The story so far

There was a time I fought with the world. I fought everyday but I could not win.

I complained. I hated all.

The world seemed like an unequal place. I revolted against authority, and followed my heart. Half-hearted efforts yielded little. With my feet in two different boats, the journey was destined to be rocky.

Was I a rebel though? I think I was. A rebel without a cause, then? No! My cause was to prove to them that there existed a different kind of life. I needed to show them there was a life that was much, much better than just safely following the herd. I spoke to them. They were unconvinced. They said I spoke too much and delivered too little. They said I was a loser.

Then, one day, everything changed! I was destined to prove them wrong. I chose a life — no, a life was thrust upon me by my circumstances. Circumstances which at first had seemed hostile to me. I complained. I fought with an imaginary God. I cried.

I asked, “Why me, of all the people in the world?”

My imaginary God smiled and whispered, “Because you are special!”

Days changed into weeks, weeks into months. The curse turned to a boon. And I realised – I was happy. For the first friggin’ time in many many years, I was happy! By jove, that was the only thing that mattered. That happiness and that satisfaction was the only thing in the entire world that mattered to me.

Today, months later, I feel like I have created my own little island of “all that is right” in the vast ocean of “all that is not”.

island
In this island of mine, there is no hatred, no grief, no sadness, no regrets. There’s only happiness and good old fashioned hard work. Like a karma yogi, I work. And the consequent satisfaction is the biggest reward.
The mockers and haters are very far from my island. I don’t need them anymore.

In this island, I am happy. That is the only thing that matters. This is my story so far.

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Believe!

Put yourself through the grind, doesn’t matter what it costs, doesn’t matter what it gives. Nothing has been promised, and it will never be. You do your own digging with your own hands. You’ve got to dig till the dirt in your nails starts to hurt. No tools for you, Sir.

You’ve got nothing to break your fall. So, you must fly well. Fly through dark clouds of despair; fly through sunny skies of promise. But, pray, don’t let fair or rough weather decide your spirits, for these are but illusions of the mind.

Don’t run this race; this is just a trap. Don’t trust these numbers, they inevitably lie. Learn. Learn to slow down. Learn when to slow down. Learn how to slow down.

The beauty of this game is in how it has most of the people fooled all of the time. Inflated egos, drooped shoulders, happy faces, sad faces – Oh! The variety of emotions this game manages to conjure up in the lives of its hapless players.

But, nevertheless, put yourself through the grind. Don’t be lazy. Don’t let inaction be your forte. If you’ve got to spend your time here, you might as well spend it trying to build something beautiful, you know, just so that the time passes fast.

At times, when this stuff feels too unreal, try to instil some belief. Believe! A man has to believe in something, lest he plans on becoming an ascetic. Even an ascetic believes. He believes in the way of his life, and hopes for some kind of deliverance in the afterlife.

So, no matter what happens, believe!

Believe, and put yourself through the grind.

Monk? World traveller? CEO? – Your choice.

Experience : that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn.
C. S. Lewis

Unfollow.
Don’t listen.
Don’t heed advice.
Don’t take the path less travelled.
Or the one most travelled.
Don’t feed from the spoon.
Doesn’t matter if it’s golden.

One word : Experience.

The most wonderful thing about being born as a human is the ability to choose.
From a plethora of choices. Good ones. Bad ones. Terrible ones.

There are no ‘rouge’ lions. Or desert rats. They don’t break rules, or disappoint their parents.
They are born. They grow. They hunt. Eat. Copulate. Bring new life to earth. Feed them. Grow old. Die.

They live. They don’t experience.

But we can. They say good advice is precious. It saves you time. They advise to learn from the mistakes of posterity. Or contemporaries.

They want you to be the lion. Majestic, king of the jungle, top of the food chain – but yet not a human. Not by a long shot.

But you have the choice. Of drinking coffee or tea.
Of becoming a Buddhist monk, or a corporate hotshot, or a man travelling the world in a boat.

The thing is you can be anyone you want. But the key is to be willing to experience life. To be unafraid of feeling your way through life. To be willing to fail.

Problem is that all we want is a well-charted life. A perfect life.
A life of sincere allegiance to the ‘track’.
The world market feeds our brains with clear definitions of rich, happy, wealthy, healthy.

It’s time we broke their stereotypes.
It’s time we actually LIVED our lives.
The way we’ve always wanted to.

Make the mistakes the world is terrified of. Learn from them and then SHINE. And before you know – a whole lot of ‘lions’ and ‘desert rats’ will want to be like you. But they’ll remain cheap copies.

