Sunday, September 24, 2017

How to say no

The title could be an open question to anyone out there or would surmise some insight into a lifetime of experiences which have been mostly regrets and failures. As with any of my writeups , these words have been simmering in my mind for a long time. The word 'no' for me , I would have to say, has been burned into my memory thanks to my father. The innumerable times he has used the word in those one-word responses to my requests for toys, snacks, junk food, or for that one more hour of watching TV, had me believe that he was capable of only speaking that word. In fact the blue moon event of him saying yes left me confused and looking for where the catch was, to him agreeing to my 'humble' requests. For sure there were some house chores or some impossible requirement or scoring a particular grade down the road.

I was so used to him saying no that I began to use it as a buffer, for my childishness and curiosity. Maybe my dad thought that as long as he was there to say no to things that I was about to do, I would be protected from failures of some kind.

I probably began to use the technique against my mother later,where I began to say no to what she would ask me to do. Very diplomatically of course. But here the reasons weren't as honorable as my father's because my negative responses to my mother were more out of laziness rather than some justifiable reasons. Mother's warnings always fell on deaf ears, mainly because in the small country that I grew up in, her warnings of overeating and cultural requirements and etiquette would hardly be relevant and would quickly be forgotten.

Time passed and I reached college, freed from the cocoon and supervision of parents, and suddenly there was no one to say no anymore. Being the brat that I am, I still continued my childishness and curiosity with a very naive and impractical view of the world. There I began to learn in earnest the consequences of not having the word no in my life. Low grades, supplementary papers , lack of accountability, and a few accidents in between, made me a quick skeptic. And it didn't help that I was always a step behind my peers due to my academic situation. All things done, once my education ended, my father called me back to start my career. And me neither having the finances to back a career or grade to pick up a job in the market, meekly accepted and returned home.

But this time, I didn't meet the dad I remembered. My mother hadn't changed a bit. But my dad was not the wall I had to climb each time I wanted something done. This time he didn't really stand in my way. Maybe he was too old or just tired after nurturing and schooling two more boys just as rowdy as the first one. This time the lack of the word no really alienated me. I felt alone at home. I looked out to friends and began spending far more time with them than at home. My mother would patiently wait at home with food and I would return late after having junk food and not having an appetite. I would eat the food sometimes, not because of guilt, but to avoid the conversation in the morning about what where and who. I was drinking too. And my finances on a meager salary was barely enough to support the lifestyle, forget supporting two aging parents and brothers who were pursuing their graduation. But I didn't care. Then I began to say no to my father. His requests not only logical but gathered from years of insight only varied experiences could bring, were flatly denied, simply for the sake of saying no. Maybe I was exacting some kind of revenge for all the times I heard the word. Or I was just too lazy to see the wisdom and in hindsight if I had done some of those things, I would have been far better off today.

My tangent was far different then. I began searching for what was missing. Not realizing that the word was right there. it only had to come from within me.

The truth is I still don't know how to say no. Maybe when I deny someone or something, it brings out old wounds which I cannot bear.and just agree to any request. If someone asked me for something I would move hell and highwater to get it done. But if my parents asked me to do something for myself, I would refuse. My parents rarely asked anything for themselves . And it would be done immediately.but ask me to invest , build my savings or work on my health, I would defer , distract or if pestered enough, flat-out refuse.
Maybe denying my father gave me some sort of perverted thrill.
Through other experiences in life I began to seek the knowledge of the word no. How and when to say it. I started with denying myself certain food types. That worked for the types which I didn't really have much interest in. But for junk food , I would try and fail constantly. Somehow saying yes to junk food equated to saying no to my parents , which made the failures bearable

Then it shifted to other entertainment options like cinema, movies, TV, TV series, so on and so forth. But the more I explored , I would still end up with an empty experiment on what denying myself really meant. The problem was that a lot of things went out of focus. In feeling alienated,I began to return the favor so to speak. My family kept complaining of me not being there, and as always, all feedback fell on deaf ears. I would just do what i wanted to do when i wanted to do it. I still dont know why I wasn't thrown out of home earlier. Maybe at the time, I should have thrown myself out.

By now I was neck deep in work . Day job, part time jobs, friends. There was zero time for family. I would meet my father mostly on the weekend during breakfast, even though we stayed in the same house. We would discuss politics, scientific discoveries. Nothing about home , or our health.

I built a warped sense of reality, and validated myself within a set of parameters of my own choosing. The problem has always been the same. Choice. Every single parameter was my choice. Be it time, food, relationships but to shy away from accountability I would place the onus on the receiver of my attentions, and make any decision a group decision.

Was it my fear of failure, or being called up to explain my actions or decisions? There was no clarity, just go from day to day , trying to be useful to everyone else.

