Reading Synergies

Can regular reading, a powerful yet dying art, help in improving our lives by increased neuronal functionality?

Reading Synergies

 

Reading Time: 10 minutes

It was indeed a long gap, but I’m finally gathering the courage, maturity, aptitude, intelligence and manners to getting it filled, and embarking once again, upon reason and insight to lead life. I don’t know what took me so long to fill the gap, perhaps, the lure of shinny city lights, dollops of romance for the ephemeral, intimate affairs with ignorance, or a super tasty concoction of everything I must consider lucrative and immediately beneficial. I used to enjoy it for the longest time while growing up, must have spent so many hours with it, learnt so many valuable lessons while being with it, admiring and analyzing it, all alone, in solitude, sometimes lost, but mostly finding myself through the written words of many, who took the noble task of sharing their ideas with the world, in the simplest form – non-verbal, imaginative, enlightening, subtle, exposed to interpretations – reading and learning from books.

 

 

Information is undeniably real, it has relevant properties and functions, which influences our patterns of living, and only now, after everything is going digital, we are realizing its potential and possibilities. In the analog world, it wasn’t that hard to visualize its efficacy, but not many were able to, and I think, I fell prey to it. During my growing up years, there was no immediate access to television, but there was immediate access to playing board games and sports, occasionally climbing small trees to pluck mangoes and gooseberry, reading books, getting wet in monsoon rains etc., which seem to have become extinct tasks, even with the immediate next generation. I ain’t sad or critical about it, but the charm which those activities had, is not only nostalgic, but it had certain physical and mentally uplifting characteristics which is not easy to replicate in the current ways of digitalized living. The digital world brings a whole new range of qualities which are sharper, faster, random and can be argued, makes ones mental abilities agile while the physical agility can be purchased by yearly memberships at the gym or a club. Anyway, the point of all these blabber is not to compare one era against another, and feel nostalgic about the previous one, while lamenting about the present one, and like our grandparents, have a long face about how things have gone wrong and how in our times, things were different and better. There’s a whole lot of hogwash to those kind of dramatizations, which I ain’t party too. My point is quiet and quite simple, I recently reacquired my old habit of regular reading, which I’m thrilled about, and simply wanted to jot a few things down and share it, now that I’ve a blog to fill, and a reason to infiltrate everyone’s inbox and WhatsApp groups with a gentle rigor. I find the whole process quite exciting and frankly an avenue to be in touch with you, maybe not literally but literately, which otherwise, is getting very difficult, as friends and families seem to be getting unusually busy with exhaustive activities, which many of them are unable to explain.

Munger

I grew up next to a library, a small one, or a “kutti” one, as my Tamil friends would say. It actually was a small room in a flat, which was converted into a library, just two blocks away from my television-free home. My brother and I were members, and I’m simply indebted to my brother amongst many other things, to introduce me to unsullied laughter, via the delightful ploys of Captain Haddock, twins Thomson & Thompson, dog Snowy, professor Calculus, butler Nester, singer Bianca Castafiore and of course, the young and dynamic detective Tintin, amongst the myriad of books at the library. Tintin, was so engaging and comical, it would be hard and insulting to Hergé, not to laugh uproariously, while the rest of the tribe around us were seriously helter-skelter making a living. In some ways, it was actually inappropriate that we were laughing while reading comics, and being inconsiderate to the immediate plights of others nearby us. Of course, we didn’t mean to be impolite or inconsiderate, it was just that we were learning joy and togetherness from a comic book, which although sounds like a silly idea, has proven to be an absolutely benevolent gift of incomparable magnitude in my life, and I owe it to Hergé and everyone else who I can give credit to, including the beautiful people who had the brilliant idea of an active library, in a dense residential neighborhood, where there were only few takers, whose interests were aligned towards books. While most people in the neighborhood were actively renting their extra rooms to paying guests,  this particular family, must have changed quite a few lives, surely mine, by renting books instead. I’m eternally grateful to them, and on my next visit to my childhood neighborhood, have intentions of stopping by and seeking out the truth behind such dynamic brilliance.

