My first visit to the US was little disorienting. My trip was unplanned and it was the first time that I am traveling on two 11 hour flights consecutively. Adding the jet lag for 11.30 hrs time difference and standards in America for orientation of switches, driving directions, portion sizes contributed significantly to the disorientation I had on the first day.
The very next night I landed, I had dinner with the client’s board members and their families. They were very considerate and arranged for a large range of vegetarian food in the middle of Texas. One of the ladies at the dinner made sure that we are doing well and adjusting to the new place, she kept us occupied so that we don’t feel left alone at the dinner. She was curious to know how I felt being in America, I immediately blurted out that “people drive on the other side of the road, that is disorienting.”. She burst into laughter and then replied “I like your attitude, if I were you; I would have said people drive on the wrong side of the road. It shows that you are open to experience new cultures and accept other standards. Whenever I go to London I always comment that we drive on the right side of the road and the English drive on the wrong side of the road.”
I was surprised to know the fact that subconsciously I was open to many things even though it pushed me out of comfort zone which helped me to learn and experience a lot of new things. I suppose it is partly due the work environment as well. Most part of my work life, I have been working without cubicles (dining table setup) and the companies I had worked practiced openness as its core value. This has made me feel that everyone are at the same playing field; standards, rules & conventions are fine tuned for individual and societal needs. I am right from my perspective, but for someone else it could be wrong from their perspective.
If we get into an argument about something is right or wrong, may be trying to find which way we would express the driving side (right or wrong side?) will show how we are inclined to accept other standards.
Every muscle in the body is able to communicate back to us about what its state is. It is easy to figure out where our hands are placed, it is called proprioception. Every one who has been through personal training would be very familiar with this word. It is one of the key factors in creating a proper sense of balance in the body so that we don’t injure our body. The first time I tried it, I was asked to stand in front of the mirror in the pose shown in the illustration below.
It was way too easy for me to stand that way for more than a minute. Then I was asked to close my eyes and try the same, this time I could not hold for more than 10-15 seconds. Which meant that I was solely relying on the feedback from the eyes but not from the muscles, so I had been ignoring the signals from them as I did not know how to read them. Getting those proprioception exercises helped me in getting trained better than when I did without one.
The situation is very similar when it comes to thoughts, perceptions and impressions. In today’s fast paced world with information overload and ample communication, less time is spent for the individual self. Every one of us rely on the feedback, performance evaluation done by others to assess where we stand and what we do.
We are capable to know more about ourselves than be evaluated by others. All we need is some personal time, good readings and reflections. Feedback from outside world is necessary but it only tells us more about the giver than the one who receives it. We need to learn to listen to our inner voices, understand our priorities, reflect on past and take corrective actions that will propel us forward.
I was late for work – forgot to set the alarm, no time to warm up the water, breakfast not ready. After a freezing cold water bath and a glass of milk rushed to the railway station climbed up the floors only to find out that there was a power supply problem and the next train will take as much as 30 mins. I was at the height of frustration. So were others, loud sighs and angry faces everywhere. I noticed a toddler, could not be more than 2 yrs old. On comparing the face of the child and the rest of us in the railway station the kid was in a different world. How true, this child need not worry about the complicated things happening around.
My mind begun to travel back in time and reached a point where my family had been on a summer vacation during my primary school days. On our return we rushed to the railway station platform just to know that the train is delayed. I was a kid and my bro a toddler, both started playing in the platform and my mom had a tough time keeping us within her reach. My dad appeared too anxious and kept on glancing at his watch, then the platform, and also keenly listening to every announcement. In the middle of the play my bro and I asked for dairy milk chocolates from the platform stall, in the height of his frustration my dad gave a red eyed look. There were no words exchanged but the message was delivered, the next moment the disappointment vanished and we were playing again. When the train arrived, all the people rushed to their reserved berths, I didnt want to break the game and move on; But a cold response from my mom made me budge in to the train compartment. I heard my dad cribbing that he is going to end up late in office tomorrow and my mom was worried that she will have less time to pack us to school. I just remember lying on the berth, when I woke up I was at home. My dad’s was hurrying up for office literally stamping and kicking everything on the way before he finally left for office. My mom was so busy that she would have wished that she had 10 hands. “Apart from children and monks, can you point a person who is living their life?”, yuppie I was living my life. I took the same time to get ready to school; no rush, no thoughts running at the back of the mind. Business was as usual for me.
I did a comparison of myself in these two different time frames.
1. When the train was late, I didnt care; but now, lots of processing going on how to push the day.
2. When I didnt get something, I was dissapointed but carried on with what I was doing; but now, disappointments grow into frustration.
3. When it gets late for me, I didnt speed up; but now, I run at break neck speed.
When we all were children we wanted to grow up faster, begin to earn, spend at will and enjoy life. When we grow up we wish we were kids and lived under the shelter of someone. The grass always looks greener on the other side, but we cannot get back to the greener past.