WHAT MATTERS AND WHAT DOESN’T

Just like any other individual, I have had my own highs and lows in life. If I analyze my phases, I can feel that most of what I have experienced can be attributed to my emotional dependency on people and the environment. Thus these internal fluctuations with regard to the good and the bad times always cause big turbulence, leading to mental havoc and wasteful thinking. From a very recent incident, I was able to recall the advice of my spiritual guide over a telephonic conversation with him, that I had forgotten amid the helter-skelter of my B-school life.

I just complained to him about people’s sympathetic and weird reactions to my auto-immune disorder which flared up on my skin at different parts in hundreds of minuscule patches uninvitedly a couple of months back. When I was finished with my rants, he asked me if it is affecting me physically or causing any harm, pain or injury. Since it just has to do with the outer skin, it actually makes no impact on my lifestyle, except the fact that I become a little conscious in my choice of clothing. On hearing this, he laughed off my problem and told me, that the problem is not with the disorder but with the way I am getting affected by people’s reactions to it. And, so he reminded me of the old advice he had given me way back in a different context that still holds true which goes like:-
“I shouldn’t be affected by what others think or say about me but what matters is what I think and say about them. ”

It might sound unconditional but it certainly changes the perception and our reactions towards people with whose opinions, we fluctuate. Stating my own experience, I no longer feel frustrated with people’s reactions but I have turned empathetic to understand their level of unawareness about the disorder. Sometimes, I feel the need to explain to them about my condition and how it will vanish soon, while most of the time, I take a silent and composed stand now, for I am actually not responsible to justify. My teacher very easily tells me to simply name the problem and leave it for people to google rather than explaining them the nuances of it. And, so at times, I listen to their fuss about it, their opinions and advice about it but don’t take it by heart. My anger for them has turned into pity and sympathy especially for those persons who judge others by external appearance. Now, I give them a smile and empathize with them for believing and falling for temporal things.  Being mindful, I make sure that I create no negative thoughts but emit positive vibrations only for such people as ultimately it will affect my inner energies and I can heal soon both internally and externally. It is only through my teacher’s advice that I have been able to develop strong immunity against others’ comments and have been able to develop a positive outlook towards life. I need not mention but it actually makes me stronger and carefree.

BLEND IN IS WHAT THEY SAY …

I cannot stand snakes. I hate them so much that even a picture of them makes me sick in the stomach. Lizards are very close in resemblance to snakes, but I somehow developed an interest in them. I might have been very young when I started reading articles and watching national geography documentaries. They can stick to any surface and crawl. Lizards are very interesting to me 🙂 

Lizards are the most common species on earth, found at every possible place including our houses. Antartica is an exception. They live in rain-forests, deserts, ponds, rivers, and even on trees and shrubs. There are more than 6000 varieties of lizards. Of all these, I am very fascinated by Chameleons. Chameleons are the variety that changes color in a jiffy. pink, red, orange, green, blue, black, brown, light blue, yellow, turquoise, and purple. If you won’t get scared of watching lizards, then please watch this.  

There are certain interesting facts about lizards. Broadly, lizards are characterized into three color groups. I believe they are yellow, blue and brown/black. Each of these colors means compassionate, playboy, loyal. Interestingly the females mate with the species that are low in number in their vegetation to prevent extinction. By doing this, they preserved all three species successfully for the last 200 years. 

Lizard is the species which has the highest tensile muscle among all living species. It’s their tongue. Like snakes, lizards also smell with their tongue and do not have ears. To catch the prey, lizard lets out a small portion of its tongue to smell the surroundings. Once it finds the prey, it releases its tongue at a speed of 225mph. I would recommend watching that in slow motion 🙂 Lizards come in various sizes. The ones that are larger in size are the ones considered to be harmful to humans otherwise lizards are harmless. 