 

 

So, very silently and without fuss, reading became a source of entertainment, staying out of trouble, knowing how to sit alone at one place and be fine with it, enjoying some time with myself etc. and before I could tell, I had started reading novels of various sizes from different authors. The genres kept on changing over the years, but the value derived from the books never faltered or failed me. Reading was a way to bring myself back to me, borrow valuable relevance from others, have a chat with the author, learn and apply a few hints from their lives, adapt to some ideas they were sharing into my life, and I realized it all started making a lot of sense and was actually a powerful and dynamic way to create situations, guide my life, anticipate hurdles, express gratitude and thus come much closer to life. It didn’t feel freaky or unusual to do this, to the contrary, any other way of approaching life, started feeling very long, aloof and many a times helpless, as it would mean I had to reinvent the wheel all alone, not sure of the outcomes, when I could very easily get help from the carefully chosen books I had in the pipeline. It turned out to be a brilliant symbiosis between various authors and myself, and I started making choices with refined clarity and deeper insights as time passed, I supposedly grew, and life started unfolding and offering glamorous opportunities.

 

 

America was instantly fascinating, barring the daunting interview with the immigration officer at JFK, to be traveling under a bridge in my brother’s Mitsubishi Mirage, while a huge British Airways Boeing 747, was being taxied and pulled right above us, on the bridge. The tall buildings of Manhattan, the glamor, pace, sales, shopping, corporate opportunities, easy loan accessibility, power to immediately purchase etc. must’ve taken me on a different trip, and although reading was on my mind, it didn’t hold the position I’d given it earlier in life, and I started moving away from it for a long time. Of course, I never gave up the habit, it just wasn’t regular, nor was it used effectively, as I had managed to in the previous dramas of my life, before reaching the American shores. Life started unfolding various crossroads, and I started doing many gigs in corporate America, and enjoying the plethora of activities a fast-paced and accumulating culture with access to excess and instant gratification provides. In hindsight, I could tell, I wasn’t all that sharp amongst the unfolding of various dramas, as I could have been, if I had kept up with regular reading, in the land of opportunities. Life unfolded even more, traveling, partying, marrying, backpacking, yoga, meditation and many more things happened, until one day, after some 12 years of irregular reading, I came across the website Farnam Street Blog (http://fs.blog) where the blogger (Shane Parrish) advocated a habit of reading regularly, by committing to some pages of daily reading, to get into a habit. This opened up a completely new outlook to life, I immediately realized the opportunity cost of having loosened up on one of the most lucrative and creative habit I had developed in the formative and adolescent years, and with immediate intent, along with the daily yoga, I committed to reading 25 pages daily, and slowly realigned my life back, with authors who shared their ideas, from where it was easy to pick up methodologies, to reorient and align my own life, in a systematic and channelized manner.

 

 

I don’t consider myself an intellect, nor am I a voracious reader, because, as I explained earlier, I read to bring some guidance and direction to my own life. The act of reading is not so as to read a lot, know a lot or even discuss a lot. I actually am quite quiet and given a chance, would remain quiet and consider silence and observing the breath as a fun activity, which brings joy and connectivity, not the wifi kind, but human kind. In some ways, I could be easily labeled as an introvert, but over the years, I’ve realized the need to be an extrovert too, as life situations demand, and hence have picked up valuable hints from few books and oriented myself to balance between the two “verts” and could now be considered an “ambivert”, with a preference towards introversion, jumping on to extroversion upon provocation, because that’s the requirement of a gregarious society. Reading fine books, recommended by successful people is what I go after. I trust in the wisdom of Seneca and Aurelius and have their books in the pipeline. I am charmed by the wisdom of Charlie Munger, Warren Buffett, Richard Dawkins, Yuval Harari, Sadhguru, Osho amongst others, and I either read their books or the books they recommend. I don’t fret over how much I read, I instead work upon slowly extracting value from their insights, develop a strategy to keep it meaningful and available for use in my awareness, work upon my levels of alertness through daily yoga, and as and when situation calls for, I experiment and apply those readymade meaningful insights, borrowed from various authors, to provide guidance and direction to my own life and perhaps guide a few other lives. It all looks very cumbersome and convoluted, but once the knack is established, on the basis of a genuine intent to live wisely, it does feel like, this is one of the cleverest way to bring in wisdom and insight into one’s life, and it is really not difficult nor expensive. IMHO, any other way would be much more difficult and certainly more expensive.

