Sreenath Sreenivasan

Thriving Mindfully

Category: Adventure (page 1 of 2)

My New Year Theme for 2019

It is the first day of 2019 !
Foremost, I would like to wish you a very Happy New Year.

A few days ago, I had shared an idea about why we should aim to have a New Year theme and not a list of resolutions for the New Year.

Following my own advice, I have come up with a year theme for the year 2019.

The theme for this year is :

PUTTING MY BELIEFS TO TEST

On a personal level, I have always felt that the way I lead my life might not always reflect the values I think I have.

Because, a belief has to go through the test of life to become a living value in a person’s character. It is easy to advertise or assume a set of beliefs as our own, but to truly live by them in each moment is a challenge.

For example,
I might believe that Non-Violence should be a philosophy I must adhere to. But in order for it to become a value I live by, I must practice it with great deliberation for years and put it through the test of life.

Each brick in the foundation of my values has to be cured by the kiln of life.

A few beliefs I have at this stage are:

1) TRUST IN THE UNIVERSE

I believe that the Universe has an exquisite design. Each action has a consequence, no matter how oblivious I might be of it. In that light, I believe in doing the best I can with the gift of Life.

Will Karma take care of the rest?

2) NON-DUALITY

I believe all of existence to be One.
We dwell in a cosmic pool of consciousness, infinite in every dimension.
If all of existence is One, whatever I do to someone else, is akin to doing the same thing to myself.

Then, what must I do with my time and my life?

3) CREATING GIFTS AND PRACTICING GIFT ECONOMY

This belief is a natural extension of the two that precede it.
As a human being, I must make the best use of my creative energy and share it with the world. The gift of life must beget more gifts for the world around me.

No matter how much I have, I must always be willing to share.

As rosy as it sounds,
Is there an inherent fairness in this parallel economy?

I will only know when the belief has been through the test of life.

I am mentioning just three of my current beliefs to drive home the point of why I am choosing to put them to test in this New Year.

How shall I do it?

By living mindfully, in practical adherence to all my beliefs.

My beliefs cannot remain cerebral concepts to be availed during discussions with friends. They have to be tested through.

This year I want to have an empirical existence.
Maybe an year is too short a time to test my beliefs.
But it is still a start.

I feel a nervous excitement inside me.
It is a good sign !

Have you thought of a New Year theme yet?
I hope you have.

This is going to be quite a wild ride.

Let the adventure begin !

On realising the ideal state of being

‘I want to bicycle from India to Hongkong to see my son’ shared Nirupama, a 71 years young bicyclist I met in Pune.

As lofty as her dream sounded to either of us, I was sure she would be on this dream trip very soon.
She had shared stories about her bicycle trips to Laddakh, Kanniyakumari among other places in India.
Having started bicycling after retiring from work at the age of 60, she kept on challenging herself and went past barriers even young adults wouldn’t dare dream to.

I saw the apprehension in her eyes while she shared her dream, wondering if she could go bicycling across countries to see her son.

I wanted to make her believe that she could do it.
I took out my phone and showed her a route she could take to reach Hongkong starting from Bangkok.

Her eyes lit up like a chiselled diamond.

And I am sure, as I write this, she’s busy back home, thinking of ways to make this trip happen.

What an inspiration she is !

This encounter reminded me of two other elderly friends I had met in Thailand.
One of them by the name of Phulong, 72, who wants to bicycle all around Thailand on his own.
I’m sure he’s biking around in some part of Thailand as I write this.

The other friend, Eugene, 72, an Irishman I had met at a hostel, wished to sail to India on his Yacht.
In fact, that what was he was going to start doing the moment he was back home.
Maybe he’s fixing up his Yacth as you’re reading this.

Meeting such ambitious and proactive elderly folk left me humbled.
I wondered how they could exist in such a state of being.

The answer I found was on the lines of their perception and interaction with two factors :

a) Time

b) Mindspace.