Experience. Don’t just live.

Yes! Dreams do come true!

This midnight, I write with a great sense of pride, happiness, and nostalgia.

My best friend, Seemanta has just accomplished a task of enormous proportions.

My readers don’t know him, but his story has an appeal that’s universal, a beauty that is timeless, and a lesson that’s invaluable.

Here’s what he has achieved : yesterday, he successfully passed out of the prestigious National Defence Academy, the 1st tri-service academy in the world and rated amongst the best in the world.

However, this is not a story of courage and valor. This is a story of belief. A belief so strong in one’s dreams that it overcomes all opposition.

Back in the summer of 2009, he and I had just appeared for High School Final Exams.

Next up, was College. Out of the 200 students of our class, 98% dreamt of going to an Engineering/Medical College.
I was no exception.

But, he was different. He had a dream – of becoming an officer of the prestigious Indian Air Force.
A dream that then sounded ridiculous to us herd-thinkers.
A dream so outrageous that he was scared of letting anyone know.

I was his best friend. But, he kept me in the dark.
Then one day, he told me.
I didn’t know how to react.
My greatest fear was of losing my friend to a profession that was ruthless, to a profession that didn’t have my respect back then. But I supported him.

People used to laugh at him for he was different. He was soft spoken, kind, and a do-gooder. He was exploited because of his good nature.
He was brawny and he liked to help people with tasks that called for physical strength.
This was often exploited.

People looked at his Defence dream with disdain. Today I realise how pathetically short sighted people were.

I loved him to bits. In a way, he filled the male-role model void that I’ve always had.

He was the first person who read my writing, my poems, my first ‘work’. He told me, “You have it in you. Go for it”.

But, I was scared. I was a herd thinker. I had too many reasons to not pursue writing seriously – my lower middle class background, the unstable nature of a writing career, and so on.

So, I tried a safe career. Meanwhile, Seemanta had cleared all the necessary exams to get into NDA. But, he had to settle with Army Wing because of slight problems with his eye sight.

We separated. He went to Academy.
Letters, phonecalls, Facebook became the new way of talking.

In the Academy he found the environment he had dreamt of and he flourished.

Over here, I plummeted in to mediocrity. I didn’t enjoy my stream and failures showed up.
My destiny was somewhere else. But I was adamant. But one can’t fight destiny.

Plagued by failures and disappointment, I embraced writing once again, by starting this blog – an attempt still half hearted.

One year into writing, and today I’m enjoying it. I am happy. I can see a future in writing. Ideas float in my head so easily. This blog is the only successful thing in my life right now.

I’m still to take that one brave decision to accept writing in a full fledged manner.
I promise you, the reader, that I will do it. Soon.
First, I have a chapter to close. One unfinished task to complete. The last remnant of my life of wrong decisions still calls for my attention.

And I will be back to writing after I do it. I’ll let you know soon.

I want this post to be a learning curve to all those who have a dream.
Never, ever, ever let that dream go.

It doesn’t matter if you are young, old, male, female, black, white, brown, or any other color – if you have a dream, go for it.
Dreams do come true.
My best wishes to you all!

It’s 1:14 a.m. Lots of good wishes to all readers. Signing off from Guwahati, India.

A letter to my 14-year old self

Dear 14-year old Subh,

I sincerely hope that this letter reaches you breaking all barriers of time and space.

Every man makes mistakes in life and learns from them. This letter is just the manifestation of the burning desire to share with you all wisdom that I’ve gathered in the eight years that I’ve lived more than you.

You are young now and much of your decision making is influenced by popular media, hearsay, and societal pressure.

My advice to you would be to stop bothering about that dream six figure ‘first salary’ and to start thinking about a ‘career’.

Listen to that voice inside and figure out what’ll work best for you. Only you can do that. No one else. Learn to have your own dreams. Don’t let people put dreams in your brain.

And yes, please stop worrying too much if things will turn out to be good. You know, they eventually will. So please don’t worry yourself to death.

Some bad news for you – you will have a ‘nervous breakdown’ in two years time. I told you. So deal with it now. You’re stronger than you think. Use your strength to avoid it.

Some good news – you’ll eventually get to be the lead vocalist of a band in college! You’ll eventually learn to play the guitar!
The spoiler? – it’ll be a short lived affair. So make the best of it till it is there.

You’ll make GREAT friends in college, who will last a lifetime.

Your quest for love will lead to three painful heart-breaks!
But, suprise, suprise, there exists around you that special person right now, who’ll turn it all around with her love later on!

