The Wagging Tail.

I reproduce below an article that appeared in one of our local newspapers recently. I reproduce it as I found it illuminating and indeed, fascinating coming from a neurosurgeon.

“The early morning winter mist only enhances the mystical ambience that envelops the atmosphere on my morning walk up the hill. Silhouettes of trees and the visible landscape are bathed in the serene silver hue of the setting moon. The trees are in slumber, as are their avian dwellers. Or so it seems. The isolated chirping of an early riser is audible in the hushed silence. The winding mountain path is barely visible, just enough to ensure that my feet don’t transgress the lateral boundaries. The only other sound palpable is that of my own breathing, which gets a shade heavier as I climb further up the hill.

The mind is almost thoughtless, till suddenly, an arbitrary thought breaches its stillness. Like a pebble thrown into the calm waters of a serene lake. Turbulence. Followed by a cascade of reactions, emotions, opinions, anxieties, and apprehensions. It’s amazing, how a mere thought can completely alter the interior and unleash a flurry of neurotransmitters that wreak havoc in the mind. Simultaneously, there follows a rush of corresponding hormones that prepare the body for possible combat with an unseen, virtual enemy.

The flight, fight or fright response is triggered by a random thought.

The skies get a bit brighter with the rising sun that surfaces from the horizon. I reach a plateau. My breathing eases a bit and the cone of visibility widens. Then, I spot her at a distance — the majestic Labrador, trotting obediently just ahead of its master. An unmistakeable feature of this gorgeous canine is her continuously wagging tail, a testimony to a perennial state of causeless happiness. She wags her tail ceaselessly. Happiness, beyond the cause-effect paradigm, oozed from her every pore.

I wonder what might be going on in her mind. Her dark brown eyes look blissful, with no trace of any anxiety, fear or chaos. This must be causeless happiness; perhaps even happiness that precedes any cause. My happiness had to be necessarily subservient to a tangible cause. And worse, I permitted my mind to ravage my happiness with irrational, arbitrary, virtual apprehensions.

My encounter with the happy Labrador suggested that being happy is a matter of choice. Being happy could be the cause and not the effect. Could the effect precede the cause? This paradoxical phenomenon is termed ‘retrocausality’. It was long considered that an effect preceding its cause, is an inherent self-contradiction, because, as 18th-century philosopher David Hume discussed, when examining two related events, the cause, by definition, is the one that precedes the effect.

The only distinction between cause and effect is temporal… If i decide to start wagging the tail of my mind, I know my mind will find a reason either in the past, or perhaps in the future. My ego cannot accept happiness without a cause.

So, i start wagging the tail of my mind vigorously, and — lo and behold!

I discover those dainty yellow flowers that are swaying gently; I feel the cool breeze caressing my face. I become an inseparable part of Nature and resonate with it. Happiness thereafter doesn’t remain a response. It percolates the here and now. Happiness loses all conditionality. It transcends to a state of unconditional bliss. A state where cause and effect merge into a moment that lasts forever. Eternal Bliss. Ananda.”

Deepak Ranade is a neurosurgeon in Pune.

I Painted It.

This is a painting called Guernica by Pablo Picasso about which a story has been doing the rounds in WhatsApp. I have tried to check the veracity of the story with no success. Wikipedia has this comment: “Picasso lived in Paris during the German occupation during World War II. A German officer allegedly asked him, upon seeing a photo of Guernica in Picasso’s apartment, “Did you do that?” Picasso responded, “No, you did.”

I reproduce the story as received in WhatsApp as, I find it quite impressive.

The coolest line in history

During the Nazi occupation of Paris, Pablo Picasso was taken to be “interrogated” by a special branch of Gestapo that had been set up to handle intellectuals and artists.

The officer who confronted Picasso, in spite of being a Gestapo thug, was almost polite, spoke good French and seemed even educated. A rarity.

The Nazi policeman gestured Picasso to sit in front of his desk, then he produced a photo of the now world famous “Guernica”, the large painting that depicts Picasso’s take on the Nazi bombing of the Spanish town of the same name during the Spanish Civil War.

With that facial expression that at the same time betrays tolerance toward a recognized genius and anger for a misdeed of the same genius, the Nazi pointed at the photo and said with a harsh voice:
“Picasso! Have you done this?”

The reply of Picasso was worthy of a Nobel Prize, a Pulizer and an Oscar…

Said he:
“No, you did it!.
I only painted it”

Emojis.

Modern communication has increasingly been taken over by mass media like WhatsApp and Facebook, both of which I use. One of the conveniences of using such a method is that instead of writing long sentences to express emotions, one simply uses emojis.

I use a few regularly and they are these.

🙏. Namaste is the one that I use most often to express gratitude for some message. It is such a versatile symbol that it can be used for expressing many other emotions like, respect, greetings etc.

😀. The second most used emoji is this smile. I use it to express joy in response to either good news or a joke.

😂. After that comes this one to express great joy or laughter.

😔. Less needed but used nevertheless is this one to express sorrow or sadness or disappointment.

😇. I use this to express smugness or appreciation for a response.