One by one , my brothers completed their graduation. I got busy trying to run an IT business, all the while , slowly slipping away from a general awareness of the goings-on at home. My lifestyle expenses kept going up. More friends, more outings, some leisure trips, money was never really a problem. because i was spending my supposed life's savings. My brothers started working. For a while , it was good. Then business turned sour. Lost contracts, kept working, hoping for miracles. Didnt take salary for a year. Depression took over. All the while, all I had to do was say no to what was happening to me, and I would have left and it would all be over. But I was stubborn to the point of ruin. Kept hanging on, working for scraps.

This is beginning to look like a life story but I have a plan here. Im only trying to enumerate the possibilities if the word no is ignored and unused.

The ability to say no, stems from a deep-seated notion of choice. Choice at best is creative, and if your choices are unlimited, then so is your ability to reject. If you're OK with anything, then you have given up choice. You have given up selection. And you have given up control. It is that most basic feeling of fear which rules such decision making.When choices are available without fear of repercussions of any kind, what a world that would be. A world without consequence. A fantasy at best. Because in reality, somewhere along the way, there would be a resistance to the choices that were made, and accounts must be settled.

So to bring things into better perspective, enumerate possibilities, reject compliance (say no ), and choose.

Choice defines oneself. And it begins with saying no.
Say no to the lies you tell yourself. Say no to the excuses you make to procrastinate from your responsibilities.

Even though I didnt realize it then, my parents had already mentally moved away from me by this time.They were just physically present and were there because they knew I depended on them, and not the other way around. My fantasy world refused to let me from taking stock of my life and kept me in a dream state, to be lived day after day after month after year. from this point, I think my parents no longer expected or looked for emotional support from me, because I had none to give or just didnt know how. Probably they had my brothers for that, if they weren't in the same boat as me.

If you really want to know how much you value something , reject it, move away from it,. Until then, any supposed value is a made up reality,because its mostly in your head. Its value is calculable only if you separate yourself from it, because otherwise you have to balance yourself on the same scale, and the value gets skewed.

We all have the power to be unique. But it is our desire to follow that negotiates with that uniqueness. The power of this desire suppresses our need to reject, and in time kills the need completely.

So to sum up the essence of saying no boils down to our implementation of the choices we make.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Untitled defines love as "a feeling of warm personal attachment or deep affection". I believe that love is a part of each and every one and thing. If it is a part , so comes the ability to give, take and share based on a personal set of rules that is a result of instincts, experiences and influences by the environment.

It is said to be the secret ingredient to mom's food, that feeling of butterflies in the stomach and many other euphemisms to explain the so-called unexplainable. But, in the end it is as defined, a feeling. Some science papers explain our feelings to be a result of certain chemical reactions in our brains. I brought up this idea to a guy who had just become a father, and was explaining his feeling to me when his child held his finger for the first time. I can never forget the murderous look on his face :). I barely escaped i guess. So is there something more that we must believe because we cant see or explain.

These chemical reactions also happen to scientifically explain other such "feelings". Love-at-first-sight for example could be a favourable reaction of our pheromones. Try using that as an explanation to why you like someone or don't. Crazy isn't it? When stuff like this get explained so simply, it sort of takes away the mystery which kind of kills the excitement for this kind of stuff.

Taking ideas from science to explain things which are difficult to explain or to put in words. I have a theory for our so-called sixth sense. Lets say our bodies are "magnets" tuned in one way or another. Magnets are basically some metallic material which has their atoms/molecules aligned in one particular direction, helping them exhibit an an attraction/diversion towards a similar metallic material.

Physics tells us we can magnetize most metallic materials by continuously "rubbing" the material with an existing magnet from one side to another. After some time, the metallic material begins to exhibit magnetic properties, albeit temporary. Let's call these magnetic properties our inner disposition. how we feel about certain things/people/situations. so now when we face/meet some people, we interact with their "magnetic field", and sometimes we "like/dislike" a person without talking/interacting. people call this their "sixth sense/ intuition" whatever it may be.

The more I thought about this theory, the more I came to believe that it can be applied in a multitude of situations. What if not just people, what about places? can they have this "magnetic field"? could this explain our sensing some sort of divinity when we are in a place of worship? what if hundreds and hundreds of believers "magnetize" a place, in a particular way? then when some particular person , lets say a person with/without faith , but of a similar inclination, finds "peace" at this place?

this theory, as it is only a theory , begins to take huge proportions, when I try to apply it to most situations. There is also a saying that , you only believe what you want to see, and if you believe in it most, that is the only thing you will see.:) but then it's a harmless fantasy. Something to live for I guess. Something to do. some goal/achievement that's unattainable, but worth trying for. What are we, without purpose? without faith? without the unexplainable? The end of all things, is when everything to be explained, has been explained. Without this, might as well be, brain-dead.