Quote Series Chalkboard

It is my opinion that regular reading, on various topics, from trusted sources, enhances our neurological circuitry, challenges it in perceiving reality in a better manner, significantly improves the interconnectivity through a neuronal massage, maintains a healthy and robust brain function and in general, leads to making much wiser life-centric choices and better decision-making capabilities. It exposes us to the work of stalwarts from the past, who had the courage and insight to record their stories in the form of information in books, and to keep it alive for the future generations to make use of. It is in our interest to seek them out, use their time tested wisdom and enhance the quality of our own living in the present. It is my humble observation that “information is real”, it never dies, it floats and just like the genes, keeps propagating through various mediums from one generation to another, which I believe in the modern terminology maybe labeled as “memes”. It is in the interest of the modern man to pick up the hints, mistakes, observations, lessons which the people in the past have recorded, and shared with us, for us to make better decisions and not repeat the mistakes, nor spend energy on reinventing the wheel. It is a simple and wise way to conduct life and I hope, you, the reader agrees with it. I am benefitting hugely with such simple habits and have all intention to keep up with my 25 pages of daily reading to enhance my perception, learn from others, and guide my present life. If you feel alike, do drop me a note and we can correspond, for others, I’m leaving a set of links below, for further exploration on this topic.

Thanks for reading!

 

USEFUL LINKS:

Insightful Blogs:
https://www.fs.blog/
https://www.safalniveshak.com/

How to find time to read:
https://www.fs.blog/2013/09/finding-time-to-read/

Book Recommendations by Charlie Munger:
https://www.fs.blog/2014/06/charlie-munger-recommended-books/

A Tilted World

Spring Equinox, one more opportunity to align with natural existential processes of our solar system!

Earth's Tilt
[SPRING EQUINOX]

A single tilt decides the fate of everything that happens on Planet Earth. Perhaps, a single tilt can also decide the fate of everything that happens to a human being.

 

Traveling approximately at 1000 km/hr, our planet spins around its own axis, while simultaneously taking an elliptical orbit around the sun, in the vastness of the solar system. Its quite a speed to travel at, roughly equivalent to a Boeing Dreamliner (950 km/hr) or an Airbus A380 (1020 km/hr), and not to mention that it is also spinning around the sun at approximately 100,000 km/hr, for it to finish one year in roughly 365 days. So much movement seems to be happening with the planet, in a very still manner, designed in a brilliant way, and we earthlings enjoy the benefits of it, primarily the various seasons it brings us. The most interesting part of the design is that the planet rotates and wobbles on a tilted axis, and oscillates between the tilted angles of 22.1° and 24.5°, to give an average tilt of 23.4°, and this tilt is the primary reason, we experience the variation of solar energy absorbed by the planet, which in turn brings about the various seasons.

A slight tilt, a little wobble, jet speed, and the planet still manages its orbit around the sun, on time, every time, to bring organic life on earth. There is no reason for us humans to assume we are anything but organic life and keep on orchestrating an organized life instead. Quite a precise design with some allowance for margin of error and imprecision.

 

Its another spring equinox, and the position of the planet during its orbit around the sun, distributes equal amount of solar energy to both hemispheres, to bring balance and freshness to all organic life on the planet.

