030821 – Morning Pages

A longish post on the darkness in my head and the light shown by the story of Richard Williams.

5:41. Woke up a few minutes ago.
Saw Whatsapp first thing in the morning.
Saw a video by Vijay Yadav. This one.

Then I saw Nobody’s trailer on AnSr’s recommendation. Here…

Almost cummed in my shorts. I mean the team from John Wick + Saul (aka Bob) + Music + Visual Delight. Wow.

Also, this is the second film since yesterday that I have been tripping over. The first one is King Richard sent by VG.

This film is based on the life of Richard Williams (better known as Venus and Serena’s father). King Richard touched me like no other film has, in the recent past. I mean it talks about an ambitious man that wants to see success through the success of his daughters. Will come back to this film in a bit. Lemme park it here. Point A.

So, I feel human after two days.

Human as in, physically, there are no lingering pains anywhere in the body. I feel refreshed, energized, and all that. It was probably aided by the fact that I have been resting last two days. I had slept at 10:30. So good 7 hours of sleep. Or maybe because I did not eat crap yesterday. Whatever worked yesterday, I hope it works today as well.

In contrast to this feeling of greatness in the morning, yesterday was bad. So bad that it was probably the darkest of the last few days. It may sound like hyperbole but I could only survive because of two things – 1, Naval. 2, my ambition. Will come back to this in a bit. Parked point B.

So, for some reason (money situation primarily), I spent all of yesterday questioning my life choices. I mean where I am is an outcome of the choices I’ve made and the way I’ve acted on those choices. Clearly, I did not do a good job at either (choices and actions). If things were bad just at work / career front, I would still be ok. But things have been pathetic at other ends also. Lemme share a chart that I maintain on my vision board. I don’t think I’ve ever made this public. But here it is. As of today morning.

A screengrab from my Vision Board

I don’t know where I found this chart from but I think it’s a great way to evaluate and measure where life is. And you can then reflect on what needs fixing. On my chart, I can see that I am failing at all 8 important things in life. The only saving grace is my family (and even on that, I choose to live away from my parents).

Of course, like any other thinking, feeling, evaluating individual, I want to fix these. And these dark days are occurring frequently and like Steve would say, if things arent good for a few days on the trot, maybe it’s the time to change those. Let’s see what I change. And how. And when.

Lemme talk about King Richard.

Coming to Parked Thing A, King Richard.

Here. See this. In case you haven’t.

I could relate so much to King Richard. I had tears flowing when I saw the trailer. I bet the film will win all the awards there are! I wager that it would get at least 10 Oscars.

It is after all a story of one man’s fight against odds, the chase of impossible, trust, faith, patience, hard work, grit and more. Oh, and of ambition.

For all the use of the word ambition in my head, thoughts, and actions, I am as big a failure as they come. To a point that it hurts. And it’s suffocating.

The days when I am not busy with the general humdrum of life, you know, the days when you can take a pause and think? Those days I spiral so bad into the literal abyss that I take literally a week to get out of. I must admit that the days I go AWOL on friends and family, I am not physically unwell. Rather I am suffering from dark thoughts about where I want to in life and how far away from that I am. In terms of money wealth, impact, reach, work, fame, notoriety, even fitness. And the worse is that from where I stand, I don’t see things improving at all.

As I age, these bouts of dark days are happening with more frequency (I know I’ve said this already) and it takes longer to get out of those. The escape mechanism I had of taking a car and hitting the road is no longer a viable option. The other escaping method was to eat like a mad man, switch off the phone, and sleep. Even that doesn’t help anymore.

This is where I lean on what I learned from Naval. Will come to it in a bit. I want to stay with King Richard right now.

So, the other thing that I picked from King Richard is the reinforcement of the belief that I will probably not be a massive success as an individual. Rather I may be cut for being that person in the shadows, the one that works with these superstars and shapes them. You know, someone that sees their success come to life via others. In Richard’s case, it was his daughters. In my case, I am not sure. I mean I do have a few young ones that I am investing into. But I am still far from seeing them reach anywhere. I just hope that I don’t end up like Vikramaditya in Sur. Anyhow. Who cares.

I like the idea of enabling others. I just hope I am able to contribute to their lives and make superstars and massive successes off them.