Religions and faiths exist because of our unending thirst to explain our purpose. What are we here for? why do we exist? I think that our only purpose is to be, is to do. But thats too boring, right? If we're not here to do something for ourselves, why do it at all? Why should I believe that what I'm doing , it should be for someone else or for somebody else's happiness/gain? Could this be love? where one does something for someone else, for no other reason, except to satisfy that feeling of love? A funny way of playing with our reasoning.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Excerpt from "Life of David Gale (2003)"

Fantasies have to be unrealistic...

because the moment... the second...
that you get what you seek...

you don't...
you can't want it anymore.

In order to continue to exist...

desire must have its objects
perpetually absent.

It's not the "it" that you want.
It's the fantasy of"it."

This is what Pascal means when he says
that we are only truly happy...

when daydreaming
about future happiness.

- Or why we say...

the hunt is sweeter
than the kill.

Or be careful what you wish for,
not because you'll get it...

but because you're doomed
not to want it once you do.

So the lesson of Lacan is,
living by your wants
will never make you happy.

What it means to be fully human is
to strive to live by ideas and ideals...

and not to measure your life
by what you've attained
in terms of your desires...

but those small moments
of integrity, compassion...

rationality, even self-sacrifice.

Because in the end, the only way
that we can measure the
significance of our own lives...

is by valuing the lives of others.

Sunday, October 17, 2010


I have lost something which I had held very close to me. The foundations I have built have been shaken and now I see no hope of revival except to start over from scratch.

I have lost my sense of reasoning. I am struggling to find a platform on which to base my decisions and thoughts. My mistake was to reason with my beliefs. My mistake was to find a justification to certain things that I've seen or heard based on my belief system.

I have spent a good amount of time reasoning with what I've experienced so far. I have tried different experiments to change my lifestyle, to discover how it would affect my interactions with people around me. I was absolutely convinced that if I believed in something , it was because it was true, and it was real. I was being an absolute stubborn fool. I thought to myself that if I did anything with a certain conviction, it would help me see people and their behaviour in a new light. All it did was make me look eccentric and a bit mad.

Fortunately or unfortunately,all of us have a belief system based on our history and experiences. The only way to change this belief system is to either change your history or modify/corrupt these experiences. I also used to have a belief system. Then I had a devastating experience during my college time, and I concluded that it was caused because of the decision making system which I had at the time. So I decided to forget who I was. I changed my version of my past, and began to create a new set of rules and beliefs. So I became a very malleable version of myself. I could be anyone I wanted to be. It was such a terrible and exhilarating experience. I use the two words together to try to define my feeling about myself at the time.

It became very easy to reason with people around me, because I had no base belief system.So everything I said was right out of the book so to speak, and surprisingly it was exactly this reasoning that they wanted to hear. This was all good for some time. And as with everything, it had side-effects. When you change your version of your past, you slowly begin to lose all that was connected to your past.

I continued with my experiments and slowly started failing these experiments. I could not understand why at the time. But now I see that I was basing these experiments on fallacies, that I have created for myself. At this point, I would like to quote a line from a favorite movie of mine-"The Matrix": 'There is no spoon'. I think that this line speaks a lot about our beliefs and convictions. The spoon in the movie represents all that we think is real and is true. As soon as we realise that the spoon is just a figment of somebody's imagination, we are able to bend it and break it at our will.

I have tried and failed to alter myself and then fit into an archaic system built on rules that were made to fail. I resign myself to no longer look for reason, and try to make peace with what I see is happening around me. I will stop my experiments to "figure out" things. I will try to re-connect with what I remember about my past and hope to restore a belief system that will allow me to make sense of things. Beating the system was a child's idea of trying to be different to probably get noticed. I think I took that too seriously.

A cog in the machine. What a waste...

Sunday, April 25, 2010

God is an idea

When has something troubled you so much, you lose track of almost everything? Like as if you were going through every day much like a robot or a zombie, where there is no self-control on your actions. Your responses to stimuli are either non-lifelike or too emotional, in a vague sense of the word.

Philosophy is not something easily digested or understood. That is because of it's abstract nature, that sounds more like a politician's speech. Neither here nor there. That is its true nature, and hence cannot conform to scientific thought.Our current rules of science are so rigid that we lose sight of it's original intention, and are bent on trying to explain what we see and observe, using those rules. No matter how hard we try, we will ultimately fail.

The same idea can be applied to social aspects as well, and to more sensitive topics like religion and belief.

If we look deeper into religion and its books from where we learn about it, a huge part of them go into explaining thoughts and ideas , labelled "good" and "bad", depending on situations and justifications.

As with any idea, as long as it remains an idea, it stays pure and ready to be accepted by all. But when an idea is associated with say, a person or an event, it loses its purity and loses its power and purpose. Once this is done, nothing can be done,unless the memory of that association is lost forever.