The elderly have only a decade
or so of life left to make something of. Yet, they have the a lot of time to reflect, imagine and think of ways to achieve a distant dream. The awareness of the finitude of their life only helps them to attribute more value to the little time they have on earth.

Also, the mindspace of ‘It is Now or Never’ is most obvious at their age. They are not afraid of anything that used to hold them back when they were young adults. They are in a position to imagine without inhibition.

I couldn’t help but draw a parallel between the relationship kids have with time and mindspace vis-a-vis the elderly.

While it is finitude that helps the elderly imagine and act without inhibition, it is the apparent infinitude, a timelessness in which the imaginative spirit of a child thrives.

A child has no fear of dreaming or acting on its dreams. If a child wants to be a doctor, he would just put a dummy stethoscope around it’s neck, wear the elder siblings oversized shirt and he’s ready to treat anyone and everyone in sight.
A child imagines and acts in the best of its capacity.

As young adults, what can we learn from the elderly and kids about ambition, imagination and taking action?

We live in an age where we have neither the time nor the mindspace to imagine and act on our dreams.
Aren’t most of us busy with something or the other that commands all of our immediate attention?

And sadly, we have become comfortable with devoting time to things that we are asked to do, without really thinking if it truly matters to us in the long run.

Part of the reason is because we dwell in the dangerous domain in our understanding of time,
in between finitude and infinitude.

If we really feel a sense of timelessness as kids, we would truly be present in each moment and be able to imagine the way we must.
At the same time, if we truly understand the finitude, the fragility of life, as the elderly do, we would, at all times, act responsibly and do things that matter to us.

Would it not be the best way to exist,
To live with complete understanding of our relationship with time and mindspace?
To understand finitude and infinity and let the wagon of our lives soar on the twin rails of imagination and action ?

If we choose to live with this awareness,
Could life ever be little?

How a Himalayan trek refined my Education about Veganism

It had been five hours since we started our trek downhill from Beding, a little hamlet in the Rolwaling valley in North-East Nepal.
Exhausted as we were, the sight of a house at a distance felt like spotting an Oasis.
Our determined feet stamped onward to reach the solitary house in a village called Dugong.

We could smell a local alcohol made out of rice called ‘Rakshi’ brewing in the kitchen.

‘Namaste, Ajool…’ my friend Lee greeted enthusiastically.

An elderly Sherpa lady stooped out of her house with the most welcoming smile I’ve ever been graced with.

She invited us into her kitchen-cum-restaurant.

We could see she only had two wood fired stoves with her with one brewing the ‘Rakshi’.

‘Khana Jaldi Chaiyo’ Lee explained with animation that we need food fast.

She laughed and pointed her finger towards a packet of noodles. I was sure she was used to the state of hunger of trekkers.

We assented at her suggestion and she got busy in her kitchen.

The house was made out of a lot of wood, labor and love. The cutlery, minimal and neatly arranged. There was water pipe delivering water right to her house straight from the little cascade behind her log cabin. The place had an energy of contentment, one that can only come with age, acceptance and wisdom.
There was a place for everything and everything was in its place.

After a moment, I wondered what this old lady would be doing for company. She only had one neighbour who seemed to be out for work in the forest.

‘She must surely feel lonely all by herself’ I wondered.

Within moments we heard the door of the kitchen being banged at. We wondered who it could be. The Sherpa lady’s face lit up with a smile. She reprimanded at the person at the door with unmistakable affection.

The determined banging continued on.
Finally she could no longer keep the door closed and lightly let it ajar.
And with the halo of the outside world behind itself, shone the bright white fur of a little baby sheep.

It jumped inside the kitchen and went straight to the lady. For the next half an hour, they played with each other like grandson and grandmother. There was such stubborn affection in the sheep for the lady, that it would never leave her alone. The lady would push it aside with loving aggression only to secretly expect it to come back to harass her.

Tumbling many pots and pans around the kitchen and eating out of places it shouldn’t, the baby sheep made itself feel at home.

