Ah, the great outdoors!

“Ah, the great outdoors” is a dialog that a Dryad (character in Warcraft III) says when the character is trained and ready to be controlled. It is perhaps one phrase out of the thousands I’ve heard from spending innumerable hours playing the game that I remember often.

As a self-proclaimed ambivert, my weekend plan is a constant mental conflict of whether I stay indoors reading, binge watching yet another TV series or head out and explore some new place.

Having moved to Sweden (Hej Sverige! 👋) recently for work, I find myself traveling about 90 minutes in the morning and another 90 minutes in the evening to and from my office. This has given me a window of time to catch up on some reading (Thanks sis for the Kindle!) and writing (this).

Also sitting at the window of my train seat, the countryside of Sweden at sunset in Fall is mesmerizing. Open fields, orange sky being gobbled up by the grayness of the impending nightfall and an abundance of nature is what you get to see. The houses that dot the fields frequently, look eerily similar to the houses that a child might draw – simple and lovely.

As this view made me nostalgic about India and its beauty, I began to realize that I was, by some glorious design of the universe, destined to be here and like the Dryad I just want to shout out to the nature that surrounds me – “Ah, the great outdoors!”

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If

“If you can..”, it begins and lines out an entire persona of an individual who has conquered life. A life that death feels sad when taking away – such is the life I desire. Here’s the poem by Rudyard Kipling –

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look to good, or talk to wise:

If you can dream-and not make dreams your master;
If you can think-and not make thoughts your aim,
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build’em up again with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings;
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: “Hold on!”

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings-nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none to much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And which is more-you’ll be a Man, my son!

Thoughts on friendship

“I’ll get by with a little help from my friends”

Pensive, withdrawn, lonely. The life of the world can be teeming around us, the high decibel sounds can be dinning in our ears and still we can be lonely. It is possible to be lonely in a crowd. Loneliness haunts the places where crowds gather. It is not the presence or absence of people that makes the difference because a person need not be lonely even if he/she is alone. Sometimes it is good to be alone. But that does not make us lonely. It is not a matter of being present with someone. It is a matter of being present to someone. This calls for special communication, special human interaction, special acceptance and understanding. If these are lacking, all we have is lonely people, each encased within his/her own impenetrable shell. No one wants to be lonely. People are lonely because they build walls instead of bridges.

To dissolve loneliness we need friends. A friend gives warmth, understanding, time, love oneself. A friend stands up to my anger, my selfishness, my short-comings. A faithful friend is a sure shelter. Whoever finds one has found a treasure. In his inimitable way, I suppose Snoopy would cut through the core and say, “Happiness is a friend who lets you be yourself and still loves you.” We need friends because we are social beings, not by choice, but by nature.

“I spent one morning with a friend and wished the day would never end…”

 

Sensual desires

“… sensual desire is never quenched by indulgence any more than fire is by pouring ghee in it. No object of desire – corn, gold, cattle or women – nothing can ever satisfy the desire of man. (…) We can reach peace only by a mental poise beyond likes and dislikes.”

Yayati explains this to his son Puru after indulging several years in a sensual life.

(Mahabharata by C. Rajagopalachari – p.38)

Keeping good company

“… it is not proper to live with persons who have no sense of decency or decorum. The wise will not keep company with those who speak ill of their family.”

Devayani speaks about the behaviour of Sarmishta the daughter of king Vrishaparva who by her rude actions had disrespected her father Sukracharya.

(Mahabharata by C. Rajagopalachari – p.34)