The other thing that I want to talk about, from King Richard, is this entire thing about giving a hard time to the ones that are working for you. Remember Whiplash? I mean the entire premise is this hard-love for talented apprentices. Of course, I remain conflicted about what I take away from that. On one side, I like the idea of hard work, determination, sacrifice to achieve what you potentially can. And on the other, I know that mental health issues are real, especially with the dopamine-laced brains of kids around us. After I saw King Richard, I think I am leaning towards being a tough mentor. But then, to be one, do I have what a Richard had? Or Fletcher?

I dont know. Time shall tell.

Parked Thing B. Lessons from Naval Ravikant.

Lemme talk about Naval and Ambition.

So I read this tweet from Naval that said something like this – you can’t control your thoughts but you can observe them and choose to react to those.

Yesterday was one such day. When I was mindfucked. Probably because I was unwell and there were other things playing on my head. So I went walking. I walked real slow. I did like 5K steps in 2 hours. And while I walked I did not have a companion with me. You know, things like phone calls, music, videos, chess and more. I did not even pause to take photos that I’ve been trying to last few days. I merely watched my thoughts. And I tried not to react to the non-stop dark thoughts about my inability to do things. Or my inability to hold onto friends / relationships etc. I merely observed the thoughts as they came and went. It was tough considering I had to observe traffic in / around Lokhandwala as well. Lol. Bad timing.

So I while I was observing my thoughts, my head kept swirling back to the definition of success that I want to live my life with. You know, the outcome of ambition. It dawned on me that I believe success is the long-forgotten Kabir Das ka doha. It goes…

Saain itna dijiye, jaame kutumb samaay, main bhookha naa rahoon, sadhu na bhookha jaaye

Kabir the poet

Further, here are the things that I thought would look like success.

Mastery over time. When I can be the master of my time with 100% certainty. Right now, I am at about 5% in terms of how I plan my life and time. Long way to go.

Financial Freedom. When I no longer work for money. And I can choose to work on things that I want to, even if I am not rewarded for those things. Right now, I am in debt. So far far away from financial freedom.

Plus, I do not have those ambitions where I want to reduce consumption, etc. I really want a lavish life with all comforts and all that. I want to be able to buy anything from anywhere without thinking about the cost / price.

Giant with a shoulder. When I can support others around me with whatever they need / want. And then I want to help others in whatever way I can!

That’s it. Three things.
Wow, that simple!

Funnily, as I think and write about this, family (my family, not my parents) doesn’t feature in this. Maybe I will change with time. And my personal goals of Everest, Marathon, etc do not fit in here as well. Hmm. Funny.

So yeah.

This is about it from the walk yesterday. A lot of this was probably triggered by King Richard. And by the general failure that I’ve been. Films do have power like no other. Must must must fastrack the non-existent films career. Come on, Universe!

I guess this is about it for the day. Realized, I’ve been writing for almost 2 hours now! Oh, and here’s streaks…

  • OMAD – 1
  • #book2 – 0
  • #noCoke – 145
  • #noCoffee – 0. Had two.
  • #aPicADay – 0
  • Money spent – 30 + 232. Adding this from today on.
  • Killer Boogie – 0
  • 10K steps a day – 2
  • Surya Namaskar – 0
  • 10 mins of meditation – 0
  • Minimaslism Counter – -2
  • Morning Pages / Meditations – 235

260321 – Meditations

A quick post on insignificant things that could only be important to me! Such as rechristening of Morning Pages to Meditations.

7:51. Andheri .

It’s official. I am rechristening morning pages as meditations. I am not sure what Morning Pages was supposed to capture but I do know that these short posts that I write before I start my day are like meditations. Quite discussions with myself where I think by writing about things that are clouding my head. I talk about my fears and hopes and ambitions and ideas and thoughts and I am very very naked while I do that. This is what people like Naval and Marcus would call meditations. Probably. I am calling it these pages meditation. Took me just 105 days to do so ;P

So the COVID situation in Mumbai continues to be scary. Another day when we had more than 5000 cases. And yet I continue to hang out at Starbucks. I have one eye on the clock as I write this. I like the idea of an empty cafe, AC on full blast, and me pacing around while I think about whatever I am working on. Which is a lot of things ;P

The other thing that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about is this film that I wanted to make during the lockdown about those universal 36 questions that apparently bring people together (even though it has never worked for me). With the Aram Nagar piece on its way, I think it’s time I start thinking about the 36 Questions as well. Wait. Am I not repeating the pattern where I start a new thing before I finish an old one? Grrr, Mr. Garg.