The lady could only love the sheep more. There was no other way.

Once our meals were ready, she served us on the beautifully aged table made out of forest wood.
She rested herself on the ground, took the sheep in her lap and adoringly spoke to it in a language she was sure the sheep understood, only to not obey.

Just moments ago, I was feeling a bit sad for the woman who I assumed was living all by herself in this remote mountain village.
How wrong was I !
She had such a bountiful expression of life living alongside her.
The sheep was not just entertainment, or company or a means to have food, milk or leather for that matter.
It was life itself for her.

Witnessing this aspect of life changed my perspective profoundly.

A day ago, we were served Yak cheese with boiled potatoes in the village uphill. I was a bit hesitant while eating since I refrain from having animal products as much as possible.
But that was the only food available and we had to respect the emotion of the locals for whom Yak cheese is a delicacy reserved for special occasions.
We chose to eat what was served.

Much to my surprise, that was certainly one of the most delicious food combinations I had ever tasted.
I ate as much as I possibly could.
The next day, we saw free roaming Yak in the pastures nearby being milked lovingly by a village lady.

The Yak showed it’s affection back in equal measure, much like the baby sheep at the Sherpa lady’s house.

I felt fortunate for being able to witness this bond between humans and animals. I have lived in cities all my life and have never experienced this paradigm of a relationship.

A few years ago, I chose to follow a Vegan lifestyle, primarily educating myself from resources online about how cruel the animal rearing industry is.
My education happened mostly,
online.

But for the first time, I could actually see how effortlessly animals and humans exist symbiotically.
With sincere love for each other.
There was never a rope in sight to secure an animal, for their hearts were always strung together to their human friends’ hearts.
In harsh winter, the animals are taken care of by the local villagers like family. The village moves downhill to warmer places only when all its animals do.

In a way, it felt as if the animals took care of their human friends by giving them loving company, and perhaps a share of their milk.
Of course it can be disputed, and seen as exploitation.

I would argue like that earlier.

But once I saw the pristine relationship between man and animal in such harsh environment where weather and loneliness can take a toll on your health,
I realised the need for them to coexist in such beautiful harmony.

No animal is reared for meat in the villages here in the hills. And an animal’s death is mourned just as much as a family member’s.
Here, man chooses to be animal himself and treat another animal as family.

I turned Vegan thinking it would help end suffering, save the planet and create a peaceful world.
I still oppose commercial farming of animals.
But, this experience of witnessing symbiotic coexistence between man and animal has only made me realise my own animal self,
And how,
To understand our nature better, we need to spend time in nature.

While educating myself about veganism on my smartphone screen, all I could see was oppression and violence inflicted by us on animals.
I could feel a sense of guilt and hopelessness inside me for what we do to our fellow earthlings.

But out here in nature,
far away from the civilization I was brought up in, I could witness the animal side of us humans –
calm, compassionate and caring in the heart.
This education filled me with warmth, hope and optimism.

As I journey back to my life in the city,
A deeper understanding dawns upon me with each step,
About our true nature as a being,
The love we all have in our hearts,
And the way we should tread forward despite our conditioning,
Retaining the deep loving spirit that is part of us all.

Once we can do that, can we ever hurt any being?

Yak cheese tastes amazing by the way.
But what would feel inevitably better and worth experiencing is the gentle rub of a Yak’s fur on your shoulder on a windy winter morning.

 

 

The most important quality of a leader

There was a pleasant stillness in the air.

My friend Lee and I were sitting on the banks of a placid glacial lake called ‘ Tsho Rolpa’ . We had been treking uphill for the past 5 days and we’d finally reached our destination at 4550 meters above sea level, barely 5kms from the Nepal-China border.

It was the first time we had seen a glacier feed a glacial lake that in turn became the source of the mighty Rolwaling-Kosi river we were trekking on the banks of for the past few days.

