go back into a shell, keeping the device away from me for longer durations. However, I realised I may change the way and try being mindful this time.

I was hit by this thought during my guided meditation session today, when I came across this insightful observation.

In trying to bend our will to that which is helpful, we strengthen our ego. In letting go of the things that are unhelpful, we free ourselves of our ego. Same intention. Different outcome.

We depend on our willpower to control our situation. We achieve the results but don’t train our minds. As a result, we harden our habits and behaviour. What if we change our approach. What if we acknowledge the unhealthy thought. But rather than becoming more rigid, we become softer. Rather than rejecting, resisting, we let go.

Interesting. I tend to depend on my willpower to not fall for the poor habits. That hasn’t worked well for me — I avoid the habits for some time, but soon am back to natural poor state. My problems with my smartphone are an example of this behaviour. So, why not accept that my device is a bugger? Be mindful of the fact that my subconscious reaches out for the device frequently. And when it does, acknowledge it and let it go.

Be mindful of the attraction, but not be burdened by willing self into resistance. Remind self of the negative outcome and detach. Can I train my mind to not fall for the attraction but ignore it naturally?

One approach is rigid, based on will, based on control. Other approach is based on awareness. Recognising the thoughts that are helpful and engaging with them. Recognising the thoughts that are unhelpful and letting them go.

I have no idea if this would work for me. Who do I trust more, my willpower or my ability to be mindful? I have seen my willpower falter. Maybe I should give mindfulness a try this time. That’s what I have decided to do.

I was wishing my daughter good night today and she left me with a weird analogy. “… something something .. like a tomato wrapped in chocolate”. I have no clue what it means. Does it mean good or bad? I can’t sleep now and she is sound asleep. Kids, I tell you.

After a welcome phase of independence from my smartphone, I am back to fidgeting unnecessarily with the device. I keep it close to me when I shouldn’t. Notifications have started pestering me again. They hack my focus away. I know the reason, I have given up on my resolve to not hand over the control. It didn’t happen instantaneously. It happened gradually, over time. Now I feel the burning sensation like a slowly boiling frog.

There was a time when I used to go to any extends to stay away from the device. Keep it in the next room. No apps. No notifications. Never next to the bed. YouTube disabled. And on and on. Eventually, every time I picked it, a bulb lighted in my brain reminding me to not surrender.

And the pesky device conquered those defences one by one, without me realising. It started with a few apps. Then their notifications. Then a need to watch and share a YouTube video from the device. Before I realised, I was wishing good night to my phone lying in the bed.

Today, I was on my computer, the powerful personal computer which can cater to all my commands. But I reached out, as if out of habit, to the smartphone just to peek at those apps, the web versions of which I had just visited. I knew I was sick again.

My smartphone has become the most personal thing I own, but also the one I need to frequently stay away the farthest from.

More blades don’t always mean better shave

I am back to using Mach3 by Gillette. Having tried everything, this razor still gives me the most comfortable shave. I don’t love money-hungry tactics of Gillette, but am glad they made this model.

There was a time when I used single blade safety razors. When Gillette launched the dual-blade razors. I thought it’s double the blades, this has to be better. It wasn’t. Later, I could finally afford Mac3, and I used it for the longest period of time. There was no need to shift, it suited me.

Then the craze for Indie, hip brands with products targeting “bros” engulfed India too. Search for a razor on Amazon and you will be bombarded with a slew of funnily named brands selling grooming products for mens. All claimed quality and affordability. Most targeted Gillette. Feeling burdened with guilt of not supporting newer brands, I switched. I started using a 5 blade razor from one such brand. And then kept hopping for a couple of years. Razor shopping soon became a hobby, and then slowly turned into a nightmare.

Eventually, I gave up and went back to Gillette. First to their pricey 5-blade razors and finally to Mach3. I realised something after this period. A razor with more blades doesn’t always mean better shave. More doesn’t always mean better.

So in short, I am done feeling guilty for using a product from a brand that’s hated a lot. It works for me, so I use it.