I won’t spoil the fun by naming her. Find out for yourself!

At 21, you’ll discover a new love – writing!

Life’s good. You wouldn’t be disappointed, I swear. Just follow your heart’s true wish and grow your own dreams. Read a lot. Eat healthy. Stay positive. Everything will be okay.
Love,
22year-old Subh

P.S. : I know if this letter reaches you, and you put into action all my advice, then it shall obliterate my present existence. If you follow all that advice then you’ll turn out to be a different man at 22. Such a paradox!

Lets take the plunge!

Have you ever felt that strong, overwhelming emotion when, in a very short time, you discover a whole new, exciting world; a world that seems exactly tailor-made for you?

And then, your mind slowly shows the courage to DREAM.

And you DREAM.

You DREAM BIG.

You can visualise the happiness, success, and fame, that the new world shall bring you.

You know for certain that it is going to be a lot of hard work before all of that actually happens; a lot of consistency, discipline and ‘showing up’.

But even then, you can’t help feeling ecstatic about the new doors of opportunity thrown ajar in front of you!

You don’t feel intimidated by the huge amount of work to be done, because finally you’ve found your calling.

And then. . . . . . YOU FREEZE!!!

You’ve thought up so much so soon, and so many things in advance that now, you FREEZE at the first baby steps.

Tonight, I’m feeling the same strong emotions.

I’m excited.

I’m thrilled.

I’m happy.

But, I’m also terribly scared for I already find myself worrying about failure even before the start of the venture.

This post is dedicated to all those souls who feel the same emotion, or have already felt it, or will feel it sometime in the near or distant future.

More power to you guys.
Take the first step. The most difficult step; dedicate yourself to your dream and work your backsides off 24/7; 365days a year, and for many years in a row!

Let us not think about results. Lets just work tirelessly! Work for the sake of working.

Let’s take the plunge!

The feel good blog.

After a series of intense blogs on life, learnings, and experiences, I feel its finally time for me to write about something happy. I feel happy tonight. I feel blessed tonight.

Well, this is life, isn’t it? A mixed experience. Not entirely sweet, or sour, or tangy, but just the right proportion of everything. Perhaps there’s no such thing as a happy, perfect life.

We keep chasing that butterfly called ‘happiness’. That’s human nature. And perfectly legitimate, too.

We believe that one day, we’ll earn enough money. We believe one day, we’ll drive that dream car. We believe that one day we’ll have that dream lifestyle, take that dream adventure trip in the mountains, live in that dream apartment, write that dream book.

But, hey, hang on!
Sit down, relax, take a couple of deep breaths, take a good look around. Aren’t you missing what you already have in the mad quest for that elusive ‘one day’?

Just for a moment, allow yourself to think of all the good things you already have.

I believe no individual in this whole world is unfortunate enough to have nothing good to feel good about. So, look around carefully. I’m certain you’ll feel blessed. I’m certain you’ll feel good.

So, turn that frown upside down. Allow yourself the luxury of a smile, the luxury of feeling happy, blessed, and loved – even if for a day. You deserve it!

Happy Sunday!

A question for you. . .

He ponders over the question for a long time. The question being – Should he regret?

Should he curse himself?
Should he be pulling out his hair, out of desperation and utter despair?

Time, they say, is a one-way street. And, actions have equal and opposite reactions. Our choices lead us to more and more crossroads that offer us more and more choices.

Life is tough. There are choices to make, plans to prepare, and then, there are actions. And, it is in taking action that most men falter. So did he.

And, not taking appropriate action is often the same as inaction. Inaction slowed him down. Instead of moving on to the next crossroad, he found himself at the same juncture, even after much water had passed under the bridge.

Seasons had changed. Autumn had given way to winter.
The harsh winter of life.

But, he stood at the very same crossroad. Comrades had hurried past him a long time ago, and he stood there alone. Cold.

He stood there, battered by the cold winds of doubt and despair. The birds of hope had long given up singing. The atmosphere was heavy with gloom.

His cheeks felt cold suddenly, as he realised that the dams in his eyes had broken. Self-pity, anger, and regret took over.

But, should he regret, after all?

There’s a thing called ‘destiny’. Though some men strongly protest, “Man is the maker of his own destiny.”, but maybe, he had no hand in this play of fate.

Men may not listen to their minds always, but they always follow their hearts. Even if without their own knowledge. And while his mind urged him to act, his heart proposed otherwise. Maybe the heart was wiser. He listened to his heart.

Hence, he stalled. And now, many moons later, he stood at the same crossroad and pondered, “Should I regret?”.

