Dull Talks

robots-cute-two-300x225Disclaimer: This post is more of a rant and I am totally taking the risk of  coming across as a snob. Well..can’t help it right now.

<begin rant>

So where did the art of conversation go?!

In this age of technology, everybody seems to be glued to a device. And when they are not, people can’t really find anything to talk about. Monday through Friday go by in a jiffy. Wakeup, work, get to work, work, come back home, work, eat, work, watch some TV, work, maybe a few words with friends and family, work, sleep. And did I mention work?

And on the weekends, if and when we meet people, what do we talk about? Work, kids, commute hassles, insurance, mortgage rates, restaurants you’ve recently tried, the vacation you last took, Apple’s new iPhone or Samsung’s new Galaxy, maybe a little bit about the middle-east crisis or whatever is latest in the political scene, some sports, stock market, Breaking Bad (if you are still watching), weather, celebrity news and on and on. The “conversations” more or less are along these lines. I am not saying these are bad things to talk about. But are these the only things to talk about? Is that all the mental bandwidth we are left with?

It doesn’t matter if these conversations are one on one or in a group. Family or colleagues or friends. It is just the same stuff repeated over and over, in slightly different formats with slightly different opinions.

Or is it just me? Am I expecting too much? Sometimes I feel, the mundaneness and a general apathy towards the world has dulled the conversations even more. People no longer talk about their passions or feelings or thoughts. What they felt when they visited this new place. Or what did they learn. Why they thought it was a good idea to do what they did. It is all generic one-line answers, facts and opinions on things that I can’t bring myself to care about. I am guilty of doing the same or following the lead on “dull talk”. I can’t think of interesting topics anymore. And when I do, I see that the conversation isn’t sustainable for more than a few sentences. Because people are too damn busy to think about anything else other than the things that will get them through this phase of life. Then bring on the next phase and voila, you built another set of conversations that would last a decade!

And don’t get me started on the slow painful death of a good sense of humor. It is vanishing. Like thin air out of a punctured balloon. And nobody will hear its hissing, escaping sound. Because nobody is paying attention!

Even though lives are more comfortable now, abundant with luxuries and facilities, It is just getting emptier.

</end rant>


The Pleasure of Morning Breakfast

A peaceful, healthy and tasty breakfast – one of the simple pleasures of  life. Imagine not being in a rush to get to anywhere/anything and having a substantial amount of time in the morning to savor that toast, sipping that tea while enjoying the flavor, digging your fork into a nicely done egg and connecting with your loved ones.

In my opinion, this is a fabulous start to the day! And I believe that a perfect start goes a long way. It’s the first step for a more productive, more calmer and a happier you. It is amazing to see how life’s simplest of things provide the most deepest of feelings and meanings. It is like going back to the basics of existence.

And yet, we seem to be so far away from them. We would have millions of reasons and excuses for not being able to enjoy life. Enjoy in the true sense. Not with meaningless parties, not with chatter that does not matter (that rhymed!), not with watching (absolutely-detestable) reality TV shows. But actually connecting back with your self and the simplest of things you once had time for. Stepping on a crunchy leaf, smell of the wet ground, reading a book over a cup of hot coffee, spending quality time with the closest of your friends and family, watching sunrise and sunset, making out animal shapes in the clouds, staring at the night sky, listening to the waves at the beach, smelling flowers on your way, breathing in the fresh morning air and feeling like you are here to really LIVE.

Do we forget how to enjoy these things as we get more and more engrossed with “life” ? It feels like these things had never existed in our realm. They seem to be like a distant memory and an almost disconnected feeling. It just remains as something-I-would-like-to-do-again but never gets its chance.  It is usually too late when people discover what did they miss while trying to live a life. Ironically, its life itself!

Little bit of time management can work wonders in bringing life back to life. Just pick one simple pleasure per day to really feel and enjoy, the one that brings back the child in you and you would never feel that your life went by a jiffy.

Of course, everyone can define and have their own meaning of life and their own set of things that actually give them pleasure. It is just about rediscovering and reconnecting. Before it is too late!

Notes to self – "Chasing Happiness"

Some quick pointers to keep in mind when you really want to be happy. Happiness is a perception which can be as real or as deceptive you want it to be. It all boils down to the matter of choices. Choices that will make you happy. Choice of being happy. 

1) Happiness is not achieved by just day-dreaming about it. It requires the will to be happy. Creating the state of happiness doesn’t come off easy or naturally in the very first trial. It has to be earned and anything with value that demands to be earned, also demands effort, hard work and thought. Whether its just reading a book or a major lifestyle change, it takes will. Chase it. Its not that hard. Its not that far.
    2) Do not lie to yourself. Do not pretend to be happy or that things are fine. Do not go with the flow and act like a leaf in the wind. A is A and have the courage and wisdom to accept it and then the courage and will to change it. 
      3)Self-pity makes you comfortable with your misery. And once you are comfortable with your misery you will never get out of it.
        4) If you ever need a helping hand, there is one at the end of your arm.” So is the mind and the heart and the listening ear. Whatever you need to solve your problem, it is within you. If you have already thought about it hard and have not found a solution yet, think HARDER! Tinker with it or leave it alone for some time. You will find your way one way or the other.The world can do just so much. After a certain point, It will be a waste of your time and others trying to paste your problems everywhere and trying to find the solutions outside of you. Look inside! Its there…right there! Sooner you accept and learn, the better.
          5) Learn the lessons that life hands out to you and move on. Don’t dwell and don’t live in the past. It is not worth it.

