Wednesday, May 27, 2015

motivation

a conversation about the joys of life, some of those so called simple pleasures, got me thinking. i realized that i don't care about the afterlife anymore. heaven or hell seem irrelevant. but they weren't always irrelevant for me.

maybe karma, the afterlife, etc, are simply constructs designed to push us to look beyond hedonism. because, strangely enough, at some point, you realize this life is motivation enough... but you have to put yourself through a lot of wilful torture before you truly believe it.

it's hard to motivate someone to look beyond the hardships of life, the difficulties of doing "good", when pleasure is so accessible.

it's hard to see through what most people consider "pain" and "sorrow" without a light at the end of the tunnel, fake though it may be, to keep us going. but when you go through enough tunnels, you realize the light at the end is an unnecessary fixture. when you start looking around in the darkness, instead of focusing on the light, focusing on getting through, you start to savour the moment. savour the pain, if that's what you call it. because, to me, pain doesn't exist.

pleasure and pain are both just labels for feelings. just like various flavours complement each other to complete a meal, pleasure and pain exist only to produce some sort of contrast. they layer themselves upon our existence, but once we realize the role they play, they cease to feel like a burden.

like it or not, the pursuit of pleasure is as much of a burden as the evasion of pain. but we need neither, once we realize what we have built these mental constructs for.

life is beautiful.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

life

death is always an uncomfortable topic, and even more so if you're discussing it with someone you love. but it's something I feel we all need to come to terms with, well before our hour is actually upon us. preparing for death when it doesn't seem imminent should be no less unpleasant than writing a will, or buying life insurance. and it is definitely far more important than those things, as material things like possessions and money can be done without; on the other hand, losing your loved one's life's purpose in your sorrow on their death, is an irrevocable loss.

i do not fear death. i fear dying before my work on earth is done. I fear dying before teaching the ones I love, and even the ones whose existence I do not know of, how to live.

as much as I would be sad to have my loved ones live years feeling my absence, i would be infinitely sadder if they spent even a moment feeling there was something I could have done, that they can't do even if they wanted to, or tried their best to. if they felt unhappy because i wasn't there, because they don't feel my presence inside themselves. if they felt they needed to hear my voice or feel my hug when they felt weak or afraid, because I have not made them strong enough.

still, i realize I would betray everything I stand for, if I lived in that fear. and so, I spend every moment of my life working towards alleviating that fear. it is the sole direction of my life. it guides me in everything I do. everything I want. everything I wish for.

immortality doesn't mean never dying. it means living after death. just as we live in the physical universe we have been given, our spiritual universe is also given to us, to hand over when our stewardship is over. and hence, we are all immortal. our physical life is merely our preparation for it.

we can't choose why we die. we can't choose how we die. but we can choose why we live. we can choose how we live. and more importantly, what we leave behind after our life is not our remains, but our creation. it is what we are. and it determines what we will be.

why do you live?

Friday, April 03, 2015

solo

as a biker, unlike a lot of bikers I know, I have no problem with pillions. they're fun, a good pillion doesn't quite change the riding experience (as long as the bike is powerful enough, which mine is), and if you're riding to a vacation, your pillion hopefully enriches that part of the experience too. 

but there's something about riding alone.

maybe it's a symptom of what's wrong with my life. if i'm not surrounded by people, i'm busy interacting with people. it takes a major effort to go offline for a few hours, and i get restless quickly.

but not when i'm riding.

i rode to goa yesterday. alone. I did it against all odds and challenges, because I really needed it. it's been over a year since I did a ride to goa without a pillion, and it's been a year and a half since I did one without company. just me and my bike.

and i was reminded so completely of what I've missed.

to begin with, I rode 7 hours, 425 km, without a break. my previous record was 5 hours, 300 km. but it wasn't about setting records (although, I must admit, the potential bragging rights did push me a bit). i ignored hunger and the urge to pee for 4 hours, before I stopped. and even after that first break, i had my eyes set on besting my previous timing of 10 and a half hours to enter goa (which i did, albeit by just 15 minutes). but it was actually about mind over matter.