As the weather turned moody we decided to walk back to the village where we were staying.
As soon as we reached back at our host’s place, Lee fell asleep right away.
I assumed that he was worn out by the long walk and needed rest.

He woke up only briefly in the evening to have dinner and disappeared in the blankets for the rest of the night.

Hoping that he would feel fine by morning, I too rested myself for the night.

The next morning, I awoke to find Lee sitting peacefully on his bed.

‘Lee, How do you feel now?’ I asked.

‘I feel so happy about what happened yesterday’ he shared with a lilting half smile on his face.

‘You mean, our journey to the lake?’

‘Yes that too. But I am happier for something else.
Do you know, I had such a severe splitting headache ever since we got back from the lake?’

‘Ah, altitude sickness is it?’ I asked.

‘Yes.
It is the first time in my life I experienced altitude sickness.
I have trekked so much all my life in Korea, led teams of upto 80 people on treks, but I have never faced this situation before.
Many people in my teams would experience health issues at high altitude but I could never help them in the best manner possible for lack of experience.
Now, that I have experienced it,
I can understand the situation of another human being who is going through altitude sickness.
Now I am in a better position to help someone in need.’

I could only nod and marvel at the beautiful way he turned a hardship into a learning experience.

‘Indeed Lee, You are in a great position to help. Now I can scale more mountains with you.
If I ever feel altitude sick,
You’ll empathise and help me out won’t you !’

His peaceful face was half lit from the sunlight infiltrating through the seive of the curtain.
He nodded.
His demeanor was placid as the lake we saw yesterday,
Holding the promise to flow like a mighty river,
Seeking to help someone in need at every moment possible.

This little interaction was a deep sermon.
I would often relate leadership with power, rank and authority.
But this warm hearted person, through his own experience,
Taught me how,
The foremost quality in a good leader,
Is Empathy.

Lesson from bicycling to the highest motorable road in the world

My bike ride uphill was already in its 7th hour. I was ascending towards the mighty mountain pass named ‘ Khardung La’ arguably, the highest motorable all weather road in the world.

I had reached an elevation above 5200 meters. Oxygen was scarce and I had to push my bicycle at times just so that my heart rate stayed under control.
Patiently, with all my soul, I moved on.

Past a hair pin bend, I saw a milestone:

‘Khardungla – 1km’

Excited to know that I will be at the highest motorable road in the world soon, I got on my bicycle and pedalled onward.

After 15 minutes, I, with my racing heart, finally reached the summit.

I felt an inexplicable calm at that moment.
I had anticipated that I would jump and sing after achieving such a challenging goal and crossing out one of the tasks on my Impossible list.

But I felt tranquil and meditative.

At that moment, I wondered,’Have I changed as a person because of this achievement?’

‘Am I any different at the summit as compared to who I was at the last milestone?’

To my heart, there wasn’t any difference at all between the two states of being at the two different places.

Then I extrapolated this thought further.

‘How was I any different at the last milestone as compared to the second last milestone?’

‘Extrapolating further, how was I any different at the beginning of the ride uphill as compared who I was at the summit?’

I realised that I was much stronger in my mind at the beginning than at the end.
To dare to bicycle up Khardung La is no mean feat.
Especially when you don’t know the terrain, the temperature is low, the UV rays are burning your skin and you have limited oxygen to inhale.
At the beginning of the journey my mind was steadfast.
And I made my first decision.
Of choosing the right path.

The second decision was made out for me by the road itself.
There was a milestone after every kilometre of the road, giving me constant feedback about the progress.
Even if I was moving at a measly average pace of 4.5km per hour, each milestone informed me that I was on the right path.

I realised that along with my willpower, these two decisions of choosing the right path and having milestone markers made sure I reached the summit.

Without any of the above three,

a) willpower
b) the right path
c) milestones

I would have not been able to scale the mighty Khardung La.