            Tulip In The Desert

            There was dew, there was mist, there was fresh fragrance in the air,
            of the morning, of the sunshine, of the tulip fair.
            There was hope, there was joy, there were dreams in her eyes,
            of a lovely morning, of the soft bed of grass, of the beautiful sunshine.
            She could lay there forever, lay there in her world of dreams.
            Feel the breeze on her face as her bright yellow gleams.
            Unfazed by the winds, receiving it with her open arms,
            playing with the humming birds and the bees, she could lay there forever, lay there in her bliss.
            Her heart was surging with her boundless energy,
            she could just leap and drown into that awaiting fantasy.
            She was ready to open her eyes and greet the world,
            and let her hope and her grace truly unfold.
            And there she opened her eyes, slowly at first, eager to be swept off her feet.
            So eager that she barely noticed the blinding sunlight hitting her face.
            She felt a little prickled, but shrugged it off. After all it takes some time to get used to it.
            She tried again, squinting and batting her lashes, wondering why this feels like a struggle.
            She succeeded, she could now see and she looked around with a smile.
            It was all bright and white and above there was a dry blue sky.
            Oh but wait, where is the soft bed of grass soaked in the dew?
            and the butterflies waiting for her and the morning new.
            Where are the other tulips that promised to be there.
            The bees and the birds she could see no where.
            She looked around and couldn’t believe what she saw.
            Miles of sand flowing to the horizon and the heat that could gnaw.
            Wasn’t it obvious that she wasn’t supposed to be here?
            This must be a mistake, she was sure she was planted elsewhere.
            Oh maybe this is just a nightmare, and it shall be over with the sleep.
            Once she really wakes up, she will be where she should be.

            She closed her eyes tightly, praying to really wake up this time.
            Thinking how silly nightmares could get hold of you sometimes.
            But there was still fear lurking in her heart.
            She couldn’t understand why it was beating so hard!

            She looked around again, and to her horror, nothing had changed!
            She could not hold her scream and her eyes were filled with pain.
            It began to dawn on her, the scorching sun and the dry blowing wind.
            That this is all true and that she is alone in this chagrin.
            She helplessly looked around and screamed out a “WHY?”
            She found no answers and no signs of life.
            Why was she destined to be in a place where she didn’t belong?
            Where there was no one to listen to her and no one to jolly along.
            She had dreamt of simple pleasures, had dreamt of simple things.
            Of love and joy and emotions that could give her wings.
            She could not understand why this would happen to her.
            What wrong had she done, she thought million times over.
            There was a silence about it that was too deafening.
            To her, life no longer held any meaning.
            But her tiny strong spirit urged her to try.
            She promised to herself she would no longer cry.
            She held her head high up against the burning sun.
            She knew she was trapped there and had no where to run.
            But she still told herself, she will not give up.
            She will fight for her dream and live it up.

            The day became bolder and the sun rose even higher.
            The wind threw the sand that slapped her harder.
            She could feel her petals losing their fresh color.
            Her mouth was dry and she was draining out of ardor.

            She longed for the dusk to come and rescue her.
            Maybe that would be some relief from this torture.
            But would the dusk make things right or soothe just for a while?
            She knew it will be dawn again and it will hit her with all the might.

            A tear still trickled down her pale cheek,
            for she couldn’t help feel powerless and meek.
            She now knew she would perish and no one could save her.
            And with her would perish the dreams, the heart and the soul that made her.

            The dusk put a blanket over, but it was too late.
            She had worn out and had left everything to fate.
            She took one last breath and closed her eyes.
            Attempting one last time to answer her ‘Why’s?”

            The World in Books.

            Reading a well-written story, be it be a short story or a novel, transports into another world. That world seems to be more real, more conceivable and much more comprehensible than the real world.
             This world is always there, the same way you left it the last time, the same way you imagined it the last time. It just waits for you to come back to it as and when you please to.
            There is a deep understanding about the mechanism of this world which you probably cannot enunciate but can feel every bit of it. You rarely have to ask a “why” for an event or a thought. Everything seems to just fit in and seems to be in the most logical sequence.
            It can drown you and yet you would have lived more in it than outside it.

            ( Experience drawn from The Fountainhead, The Atlas Shrugged and a few of other books which made a great story)


            (Disclaimer: There would be millions of passages and texts written on this topic and I do not intend to repeat/quote anything. This is all from my own learning, good or bad. This is not a complete article and doesn’t fully examine each aspect of the topic. Please bear with multiple occurrences of the word ‘expectations’ and its derivatives. No other word fit better.)