Travelling, but not as a tourist

Every time the grinds of the daily life take toll over me, I travel to a place close by with my family and friends. The last weekend was another such occasion.

I love this place not because it is a perfect family getaway (that it is), but because it is easy to travel to, and so there is not too much planning needed. Most trips get burdensome by the sheer pain of planning so much, so ahead of time. I enjoy the travels where that’s not the case, especially when I have no interest to be a typical tourist and go spot hunting.

The purpose of one’s visit is what matters at the end. If it is to find out everything of interest in a place, sure, go sign up for a hectic few days. Even I do that at times. But, why do that when irrespective of how much you roam around, you can never cover all the interesting places, anyway? The tourists flocking around an attraction kills it for me. It is just a place of business. I prefer the turn en route where no one halts. Or the point which hasn’t got any fancy name yet.

Anyway, I know every nook and corner of this resort I stayed in. My family and I have visited every spot of interest in the place, and so can selectively just visit those that affect us. We did just that this time, too. Maybe, I am different. I am glad that my family is just like me. Crazy different “tourists” that travel for the experience, not with a checklist!

Here are a couple of more pictures from the relaxing trip.

While on my morning walk today, I came across a kid who was cycling around our gated community. I see him every day, alone, free — every time I see him, I know he’s enjoying his cycling. Today at a turn, I saw him sitting on the ground, his tumbled cycle next to him. I could see a lady with headphones and a couple busy with their chatters pass by him. The kid was staring down, scratching his knee, focused within.

I felt he wasn’t looking at anything particular, but rather was sad. Maybe he did look at a few people, with expectations, as they passed him by earlier, wishing someone to help him pick his cycle up. Maybe he had his expectations from humanity broken.

Anyway, as I came close to him, I asked him he was fine. All it took was my first word, and he was up on his feet, trying to pick his cycle. Once he gave me his permission to touch his cycle, I helped him get it up on its wheels. He adjusted his tiny spectacles over his nose with his wrist, mumbled a few words and paddled along. I soon saw him chasing pigeons with his cycle, the birds not flying away but hopping around. It looked as if the friends often played this game. In my opinion, his tumble today was a test that we adults failed.

What have we become as a Soceity that we prefer to remain plugged in to our digital worlds, that we don’t even acknowledge a saddened kid who simply needs a nudge to get back to enjoying the realities of life?

Lazy Defaults

I feel I have been struggling to find quiet time to read and write recently. I can blame it on many things, but I know within that I am to blame for this feeling. When I get time, I waste it. I convince myself that I need to relax first to get in the groove before I can write or read. I have been relaxing for a few weeks now, and it has only made me more tired.

This leaves me frustrated. Lazy consumption of other’s work is meaningless if it does not trigger any thought. I do that the most these days. I read, but I do not think. I write, but they are shallow thoughts. When do I spend time to churn a few ideas? To word them into something profound? You should write what feels right, I understand. But if it is only the deserts you chomp on, you won’t feel satiated after a point.

I need action, both to my mind and my body. Isn’t it curious that long phases of inactiveness can slowly wear them down? Both readily slide back to their lazy defaults. I need to be strong to push back and to make them move their asses.

Without that, what I have is a dull mind and a couch-clinging body.

Festivals are tiring, sipping away mental and physical energy. There's so much to do. And then some more. It feels as if there is no end to all the grind, the "festivities".

But when it all ends, albeit always abruptly, I wait for the next one.

Because festivals are necessary. They break the mundane, pause the regularities. I am surrounded by things deemed special, of different nature and scale.

For some, it is the dim lights in the porch. For others, it is the sparkles in the sky.

For some, it is the loud chatters. For others, it is the silent smiles.

For some, it is the crowd. For me, it is the family!

Here's to another year of togetherness during the few months of the biggest festivals around the world.

It was a wonderful festive time for me. And I wish you all a very happy Diwali!