 

As hard as we try to believe, we are separate and can live whichever way we like, this is another periodic reminder and boost, by the planet, for us to get aligned, so as to enjoy the free booty of life, and that a simple tilt of axis can bring about a phenomenal twist of fate for us earthlings.

 

The planet never stops reminding us of our ultimate fate, as seasons and years roll by, and the body in essence will be taken back after a few for some or several for many, trips around the sun. Just like an enjoyable rollercoaster ride, its fun to go around in circles, get the giggles, but the ride for sure, ends. A wise mind always learns to enjoy the rollercoaster ride, but remains aware and guides his curiosity towards wanting to know, what is beyond the enjoyable rides. A curious mind too, never stops seeking answers to existential realities, and attempts to align to the grandeur of existential processes over the more frequent psychological processes, to understand their relevance to our existing, inside the cocoon of the solar system, and perhaps humble ourselves towards being more focused on simply living and withering away, into this fleeting offering of life in a tilted world.

Master Blaster

#Tendulkar  #MasterBlaster
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While T20 is the current rage & rightfully so for the modern man, with little time for sports, in his stressful life, this 20 minutes is a must watch for any cricket buff who admires “classic cricket”, and the video exemplifies classic textbook cricket by Sachin Tendulkar, a champion batsman, who reigned for 24 years on the field, and managed to hit 100 centuries in his career, between test matches & one day internationals (4/yr | four centuries a year), an outstanding feat which perhaps will remain unbeaten for a very long time, for which he was affectionately nicknamed, God of Cricket, Little Master & Master Blaster.
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Anyone, who has taken coaching in cricket, understands the attention, coordination & dexterity required to hit decent shots, and for a man of who’s 5’5” in height, Tendulkar in this 2007 test match against England at Chelmsford, shows what a classic player he is, getting 171 runs off 235 balls, with some fantastic shots on all sides of the fields with equal finesse.
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Check out the:

🍁 balance in his straight stance, before the delivery
🍁 moderately tight grip, at the lower end of the handle
🍁 preferring a heavy bat (3 lbs), indicative of his confidence in timing the ball, and hitting it from the middle of the bat
🍁 a perfect follow-through after a hit, for which his coach, Padma Shri Ramakant Achrekar must be very proud of, as it signifies total involvement with the delivery versus sheer strength being used to gain runs
🍁 the variation in the timing of the actual hit (contact with the ball) as he gives his mind necessary time to decide where to place the ball to get that otherwise elusive boundary
🍁 the ease of rotating his wrist to get those amazing square drives which deceptively look effortless
🍁 opening & closing the face of the bat, for those outstanding cover drives depending on the length of the delivery
🍁 amazing fine & reverse sweeps, scoring runs behind the field
🍁 the flatness of the bat, while hitting that lone straight six

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Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar, certainly seems to be a breed apart, has a definite insight into the fine art of ball hitting, and its simply delightful to watch his batting, even after his retirement from international cricket, and we can cherish his extraordinary command over batting for years to come.

Hometown

WhatsApp Image 2018-02-26 at 12.26.55 PM

#Hometown #Nostalgia #Perspective #Seeking
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It is nice to feel nostalgic and have a romantic bias towards one’s hometown, as long as it remains confined to our memories, and does not obstruct our perception of present realities. Even a dense metropolis looks serene, when we’re not caught up in its own maze, from a far distance above. Distance matters, especially, the direction from which it is observed. A linear distance within a metropolis rarely screams serenity, since it can only scream of horns and hawkers, while a distance from above, can scream of beauty and beatitude. Perspective Matters, Opinions Don’t!
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When 20 million people live so close by, there’s bound to be minimal agreement amongst them, and restraining their cacophony is the last thing in their minds, to showcase a pseudo idea of civilized behavior under the guise of etiquette and social mannerism.