👍. I use this to express my appreciation for the contents of the message.

👌. I use this to express that I find the message apt and useful.

👏. I use this to indicate that I applaud the message.

Three more emojis that I use regularly are:

👆. To point to a message / link given above in a separate message.

👇. To point to a message / link given below in a separate message.

🖕. I don’t need to explain do I?

There are experts in using emojis who exchange proper conversations using many emojis but alas, I am not in that league, nor do I want to be. Here is an example:

This is my take on this week’s Friday 4 On 1 blog post topic. The other three bloggers who write on the same topic every Friday are Sanjana, Padmum and Shackman. This week’s topic was suggested by Padmum. Please do go over to their respective blogs to see what they have to say on the topic. Thank you.

Disappointment/s.

“Disappointment is sadness or displeasure caused by the non-fulfilment of one’s hopes or expectations.”  So, the best way to avoid being disappointed is to be without hopes or expectations and live life on its own terms accepting everything that comes ones way cheerfully and without reservations.

I have had my share of disappointments in life but was resilient enough to handle them and come out of the experiences with hope for better things to come out of the experiences.  This was not something that I deliberately set about doing but, something that came naturally to me thanks to the hard lessons learnt from my parents.  In fact, I was more of a disappointment for them in many ways than all the disappointments that I experienced in my life.

It took a series of serendipitous events to make me a different person from the person who gave them the disappointments which made them come out of their disappointment with joy.  In fact in retrospect, they wondered why I gave them so much to worry about in my earlier avatar when I had it in me to be different.  My answer was always that I was not responsible for the change and that I simply followed life’s diktats and came out of those days smelling of roses.

Like my parents, I also disappointed some employers, who had high hopes for me by quitting their services when least expected to follow the diktats of my conscience or, just to escape unpleasantness in the environments.

It has now been many years since I either got disappointed or disappointed someone else.  That has been a great aspect of retired life where there are no appointments to keep other than those with the medical profession and therefore no room for disappointments!

This is my take on this week’s Friday Four On One blog post topic. The other three bloggers who write on the same topic are Sanjana, Padmum and Shackman. This week’s topic was suggested by Shackman. Please do go over to their respective blogs to see what they have to say on the topic. Thank you.

Change.

When I read this Rumi quote on a WhatsApp message, I knew immediately that this would be my suggestion for a Friday Three on One blog post and I duly recommended it to my fellow bloggers Padmum and Shackman who readily agreed. Please do go over to Padmum’s blog and Shackman’s blog to see what each has to say on the same topic. Thank you.

True, I have not been able to change the world.  I have however either changed myself many times or change has been thrust on me, whether I liked it or not.

Neither of my parents were fortunate enough to see two centuries.  My siblings and I were from the twentieth to the twenty first.  And what a change that has been!

My life, bar the last thirty years, has been one of change of residence for either moving due to my father’s transfers or my own besides my having been a bit of a rootless guy for a few years during my early twenties. I have lived in Chennai, Mumbai, New Delhi, Bengaluru, Kolkatta, Koratti in Kerala, Assam, Hyderabad, Tirupur in Tamil Nadu and finally in Pune now for the past thirty years.

The result of all these changes of residences has been that I am proficient in five languages and can manage quite comfortably in three others. Though I can read only three scripts, I am now flooded with local language messages written in the Roman script from different parts of my glorious country which boasts of 122 major languages and 1599 other languages which of course included many dialects!

I have seen carefree bachelor status, married man status and for the last ten years, widower status.

I have seen my career going through public sector, multinationals, private sector and family / owner run organisations and have also worked in an NGO non profit organisation in a voluntary position.

I have changed from being a hard drinking meat eating executive into to teetotaller, vegetarian spiritual person over the last twenty two years.

I have also changed from being a very indifferent person where religion is concerned into a deeply involved in it person over the last 22 years.

Other significant changes that have taken place in my life can be called physical due to the inevitable changes due to ageing and also my issues with COPD and replaced and revised hip joints. From a very active person, I have now become more or less a couch potato though, thankfully not yet wheel chair bound. I however dread a fall somewhere, which can have serious repercussions and put me into one for the rest of my life.
I am not the wisest and I flatter myself that I am not the stupidest of men either.  I accept that change will happen.  I am sure to see more before I fade away into the sunset.

What Is Your Kryptonite?

I had never heard of the word Kryptonite till Shackman came up with this topic for this week’s Friday Two On One blog post. Well, you live and learn and I have indeed learned something new.


To answer the specific question that Shackman has asked, for me, it is no brainer that it is my COPD.

I can go on and on about the condition and how I am coping with it but, will spare my readers the agony with just these words. It is a difficult condition to live with but, I manage quite cheerfully and have accepted the limitations that it imposes on my life style.

The other kryptonite most people seem to talk about in their lives are people and I am very glad to say that I do not have any in my life who can be thus classified. Such people do come into my life but, I don’t let them stay in my life. I am quite comfortable without them thank you.

I am sure that Shackman has much more to say about this topic, and I request you to go over to his blog to read that. Thank you.