In other news, I’ve been fasting since 1 AM of the 25th. So I am over 24 hours. I am thinking if I can manage to fast today as well, I will start Keto from tomorrow for about 2 weeks. If nothing else, it will help me lose weight. Keto works for me for sure. Everytime I’ve done it, I have seen results (only to gain the weight back) but may be this time it’s different? After all each day when you wake up, you get up with the hope that today is different. No?

This is about it for the day. I do have a LOT to write (I met a friend yesterday and she made me realize all the things that I do wrong and I need to work on those. I need to write about those, think on those and fix those). But not today. I need time to process (those inputs were pointed at the very core of who I am and how I operate in life. I need to either go on a drive or think deeply about those before I can being to put them in open. Need to take a few hours to write that piece. Let’s see when I get to do it. I may go for a drive with VG tonight. If that happens, I will get all the time to think about things.

Makes me realize how bad I want a car and the ability to take off without waiting for something, someone. Damn, Mr. Garg. Control your horses.

Chalo, gotta go. Before I go, here’s the streaks…

  • Morning Pages – 105
  • #aPicADay – 85
  • 10K steps a day – 0
  • OMAD – 0. Been fasting since 1 AM of the 25th Mar. So 24+ hours. Gunning for 48.
  • #noCoffee – 16
  • #noCoke – 16
  • 10 mins of meditation – 0
  • #book2 – 0.

030321 – Morning Pages

I feel I have a lot to tell / write. But the words are not flowing 🙁

7:49 AM.

So yesterday I had a funny day. The stars had never aligned so well for anything ever in my life. I had two-three conversations open about various things and EACH of those moved along and actually closed! I mean, not just moved forward but actually closed.

I was chasing these for various lengths of time. One was first proposed some 2 years ago! Just that all these landed at the same time. So yay! Guess that’s how things are. You chisel at things for long and one fine day, they close. Now, need to deliver on those and move on to other things. Also reminds me of the idea of optionality by Naval.

The track of the day is one of the most iconic Punjabi music pieces ever – Mundiya Tu Bach Ke Rahi. See it here. #note2self – Must learn dance.

The one after this is the background music for the film Lootera. It’s here.

What else?

Oh yeah. I am back to Mumbai today. I have this meeting with a client and I can’t do that online. Plus the things that have worked out that I spoke about earlier? They will require me to meet various people to be able to do those well. Once I start, I can be remote. So that’s cool. With this, I think the Mumbai vs Goa debate is getting settled.

Ok, I don’t know what else to write. Words are not flowing :(. There’s a lot on my head but I can’t seem to pen those. Lemme put bullet points.

  1. I was talking to SG2 yesterday and as always she gave me a great perspective on things. I wish I had as much intelligence as her!
  2. For one of the calls where I did not have to make notes, I used a high table as a standing desk and it was amazing. I need to get one. Let’s see how I do that.

No, not even the bullets is helping. Words are just not flowing 🙁

I think this is it for the day. More tomorrow.

260221 – Morning Pages

I talk about two interesting things. 1, Goa and home. 2, optionality. Read on.

8:22. The balcony at Rajesh Sir’s house, Goa. Back here after 15 odd days.

A funny thing happened yesterday. When I came here after a month, for some reason, it felt like homecoming. I am not kidding. I am not the one to get attached to places etc but this time, the house felt like home. Maybe because I was here at a time when a lot was happening in my life and I did not know what to do. A lot is still happening but this place was my solace in the toughest time. I am so grateful that I have him in my life.

Moving on.

I need to take a big decision about what I want to do in life. I have a couple of options where I can exchange my time for money, make ends meet and get back to some sort of stability. While all these things sound great on paper, I know that in the long-run for a 38-year old like me, these things don’t add up. Plus, salary is addictive.

