comfortable silences?

There we are – guests (as airlines like to call their passengers these days), waiting anxiously for the boarding announcement of the day’s first flight. There’s an uncomfortable silence in the air.

I go back to a childhood memory – to a family evening on the porch. Dad has a book and a comfortable chair, mom and sister are out in the garden tending plants with care, a visiting aunt has her embroidery going and I am happily perched on the floor with a few hundred building blocks in my hand. Silence reigns – but unlike in the first paragraph, a very comfortable silence.

Which brings me to the question on hand, which one would I rather have?

– Some restful music in the background, a drink and a good book in my hands – as I rest in the lounge playing back a hundred times in my head the “escalation meeting” that is on my agenda for tomorrow?

– The ability of the young world traveller travelling economy class to be serenely absorbed in a tome on world culture as she rests on her backpack – unmindful of the cacophony of announcements in a strange language and a foreign land?

What wins – Material abundance and a poverty of peace, or limited means but unlimited freedom?

Pondering over this, I walk to get some more coffee and come across a gentleman pushing sixty years reclining on one of the plusher sofas; eyes closed, a wide smile on his face. He’s dressed in an impeccable sit and on his tummy, lies a book half read – and Eckhart Tolle smiles from its cover.

There’s a lesson here I understand – and while my mind starts its quest for it, my body goes searching for the caffeine.

And then it hits me. This man is the answer. Perspective comes first and blooms into inner stillness.Thats all we ever really need,

First class travels – or for that matter a backpack and torn jeans – have nothing to do with silence whatsoever. From inner stillness comes comfortable silences no matter where you are – in a executive lounge or at the bazaar. Agree?

Narrow world-views?

Sensitivity to our surroundings is an amazing thing – at its best, its what I guess the buddha called awareness – an ability to look and more importantly appreciate things for what they are as opposed to what we think they are (or should be) based on our limited world-view.

I get this thought as I reflect upon an interesting little news item in the day’s paper of a woman thanking the ongoing T20 World Cup organisers for opening her eyes. It turns out that her husband had gone to watch a match and caught up in all the passion and celebration on the field broke out into a dance. She’d never seen him dance – or looking so happy – and she was expressing her gratitude to the organisers of this game for having enabled her to see her husband in all his natural playfulness – perhaps for the first time!

Here’s the thing – since “world-views” are thrust upon us all the time, the world-views become almost natural and it takes immense clarity for us to strip ourselves of this lens – looking at simplicity becomes very complex huh!

For starters, there are the “roles” we are expected to adhere to in everyday life. The roles come with their own set of attires, languages, acceptable social circles, acceptable behaviours and so on. If we don’t believe this, all it takes is a rewind to our school or college days (or first intern days) and contrast our behavior’s of today with those. Strip out the conditioned behaviour of both times (the suits of today and the excesses of youth!) – and what will remain is character – the person we were, the friends we kept, the passions in our lives. If you have managed to hold on to the unbridled joy from those years you are indeed an happy man or woman.

Which brings me to another quote from the day’s papers (some good coffee prompted me to stay with papers for a long, long time!). A music composer, whose quirky video on the pains of a “monday morning” have gone viral expresses how difficult it was for him to make that video. “We wanted to make the song funky and stylish and since people like us hardly know how terrible waking up to a monday feels like, we gathered the sentiments of our office-going friends, and then translated their expressed frustrations into music”. Really? You are a lucky man and that’s one cool video dude!

On which note, we can bring this blog to a closure with just one more crib on the “very necessary but evil” aspects of this “world-view” business. Some wise guy decided that since Feynman was a physicist, all his books belonged in the science section. To many of our fellow humans, science = plague, the only blemish in an otherwise fun childhood – and this worldview keeps the book out of their hands for ever. And if you haven’t read his books, they are gems – try this one – it expresses the joy of curiosity, of finding things out, a rare vision into a humorous character whose view is so much better than the “worlds”. And there cannot be a bigger tragedy than not enjoying such “sheer awesomeness” because someone with a more limited world view chose to pigeon-hole them elsewhere. You agree?