Gratitude and Humility, while not part of the Virtues should be or perhaps they are outcomes of Veritas, Garvitas and Honor
I felt like talking to you today and then wrote this (what was supposed to be a short post). This is a compilation of broken notes across a few hours over a couple of days. As context I was watching Kanye’s documentary throughout most of it besides the arguments between meals and other happenings at home. However, I am grateful for many things in life and want to be the ideal version of myself but I’m also struck by the amount of failure in my life. Failure on my part to evaluate situations, failure on the part of my parents, friends, society. Is this what life is? I hope not. I look at the sacrifices of people and the work they put in to achieve success and it exhilarates me.
A few conversations I watched by way of podcasts or videos. The first one was JP’s conversation with Lex Fridman. I hadn’t heard a complete Lex conversation in sometime but this guest was important for me. A part of me wanted him to redeem himself and I felt he did ultimately. Jordan Peterson’s conversation with Lex Fridman was really great overall. I enjoyed the peeling of the scabs and the delving into different understandings of things. Scabs that had formed mostly for Jordan Peterson I think. While he is an introvert and has put himself out there at his volition, he does receive a fair share of bashing from the entities on the social networks (bots or not!). A few hours later I wasn’t in the greatest of moods right now and I’m feeling ridiculous. Even ‘ridiculous’ is not a genuine emotion. Maybe shame would be better. I hope I can be honest on this platform. What is the reason for this? Maybe home?
Then I also listened to Seth Dillon on Joe Rogan. Something that was said at the start of the conversation was to the effect that any comedy (or anything else) with an agenda becomes irritating. This guy (the “CEO” of Babylon Bee) seems he’s come on with so much going on. He seems disturbed and distracted and even looked defensive from the get go in the conversation. Maybe Joe does that to people in person perhaps because Joe is an imposing personality, I’m sure he is. Maybe it was just that Seth was nervous because this was a large platform. He was fidgety and jumped around on a lot of things to defend himself. A part of me also feels like I would perhaps be the same in some situations. I do unfortunately feel like he’s much like me with regard to the nervousness. Though the lack of eye contact though isn’t really much of my thing. Anyway, I don’t have the bandwidth to watch something that I’m not resonating with. And it’s not the ideas, I didn’t agree with the ideas from the get go. I wanted to see a strong defence of his position and that was not happening so I stopped watching it. Maybe I should continue exploring that thread about changes in my demeanour/ home. More on that later.
The background to this post was Kanye’s documentary… it was something that I watched and delighted me but left me in a dark state of mind. I will be biased in my reactions because I already appreciated the guy for his entrepreneurial spirit. However, it also left me sad because I was left drained by the reaction of the world around him. I remember a few years ago when I asked a close friend to watch one of his videos for what he had to say they were disappointed. They said “Don’t ever ask me to watch such a misogynist again”. This was a couple of years before the BLM walks throughout the US, during which the world came to terms with their lack of understanding of the various cultures around them. I don’t think misogyny has place irrespective of any culture and there are no ifs or buts about it. However, what might seem like misogyny might be a cultural misunderstanding. It might just be a lack of context to understand what the person is saying. At any rate the documentary jee-yuhs was really great. It highlighting an interesting take on a life that is going to be remembered for sometime and since this was one of the other things I watched I thought I should write about it.
Recently browsing through HackerNews I saw this post by an Indian entrepreneur who talked about how not getting the H1-B visa was one of the best things that happened to him. While that might have been a fair statement for him personally a lot of commentators on social media were commenting about how that is true and the tide is changing for India. India is now becoming a challenger to Silicon Valley. While reading all this all I could think about what the garbage dump right next to my house where people keep piling on just because. So then, I wrote a small revert which should be somewhere on the interwebs. So here goes… ‘Balaji recently wrote about a version of startup communities in his book The Network State. Although, he talked about first creating virtual communities and then agglomerating enough critical mass to enable people to demand physical changes in the infrastructure/ affect government in the real world. He also speaks highly of India in a related context because of the proliferation of technology supported by the fact that major technology shapers hail from India among other things.
I don’t agree with many of the views and feel like India is missing a key piece. We are not a single country (never have been as goes popular meme goes). It is hard for us as a nation to optimise for success because we have too many competing priorities at the local, state and lower levels. The exaggerated impact of diversity stemming from diverse cultures is too much to handle and optimise for one country’s leadership in my humble opinion. I want to think differently but unfortunately the ground reality is telling for e.g., if you only look at the garbage dumps across various cities despite a national campaign of cleanliness. We as a people needed to be made aware in 50+ languages that we should hesitate from destroying our surroundings and not trash them.