One of the things I am thinking about while making this decision is Naval’s riff on optionality. He operates in a way that allows him to maximize optionality. As a salaried person, the odds of you increasing optionality go down. Unless you are like Rajan Anandam where you, by design, need to interact with people from diverse backgrounds and those backgrounds help you do more.

When choosing things for myself, I need to work towards creating optionality. Now, what creates optionality? Well, things that allow you to do more than what your job entails. If you are a doctor, there are fairly limited things that you can do. I mean you can treat people and heal them and all that but that’s that. Unless you are an exception that can, may be, write. Of course, as a doctor, you’d have a good life but that’s that. If you are a coder, on the other hand, you can create a thing like Bitcoin that allows you to live a life independent of your practice. Similarly, if you are a senior executive with some pharma company, you are limited to doing what your JD entails. If the company were to shut down, where would you go? Of course, if you are paid a bomb, you can invest tiny parts into businesses that have the potential of growing into larger ones. That creates optionality. In fact, subconsciously, I have lived all my life in a way that I have an option open in terms of what I want to do.

So that.

What else. Yeah. Fitness. Last few days I have been feeling unwell. I don’t know whats causing this but I need to fix it. Maybe its the food. I think I need to get either a balanced meal from someplace. Or get a kitchen. Either way, I need to fix it. Want to add workouts but I dont think I will ever be able to. I know Everest will require me to be fit and all. But I think till I figure out other things, fitness will probably take a backseat.

Guess this is it for the day. This context switching is not for me. I don’t know how other digital nomads do this. Need to learn.

With this, over and out. See you guys on the other side. Now that I am back in Goa, hope things will move better. And no, no #book2. Will start that once I settle in.

PS: Funny how narratives on these morning posts have changed from meaning of life to survival. Guess that’s life!

260121 – Morning Pages

What if you could treat life as a video game? You know, you play the game of life. And not just live or go through the motions.

7:09. Woke up about 10 mins ago. With a stomach ache. I think it’s the Maggi and Coke combination that is fucking my system Or all the coffee I had. Or the heartburn from the lack of Internet and all that. Something has to be done about the food situation.

Anyhow. So yesterday was super eventful. I had some million calls to make and in between had to sort a billion other things. And as expected the Internet decided to not work. The Vodafone signal decided to disappear. People decided to be at their worst. Sigh.

But then there was this silver lining as well. The opportunity to talk to a few entrepreneurs that are still building their business, thanks to Spotlight (an event that we at Podium have cooked to get aspiring entrepreneurs and investors together). It was so gratifying to talk to them and try and see that there’s so much that I can do. This is what I have been gunning for, all my life! I wrote this thread about it. It is here.

The larger thing here is that this looks close to what I want to be doing in life. You know, life purpose.

Which is what? Create opportunities for others! I have realized that I may not be the kind to go super deep into things but I am definitely the one that can look at the large picture and recommend simple shifts and nudges. It is amazing to see the aha moment come on their faces when I point out these simple things!

Of course, I am not the only one that is doing this. There are so many more people out there that do a better job. But then that does not diminish what I do. And I think I need to scale these things.

The other thing that happened and what I want to sort of write a #SoG on is equating life to a video game. Lemme give some backstory. As a kid, I loved those 8-bit Nintendo video game machines and game cartridges. You know, Contra, Mario and all that? But these were expensive things and you couldn’t buy either the game or the cartridges. So we’d rent them from local stores. This was probably my early exposure to timeshare, I guess. And because these were rented, we’d have limited time with those. Which meant that within a day or two I had to play out the entire game. I had to play to till my heart was full, till I had killed the boss, till I had got to the princess, till I had found all the hidden easter eggs, till I had found the bug that gave me unlimited lives in Mario, till I could boast that I have cleared all of 8 stages of Contra without losing a life. All this had to be done in a limited time. The time that I did not have – I had a school to go to, watchful parents, one family TV where I could hook the machine, the enmity on the cricket ground and I don’t know what all.

But somehow, I could manage the game.

Yesterday when I was thinking about things in life, somehow this dawned onto me – what if I treat life as a game? What if I am in the game? I need to play it out. I need to defeat the Boss. I need to get the princess. I need to find the wrap zones to help finish the game faster. I need to master the moves. I need to find the equivalent of up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, start for this game called Life.