I can go on and on writing about them, but, let me tell you a funny encounter with lizards. I am not sure if it’s funny because it is going to have a sad ending. End of last year I went on a holiday for two weeks. By the time I returned home, there were not one, not two but three lizards in my kitchen. I was not scared when I saw them, somehow it felt very weird to be cooking in the kitchen where lizards are moving freely. How many days can I go without cooking? I had to find a way to get rid of them. I have no idea how to get rid of them. What’s the one thing that usually saves us? Google. Yes, I started googling to find out how to get rid of lizards. There were several remedies like peacock feathers, camphor etc. After failed trials for two weeks, I had no option but the forcefully send them out. I cleaned up the entire kitchen counter, placed back all jars into the cabinets. I tried using the broomstick and duster, but it was another failure.. 

Unable to find out any remedy, I contemplated if I should kill them. This fight went on for two days. I had no clue how to kill them either. Trust me, I tried various cleaning solutions, sprays possible. At last, what worked was cockroach spray. It worked but I had to see the lizard suffer. The tail portion of the lizard separated from its body and just like octopus tentacles it was moving even after it was separated for more than a minute. Trust me, it wasn’t easy killing those. I couldn’t sleep for a few days but I had no other option. 

If any of you are petting a lizard, please excuse me for killing them. I feel sorry for them as well. As much as possible I am not going to do this again. From next time I would be careful to not let lizards than having to get rid of them later. Any ideas for this would be appreciated. I like lizards but I don’t think I would ever pet one. Though what I could learn from them is to adapt to situations around. It makes a lot of sense considering how bad the world around is now-a-days . Either we should stand out or blend in. By this, I do not mean that we have to do bad things to fit in. Lizards only do that to not get noticed and become prey to their predators. 

“The trick to not being discovered until it is too late is to become part of the expected surroundings. Stealth is more the art of blending in with the background than sneaking through dark shadows.” 
― Raymond E. Feist

WISER, GREENER AND PEACEFUL CREATURE – FROGS

From my childhood whenever I think of the biology class, I remember the time I learned about the Amphibians. Interesting it was to learn about the famous amphibians -Frog. Little did I know then, that one day I would end up writing about them as a life lesson giver.

Yes !! You read it right, – they are indeed one of these creatures, who will overwhelm us, with their incredible teachings through their simple lifestyle.

Every night during the monsoon. in my native, I was kind of accustomed with the lullabies of these frogs all nights while I was put to sleep. Then as a child, I used to wonder, what exactly they might be saying or discussing. It was indeed a soothing way to sleep then, better than the honking sounds of the cars.

Often now, I do think the same- as I have never learnt their language…  It just goes Ribbit …Ribbit…Ribbit…Ribbit…

It seems that those little creatures have a lot to tell us. Let me put a quite few of them here:

Adaptable 

Being called amphibians, born in the water, swimming across in the water like tadpoles and then becoming a toad and leaping onto the land and living without any hesitation. Don’t’ you think they are brilliantly adaptable. Put them in the water they swim, put them on land, they just hop on. Being Adaptable to any situation whatever it might be the situation, is something one needs to learn from these slimy green toads.

Patience 

Frogs – Whenever we think of it, the first picture that comes to our mind is a hopping one. But to catch a prey, it just stays still for while access the surrounding and then waits for the right moment to catch it. It is not easy. Trust me, winning over with patience is the hardest thing one can ever do. And here also frogs excel us.

Enjoying serene space

Most of the time they just wait and be calm. It looks like as if they are relishing the serene beauty of the surrounding- like the mirror-like still pond.  We as humans prefer all the hustles and bustles of the city and we forget to appreciate the beauty of stillness. The frogs, step on to the lotus leaves and watch the beckoning stillness of nature.

Cherishing the simple joys

Gone are the days, we see kids playing in the rain and enjoying it. Look at the frogs, when it rains, it just doesn’t stand in the shade, but take a leap into the pouring rain. Relishing the simplest moments in life is something we need to do, and it stays forever.

Observant

Frogs stay still for a longer time and then observe the surroundings quite well. One can see, with the slightest movement, frogs tend to jump away from the leaf into the waters. Their observation power is far more efficient than the radar system I believe.

Even though they seem smaller just fitting into our palm, they teach us lessons worth a lifetime.  If you bound to explore the hidden nature, then you get to learn many obvious things to learn from it. Spending some time with nature itself makes life worth living.