Unfortunately, as is the case in humans, where our methods of education, involve the use of examples, and situations, we will never escape from the association of ideas with people or other beings. It is said that "experience is the best teacher". I believe that experience is the only teacher. Our education system is just a great leveller, standing in side to side to our society, to enforce a sense of control and hierarchy. At each step , we are forced to learn who is in control and who is not. Only our experiences allow us to break free, and to trick the system.

And so too with religion, we are told that there are rules to be followed because it is said by someone or written somewhere. End of discussion. The chance to question is lost, and thus the chance to learn/change/improve/understand is lost. We say that we are an intelligent society, but we lose sight of the fact that controlling change is something that has failed time and again and again. We fail to see that change is inevitable, and rules that existed before will be broken, again and again. What was bad, is good, and what was good, is bad. All by-products of the rules that we have thought up, thinking that they are for the greater good.

These are thoughts, that lead to an idea that says that humans were designed to fail, to sacrifice and to lose. So how is that we have examples of humans prevailing, and how is it that humans have managed to survive? I believe that this could be where our understanding of God or some universal force/energy begins.

Somehow, there is a kind of energy which all living beings have the capacity to tap into. I believe , that we as humans, have developed different methods to tap into this energy.Meditation, prayer, yoga, pranic breathing, etc, etc..

This is a very controversial topic, I know, but I believe, this is the closest we can get to understanding and solving so many things we have taken for granted. All of us say that everything is under the control of some higher power or the "guy on top". I believe that as humans we have a primal tendency to look up to something, and be in awe of something we cannot understand/explain, and give in to such experiences.

I believe that we, due to our learning disability, continue to associate this "higher power" with something we can relate to, thus bringing it down to our size. And again, we will fail to truly understand.

I also believe that there are "pockets" of this energy in different parts of the universe, where beings who are "tuned" to this energy, either by birth or training, can experience it in its true form. All beings are capable in a very minor way to access this energy by way of "feeling".

That's all for now, I will put up some more thoughts as soon as I can collate them in my head.

Thanks for reading


Saturday, March 07, 2009


Why is there a compulsion to write? Why the need to put down thoughts in some retrievable form? Why the difficulty to recollect some thoughts which made sense only a few days ago?

These are the questions I ask myself when I re-opened my blog editor today. Thinking out loud, literally, I believe this stems from the fact, that I have been letting myself or my mind to free-roam. I might be doing a perfectly normal or mundane task, but on a different tangent of thought with no relation to the task at hand.

Problem with concentration? Well, maybe.

But I have got so used to this method of operation, that when I actually sit down to apply my mind on some task, I find it exruciatingly difficult.

For example, I was given a task of solving a technical problem a few weeks ago. And I sat down to get it out of the way. But no matter how long I tried and how hard I looked for the answer, I couldn't pinpoint the fault. After a long day of trying out all possibilities, I had almost given up. I left the problem unsolved and headed for home. I was driving home, and after sometime I got lost in my thoughts, which were mostly concentrated on the problem obviously, and within a few minutes, it hit me! I was approaching the problem the wrong way. Which was why no matter how I looked at it, I couldn't find the fault.

Unfortunately, I was already far away from the office, or I would have turned back to give the issue one more shot.

I was wondering why this answer did not occur to me in the office. I had spent a whole day trying to solve it, when not doing anything else. But it took me only a few minutes, when I was driving home.

If this was a one-off case, I would have just labeled it as unprofessionalism on my part. But this thing happened a few times, actually a lot of times that calling it coincidence started becoming ridiculous.

And it always happened mostly while driving to or from home, and of course some other times, when I was at a shopping mall generally browsing. If I started to think about other issues, at any of these times, I would find myself having a better point of view on those issues.

Now this started getting irritating, when I actually got down to solve the issues. Because, I couldn't remember what it was that I was thinking of, when I thought I had solved the problem!:)

So how do I get around this? Well, I don't know for sure yet. But I think it involved me writing down or talking to someone what solution I came up with. Then I would have a better chance of recollecting the answer.

Now all this is impractical, when you are driving home alone. At that time, you cant (or are not allowed to) do these things. :)

No, this is not going to work. I believe that the most viable solution would be to approach a problem with a better frame of mind. If you can't make head or tail of the situation, step back. Walk about the place, not necessarily thinking about the problem. Call someone, check your email, something to get yourself out of the groove. Go and have some beverage, to reset yourself physically. Then, once you've had your break, get back to the situation, and if you're lucky, you might just find yourself looking at the answer.

I'm not saying this is a sure-shot solution, but atleast it gives you a better chance.

How to say no

The title could be an open question to anyone out there or would surmise some insight into a lifetime of experiences which have been mostl...