Monday, October 31, 2011

A transformational experience!

"To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing." - William Shakespeare, Macbeth Act 5, scene 5, 19–28.

The last 3 days of my life have been the most significant and trans-formative ever. I attended the Landmark Education Forum in Bangalore along with 220 0ther people. Though the impact of the forum is different for different people, without any shred of doubt, I can say that it leaves a person completely different. (The Landmark Forum is the first of the 3 courses of the landmark curriculum and Mahesh Nambiar, our coach was extraordinarily effective with us every moment he interacted with us)

My request to anyone reading this post is to mail me and get more details about the forum for no amount of "description" can completely communicate the real possibilities that will emerge after one does the course. Captured below are some views that would change our perspective towards life forever -

When we know the distinction between facts and opinions, we begin living
When we stop complaining to justify our current predicament, we start taking actions and our performance is directly proportional to our actions
When we stop doing things to "Look good" and instead lead a life of "integrity", we start realizing our potential
When we unravel the hidden context in our lives, we begin seeing multiple perspectives
When we listen without relating what we hear to something in our past, we are receptive
Life always happens on the court and never in the stands. Every day we keep waiting, we spend one more day in the stands!

Life is empty and meaningless. Life is nothing. Only the present moment matters, not the past, not the future. Life is "Right now"

It is possible to experience fear and be courageous in the face of fear. Many of us think, we are scared of others. What if others also think the same!

Our strengths become our identities. All of us are struck with our strengths and sometimes they can constrain our views 

When we realize the various complaints we have in life, we begin seeing the costs associated with them 

It is a joke that our strengths and complaints drive our lives! 

When we realize what our choices in life are, we don't resist them. When we don't resist them, our career and relationships begin to operate at an entirely different plane!

All of us have lived life merely chasing one thing after the other and continuously reacting, never creating! Toys, Parents' affection, bicycles, marks/grades, vacations, engineering/medical seats, career/experience, post graduation seats, career/experience, cars, houses, international vacations, money, companionship, etc..we have chased them all and we continue to...when we see the joke, we can see the possibility of living in the current moment and being happy! When the current moment is taken care of, the subsequent moment will take care of itself!

Who am I? I am my word. I am what I commit. I am not my profession, gender, religion, caste, nationality etc

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Malenaadu Magic with Cycling and More...

Andrew S Grove, Co-founder and ex-CEO of Intel, writes in his memoir, ‘Swimming across’, “When my singing went well, it made me feel better about everything, even if things at school were tough. I thought I had made an important discovery. I realized that it’s good to have at least two interests in your life. If you have only one interest and that goes sour, there’s nothing to act as a counterbalance to lift your mood. But if you have more than one interest, chances are something will always go okay.” I read this book quite some time back; yet, I find that so many times in my life I have remembered it since then. In our lives, we labor and we labor hard. Some of us are fortunate enough to see those hours spent laboring bearing fruit immediately while for some others, it takes its time coming. If one has interests that are diverse, then chances are, as Grove opines, one could always find solace in any one of them and tide over testing times. 

During a short break

The road, the villager, the cyclist and the poetic scenery

Cycling, trekking or for that matter any activity that is physically exerting and at the same time refreshing, unclogs the mind. In making us admire the present and the now, these activities free us from our prejudices, preoccupations and countless other inanities that cloud our minds normally. “Dude (try pronouncing it “duooode”!), during all these descents, my mind just goes completely blank”, said Sanjana when we were cycling together for a brief period on Saturday. She couldn’t have expressed the feeling better. As one turns a bend and one’s bike gathers momentum on its own, if I say that one gets to experience “nothingness”, albeit, for a few moments, I would not be exaggerating at all. 

The route was Hornad – Kelaguru – Kottigehaara – Mudigere – Hanbal – Sakleshpur. What do we all long for? Serenity and beauty! It was present along the entire route for us to partake. We stopped to take short breaks numerous times and these became occasions to click pictures and exchange a few words here and there with fellow riders. Fierce determination, intensity, tiredness, happiness, bemusement, expectation and curiosity – we wore all these expressions thanks to the route and its surprises. 

Whoever lives in these houses, they are blessed!

Day 1 was relatively easier compared to day 2 partly because the Sun was gentle on day 1. Special mention about the resort we had lunch at on day 1: Balur Estate – the building had class written all over with immaculate furnishing, dream interiors and an amazing ambience! 

Balur Estate

Balur Estate - cozy up with a book here and one can forget the World!

Some of the sights, memories and sounds - streams of water along winding stretches, children, shy and demure waiting at a bus stop and sometimes waving to us in all fervor, women carrying firewood, insects lazily crossing the road, bike chains creaking, old men squinting to get a good view, riding alongside a fellow cyclist and listening to his/her life stories, lush green fields as far as the eye can see, mist clearing to reveal beautiful mountains and the hospitality showered on us – I’d carry from this ride would be priceless.

Any travel experience is incomplete without a few words about the people who are part of it! A soft skills trainer, my college Junior, a girl working with a NGO, a video editor, a dentist and her professor – these are some of the wonderful people, I could get acquainted with. Evidently, some of them dared take the road not taken and they were proud and passionate as they recounted their stories. Brian, Ramesh, Sanjana, Revathi, Amol, Vinay, Yashodara and Archana made for great company during the course of the ride! 

Jump #1

Jump #2

My curiosity got the better of me and with some of them, I kept shooting one question after another…”TV journalism has become way too sensational whereas in documentaries, one gets to exercise more control over what one does. The content and the quality is better”, said Yashodara, who is a video editor. To me, ever curious and interested in all things to do about journalism, it was a precious nugget!

With the waterfall in the background

Return Journey - Dumb Charades in Progress

As we neared the end of the ride on day 2, Vinay found a waterfall. Hidden from view, it was a perfect full stop to an exacting morning! Our enthusiasm did not wean one bit even during the return journey. We played dumb charades with teams getting movies like Roxanne, frequently asked questions about time travel and lesbian vampire killers to act out. That all these movies could be acted out and identified by the teams says something about the whole group!

As all good things come to an end, this one too did. This, being my second ride with Cycling and More, honestly speaking, I found the whole experience more rewarding and satisfying compared to the first time. Major credit should go to Manohar and Vishy, our coordinators… Malenaadu Magic, it certainly was!