Drawing a parallel to how we approach a challenge in life,
We ought to have these three factors in place to achieve something.
We need to develop the willpower to persevere, we need to choose the right path and finally we need to have little milestones that reassure us of the correct direction we’re headed in.

Say, if someone has the goal to be a better artist,
He needs to

a) Show up everyday to practice his art and stay away from distractions (willpower)

b) Choose a way of life that ensures maximum learning (the right path)

c) Have an archive to see how better he is as compared to a time in past, have a mentor who could give him honest critical feedback (milestones)

If one designs a way of life based on these three simple steps,
Progress will become a way of life.
Scaling summits will become a habit.

The path sculpts a man into who he could be if he chooses to get past milestone after milestone while demonstrating the willpower to keep moving no matter what.

Coming back to the question I had posed myself earlier,

‘How was I any different at the beginning of the ride uphill as compared who I was at the summit?’

In the begining, while downhill, I had only the sight of a goal, a solitary summit I had to scale.

At the end, while at the summit, I have a vantage.
I have gained a wider panaroma, a broader worldview,
And from here,
I can choose the next summit of the many that I gained access to.

You climb up, not just to enjoy the view, but to gain a perspective,
to choose the next summit in sight,
Higher, mightier,
But never beyond
the undying spirit of human endeavour.

I wish you too choose a summit of your own to climb, and from there scale on further and gain wisdom and perspective in this elegantly revealing process.

May you realise more of who you truly are.

Crossing off an ambitious goal from my Impossible List,
I am ready to dream bigger,
Dream anew.

To the undying spirit of human endeavor.

Yours,

Sreenath

My Impossible List

About five years ago,
I read a blog on the internet that planted a seed inside me.
It was a list, called The Impossible List, compiled by Joel Runyon.

He compiled a list of all the things that he thought were impossible for him to achieve at that moment. And from then on, he set out to accomplish all these goals. With an enduring spirit of challenging his limits, he kept accomplishing all his crazy goals one after another.
He is a truly inspiring human being.

I’ve been trying to compile an Impossible list of my own.
It took some time (4 years!) and a lot of courage to get ready to share it with you publicly.

So today, to celebrate the 100th post of my blog that incidentally coincides with my birthday,
I am going to share my impossible list with you.

My Impossible List

Travel/ Adventure

– Visit every state and Union territory in
India
– Visit every continent
– Run to Bhutan
– Cross an international border on a
Unicycle
– Ride a bicycle to the highest motorable
road in the world
– Street perform at a tourist attraction and
raise money for charity
– Become a certified Scuba Diver
– Jump off a plane
– Jump off a cliff with a bungee cord

Physical Fitness

– Run a Half Marathon
– Run a Full Marathon
– Run an Ultra Marathon
– Learn to swim
– Swim 1km, 2km, 3 Km
– Complete a Half Ironman
– Finish a Full Iron Man
– Learn to do a Handstand
– Walk 25m on hands
– Do 100 consecutive push-ups
– Do 25 consecutive pull ups

Meditation

– Learn to Unicycle
– Walk on a slack-line forwards
– Walk on a slack line backwards

Writing/ Content Creation

– Publish a free E-Book a year
– Write one book a year
– Feature on a music album a year
– Publish a collection of poetry in a l
language I don’t speak yet
– Write a short film script and assist it.
– Start my own music channel on
YouTube
– Earn 1000 dedicated followers on my
Blog
– Do a collaborative project with another
artist every year

Entrepreneurship

– Create ‘Tribe of Compassion’
– Start a social business enterprise

Gift Economy

– Share my best work for free
– Be featured on the Wikipedia page of gift
economy

Mentoring

– Start a mentoring program based on Gift
Economy

Volunteering

– Start a volunteering space accessible to
Everyone
– Start a Volunteering movement

Language

– Learn to read, write and speak 6
languages

Build

– A shipping container home
– An Earthship

I’ll add more to the List soon.
Now, I am off,
To accomplish all that I think is Impossible.

More power to you !