Walk away into the luscious greenery and be bound to the fullness of being one among them. Let the creepers recite you the tales of their bonding with the trees they are creeping on to. Let the birds teach you the virtue of flying and let the ants teach you the efficiency of teamwork.

Keep your eyes and ears open, let nature communicate with you. 

APPEARANCE CAN BE DECEPTIVE

Earthworms – Ketchuain (Hindi), Vaanapaamulu (Telugu), we used to call them. Have seen a lot of them during my childhood and their sticky, slippery, slender structure sent jitters and made me go Ewwww 😖. I have a few memories too associated with them.  My mother used to compare noodles (not the instant ones) to earthworms, especially when we used to demand during the rainy season. Creepy isn’t it? And when we kids used to spot them in parks we used to huddle around them just to ascertain the direction they were moving – coming or going 🤣🤣. Their bodies are such.

That was some nostalgia. Nostalgia because now it seems as ages have passed when I last saw them.  Not enough time for me to spend outside as well as no more open spaces available for them to thrive (at least in my knowledge). Connect the dots please 😁. So when the weekly topic was tossed I thought why not remember “Earthworms” in this week dedicated to “Creepy,Crawley creatures”.

Some Wikipedia Information as to what are Earthworms:

An earthworm is a tube-shaped, segmented wormfound in the phylum Annelida. They have a world-wide distribution and are commonly found living in soil, feeding on live and dead organic matter. An earthworm’s digestive system runs through the length of its body. It conducts respiration through its skin. It has a double transport system composed of coelomic fluid that moves within the fluid-filled coelom and a simple, closed blood circulatory system. It has a central and a peripheral nervous system. The central nervous system consists of two ganglia above the mouth, one on either side, connected to a nerve cord running back along its length to motor neurons and sensory cells in each segment. Large numbers of chemoreceptors are concentrated near its mouth. Circumferential and longitudinal muscles on the periphery of each segment enable the worm to move. Similar sets of muscles line the gut, and their actions move the digesting food toward the worm’s anus.[1]

Earthworms are hermaphrodites: each individual carries both male and female sex organs. As invertebrates, they lack either an internal skeleton or exoskeleton, but maintain their structure with fluid-filled coelom chambers that function as a hydrostatic skeleton.”

(Source: Google.Inc)

That was some basic information, anatomy you can say.  Now coming to the point that out of innumerable tiny little creatures what made me choose this literally two-dimensional reptile – my choice was simple considering the amount of good they do for the ecosystem, in short for us.

  • Earthworms help improve the drainage system of soil. When they burrow deep into the soil, they aerate the soil thus helping it to retain more water and hence enriching it.
  • Earthworms eat the dried up leaves, dead roots and break down the organic matter leaving behind the casts that work as natural fertilizers for the soil.   They are rich in minerals like nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, sulfur, calcium. They are farm friendly, to say the least.
  • Their digestive juices and even dead bodies are a rich compost for the soil.

That was a bird’s eye view of what enormous amount of good these tiny creatures do. And I hope there’s no need to explain how soil is related to plants and farm and how they, in turn, are related to the balance of the ecosystem.  Basic science folks that we all have learned in school 😁😁.

What Earthworms have taught me? Looks are not at all in relation to the good qualities and character embedded inside – this was basic and cliched but a truth nevertheless.  Well, that reminds me of one particular incident where I misjudged and feared a person, though just for a few seconds but I am guilty, no shame in accepting that. As I have already mentioned so many times in the past that my son is autistic and meltdowns are our daily visitors. I was out with him along with my daughter in a crowded area. And BAAM, meltdown knocked my son and he was lying down on road throwing his legs and hands here and there, not letting me get a hold of him and was very aggressive.  People were watching me, crossing by me, few stopped to inquire as well but no one lent a helping hand. And I was perplexed and perspiring. A homeless man, with his rugged dirty clothes, a beer can in hand, unkempt hair and nails, all sorts of tacky accessories all over him, swaying to the music walked up to me. I was apprehensive now “Why he is walking towards me?“. I just held my daughter, stood close to my son trying to relax at that moment. But it didn’t take me long to realize that he only meant to help me. He spoke to my son, caressed his hair, his presence calmed down the little one and he stood up and agreed to walk with me again.  I thanked him and left but this incident never left my mind. Appearances can be deceptive, period!