No face, yet conveys so many emotions. A pen stand I love! #stationerylove

I wish I understood Halloween celebrations better. I see so many carved out Pumpkins, I wonder is carving and the decoration part of the tradition and celebrations. It must take months of planning to get things in place at the right time.

Some days are just way more productive than what you are used it. Today’s one such day. It dawned with a possibility that things would just go downhill – there were too many unaddressed tasks and open issues. But as it turns out, the evening feels a lot more peaceful.

“Luck is near you,” reads a drawing that my daughter made and gifted me. I’ve framed it and put it at my desk. I don’t know why she felt the need to write those words. But having such a thoughtful daughter makes me the luckiest dad out there.

When my daughter requested recently if she can have her YouTube channel, I wondered if she would manage to keep her interest. She does. She reads, writes and keeps recording. Sure, not everything comes out perfect. But she does not stop. Today, her second video is out. Yay!

I spent a wonderful evening with close friends yesterday whom I met after a long period, some after more than 10 years. It’s remarkable how time can’t slacken some threads, lost possibly in the dull grinds of the life. You pick these threads from where you left them. As you remember the memories of yesteryears, you can laugh at them — or be affected by the updates from people that are not around you at this moment.

You know your bond with a few folks is strong when they can lend the present moment innate warmth. You feel a deep kinship, regardless of how much time has passed since you last met them. Yesterday evening was one such occasion, when we tickled many old memories and made a few new ones.

Why’s the colour of everything marked unisex so bland? Who decided that mens don’t like any colours other than black or grey or silver? Or who decided that women will only like pink or purple? Why can’t I go on to a street carrying any non-black coloured umbrella and not get stares that judge me?

Some might say it’s trivial, yet I find this behaviour extremely frustrating. We claim we are making progress on multiple levels, yet we continue to stick our age-old presumptions of choices among sexes. And you know what, I have a theory why the choices of colours specifically are advertised in a way they are.

Professional places are bland — colours aren’t professional. Life and playfulness is colourful. So, who do we see as a professional? Well, of course, men. And who’s all about play? Right? Right?

Do you want to test this hypothesis? Here are Google Image searches for “man with umbrella” — how many blacks do you see there? Now, here’s the results’ page for “woman with umbrella”. Same question, how many blacks do you see there? Plus, what other commonality do you see among the images that are on the page? What’s the look that men are flaunting? And what about women? The industry is infuriating. Sigh!

I have decided to stay away from all the timelines for the next two weeks. YouTube1. Netflix. I am taking time off, in a way, from the discussions & chatters to give myself some space to think. It unfortunately isn’t possible with views and perspectives from others always clouding mine.

I have, of course, subscribed to the RSS feeds of many whose voices I prefer not to miss. This old medium remains the best way I can control what I read.

  1. YouTube’s homepage is a timeline, whatever YouTube calls it. [return]

I spent a few calming hours with my Kindle in the garden today. Away from the hustle bustle. Away from the tings and chimes of the technology. I need to do this often.

Kids are free, untouched by the necessities of the life. The concept of “necessary” doesn’t register itself with them.

For a kid, everything is necessary and, at the same time, nothing is. Is it necessary to eat? Sure, if he is hungry. Otherwise, it isn’t.

A kid does nothing because it is necessary to do it. He does it because he wants to do it.

In that sense, a kid always emphasises inwards, focuses on what is important to himself. As we grow, we forgot what matters. We emphasise what’s external.

The societal pressures. The fear of missing out. A kid knows none. I like this is all he cares about.

Listen to the kid in you, he sits closest to your heart. And if you can’t hear him, life’s going to a difficult journey, my friend. Be quick and wake up that kid within you.

I love these peaceful few moments every morning when I pause, sit back and relax. Looking out to the greens spread out in front of my porch. Bird chirping, cooing amongst those branches - a green maze yet untouched by the human atrocities. A cool morning breeze gliding against my body.

All I do is focus my mind to nothingness - a soft focus, no thoughts, no plans. The regularities the life serves can wait. Not for long, of course. But I breathe my calmest breaths in these short moments.