Though the problems life throws at me have a made-in-Babu tag, untangling them is far more complicated than the ease with which I create them.
Last week, on February 17, one such problems was right on my face. I was in the grip of fear. It happened that my previous blog post was published as I was in the midst of all this. When I requested Colin feedback for my post Looking for Inspiration at Inspire Days, he promptly obliged with words that created prolonged moments of quiet understanding.
He wrote, “The session was called Clueless to Curiosity, I don’t know where making magic with mathematics, came from! I used mathematics as a metaphor to demonstrate those states and the purpose of the session was to encourage being in the second. Hey, but if that’s what I conveyed then that’s feedback 😉
It really jarred for me when you used the expression hard grind. I would never use those words in connection with problem solving and I strongly suspect this is how you perceive what takes place. It’s the journey that a problem gives with its dead-ends, junctions, crossroads, jumbles and clarities that fuel the delight that stems from the curiosity to find a solution. Finding the solution is exciting and finding an overarching pattern, more so, but that joy of arrival is short-lived compared with the journey. So I enjoy a problem, and in mathematics, the trickier the better, ones that take days to solve are, finally, the most rewarding. And the beauty of it, is that it can occupy my thoughts at any time I choose.
My desired state is to have a problem…”
After receiving his feedback, I inserted the actual title of his session – Clueless to Curiosity – in my post. And refined the post with words more appropriate, removing “hard grind” which I had used in the post.
I wrote back to him that his words would change the way I approach problems in future. And within a few minutes of that mail, I followed up with another mail. Just to make sure I understood the import of his words well enough and they took deeper roots. “What is your approach when you have a problem of a different nature? Like your neighbour is a pain in the neck, or there are huge challenges in business…….. Do you approach them with curiosity?”
With economy of words worth emulating, Colin responded in his direct, authentic style, touching me deeply again: “I’m only human and there are situations, especially people related ones that I am at a loss to resolve. However, increasingly, I find a way. And curiosity is just the trigger that kicks off the journey towards a solution. I have a streak of bloody-mindedness which is a negative form but translates into a refusal to give up, unfortunately even if I am wrong. On the whole it serves me. And I am sure you have this too, in its positive form it is perseverance and coupled with the sense of curiosity I am sure is a winning combination.”
I owe Colin a lot for reminding me constantly to focus on being rather than on doing. Using the minimum of words, he invites me at every opportunity in a blunt and open way, to take a journey inside and dwell in empowering states. I observe that my language in my posts is changing. It is no longer about the many activities I indulge in. It is more about those things I do and feel soulfully. Colin sees to it, what Ramesh and Sue have sowed in me take root in the right soil.
In the past, when problems which seemed daunting confronted me, my approach was to avoid looking at them or tackling them. All the while, numbing fear would pound my head almost physically and I would cringe and watch, paralysed.
I reflected on Colin’s words for a very long time and I breathed slowly, deeply and calmly. I felt at peace knowing that I have arrived at a way of looking at problems squarely in the face without running away from them. I copy-pasted his words into a file containing my favourite quotations. To read them for anchoring the right thoughts and feelings if the need arose.
A little later in the morning, I received from one of my WhatsApp groups, the link to a Ted Talk by Muniba Mazari. Usually I ignore such videos, but this one titled Turning adversity into opportunity, I watched.
Muniba Mazari is a Pakistani young woman who had half her body paralyzed and the other half broken in several places following a car accident. After prolonged treatment, she was wheelchair bound. Instead of allowing the wheel chair to cage her in, she used it as a symbol to resurrect her life. She is now an accomplished artist, writer and even a TV hostess.
In the talk, she speaks at length about her wheelchair. How it helped her explore what she didn’t know existed in her. Wheelchair for her is not a symbol of weakness, but of strength and opportunities. There was moistness in my eyes as I watched the short video. I understood the power of the human spirit to challenge what seems impossible odds to come up triumphant.
First, Colin’s insightful observations that gave me clarity and understanding. And then the story of Muniba Mazari. They reinforced the point – exploring challenges bravely with a sense of curiosity and never-say-die spirit change me for ever with solutions that defy my imagination. I am amazed how this Universe juxtaposes events and people to change the trajectory of my life.
That day, as I walked to the office in the morning, I felt at peace. Inside me there was silence. And I looked at the problems that begged for attention. I did things that seemed the right things to do to overcome them. The weight lifted. That day, till late in the evening, I was in that blessed state.
My behaviour patterns concerning how I approach problems have not changed. Only, now I have the certain understanding within me I have it within me to use the problems as a spring board.
At Service Square, there are new and good people to manage its divisions. I am so very blessed that they are really good at their job and as human beings.
The waves in my business seem fierce and forceful. This is the time to surf them along with the team. The very power of the waves can be captured to our advantage to move over the surface with deft tricks like born acrobats.
Two days after my hard look at fear, I went for my morning jog in Defense Colony. That day the same anxieties and fears slowed down my run. I half walked. On my return, someone whom I had never seen or paid attention to stopped his scooter to tell me he was seeing me walk for the first time. I just smiled at him, not knowing what to say.
I continued walking and once I was past his rear-view vision, I broke into a run.
I run for myself. And also for others who depend on me for their speed.
And I keep running into new days and new beginnings. And I caress the challenges the days bring.