Parallels to be drawn: I always found earthworms repulsive for the way they looked – sticky and creepy, but that’s just the way they LOOK, meanwhile doing so much good for others in their short lifespan. In the same way, I  feared that man solely based on the way he LOOKED but he did come forward to help me. The flaw lies within me, simple.

For me, it’s more clear now – Appearance Can Be Deceptive. Think beyond that. And in the meantime let the earthworms grow 😊.

THE SELFIE MANIA

A couple of days back I read of a shocking incident that had happened in the October of 2014, in Italy. A female nurse was arrested for the murder of 38 victims. But what was more shocking was a disturbing photo seized by the police: a selfie the nurse took of herself (in her hospital scrubs) standing near the body of a recently deceased patient while smiling and making a thumbs-up gesture! The local prosecutor, aghast at the horrific nature of the evidence remarked, “In all my professional years of seeing shocking photos, there were few such as these.”

Sometime back, the Indian newspapers carried the story of a young lad who lost his life while taking a selfie on a railway track with a fast approaching train behind him! So sad. He didn’t live to share his daring act!

To make the mood of this article a bit lighter, how many of you have competed with family members and friends as to who can pout the best for a selfie?

Yes, the selfie trend has brought in with it pouty poses (horns, winks and V-signs were already there before). Be it alone or with a group of friends, to pout for a selfie is the in-thing. Sounds cool!

While clicking selfies for harmless fun captures good moments, an overdose of ‘taking selfies’ is really something to worry about.

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) has officially declared taking ‘selfies’ a mental disorder. The disorder is named ‘selfitis’ and is defined as the obsessive compulsive desire to take photos of one’s self and post them on social media as a way to make up for the lack of self-esteem and to fill a gap in intimacy.

According to APA, there are three levels of the disorder:

  • Borderline selfitis – taking photos of one’s self at least three times a day but not posting them on social media
  • Acute selfitis – taking photos of one’s self at least three times a day and posting each of the photos on social media
  • Chronic selfitis – Uncontrollable urge to take photos of one’s self round the clock and posting the photos on social media more than six times a day

Well well, if you are not in any of these three categories, you are sort of safe. But yes, the separating line is not impermeable!

When I started taking selfies, I really had to learn the right way to incline the camera at the right angle, place the finger at the right postion for the click, take a proper pose with the background in mind, smile and then c..c..click… After the initial clumsiness, when I sort of got used to it (haven’t mastered it yet), I had the urge to take a couple of selfies after I reached my workplace early in the morning and then later when I was about to wind up for the day – just to compare how fresh I looked as I started the day and how worn out I looked as the workday came to an end. I generally never took selfies at other times. Neither did I post them in any social media site. On a few occasions, I shared a couple of good ones with friends and family.

But each day as I took those selfies at my workplace and looked at myself, I wondered why I was doing it. Wasn’t it making me focus more on ‘how I look’ rather than on ‘who I am’? Yes, indeed appearance is an integral part of who we are. However, I felt that clicking selfies is making me focus more on ‘the me’ and ‘the I’ and there was a danger of slipping into an obsession regarding one’s looks. So, no more selfies in the workplace for me!

An occasional selfie with a group of loved ones or at a scenic place of visit is definitely something to cherish. But when we become fixated with our own image, it does speak something more than just a picture.

Our feel-good factor should not rest merely with how we look externally – in our own eyes or in the eyes of others. It is definitely much more than that.

The story is told in Greek mythology about a hunter called Narcissus who was known for his beauty. Once he saw his own reflection in a pool and fell in love with it, not realizing that it was merely an image. Unable to leave the beauty of his reflection, Narcissus lost his will to live. He stared at his reflection until he died. Thus we have the origin of the term narcissism, a fixation with oneself and one’s physical appearance or public perception. And, several decades back, the APA classified one of the personality disorders as Narcissistic Personality Disorder.

Some of you may feel that I am simply making a harmless selfie sound so terrifying. But, its important to remember that our gestures towards ourselves do convey a world load of meaning about our psychological state.