when you have company, it's different. i can't push my pillion or co-rider. he or she won't push me. we stay in our collective comfort zone, even if it's not in our individual comfort zone. and as I say, nothing was ever achieved by being comfortable.

and then, there's this thing about being alone on a deserted highway at night. ironically, i had watched nh10 on wednesday, literally a few hours before I set off, but that didn't change the experience at all. there's something about seeing just blackness in my rearview, just trees and the tarmac in my headlight. deciding which curve I'm gonna brake for and which I'm gonna bounce through. singing at the top of my voice, talking aloud to myself. praying, not to reach safely, but to be as self-driven though my life as I am through each bend of each ghat. 

i'm happy I did this ride. i'm lucky to have people who let me, even though they weren't quite willing to begin with. and i'm happy to have rediscovered my solitude.

the stage is set for bigger and better things. I wonder what's next.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

fascination

I'm on my way to work, with a blocked nose, inflamed throat, and possibly conjunctivitis.

the conjunctivitis (or whatever it is) doesn't seem to trouble me at all.

the only time i realized I'm battling a respiratory infection, is after a 50 metre flat out sprint, when catching my breath was downright painful and needed consciously controlled breathing. but I'm sure I'd have survived (albeit a bit more uncomfortably) if I just let my body control its breathing while I focused on the pain or maybe distracted myself with watching this fistfight that was happening on the road near the bus I'm in.

it got me thinking: my body is never (and possibly never has been) 100% functional in its optimum capacity. it's always in a state of graceful degradation, but there's so much of redundancy and compensation mechanisms built in, that a fully functional human is probably pointless, and maybe also pointlessly unattainable.

and then i look around at the stuff humans have built. we have built everything to operate at close to optimum parameters. we build fail safe systems, redundancy, feedback systems, but at what level? it doesn't even come close to where primordial living systems are at.

to me, humans are very far from building any sort of self-sustaining lifelike system, not because the stuff we build is rather limited in its ability to gracefully degrade and adapt under adverse conditions, but because the stuff we build is too simple to bother putting such abilities in. the complexity of even the most simplest forms of life fascinates me and fills me with awe.

Monday, March 09, 2015

just a minute

my commute usually runs like clockwork. there's a plan a, plan b and plan c, each with tweaks defined for each situation. i wasn't prepared for today though.

I left from home one minute late, expecting to follow plan a: bike to borivali station (west) and take the office bus. however, a traffic snarl on the way caused me to miss the bus. since I realized too late that i wasn't gonna make it, i was unable to follow plan b (the other office bus) - that requires me to take an alternative route, and park in a different spot. i decided to take plan c: the AC bus.

when i reached the AC stop, there was a huge line, and the bus was packed. i decided to wait in queue for the next bus, as I didn't fancy standing for over an hour (i still haven't worked out where the non AC buses start from, that would be a viable plan d). the next bus arrived a few minutes later. I got a seat. brought my ticket, settled in with my headphones,  when suddenly everyone started alighting the bus. i waited a few moments before I realized they were all boarding the next bus, and the driver himself wasn't in this bus either.

I followed the herd into the rapidly filling next bus, sorely cursing my decision to not look for the non AC bus stop when i had first arrived here today. I got the last available seat, thankfully. and then people started getting back out and into the first bus!

apparently the bus was giving trouble but the driver "fixed" it, and it will now be leaving after all. the bus was now full, and there was no chance of a seat. i complained to the conductor that I left the previous bus because I wanted to sit, and thanks to this confusion, i have lost my seat in this bus as well. i asked for a refund of my ticket, but he refused.

a couple of other people joined in the chorus asking for a refund, but the conductor was adamant. i resigned myself to my apparent fate, and moved away from the argument. the bus started moving, and others suggested that we swap our tickets with people who haven't purchased theirs yet. I started asking around, but before I could find someone to swap with, the conductor relented and exchanged my ticket for a refund. the bus dropped the three of us at the next stop, and the couple disappeared before I could ask them how they were planning to travel.

luckily for me, the next stop was adjacent to the non-ac bus stop. and luckily, non AC buses run emptier than ac at that time. and a bus arrived in the next minute.

i got my seat.

i'm on my way to office.

that one minute and a few bad decisions cost me about an hour and a half.