Word of the Week #177:

Disdain

There are certain things that I just don’t like, and when someone asks me why, I don’t always have a great answer.

And not just things… It can be people, places, songs, and really anything in the world. I might just not like them, and I could never even begin to tell you why.

On the other hand, there are times when I can literally make lists of reasons detailing why I dislike something.

This is one of those times.

I do not like the city of Pune, and I do have a list of reasons for my dislike.

No, I am not going to list all of them. Nobody has the time for that. Instead, I am going to talk about one reason why I dislike this city:

This city has the most obnoxious auto drivers ever.

Ask one if they would take you where you want to go. What do they say?

“*Ugh! Who the hell are you, asking me to work while I’m at my place of work?*”
Right. Exactly the response I wanted as I stepped onto this dusty, dirty street.

“Nah…”
That’s it. Nothing else. Take from it what you will.

“No, that’s not one my way.”
Wait, what? Did I accidentally walk into a particularly teeny-tiny bus? Or did you think I was asking for a lift?

“The meter is broken.”
Of course, it is. 

“I’ll charge twice as much as the fair price.”
Sure, why not? I do look like a desperate sucker, right?

It’s no wonder these guys are outraged at cab-hailing services.

“People taking the jobs we refuse to take at the fair price that we refuse to offer and provide a service better than we could ever contemplate? Why, that’s unconscionable. This is a personal attack!”

Of course, it is. 

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Word of the Week #176:

Duality

You know, I am quite weird.

However, there are times when I struggle to define the kind of weird I am.

For instance, I generally tend to ramble on about how I hate structures and restrictions. However, weirdly enough, the first thing I do when I start a project is splitting the entire thing into distinct, discrete sections and creating an extensive schedule.

In my life, I do often despise strict adherence to rules and conventions, especially ones that seem arbitrary and illogical. And yet, the job I chose for myself almost necessitates doing so, and additionally making sure others do so as well.

My documents tend to be immaculately formatted. You will not find a single space where there shouldn’t be one. But visit my bedroom, and you shall see the true extent of chaotic madness.

There will be days when I’m supposed to work, when I have to work, but I would just not step out of the bed. Then, there will be days when I am supposed to take some time off and rest, but I instead end up working for 9–10 hours anyway—as I did just today.

Some people know me as the most optimistic person they have ever known, while others find me to be quite cynical.

There are times when I am extremely sensitive and receptive, but also times where my blasé attitude towards things that others consider major can be seen as rather galling.

A lot of the stuff that I do is extremely—sometimes excessively—logical and premeditated, and at other times, I will just decide to change the entire course of my life based on one moment of whimsy and that will be it.

It is weird, right?

The few people who know me well enough would know about these random inconsistencies. And the very few who know me too well might know these aren’t as random as they seem.

And if you knew me as well as I do, you might even think that this is not inconsistent at all. This is, in its very core, true balance.

This is what brings order to a chaotic universe.

“Though this be madness, yet there is method in’t.”

—William Shakespeare, Hamlet

 

Word of the Week #175:

Renege

How often have we seen this in our lives? 

Parents might tell their kids, “Prove to us that you can be a good kid, and we’ll buy you this new toy.”
But they don’t.

Colleges tell students, “Devote your time, money, and efforts to us, and we will guarantee your professional success.”
But they don’t.

Bosses may tell their employees, “Nail this project, and I’ll recommend your name for the promotion.”
But they don’t.

Clients may tell their workmen, “I’ll pay you as soon as the job is done.”
But they don’t.

Families might tell their prospective brides, “Oh, of course, we’ll support your decision to keep working after marriage.”
But they don’t.

Republics might tell princely states, “We would absolutely respect your request for greater autonomy.”
But they don’t.

I guess agreements are meant to be broken.

Word of the Week #174:

Obsequies

For the longest time, I did not appreciate the concept of lengthy funerals and the ceremonial nonsense that tends to follow.

After all, it does not benefit the dead, right. They literally could not care less. If anything, it just adds more burden to the grieving, who would much rather be left alone in their grief.

Now, while I would not discard the arguments I have mentioned above, from my own recent experiences, I have learned how there is a lot more to those ceremonies.

Firstly, grief is heavy. Not everyone should be left alone with it. Some people might think they would prefer it, but dealing with it in a vacuum can get extremely unhealthy.

The second thing that can real hurt you in a situation like this is your own helplessness. You are always left wondering if you could have done something—anything—to change the outcome. Regardless of the answer, the question itself can break your soul.

So, how does one mitigate them both?

By immersing oneself in a series of activities that feel very important but cannot really go wrong.

This helps you deal with your grief slowly and in stages, surrounded by your family and friends.

It also gives you back the sense of control, as you make all the arrangements that are required. It might seem pointless to some, but just the chance to do something and have the results go according to your will can be extremely empowering.

Having burdens you can actually lift and problems you can actually solve helps you deal with the ones you cannot.

The structure provided by these ceremonies provides you with the foundation on which you can recover from your loss and rebuild your life.

It is not the end of your grief, of course, but it is a good way to conclude one chapter of your life and feel prepared enough to begin another.

Word of the Week #173:

Providence

Planning. Weirdly enough, it is one of the most important things one can do, while also one of the most futile.

Personally, I have a very weird relationship with plans. 

I love being prepared. If I’m going to a restaurant, I love knowing exactly what I’d like to order, after having meticulously examined the menus and reviews.

On the other hand, if I go there and find out that I cannot order what I had planned, because maybe they have run out of a key, or their oven is malfunctioning, or something else out of the blue that makes your plans and your expectations meaningless.