Love,

Sreenath

Once in a Lifetime

‘Once in a lifetime.
Once in a lifetime.’

Repeated my 72 years young friend Pholung, as we trekked up a cliff on an island off the Andaman coast in Thailand.
We were ascending to reach a spot from where we could pssiblyp see a peculiar sea creature called ‘Dugong’, also known as the sea cow.

Phulong was spirited in each moment as he took tiny steps up the cliff. I would help him out with my hand at difficult spots but for his age, he was supremely fit.

At a point on the way when we stopped to catch a breath he turned to me and said,

‘You know, I have lived in Thailand all my life, yet I never came to this island to see this beautiful creature.
Now, I realise I have limited time on earth, and this is a once in a lifetime opportunity.’

‘And you are going to see a Dugong today for sure. Better late than never’, I said encouragingly.

‘Once In a lifetime.’ he kept on repeating with bountiful joy in his spirit. His eyes shone bright like an emerald in feeble daylight.

At that moment I thought to myself,

‘You know, it is quite likely this is also a once in a lifetime experience for me. Chances are slim that I will ever come to this remote island in the Andaman sea again.’

I wondered why, despite it being a once in a lifetime experience for both him and I, it held so much importance to him.
I guess, that at his age, he understands the importance of time and the finiteness of existence much better than I do.

But does one really need to get old to realise how most of the experiences we have in life are once in a life time experiences?
One does not necessarily grow older to be wiser !

Once we realise that most of the things we do as a chore might be the last time we do them, we might attribute much more value to the experience.

How many of us remember the last time we played in the school ground with our friends? Or the meal granny would cook for you whenever you visited her?
The last time you appeared for a written exam?
Or the last time you embraced a loved one you are not together with anymore?

Chances are that none of us remember the last time we did these things. Because these things became so mundane that we didn’t attribute them the value they deserved.

Had we cherished each of the above experiences with a solemn realisation that it could be the last time we experience it,
the event would have been much memorable. And you would have the same fascination and gratitude in your eyes as my friend Phulong did when we was ascending the cliff to see the Dugong.

Accept all everyday experiences with gratitude and you will make amazing memories filled with fascination and wonder.

The next time you embrace a loved one, or eat your favourite dish at home,
Gently remind yourself,

‘Once in a lifetime,
Once in a lifetime.’

To more fascination, gratitude
And light,
in your eyes.

 

 

 

I am a Volunteer for Life

I’ve been riding my bicycle in India for ten days now. And it is the first time I rented a place to stay at night. On all other nights I would either sleep at a Gurudwara or a temple or at a friend’s place.
Today is my first paid stay so to say. I feel such a huge difference between the experiences of being hosted and paying to stay.
The place where I am staying looks like a chawl in Mumbai suburbs of the 90s. There is no fan, shower, Wifi, clean linen or even a doormat. There is a 50 watt bulb that infuses gloom in disptempered walls.
Frankly, it is quite a sad place.

But that is not what bothers me the most. I’ve stayed at places where I’ve had to sleep on the floor, in under construction houses and on one occasion I even spent the night on a bench at a bus stop.
I’ve spent most of my nights at a Gurudwara or a temple in India.
And I was totally okay with the utmost basic facilities I had at these places.

Why?

Because I was invited with open arms without any expectation of a transaction.
I had the freedom to move around and look for opportunities to help in the best manner I could.
I have volunteered in community kitchens, served food at the langars, swept floors, helped wash dishes for hours and on one occasion I even volunteered to clean up a disgusting community toilet out of my own desire to make things better.
I’ve slept in community halls on the floor after the long day filled with 6 hours of cycling and volunteering thereafter.
Yet, I have always slept like a baby and woken up with enthusiasm and purpose with the first light of the sun.

But today, in this enclosed space in the guest house, I feel sleepy, drained and devoid of energy.

I realised, maybe a transactional reality is not the context that brings out the best in me.
Here, at the guest house, I pay money and get a place to stay.
A transaction.
It doesn’t serve my spirit.