It is easy to think that a 5Gbps connection with air conditioning and organic rations just arrive out of nowhere as it sometimes does in many industrialised/developed countries in the West. There is basic infrastructure that is needed not just to stimulate the economy but also allows for those lowest in the social rungs to benefit and operate like normal human beings do in the West. This is nothing new of course and we all have seen the disparities in large Indian cities. Some even tend to compare it to what is happening in SF and other large cities in the US. My experience is that the environment I was in, both in Singapore and US brought out the best in me. I could spend my intellectual bandwidth on things that actually mattered to the larger society around me. One could say that the return on investment (action/thought ratio) was much higher because I was enabled by basic infrastructure. I didn’t have to care about rowdy neighbours or worms in chocolates or dysfunctional municipal services (comparing the occurrence of these disturbances among others to problems like gun violence is a bit ridiculous in terms of the impact they cause on day to day life for an average common person).
All this is not to say that India is doomed and there is nothing happening here or possible in the long term future. I’m just opining that it takes a lot of basic needs to be satisfied for a society to operate optimally. Without being too cynical, Kunal Bahl had a basic foundation to leave MS and build Snapdeal (after pursuing a great education in the US). It’s not impossible and is a worthy dream that many if not all should pursue but the popular narrative that India is now ripe to be the next Silicon Valley is not realistic. And to me it feels like most technology (only) solutions to societal challenges are like a band-aid. The solutions need to be deeper and cultural, and as much of a curmudgeon this might make me seem, Government needs to be involved in those solutions. Not just government marketing and branding as has become popular these days but actual government action. It will be hard for a large part of the population to see beyond the marketing so yes, it will be an uphill battle.’
Coming back closer to more personal things, life has started to become not be easy at home. It never was, but I had been away from home to have an objective perspective. Remember when I was yet to come home? I remember it. I was so very much looking forward to it and I realise that even now it is a fleeting moment and I should cherish each moment of it but things are starting to get to me. These things are assumptions, ways of thinking, reactions to occurrences, etc. I know that this time will be gone and I will miss it but what of it right now? The mistakes one makes are mostly exclusive of what anyone else has done with/to/for you in life. It takes a little bit of self reflection, which also depends on very personal situations. Yes, externalities impact our lives but there are always options and sometimes we need to make choices whatever hand we are dealt. Sometimes when I listen to people around me talk it feels like an unreal conversation. Not bad, not good, just unreal and disconnect from real life. Opinions and realisations framed by personal takes that are so far from reality and sometimes just seem so bizarre. Empathy isn’t only a method for feeling kindness for another person it also is method to maintain one’s sanity. If gratitude and reality is forgotten life can become hard. There needs to be an effort to see situations from different perspectives in order to not get completely delusional.
A large part of my circle is not curious about many things. Maybe life has taken a toll on them and it has made them this way but it feels like they have just been living… They don’t understand how the world works and don’t endeavour to understand it either. Sometime it feels like they don’t want to understand and don’t really have the intellectual bandwidth to push themselves either. To them people are good or bad based on how they look, their family name or something of the sort defines others around them. Maybe it’s alright because they are a product of their environment and their environment has not been very conducive. I want to give them the benefit of doubt because they are family. A characteristic that I’m not too please about is when a strong willed person is not very bold but is aggressive. It can lead to streaks where enough conviction can lead ridiculous conclusions that are fed by self belief and it becomes a self perpetual cycle.
I was reminiscing about my first few weeks in ATL when I had just started with my first role post MBA. Yes, I was excited but I knew for sure that I wanted to start BJJ as well. I didn’t ask anyone about it and I was just drawn to it because of everything I followed on social media and otherwise. It wasn’t easy. I had a massive (relatively, by my standards) loan to pay off and I also wanted to send money back home. The pay wasn’t the greatest but it was something much more than I had ever been paid. The net effect of everything was that I decided to start BJJ and I remember the first few months when I used the local bus to move around. I caught the local bus down in ATL just to get to the BJJ gym right after work. Work wasn’t easy either. It was good office work that wasn’t paying as much as I should have been paid but whatever I still grit my teeth and made sure that I was doing what I needed to do… After all I was only going to get to the gym to get beat up. Haha… now three years later as a blue belt I can say it was all worth it. The bike falls, the broken ankle, the bruises and all the rest. Feels good to have achieved something. At least that’s the story I’m telling myself, what is your story?