My Digital Universe, Portfolio

On the mind

Hearing is involuntary but listening is a choice. You don’t have to listen to all the voices that you hear. Exercise control when it comes to who and what you authorize to influence your mind.

Yes, you are the gatekeeper of your mind.

The senses are mere receptacles. Your mind has the power to decide whether to push play or pause. What about the involuntary noises? Exercise control and selectivity. In order to do this effectively and consistently, one must come to the realization that the soul itself is the controller of your life.

The soul is not a control freak, it’s there for a purpose but it won’t execute that purpose without willingness. If the purpose of the soul is to create, it will wait till the vessel (you) are ready both in your mind and body. You hold the key to your soul, mind and body.

Mind and perception

Perhaps we forget that we are not our body, we are not our mind, we are not our soul … we are but one and all. What you can comprehend is what you will perceive. From what you perceive you will derive your filtered version of comprehension and from that comprehension you will execute actions that will create your experiences. Not a single piece of the universe is out of place. If it was, life will not be sustainable. So, be selective. Life is infinite. Possibilities are endless.

“Make your dreams out of rubber balls, they won’t drown.

If you throw it away, it will bounce back!

Rubber balls are fun, not just for you but for others too.”

My Digital Universe, Poems, Portfolio

Table Nomad: A Wanderer’s Collection

We live in a world full of connotations. The way you comb your hair to a metaphor you use when you write, will be interpreted by someone according to the lenses they wear when they view the world.

I enjoy poetry for this very reason!

Writing a poem gives you the freedom to express freely. How someone will interpret what you write is not really of concern, at least for me. As I mentioned above, we live in a world of connotations. So, it is expected that readers will interpret a line of poetry depending on what each word and image represent (to them) according to their worldview.

About the poems

The poems come from my personal experiences. Some, are reactions to situations that I never expressed while others capture the feelings of fleeting moments. As readers flip through the pages, I hope they will be able to relate to certain feelings and appreciate varying perspectives.

When I started my backpacking trip to Nepal, I had no plan whatsoever. I decided to goto Nepal on the same day I took the flight. It was a decision I made on the spur of the moment. I was definitely not prepared to trek the Annapurna circuit when I packed my bags. If anything, I wanted to have spontaneous experiences.

And that’s exactly what I found for the next year!

The decision to collect various pieces of writing I had produced over the years came to mind when I was in Munnar, India. Even then, I wanted to stay true to my motto: “I have no agenda”. So I simply collected poems that were stacked away and put together a collection. Initially, I wanted the book to be a photo / poetry book. I thought it would be fitting to find images that compliment my writing. It was delightful to find a picture that resonated with a poem. Especially, since the images were taken at random without the intention of including in the book!

The digital version, which can be found here, has accompanying images that I captured from an iPhone 6s during my travels in South East Asia.

The paperback version is a poetry only version. You can get it here.

I hope you enjoy the poems and the accompanying images. Originally, I envisioned the book as something that will compliment one’s living room by taking the place of a coffee table book.

My Digital Universe, Poems, Portfolio

“It always seems impossible until it’s done” – Nelson Mandela

I recently published my first poetry book: Table Nomad: A Wanderer’s Collection on Amazon. Writing poetry is something very personal. Self-publishing, designing and creating the layout myself, made it a bit more intimate.

I learnt a lot of new skills and polished up on existing ones during this process. Adobe InDesign was completely new to me when I first started to layout my book. I was in Munnar, India at that time, taking a break from extensive traveling. While taking a few days to relax, I suddenly felt the urge to finally put together this book. I had most of the content written already. I also had over 10,000 images from my travels. So, it was a matter of putting it all together.

“It’s not about doing everything alone. It’s more about learning something new and applying that knowledge in the practical world.”

Here are three lessons I learned from the writing and publishing process:

Lesson 1: To make an idea come into reality, one must take action

I’ve thought about it. Talked about it. Dreamed about it. One day I finally realized that what’s left is, to simply do it. The hardest part of an extensive project is getting things going. Over the years, I’ve found that whenever I get myself to start something, I tend to follow through. There’s something in me that doesn’t want to back down once I start something. So, I started by subscribing to InDesign. Now it was serious, I have made an investment in a tool that I had no clue how to operate! My brain figured out what needed to happen next and soon I had gathered my pieces of writing that were stored on websites, Instagram and my notes.

Lesson 2: Getting different perspectives and opinions are good, but at the end you must decide

When I started arranging the poems and images, I asked a couple of friends for their opinions. It was good to know what others were seeing and understand whether your creation is communicating the right message. However, the ultimate decision to decide on which font to use and how to format an image was up to me. There were times that I doubted myself. It can be frustrating when you can’t decide on something. But, in order to make progress, we must make a decision and stick with it. Yes, sometimes it’s risky. Yes, we must live with the consequences of our decisions. But, it’s also all about your outlook. We can always learn from a mistake. The good thing in the digital age is that we can change things easily. Which leads to my next lesson …

Lesson 3: Be open to change and don’t settle

I first got a taste for making corrections and revisions during my master’s thesis. I am thankful for my thesis chair for pushing me to revise, re-write and redo. It can be extremely frustrating to find an error right when you think it’s ready to go live. But finding errors and having the ability to correct them is a blessing in disguise. Yes, it can take a toll on you after the 10th time, but it teaches you to become more careful and pay attention to detail. In the beginning, I wanted to publish around 50 poems and sayings with images. When I realized that the cost was too high to do color images, I was disappointed. I felt as if all my efforts had come to a standstill.

