{O} An ode to an ordinary life

“Buy this dress!” “Go on this holiday!” “Look at this shiny new gadget that will change your life!

Buy these things, the advertisements tell us, and you’ll be breaking out of the ordinary.

But, what’s so bad with ordinary anyway?

Look behind those screaming advertisements. There’s a case to be made for an ordinary life. A life filled with love, laughter, companionship. A life where you have the time and energy to be present with your loved ones. Where people matter more than material objects. It’s a life filled with contentment, love, play, friends, family.

ordinary-life

But what about aspirations? Passions? Goals?

Follow them! Dreams and goals, even if they are extraordinary, isn’t opposed to an ordinary life. But thinking your dream or goal or passion is the only way to happiness is a fallacy. You need to recognize that life is ordinary, and you need to find happiness in that.

If you can’t find happiness in your day-to-day living, what makes you think you will find happiness if you live in an Italian village? Or run the marathon? Or get your photographs or articles published?

The day-to-day is just that – the daily cycle of work, family, friends, love, responsibility. Instead of running away from them, or wanting “more”, you can find happiness and contentment and joy in them. Because it really is enough.

When you are content with life, when you aren’t constantly wanting to be “great”, you’ll find that you’ve freed up so much energy to embrace opportunity, to dream, to imagine. And that’s when extraordinary things can happen – if you want them to.

So no, you are not meant for greatness. It is not your birthright.

But you are meant for good things. And good things can be found in an ordinary life.

{N} Travel Postcard #4: New York Public Library

New_York_Public_Library

Located on Fifth Avenue between 40th and 42nd streets, The New York Public Library with its two stone lions guarding the entrance is an iconic building. I’d seen pictures of the library, and being book obsessed, I knew that it would make it to my list of places to visit in New York City.

I knew that the library was the second largest public library in the US and third largest in the world, and Wikipedia told me it had nearly 53 million items and two research branches in NYC. But nothing prepared me for the sheer size and beauty of the interiors.

This postcard, people, features the foyer of the library. The entrance. With a million rabbit holes into which a book obsessed person can disappear. Like the library’s famous Rose Main Reading Room, a majestic 78 foot wide by 297 foot long room, with a ceiling that is 52 feet high! Its walls are lined with thousands of reference books on open shelves. The room is lit by massive windows and grand chandeliers, furnished with sturdy wood tables, comfortable chairs and brass lamps. It is also equipped with computers and docking facilities for laptops. And that’s just one of the rooms in the library.

Contrast that with India, where we hardly have any public libraries. The ones we do have are dusty old buildings that no one would really go into. In Gurgaon, for example, there’s only one library I know of – it’s a private library run from a shop in Supermart 1. Shame!

But…I am so, so thankful for my school library and my wonderful librarian who encouraged me to read to my heart’s content, even allowing me to borrow more books than was allowed in a week. I owe my love for reading, in part, to her.

Whatever the cost of our libraries, the price is cheap compared to that of an ignorant nation. – Broadcaster Walter Cronkite

So, which is your favorite library?

More travel postcards

{M} The non-manifesto manifesto

I was introduced to the concept of a personal mission statement at a corporate training years ago. At the time, I tried really hard to come up with a mission statement for my life. I failed.

Over the years, I’ve given it a try a couple of times. I’ve always failed.

Then I came across some awesome manifestos (like my personal favorite, the Holstein manifesto). While I found some of them inspiring, I never could come up with one that was ME.

This inability to come up with a manifesto for my life has made me feel like a failure of sorts.

It took a very wise man – the husband, in fact – to show (or rather tell) me why I have always failed at it.

The reason is simple. So simple that I feel like a fool for not seeing it for myself. I simply don’t believe in having one.

Let me tell you why.

Life, I believe, is a journey. At its simplest, it’s a journey from birth to death. Along the way we undertake a number of journeys where we meet numerous people – some of who journey with us our entire lives, others who journey with us for a short while.

Along this journey we come across things that we enjoy doing. Some people find one passion and stick with it all their lives. Others find numerous interests that they pursue for different lengths of time. It’s all part of this journey called life. It’s all good.

Life is complicated and stressful enough as it is. To complicate it further by having a manifesto that you may not always be able to live by is pointless.

Instead, my philosophy on life is much simpler – be curious, be willing to learn. Do what you enjoy doing. If you get tired of something, drop it. Pick up a different hobby instead. Live life authentically. Not how people say you should; rather how you feel you should. If you aren’t enjoying the journey, if you aren’t feeling happy most of the time, what is the point of it all anyway? It’s your life. One life. Make it count – to you.

Now that’s a philosophy (or should I call it a manifesto?) that I can live by!

{L} Conquer your to-do list

Have you ever created a to-do list and then wondered how you’re going to ever get all of it done? I have. More times than I can count. At the height of my insanity, I had a to-do list that was a page long. Crazy? You betcha! {And in case you’re wondering, I never did manage to cross much off that list.}

crazy to do listI can’t remember the number of times I’ve made a huge-ass list and then felt exhausted just looking at it! To top it all, half of the things on that list would have to be repeated in a week or two. {Yes, I included things like buy groceries before the pantry is bare, and put in the laundry before we run out of clothes to wear.} Needless to say, I just about managed to do things when ignoring them was no longer an option.

Now, though, I’m the queen of conquering to-do lists {err…when it is my queenly desire to do so}. It’s quite simple, and seeing as I am in a benevolent mood, I’ll share my inspired process with you. You’re welcome.

Step 1: Create a master list. This one is going to be huge. On it, you’ll list out everything your little heart desires to achieve. Keep adding to it; make it as long as you want. Do not look at it and panic. Move to step two.

Step 2: Create a “today list”. This one will stem from your master list. Make sure you don’t have more than 4-5 things on it. And ensure that at least 2 of them are fun things so you don’t feel like the biggest drudge on the face of the earth. You’re welcome.

Ta-da! In no time at all, you’ll be the queen of to-do lists!

Got your own to-do list inspiration to share?

{K} A guided Kundalini meditation

Kundalini is a form of feminine shakti or “corporeal energy”. According to the Yoga Upanishads, the Kundalini lies “coiled” at the base of the spine, represented as either a goddess or sleeping serpent waiting to be awakened. In modern commentaries, Kundalini has been called an unconscious or instinctive force.

Kundalini meditation is reportedly a deep meditation that promotes positivity and change. Although you apparently should not attempt Kundalini awakening on your own, this gentle guided meditation works beautifully if you do it about once a week.

{P.S.: I’ve done this meditation, and it’s deeply relaxing. I believe this is more of a chakra meditation}

Stay blessed!