In it together

We all have our unique personalities, paths and problems. So, it is easy and natural to feel lonely and mired in our own problems. But, the truth is far from it – we’re all in it together in very meaningful ways.

A good friend forwarded Seth Godin’s post this morning and said it reminded her of our project. Background – a couple of close friends and I are working on a project coming your way in the next few weeks. And, one of the key premises of this project is that we’re not in to scale. Our only objective is to earn the opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives.

So, when I saw the post – “What if scale wasn’t the goal?,” I just pinged it across to our team with the note – “Seth is talking to us this morning.”

Hasn’t that happened to you too?

I haven’t met many of the bloggers I like and follow. And, yet, their writing often speaks to me as it is exactly what I need.

We might all look different, work in different places and do different things. But, our shared humanity means we all care about similar things – our well being, the people we love, our pets, our learning, our hobbies and our impact on this planet. And, in this process of caring for the things we care about, we all experience similar travails and tests. They may not be identical but they’re similar enough that the rest of us understand.

More of us want you to succeed and find happiness than you can likely imagine. For, if you do, it will impact us in positive ways as well as you will spread that learning and happiness.

You are part of a community of caring humans that’s definitely much larger than you think.

We are all in it together – in very meaningful ways.

Predictable ways

I noticed some behavior from a couple of folks I admire the other day and found myself saying – “Awesome people are awesome in very predictable ways.”

I was reminded of Tolstoy’s fantastic quote

All happy families are alike, each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.

I think Tolstoy’s quote channels a central idea – to be happy and to do good requires you to live life in accordance to certain principles. As I wrote the other day, it is become increasingly apparent to me that the central principle that underlies all these principles is love. Building off Scott Peck’s definition of love as the will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual mental/growth, happy families are willing to do the hard work required to love each other. This primarily means prioritizing each other, committing and re-committing to each other and giving each other the necessary amount of attention. This isn’t easy. But, it is the foundation on which happy families are built.

I’ve seen a similar thread from people I consider awesome – they care a whole lot about helping other people. That doesn’t mean they always say yes. Over time, they’ve learnt to say no to most requests as they’re focused either on their own work or saying yes to other requests that will likely benefit more folks. Their judgment is likely not perfect every time. But, it gets better. They get better. And, most importantly, they’re out there every day, hustling, smiling and giving it their best shot.

It is all very predictable. But, it isn’t easy to do. And, that’s what makes them awesome.

predictable, awesome

Being reductionist

A wise friend remarked that, if we were to be reductionist for a moment, perhaps life just comes down to one central idea – love.

Author and psychologist Scott Peck defined love as the will to extend one’s self for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth. (He treats mental and spiritual growth the same)

There’s a lot to unpack in that definition – “the will,” “to extend,” “nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth” – can all inspire essays themselves. But, to me, it says two things. First, love is a verb. Second, to seek growth is to seek love. True self love, as I have learned over years of daily notes here, requires us to push, challenge and extend ourselves without judgment. Where growth and love are concerned, to speak of one is to speak of another.

As simple as this idea may sound, it is, of course, incredibly hard to consistently act on. But, do small things with extraordinary love and do so one day at a time, and, it is likely we will chart a path that describes a life well lived.

reductionist, love

Loss

A friend passed away yesterday. I didn’t know him anywhere as well as I wish I had but I did know he was an incredibly nice person. The little bit of overlap we had was actually thanks to this blog. We met a few months back because he stopped me and spoke of a recent post. We had a few other chance meetings but nothing substantial. I knew him well enough to wish him a happy birthday a few weeks back. He responded with a note that said – “When I grow up, I want to be like the editor of ALearningaDay.” I laughed.

I think we might have passed each other a couple of times after that and I remember thinking I should sit down with him for a conversation sometime. That didn’t quite happen..

I looked back at that note from him yesterday.

I’ve learnt that there are broadly 3 kinds of reactions after we hear of an untimely loss that happens in close proximity. When you take away those who don’t know the person at all, you are left with those who were close and those who were acquaintances. When you are really close, the loss leaves an indelible mark on your life forever. Things are never the same again. If you’ve got a strong culture within the family, there is a chance you might experience normalcy. But, given we spend most of our lives running away from the idea, most near and dear ones find it incredibly hard. And, when you know of the person as an acquaintance (me in this case), it serves as a strong reminder that we’re not here forever.

I felt myself walking about in a bit of a daze all of yesterday. It made me think of nothing and then many things all at once. Having experienced untimely loss close twice, I feel I understand the pain of near and dear ones and it always seems to make me stop, reflect and take stock.

And, yesterday, I felt the following thoughts repeatedly pass my mind –

1. We must be excellent to ourselves. If we are fortunate to be blessed with good health, we must do everything in our power to keep it that way. It is a privilege to be healthy. It is up to us to use it well.

2. We must be excellent to others – especially those who are dearest to us. For there are few other things that matter. We’re here for a short time and it is all about who we touch. And, for those close to us, let’s not wait till tomorrow to share a hug.

3. We must work to make this world a bit better. When we think about it, the time we spend with our near and dear ones is actually a minor proportion when compared to the time we spend at work. Yes, this is not always possible. Yes, we need money. But, where possible, when possible, let’s seek out opportunities to touch others and make this world a bit better. A lot of what makes the world today is unfair. This is about not letting the unfairness getting us down but working towards building a better future.

I don’t think such moments are about deciding to live every day as if it were your last. Life isn’t about absolutes and I find such thinking naive. I do think it is a constant balancing act. And, there definitely exists a balance between working towards a better future while doling out hugs, kisses and love generously.

Be nice. Be kind. The world will roll on without you. All we have is a limited amount of time to make a small difference where we can and when we can. Let’s make it meaningful, make it count.

We lost a wonderful member of our ALearningaDay community yesterday. He will be missed.