I would rather wish to engineer a context where I am free to contribute in whatever way I am capable of, at a place where I can engage with people and hopefully make friends and leave behind the place in a better condition.

It is not even about being a stingy traveller, who is always careful with money. I contributed monetatily at most places I was hosted for free, because I wish these places to exist and multiply, so that we have another context to experience. Because I want places that foster brotherhood to thrive.

While I know, the people running this guest house need money for sustenance and I’m happy to give them business, I realised this is not the best context for me to stay at.

In the interest of feeling more energised , enthused and eager to contribute I would choose to stay at a temple or a gurudwara or a kind host’s place.

This experience also made me understand why people choose to volunteer even on weekends despite a busy work week.
Volunteering is such an energising experience!
It will only fill you up with love and hope.

Maybe this weekend, instead of choosing to sleep over till late in the morning and going out for a brunch at a restaurant, I would like to suggest an alternative.

Go to a Gurudwara and volunteer at the community kitchen. They accept help form anyone who is willing to volunteer.
Instead of spending money at the restaurant, eat at the Langar in the Gurudwara for free.
I assure you, the experience will only leave you happy and energised.
And you will wish to donate a fraction of the money you would have spent at the restaurant to the Gurudwara donation box.

It is a much better investment of time and money.

Tomorrow, I am going to leave my bicycle behind and trek with a couple of friends to Kheerganga, Himachal Pradesh.
It is likely that I will pitch up a tent for the first time in India.
Since I would be hosted by mother nature in the valley, I am wondering how to be of help to her.
I have a huge garbage bag folded up in my backpack.
Maybe, I will just pickup all the trash that doesn’t belong in mother nature’s lap.

I can’t help being helpful.

I choose to be a volunteer for life.

I hope you have a fulfiling weekend my dear friend !

 

 

Where are you bicycling to?

While passing through the hilly roads in Himachal, I would often pass through little hamlets. By the surprised look on the villagers’ faces, I guessed they wouldn’t be seeing many bicyclist on this steep terrain.

They would often ask,
‘Hey where have you come from?’

Not knowing how to answer that for myself, I would just say,
‘I’ve been bicycling from Delhi.’

‘Really? Where are you going?’

And that’s where I had three answers in my mind to choose from.

1) I could say the name of the very next village, (A commonplace goal)

2) Or the name of the next city. (A difficult but achievable goal)

3) Or, I could share my ultimate aim,
Of until which point up north I really wish to bicycle to.
(A Big Hairy Audacious Goal)

I always made it a point to share the third option.
And when I did, the villagers would take a good look at my modest physique and deep in their mind assume that I was crazy.

But I was always bid goodbye with good energy.
They would always wish me good luck and wave at me as I moved onward beyond their vantage.

In life, we are also asked similar questions by people. Mostly, concerning what we are doing and where we are headed.
And we are all guilty of sharing the most commonplace of activities we are engaged in, the most mundane of goals we have.

We feel we might be ridiculed if we share our grander goals, and be laughed at if we fail to achieve them.

So the conversation always goes like this.

‘Hey man, long time no see. What’s happening?’

And you say, ‘Same old, same old.’

Now, aren’t we guilty of limiting ourself?’

The common defense is,
‘My goals are none of their business. I like to keep my dreams to myself.
I might get jinxed.’

But deep inside we know, we are just afraid. We aren’t even afraid of our failures. We are really afraid of our own achievable greatness.
Plain and simple.

But the moment you choose to share your grander goals, ambitions that bring a beaming smile on your face as you say it out loud,
You reinforce the dream within you.

Our mind needs a constant reminder of what we are capable of and what we should be aiming for. Repeating our grander goals in front of people does just that.

Your dreams might seem outright crazy and unachievable to an someone who doesn’t know you so well. And mind you, just because someone is family or has been a friend for long doesn’t mean they know you well enough.