Determination is a fascinating quality. Couple that with the ability to make compromises, it’s not too hard to find win-wins. I had to change my book to meet the practical aspects of publishing. So, I made the photography and poetry (color) version available digitally and created a poetry only paperback version. I didn’t get everything I wanted. But then again, I did.

Digital version: http://bit.ly/tablenomad
Paperback version: http://bit.ly/buywanderer

 

 

My Digital Universe

When expectations fetter away

At the end of the day, one must do what’s best for themselves without becoming a thorn for anothers’ possibilities and expressions. Those who demand you to meet their expectations will never change to meet yours. So, why waste time trying to meet the expectations of those who are concerned with propagating their version of life on to your reality?

Expectations create dependancies

If all expectations were to be fulfilled, the world might end up in chaos. To expect is to wait for something. You are now dependent on something else to find fulfillment. Like a mighty pit bull, salivating and kneeling before his feeble master for a treat. I love dogs, but I am not too fond of training them to beg for treats. The loyalty of a dog is more valuable than manipulative obedience.

Or, to expect is to project your perception of ideal outcomes onto other people’s lived experiences and expressions. They are not meeting YOUR expectations that YOU made up in YOUR head with YOUR self-interests at the forefront.

Water is fluid. Most of everything around us consists of it. The same element that we consume to hydrate can drown us. Just like that, that which goes up, must come down. That which stays up must one day land. There’s nothing wrong with going up or staying up as long as one remembers where it started from. Born naked with the imminent reality of joining the dust, some get too caught up in their self-proclaimed status on the planet. This self-proclaimed superiority complex then starts to ooze out like poisonous gas in the form of expectations. If you were a bird, your innate dispositions would tell you when to land. But you aren’t a bird. You are just a skeleton with a suit with nothing but expectations.

Expectations are not universal laws

Tell your mind to guard its entrance from unwelcomed expectations. No matter how high and mighty they present themselves as, they are nothing but expectations of dust. The deeply rooted fear of uncertainty is only a facade when you are not afraid to take bold steps. Not all steps are taken to go forward. There’s no loss in taking a step back to avoid an imminent threat and change directions. The forces that work behind closed doors are not powerful. They are just fear mongers that needs a hand to hold when it’s dark at night. With light, each and every plot will be revealed. Such a revelation can only become a reality by the hand of the absolute truth. Oil and water will get separated then and there won’t be any more doubts.

In the meantime,  it’s better to show less than what you know. Don’t worry about anothers’ perception of yourself. When you are able to free yourself from the false notion of external acceptance, freedom will take you ashore with powerful waves. Till then, ride the waves and enjoy the sunsets. Expect nothing and know when to give it all and when to give sparingly. When we expect nothing, we are not controlled by that idea. When you free yourself from your own shackles, you will find the strength to remain free.

About the photo: These waves in Nusa Lembongan Island in Indonesia are simply breathtaking. Its shear power keeps the mighty rocks that keep the island afloat in check.

 

 

 

My Digital Universe, Portfolio

Hearts of gold but no gold to show

One of the workers on the diving boat was getting ready to have lunch. He smiled and invited me to join. His invitation was so sincere, that I couldn’t resist it. His eyes communicating nothing but friendship, that of a brother to his own. I opened up his newspaper-wrapped lunch packet. The smell of basmati and spices added to the spectacular view of the coast of Nusa Penida,  a small island off the coast of Bali, Indonesia. I took one bite of his yellow rice and his buddy walked over and offered me another packet.

As I was unraveling his royal feast, wrapped in a common newspaper,  I noticed that he was sitting at the back of the boat, with a smile, looking out into the clear blue ocean.

That’s when I realized that he has just offered me his lunch!

Then it hit me. I was in Asia. Where roots of hospitality has run in the hearts and veins of people for thousands of years. The experience made me realize that I cannot enjoy their land and its fruits without respecting their way of life and their sincere smiles.

Wealth in this part of the world is stored in the hearts and souls of the people. People’s hearts are made of gold there. They don’t have fancy cars and luxury suites. They eat their rice with bear fingers and don’t think twice about offering their meal to a total stranger.

The reality, today, is dominated by a materialistic ideology, enforced by imperialistic attitudes. In this system, these kind-hearted islanders can only be great hosts to tourists that work in the “developed world”.

A taxi driver in Asia cannot goto the west and afford to take a taxi to see the Eiffel Tower. But a taxi driver in the West can come to Asia and afford the luxuries only the wealthy in the East can afford. Even though they both do the same job, one is able to experience luxury, while the other has to deal with bargaining tourists all day to make a living.