But a voice deep inside said, “You must rejoice, for right here, at this very crossroad, there lie before you two unexplored paths. Two paths never walked on before. And, so, you must rejoice. And walk.”

And, finally he chose not to regret. Standing there at the crossroad, he rejoiced, and then he walked down one of the unexplored paths.

Regret or rejoice – Which one would you choose? Would you regret? Or, would you rejoice?

The journey that matters most.

People were disappointed in her. They clucked their tongues in sympathy, shook their heads sadly, and heaved out long sighs.

Some even lamented the death of her tremendous untapped potential in their random, daily conversations.

But, what about her? Did she care?
Did she lose much sleep over it?

In life, some questions warrant specific answers. A yes or a no. But she always found it so difficult to answer this question?

Inside, she was a rather vulnerable person, who loved to maintain the facade of indifference. But, in reality, she did care about people’s opinion. Like all of us, she wanted to see heads nodding in agreement, and approving smiles.

So, it really got to her whenever she saw people disagreeing. She WANTED people to agree, but she wouldn’t say a thing, for the fear of coming across as desperate and pushy.

At times, she was scared. Really scared. What if people were right? What if the path she was walking on lead to nowhere. Was she ready to pay the price?

A life wasted in fruitless pursuit – could she live with it?

But, the other side of her was braver, stronger, and a believer. It urged her to walk on. To firmly put each step forward in the quest of a world that was yet undiscovered, whose very existence was a question unanswered. A world where she would finally be ‘at home’. At ease.

“When I reach that world, perhaps then people would finally agree with what I’ve always believed in, won’t they?”, asked her weaker side.

The stronger side smiled gently and replied, “When I reach that world, I will not be needing approving nods, or agreeing smiles any more, for the journey itself shall be reward enough to satiate all desire for approval.”

‘The green-eyed monster’ and us. . .

FOREWORD : This blogpost is based on a modern day true story.

“He was a hard worker, though not the organised-regular-consistent type.”

“He was more like the highly eccentric, impulse-driven kind that thrives on sudden, suprising bursts of inspiration.”

“He liked to work through the quiet hours of the night, when the ‘sober ones’ snored their ways through their dreams/nightmares.”

“Sometimes, he demonstrated his ability to be annoyingly foolish. He often tended to not see the obvious that lay right in front of his eyes, and went hunting for answers in the whole freaking town. But, hey, come on, who’s not foolish at times? Let us not be judgemental.”

“Ingenuity revealed itself often, as he startled all of us (and maybe, even himself) with his laid-back genius of problem-solving ability.”

“Correct or wrong, good or bad – his ways were unique and worked for him pretty well. He had been doing pretty well.”

“But, one day, his ways just didn’t work for him anymore. He started to fail. Failure begot more failure. And soon, a string of failures stared at him.”

“And the imbecile that he was, he again started to look for answers in the whole of the town, instead of careful introspection.”

“And in that freakishly large town of his, he met the ‘sober ones’ and they became good friends.”

“Impressionable that he was, he soon found himself admiring their ways. Their successes. Their disciplined days (and snoozy nights).
But, soon, admiration gave way to something else. Something bad.”

“Aah! I hate to divulge much about this part, lest he be misjudged.”

“Mmm. . .lets just say that he was attacked by ‘the green-eyed monster’. It took charge of him totally and overpowered his good nature. And secretly within him, grew a ‘bad part’ that started to hate the ‘sober ones’ and resented their success and regretted his failures.”

“He thought that the monster would show him happiness and success. But, he was wrong, alas! He was unhappy. His peace of mind went for a toss. And he felt miserable.”

“One day, out of impulse and sheer desperation, he decided that he had to act and act soon.”

“Thus, there ensued a great battle between him and ‘the green-eyed monster’.”

“A terrifying battle.”

“Every blow that he dealt to the monster ended up shattering the ‘bad part’ inside him. And at last when the ‘bad part’ died, the monster fled.”

“And he won.”

“Soon afterwards, upon introspection, he discovered minor flaws in the ways that he worked. And he rectified them and before long, he was again successful. And happy. And this time he had made a few friends – the ‘sober ones’. Though their ways were poles apart and so were their temperaments, but they managed to have great camaraderie in the end.”

And as this tale comes to a close, this author learns a thing or two about life.

The world needs both ‘sober ones’ and the ‘eccentric ones’. Both are great for the world in their own ways.
What we have to watch out for is ‘the green eyed monster’. And we all are very susceptible to the monster’s attacks, whether we are ‘sober ones’ or a little bit eccentric. . . .