And suddenly, all the fuckery, all the issues in life, all the things that have been affecting me started to look like problems that I could try and solve. And to the brain I’ve been given if you throw a problem at me, I will try to solve it and find an answer!

So that!

What if things that affect you, you try to look at those like a problem that needs to be solved? What if you play it like a game? You know, learn for the first few stages, level up your skills, acquire new powers, solve challenges that are increasingly tougher, get rewarded with coins that trick your brain into releasing dopamine. Listen to this clip. Do you think you feel good instantly?

Oh, man! there are so many of these people playing the Mario track. I just went down the rabbit hole. There is a guy on the guitars, another on two guitars, there an entire orchestra, there is a guy beatboxing! I can waste an entire day listening to these. And as I type this, I have this silly smirk on my face!

Wait. Coming back.

If I you treat life like a game, things probably will look better. Life’s a game and you have a limited time with it and you need to play and learn and evolve and beat the boss. As simple as that.

Guess that’s it. There is more that I wanted to talk about. Lemme try quick bullets. Dont want this to become a tome.

1. I realized that working for someone else comes with its challenges of managing other people’s egos. You don’t need to be just good at what you do, but you have to know how to navigate the corporate jungles and dirty politics that people engage in.

2. The freelance life doesn’t exactly set you free. You are still exchanging your time for money. What sets you free is a thing that makes money even when you are asleep. Like Naval says, you need leverage. Need to get to that.

3. For a change, I am not inspired by anything to do with the Republic Day. Far cry from the staunch nationalist that I was growing up. I think this is a good thing and a bad thing. Good – I am not being a jingoist. Bad – I am sort of losing my identity! I am as Indian as they come!

4. I saw that I had written in the last few days on #freewriting for #book2. I realised that most times, what I write for book2 is inspired by what’s happening in life around me. Now that’s not cool. I am not here to write a biography. The idea is to write a fictional story that entertains people!

So that. I wish I had the time to write more. Each time I write, I get some more clarity. I think I think the best when I am either writing. Or talking.

Chalo, onto #freewriting for #book2 for the day. I hope today’s post is not something that happened to me! I am at 8:45. Will write till 9:15.

Here we go…

“You know Chintan, love for me has to be that all-engulfing fire that rages on. I want to be consumed with it. I want to revel in the misery of knowing that you are around and yet you are not.” Rujuta was getting poetic.

Chintan was anything but poetic, “I get it”

“No you dont, you liar. How did you even keep that straight face on TV?”, Rujuta slapped his wrist.

“I was naive. And the cameras were of shitty quality back then!” Chintan replied plainly and ran his hand through her hair.

This was their first time they were alone after they had sort of acknowledged that they were more than just acquaintances. Both of them had scars from their previous relationships – Rujuta’s gashes were deeper than Chintan’s. Their scars had made them nomads, they were drifting through life aimlessly. But both of them were now at a point in life where they felt the need to have that comforting person to come back home to. No, they did not acknowledge this yet. Not to themselves. Not to each other. Not to the world. There’s time and place for everything.

“But you know, Rujuta, life’s not as simple as we make it to me.” Chintan egged on. He had still not told her that he was still married. Not that Rujuta would care. But it was still a big deal.

“You’re telling me?”

“I know what you’ve been through but Raju there’s a lot more about me that you need to know.” Chintan had started to call Rujuta that. In her entire life, no one had ever given that as a nickname. She wanted to hate it but she couldn’t pinpoint a rational reason to do so. There was nothing wrong with it, except it sounded like the nickname of a man. She was still not used to the name though and it still felt alien, impersonal.

“I know I need to know more of you. You need to know more about me. Isn’t that what relationships are about? Each day you discover more of your partner. You get more obsessed with each other. You cant take your mind off each other.”

“Bro, you are talking like a 16-year old romantic in conversation with her 42-year old lover.”

“You are 42. And you make me feel like a 16-year old!”

The playful banter was going exactly how they had imagined it to. If Tarana could see Rujuta reveling like that with another man, she would probably sleep better!

***

Ok enough. Was tough – romance is not my strong suit.

Over and out!

As always, if you want to get these updates on your WhatsApp everyday, lemme know. I will add you to the broadcast list.

Hope today’s better!