            Sometimes I wonder, why does it take a painful and sometimes even a long journey to understand something very basic and very out-there-in-your-face kind of a concept? Life’s lessons, as I would like to call them, have been preached by so many gurus, philosophies and religious scriptures for ages that using first hand experience to actually understand them is almost like re-inventing the wheel. But I think everyone has to go through that phase one time or the other in their own ways, in however manner their life tailors it to them, to actually understand and manifest life’s lessons. And learning two simple tenets that we are responsible for our own happiness and expectations that we have from others are the root cause for our pain – are among those concepts.

            Our expectations from our loved ones arise almost from our subconscious mind. We don’t even realize that we are expecting something, let alone questioning its rationality. We feel (yes, we feel) that this is something that this person should have done in some certain way but hasn’t done it. We keep wondering about why he/she has not done it or has done it in that certain way which essentially was not how we had wanted. We totally forget to check our own premise first. We almost never ask ourselves if we really need the other person to do that something for us? Is this ‘demand’ justified? Is it impossible for me to live if he/she can’t do it for me? Can I do the same for him/her? Have I done it? Do I deserve it?  Our subconscious mind totally skips this part. And that’s how we are trapped in the cobwebs of expectations and their fulfillment (or rather unfulfillment). We start feeling the pain and a sense of dissatisfaction starts gripping. Then we start questioning the worth of things around us, people around us, situations we are in. If not checked in early stages, this is a beautiful downward spiral to get on to reach an unsolvable mystery so entangled that you will need a lifetime or even more to figure it out. And all that while, still feeling that pain and dissatisfaction and asking yourself repeatedly that why am I not happy? Why can’t I feel it? What did I miss?

            Can you think of an answer at this point, when you face those questions for umpteenth time? Can you reflect back here and see what went wrong and where? Amidst the haystack of reasons that you see,assuming that you can still see, can you spot the small needle named ‘expectations’ here? I am not saying expectations are the only cause of pain. I am saying they definitely are one of the causes. I don’t even need to explain how expectations are intertwined with happiness. 

            Now imagine  you don’t expect anything. Then for one thing, you won’t get hurt that easily(You can guess why). And if he/she does something positive, you will be happy because that went above your “expectations” as you were at expectation=0. So if the other person fulfills even expectation=1, you will be happy because now expectation = 1>0. But if you have expectation=10, then even if the person delivers a  9.9 you wont be happy because it didn’t reach 10. It is still not that 10! That difference leads to a void!  Accumulate these voids for long and that kicks in that downward spiral. In my view and definition, this holds true for the kind of people who believe in absolutes. For the “everything or nothing” variety.  Its 0 or 10. I am not sure how the “something is better than nothing” kind of people will deal with it. But the EON people are not designed to recognize and appreciate the in-between numbers. To be able to do that they need to learn and practice and the other people need to have patience and teach them. But the chances of that are highly situational.

            So don’t you think that a better way to be happy is freeing yourself from the burden of your own expectations?  All of these do not contradict another basic principle of happiness- effective communication. You should and could convey to the other person that this is what you expect. But then, we need to remove that ‘tiny’ expectation that lurks beneath this one (very quietly that too) that this person will understand and fulfill it. Convey what you want but do not put a condition of it being fulfilled in order for you to be happy. 

            But this doesn’t mean you are adjusting. I am never a fan of adjustments and compromises. Adjustment is when you are in pain and still are bearing with it. Here you wont be in pain. You are still content and happy and progressing in your own way in every walk of your life. You haven’t stopped anything. Just that you are more relaxed because you are not waiting for your expectations to be fulfilled.

            We cannot put our hopes and expectations on other people and wait for them to create perfect conditions for us to be happy. That almost never happens. If you are making the other person the driver of your happiness, then don’t assume that you will become the navigator. If its your car, you drive it. Else shut up and let the driver take you where he/she wants. Work out your own system here. Maybe you end up taking turns and being navigators for each other! Expectations work the best when what you want is what the other person wants to give and vice versa. Everyone needs to work hard to get to that stage where you figure out this balance.

            I know one can’t be totally devoid of expectations and for healthy relationships, one should not be. But if you are waiting for something to happen and that something has to come from another person, then make sure that your wait is worth it. Help the other person in making this happen in every way you can. Don’t be a passive spectator waiting for the miracle to happen on its own. If you think its not worth a wait, then don’t stop for anything in this world. Don’t let anything stop you. Not even your own ‘silly’ expectation. Don’t let anything stop you from achieving what you want, from becoming what you want, from doing what you want, from getting the happiness that you want and deserve.
            Be the rational selfish person and love yourself to be happy. You will safeguard yourself from all the negativity better when you love and respect yourself more.

            Its not that difficult to be happy and it ain’t that easy either. Its just a matter of choice-the choice of seeing the positive or the negative, the choice of expecting or not expecting- which in turn is always in our hands. And that is exactly why we are architects of our own happiness.