But, the opportunity to have a better survival then anywhere else, lures us to build up the steam in an already heated up city, and yet the menace created by the city life seems worthwhile after all. Taking infrequent nature holidays becomes the fad, at the expense of filling the bronchioles with some form of carbon on a daily basis.
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I grew up in this city, my hometown, some long time ago. This is the finer section on the map, affectionately called the “Queen’s Necklace” at the southern tip of the town, and it is a matter of wonder, if like the elusive necklace, the name was also robbed by the invaders during their brutal reign of over 200+ years. But, the spirit of the hometown does not get diluted by the violent strokes of history and its devastating recordings. Growing up, playing on the streets, running barefoot, drenched by monsoons, fascinated by real games like marbles and tipcat, hide and seek, board games when bored like Monopoly and Ludo, attending school while awaiting the 2 month summer holidays, the unfailing care from parents, the involved attempts by teachers to get us ready for the real world, the suburban train and bus commutes, and so many other things make up for many lovely and harsh memories, all clubbed together in a collage of impressions which stay with us, until we die.
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I may claim I’ve grown up, but I’ve a distinct feeling, I’ve only grown older, and growing up must be something else.

A friend send this photo from an aircraft, and as it usually happens with memories and photographs, an array of feelings and thoughts, interspersed with a collage of vivid dialogues, events and hopes from the past, flared up and a few unrealized tears must have escaped, in this bewildering attempt at figuring out the game of being born, taken care of, living amongst the herd, getting older, seeing elders die, and ending the game with an abrupt death.
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Nostalgia can be overwhelming and a much needed trigger for seeking existential truth, which we carefully avoid, knowing well, that without questioning and striving for some answers, its only going to bring confusion and paranoia as we age towards a finish, unless of course, some friend sends you an aerial photo of one’s own hometown of that elusive necklace.
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Power of Introversion

Introversion

 

Power of Introversion (TED Talk by Susan Cain)
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#Introversion #Quiet #SpeakSoftly #SusanCain
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Introverts are better listeners, quietly process their thoughts, have humility, are calm and collected, and make more meaningful connections. – Bruna Martinuzzi.

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Settling down with reading a book and overjoyed by sky diving, are two extreme activities. When looked internally though, at the individuals who are performing those activities, the residual experience of their activities within them are not so different. Internally, they both find comfort, pleasure and derive a sense of being at ease and inclusive with everything, because they’re not messing with their mind, while performing those activities.
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The whole debate about introversion, extroversion & ambiversion is kind of moot, because what we’re after is that internal experience of stillness, loosing ourselves, finding ourselves, satori etc., regardless of the activity which we choose.
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Introverts have been severely misunderstood over the ages, have been assigned labels including being dull, lethargic, boring, having mental problems etc., because inappropriate recognition has been given to being expressive, loud, talkative, movement-laden etc. in our world.
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Statistics show that between 1/3 to 1/2 of the population are introverts, who feel comfortable and are super productive when they’re are quiet, contemplative, reflective etc. and who prefer deep work over shallow work.
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Statistics also reveal that many successful people are actually introverts for their abilities of going deeper with their work, emphatically understand the needs of the people, being sensitive without compromising their work or relation, contemplative & reflective with deep ideas, which can be stretched into creative manifestations of successful companies, marriages, partnerships, friendships etc. where gentleness, caring, quietude are valued and being shy, silent or speaking softly is not considered a problem.
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Some surprising and prominent names, including Eisenhower, Jefferson, JFK, Gates, Buffett, Einstein, Lincoln, Darwin, Jung, Nixon, Obama, Zuckerberg – were all introverts, and their leadership & contributions to humanity are obvious.
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Here’s a TED video from Susan Cain, campaigner for introversion & popular author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That can’t Stop Talking, expounding upon the misunderstood biases towards introversion, and how a society can benefit from a healthy mix of introversion & extroversion, to create a mixed and balanced milieu of carpe diem & goal driven development.