That is the problem, right? No matter how well you plan something, you cannot control the outcome because you cannot control all of the variables.

And the most unfortunate part is that any person who likes making plans would definitely not be a person who can accept having those plans destroyed by the most random of events.

It is the most infuriating.

Imagine spending your entire career preparing for an Olympic event, employing the perfect diet, the perfect work out regimen, the perfect technique, and the perfect equipment, and then slipping and falling outside the event venue and shattering your kneecap.

Yeah, that could entirely happen.

Irony, you know. Not a big fan of it.

I guess that is the curse of being a sentient mortal, right? Just enough power to think you are in control, followed by a rude awakening to the truth of your crippling impotence.

Now, realising your limitations and still continuing to persevere is what adulthood is all about, right?

Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and keep moving forward.

Word of the Week #172:

Paramount

What is the most important thing in life?

I have been wondering about that for a while, now.

Now, there are many who might say love. And while I appreciate it, I think love gets too romanticised too often.

Many would say money, but, really, money is just a tool. It could become worthless at any given moment.

Before we begin our thought experiment, though, I would like to lay down some ground rules. Here, we are considering ourselves to be a live human of sufficient health living in normal circumstances.

After all, life is the most important thing. Can’t do nothin’ if yo’ dead, right?

Secondly, if you are alive, the second most important thing is that you stay alive. If you have life, but you are struck with an incurable disease that is very certain to kill you very  soon, there is nothing you can do about it.

And, thirdly, we consider normal circumstance because if you are a live, healthy man who has just been flung off a plane 10km above ground, you will find your priorities suddenly changing. What is the most important thing for you in that situation? Love? Money? Family? Pride? Nope. You would probably trade all of them in to get a working parachute and the ability to use it.

Thus, we have established the parameters.

Now, if you are a reasonably healthy human in normal circumstances, what is the most important thing for you?

I will be honest, I had not thought of an answer, as I started to write this; nor should I necessarily have one, to be honest. My role, as I see it, is not to give you the right answers. It is merely to ask you the right questions.

This time, however, I believe I do have an answer.

What is the most important thing in life?

Control.

If you have control, you have everything.

Earlier today, I was ill. By my own estimate, I was at 40% of my abilities. What did I do? I used my limited abilities to treat my own body, and I now feel much better. I am probably in the 75-80% range, but that is so much better. 

If I had less than, say, 10% of my abilities at my disposal, I might have failed to do that.

So, what is the difference between 10% health and 40% health? The ability to fix myself. Control. 

What is the difference between having $10 in your bank account and having $100,000,000? Control.

What is the difference between knowing how to use the power of science to make life better and not knowing the difference between a geode and a diode? Control.

What is the difference between having 10 followers and 100,000 followers? Control.

If we look at it objectively and analytically, even love is a form of control.

Education, passion, discipline, skill, strength, they are all simply means of exerting control over your surroundings.

No matter what the domain, no matter what the means, if you have control, you have everything.

And if you have everything else but you lack control, you really have nothing.

Word of the Week #171:

Efficacious

“That field has no scope.”

How often have we heard that when we say we want to devote our lives to studying and practising the arts, be it writing or singing or painting or dancing?

Last week, we spoke about how the scope of traditional fields like engineering are grossly overrated in our society, and we tried to analyse the reasons why.

Tonight, let us look at the scope fields like writing do offer but are often grossly underestimated in our society, often for the same reasons.

Writing is fun. But is it really a profession? Is it feasible to think you can get paid to write?

Well, what if I tell you that I do get paid to do just that? And I get paid plenty, if I may say so…

So, let us ask ourselves, how did I end up here?

Am I particularly gifted? Well, that’s debatable.
Am I very rich? Nah, but I did have enough support to never have to worry.
Did I receive any specific training? Nope. None.

Then what did I do to reach financial stability while pursuing, and really focusing on, my artistic passions?

The answer is stupidly simple: I worked really hard for a really long time.

For five and a half years, I kept work on my craft, with no pay and little appreciation from beyond my inner circle, slowly but surely improving at what I do, spreading my roots in the industry, and seeking out opportunities wherever I could find them.

That’s hardly any more time than what most people spend on college and stuff, right? At least my route was totally worth it.

Tell me, how can a writer make money?

The first and most obvious would be by publishing books. But as any writer would tell you, the investment in that is extremely high, and the rate of success is exceeding low. Of course, that is no reason to not do it.

Essentially, one could say that it is the most likely to be artistically rewarding, and the least likely to be financially rewarding. And as we go further down this list, the former will continue to decrease, while the latter continues to increase.

If you want to make easy money as an author, one can try to write non-fiction books that highlight certain individuals or organisations. Co-authoring an autobiography can make you a lot of money.

Of course, you could also make some money by publishing articles in successful magazine or newspapers, or you can monetise your own blog.

Or, you can write for advertisers. That’s where Salman Rushdie started his career.

Or, you can write for TV or movies or, heck, even video games. Sidney Sheldon started his career in TV.

Or, you can find all sorts of jobs that require writers, from PR to content writing to creating subtitles. Really, the opportunities are endless.

And if all else fails, you can always work as an editor. As long as there are writers in the world and AI is not yet entirely up to speed, there will always be jobs for editors.

So, keep working, keep learning, and keep looking for opportunities. Your success might not be guaranteed, but that can be said about anything you try.

In the end, if you have spent every waking moment of your entire life in a passionate pursuit of your dreams, would that not count as a success?