Let’s not forget to look at the whole picture when discussing ideas. Equality is not only about gender, race or religion. Development is not only the measure of external possessions, but also the development of the mind and the heart.

Indonesians have hearts of gold. As I walk these streets, I see wealthy individuals that have no gold to show but smiles to offer.

My Digital Universe, Portfolio

The mind reader

There was a man that could read minds.

At first, he thought, wow this is an amazing skill to have. So, he went into restaurants and started listening to conversations. It was quite entertaining at first. Then, he started using his skill for his advantage. He patted himself in the back when he got what he wanted. He thought, “Huh, they have no clue that I know what they think”.

A few years passed by. He had now gotten tired of using his skill for his benefit. Now he was simply observing others. He started diving deep into his interactions. He analyzed the thoughts that were going through someone’s head when they were speaking to him. He tried to give them what they wanted or what they wished for.

One day, he was hanging around some friends and felt extremely uncomfortable. He could no longer just enjoy life. He was constantly concerned about what someone else was thinking; what they were going to say to another person about him or someone else. His life was suddenly filled with other people’s thoughts. His own thoughts were now drowning.

For the first time since his realization, he felt burdened. What once felt like a blessing now weighed him down like a curse. He looked around him and saw thousands of people that couldn’t read minds. They were just happy to live based on what they saw and heard. They had no clue that sometimes their loved ones were not being honest.

Then he wished that he couldn’t read minds. He wanted to be normal. Years passed by. He found himself getting farther and farther away from civilization. He just couldn’t deal with the make believe comments and conversations anymore. One day, he met an old man. He asked him “Son, how are you?” He realized that this man was sincerely interested to know how he was doing. He shared his experience with the man and explained why he was living in the outskirts of civilization.

The old man smiled and said “I was like you once. I too got tired of reading other peoples’ minds.” The mind reader was excited. He wanted to know how to deal with it. The old man said that he simply decided to not read other peoples’ minds one day. He said that he realized even when he read someone’s mind; he still enjoyed listening to what the other person had to say. Words, he said have power. It still takes effort to make a thought into audible, comprehendible sounds. He left the man with the poem below and said “Go back to the city if you want. It’s not as bad as you think. You have two ears. Keep them clean. Don’t let what you don’t like stick in between. Listen from one and let it go from the other.”

“Opinions are like onions,

They are tasty when cooked.

But if you peel one out in bed,

You will wake up stinking like one”

 

 

My Digital Universe, Portfolio

The cutie flew again

This cute little thing came crashing down and fell on the couch right behind me at this quaint coffee house in Rishikesh India. I was having a cup of coffee with a sweet Brazilian couple I met at the yoga school I will attend next week, when Jeanie said “oh my I think she didn’t see the glass”.

I’ve always had a sweet spot for animals and have rescued a few as a kid. So naturally, I was drawn to do something for the poor bird. Jeanie is a very kind hearted person, she was right there with me as I grabbed a newspaper that was on the table to get the injured bird outside, in case it tries to fly inside the coffee house and run into more trouble.

It was apparent that it hurt its feet in the process of crashing into the window. They looked crooked and unusual. I asked the waiter to bring us some water. The bird had its mouth open, and a closer look made me feel as if it was in shock. So, I figured some water might help. Jeanie’s kindness was so admirable. She was holding a napkin over the bird to keep away the sunlight.

It was apparent that the bird didn’t have the senses to reach into the bowl to get water, so I let some water drop from my fingertip.

Voila!

The bird was drinking the water!

It gave us both hope. We couldn’t help but have compassion for this beautiful creature as we caressed it gently with love, wishing for it to get better. Jeannie was constantly telling positive things to the bird and it was so pleasing to my ears as well. After a while, the bird closed its mouth, so I stopped offering it water. We got the waiter to bring us some rice hoping that it would eat it.

A few minutes passed as we both intensely stared at this beautiful bird with nothing but kindness and well wishes. Little by little, it appeared that the bird was regaining its senses. A feeling of utter joy entered my heart every second as I watched it turn its tiny head from one side to another. To me, it seemed like it was now observing us: two strangers staring at it, offering it water.

Jeanie said, “It’s amazing how this bird is trusting us”. I said, “I think animals can sense what we feel towards them”. A minute or two later, it attempted to fly. It wasn’t that successful as it landed a few inches from the table. We were very optimistic. We said “agh, its getting better, look! The feet doesn’t seem to be crooked anymore!”

The bird flew away with elegance a minute later and landed on a near by tree. We high five’d as Jeanie said, “yay, we did it”. Pure bliss and peace filled my mind. There’s so much joy in helping someone for in and of itself. There were no heroes in that moment. There was only that moment. That shared experience.

In this materialistic world, everything seems to be some sort of transaction. Sometimes happiness is doing something for someone that can never return the favor. I was the one that was blessed by the opportunity to experience that moment. To watch a beautiful bird fly again.

Perhaps nothing I did contributed to it. Perhaps it had everything to do with the love Jeanie and I showed it. But it’s not about that. It’s about that split second. That split second that we saw the bird fly again. That rush of bliss that entered our hearts. That … is worth everything. It was not forced, staged or had any sort of ulterior motive.