But share your dreams nevertheless. The crazy ones.

Those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.

Sharing your grander dreams will over time, only inspire confidence in people to do the same.

On that note,
I should share where I wish to bicycle to.

Laddakh, India.

Wish me luck 🙂

 

 

Lessons from watching 31 Sunrises

As an effort to sensitise myself about the unfolding mystery of dawn, I challenged myself to wake up every day before sunrise and write a page about it. To step it up even a bit further, I wrote the whole page with my non dominant left hand.

Since I have been traveling in the month of May, I had the fortune of witnessing sunrises at varying latitudes, longitudes and altitudes. I was at beaches, piers, highways, temples, in bustling cities and rustic hinterlands. Witnessing and documenting the experience of sunrise at all these places has been a great creative journey.
Today, I wish to share what I learnt from the whole experience, which was part of ‘The Power of Everyday’ project for the month of May.

My learnings :

1) The Sky has a Personality

No two sunrises were ever alike. I feel it holds true for ever since the sky has existed. Most of us wake up inside a house and never get to witness a sunrise, but believe me, even if you watch the same sky from the same place on two successive days, they would be quite peculiar.
The sky is alive.

2) We have become color blind

For as long as I can remember, every single landscape drawing of a little kid in school has a blue sky.
But if one takes initiative to watch a sunrise with a kid, they’ll be mesmerised by the range of colors exhibited in the sky. I would only come up with newer descriptions of colors, just when I thought I had exhausted my imagination. Such is the splendor exhibited in the sky.
I had to compare the shades in the sky to popcorn yellow, cashew white, Bunsen burner blue, misty Clementine, scarlet red, princely purple etc.
The experience truly enlivened my imagination.
We should all spend some time transcribing colors of the sky !

3) The Celestial Game

We have grown up to believe that the sun ‘rises’ in the east. But in reality, it is the earth that turns from east to west and experiences night and day in the process.
While watching a sunrise in rural Thailand, I imagined it to be not just ‘sun rise’ but also ‘star-set’.
The countless twinkling stars are outshone by the might of the sun. With the rising sun, stars disappear.
I would see Venus set every morning in the North-West horizon, as the cresent moon rose, only to be obliterated by daylight.
All of a sudden I would see a morning not just as sunrise. I got sensitised to more celestial phenomenon.

4) Clouds- Unsung Heroes

Clouds are the true painters of the sky. The most mundane sunrise I’ve witnessed was one where there wasn’t a cloud in sight. And the best sunrise I experienced was at a sunrise point at Samet Nangshe in Thailand, where I could see a storm in one part of the horizon and spent clouds hover just behind the behemoth of limestone piers as the sun rose. It was one breathtaking experience.
Clouds scatter and diffuse sunlight, infusing the sky with hues of their lively imagination.
They’re the true painters of the canvas of the sky.

5) Sounds

The transition from the buzz of insects at night to the rousing awakening of birdsong is a lesson in dynamics for a musician. A simmering symphony of nature orchestrated by the sun’s inevitable advent.
I always wondered what the birds sang about in the morning. Then one day, I realised, maybe they are just singing in surprise of the daily unfolding of colors in the sky. Encrypted in their song are reams and reams of passionate poetry.

6) We are losing our Sky

It was disheartening to witness a sunrise in India. Our bleached skies look pale and diseased. Every single day, we deprive ourself of the wonder the sky could be. Our actions are polluting the sky and if we don’t act soon, we will lose a priceless gift of nature.

Sometimes I wish,
If I Bicycle more, maybe there will be less pollution, and we might see one more star in the sky.
If a billlion of us choose to do the same,
Imagine how a sky with a billion stars would look like?

I hope we all take collective action, and reclaim the sky from our own doing.

Let us celebrate each sunrise with the same enthusiasm as birds and trees do.
And with each sunset, lose ourself in the infinity of the sky.

I leave you with that thought,
In sincere hope of fostering,
Existential awe.

 

 

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