As I have stated before, an occasional selfie for a memory does not indicate psychological ill-health. Its only when we become obsessive about taking selfies every now and then, that it is something to worry about.

The need for appreciation, approval, acceptance, affirmation, self-esteem; a feeling of loneliness and depression steer one to find satisfaction in one’s own self. And these are the chief factors that unconsciously propel us to love or hate our own images.

The next time you incline your camera to click a selfie, do pause for a moment and ask yourself why are you about to take this selfie.

CHARM IS DECEPTIVE, BEAUTY IS FLEETING

beauty-355157_1280Physical beauty doesn’t necessarily indicate good character, and so it is not supposed to be preferred over capability & character.

We spent the last SIX precious days expressing our thoughts on being beautiful. I just want to sum up & highlight the conclusions of all the discussions of the week on “What Beauty Is” as under:

  1. HOLISTIC PERSONALITY: In the mega article on last Sunday, Prabhjot said, “Beauty is not just about your looks – it is about your holistic personality. So, be beautiful physically, emotionally and intellectually!”
  2. MORE THAN SKIN & BODY: Rajnandini in her snippet said, “We as a people surely need to rise above the beauty of the skin and the body.” “There is more to life than merely the beauty of the skin!”
  3. MORE THAN WHAT WE SEE: I loved what Samarpita said in her snippet: “Beauty is not just a visual medium but can also be auditory, tactual and olfactory. It symbolizes a sense of morality and honesty. It is possible that the little girl equated her definition of ‘beauty’ to someone treating her well, giving her time and space, and making her comfortable.”
  4. KIND WORDS WE UTTER: This is an important point which Ruth mentioned in her snippet, “What truly defines the concept of beauty is the words that we use. The way we talk, the range of our tone and usage of words exhibits the person in us.”
  5. HOLDING FAST TO DIVINE VALUES: Rajnandini in her snippet goes on to suggest : “If you adhere to the prescriptions of beauty mentioned above, Charming in heart and Beautiful in mind you shall be, and thus steal the hearts of countless many!” You have to read her article “BE A ‘HEART-STEALER” to know the prescription.

I don’t really need to describe anything more after so much of discussion but let me just conclude with what I started initially.

“Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting.” The implication of this quote can be understood in two ways: Assessing & Possessing.

Firstly, physical beauty or outward appearance is always deceiving. So, it is better not to ASSESS anybody’s overall beauty by just seeing the outward look of a person.

Secondly, it is very important to POSSESS the inner values or the divine qualities to build our character & beautify ourselves instead of relying on our outer coating.

Keep reading, Keep discussing, and Keep learning…

Stay Blessed!  

Author’s Bio: Chiradeep Patra is a finance man who works in a NGO at Kolkata. He is a writer, motivator & counselor. 

ARE YOU A GOOD JUDGE OF BEAUTY?

gossip-532012_1280

It was only yesterday that I came across a commercial for a popular face wash brand on the television where a 14 year-old girl was seen to be shifting her seat from the back to the front in her class at school as she was not embarrassed because of her pimples anymore. It was through the regular usage of this face wash that her pimples were disappearing. What struck me was that it didn’t occur to the so-called creative minds behind this advertisement that 14 year-old children are at the beginning of their puberty. Adolescents,  as they are called, experience a host of changes emotionally, physically, intellectually and sexually at this stage.

This is something that continues till our adulthood and later on as well. I don’t mean the changes the teenager experiences but our mentality gets shaped up in such a way that we tend to judge people based on how they look or what they wear. It has become a spontaneous affair in adults to notice the externalities of a person first and form perceptions according to their judgement. We overlook the behavioural tendencies of a person and deliberately alienate people who do not match up to our criteria of being beautiful. The softness in a person, the inner qualities like goodness, persistence, perseverance, congeniality etc. do not get noticed in the first place.

Our words are mostly judgmental. What truly define the concept of beauty is the words that we use. The way we talk, the range of our tone and usage of words exhibits the person in us. Just as King Solomon, the wisest man who ever walked on Earth says, “Our words should be like Apples of Gold in Setting of Silver,” our concept of beauty should also exceed the likes of materialism.