Digital Marketing, Life

Apollonian & Dionysian #Day 26

Homes have uncommon aesthetic power and reflect the material and spiritual splendor of people who inhabit it. Few homes that I have seen reflect riot of creative and visually captivating designs and are surprisingly beautiful. However say very little about people who live in those enclosed space. “Classic question of convenience vs time. You cannot have both.” Priya’s response for those who fit aptly in favor of this logic. Irrespective, I belong to the school which proposes that the design ensemble, of bits and part of self and the experiences, creates rhythm.

Apollo and Dionysus are both sons of Zeus. Apollo is the God of sun, of rational thinking and order, and appeals to logic, prudence and purity. (Shamelessly quoted from Wikipedia). Dionysus is the God of wine and dance, of irrationality and chaos, and appeals to emotions and instincts. Although contrasting in nature, the Greeks never considered the two Gods to be opposites or rivals. The two reflect the duality of life, a harmonious form cannot be without chaotic artistic sensibility. A captivating home is never divorced from interestingly layered chaos. Or maybe inspires it.

Very few close friends have been honest enough to provide a stellate outline of my appearance. None of the accolades have anything memorable that I can boast about. Understandably, I have 3 pairs of jeans with the latest 5 months old, my t-shirts 4-5 months old (Priya has gifted most of them). Also all wedding occasion that I have attended have my photograph in the same suit (dark grey & shiny maroon shirt). I don’t give up on my clothes easily or get bored with them, unless in dire circumstances they get torn. So, what is common to my inordinate appearance and the place that I inhabit? None of the shine, glitz, or the art in my contribution. I’m Apollo from every perspective. Also because the Dionysian, king of good times, is my wife Priya’s forte.

Priya’s passion for design and art reflect in her sensibilities and appearance, quite contrary to that of mine. She is like a teacher, who knows where to put the comma so that the words display true meaning. At the same time, she is like a CEO, who has a participative approach towards management. Put the options on the table, before making the choice. Each choice is carefully evaluated, screened and dismissed for lack of purpose. Many treasures in this world won’t be able to allure her, each choice has to have a reason and a motive for it’s existence. Getting to talk about the house had all the makings of a thriller.

From the start I was never in favor of giving our house to an interior designer; I’m quite stingy that ways. I figured out, the fee could easy fetch me an article more material and real. My hard earned money, why should I gamble with it? Priya had a different line of thinking. She wanted a part of us in the house where we live, our child to see where we came from and what we believed in. She wanted it to be an extension of us. Easier said than done. My only demand was it should be easy on pocket. We don’t make rushed and immature decisions and end up regretting, as if there were less things to fight about in our daily lives. So, I wanted less things in the house and things which could be multi-tasked, and therefore more return on our investment.

A compromise, and the result was quite spectacular.

For 6 months after moving into the house, there was nothing in the house, except for our bar. I loved the spartan look, dazzling marble flooring, nothingness created the vast empty space, the lightly colored walls amplified it further. We would get ample sun light in the house and it lit every corner of our living room. Dhriti, our daughter loved it, she had recently started walking and for her, it was a playground. As pieces came together bit by bit, each corner and furniture, our home looked more complete. In the 6 months roughly, we saw through our new home as a little child, being very careful about each and every element it imbibed, and watched it grow.

It was beautiful. And I never had a sweat over the spends.

There is a certain reluctance in appreciating “wildness” as it being opposed to the “orderly” nature, that we are, or at least I am, more likely used to. The Apollonian is the basis of all analytic rationale. Everything that is part of the unique individuality of man or thing is Apollonian in character;  Rational thought is also Apollonian since it is structured and makes distinctions. And is that complete? Charles Lindberg, who made the first non stop flight from New York to Paris quotes and reflects an aspect of truth…

If we combine our knowledge of science with the wisdom of wildness, if we can nurture the civilization, through roots in the primitive, man’s potentialities appear to be unbounded…, he can merge with the miraculous – to which we can attach what better name than ‘God’? And in this merging, as long sense by intuition, but still only vaguely perceived by rationality, experience may travel even without the need to accompany life.    

Such is the conflict between Apollo and Dionysus. The motive for “intuition” in our lives is not discerned readily, “chaos” cannot be good and “wildness” not a a part of natural order. In this duality, there is a compromise, a balance that I’m happy to live for, while still searching its meaning.

Maybe the most irrational thoughts are the most sanest ones.

 

Digital Marketing

Farmer #Day 24

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All fathers will find their child’s notions often well expressed, and very interesting. The conversations are overwhelmed by specificity, mindful carelessness and genuine curiosity. These moments will come unannounced, for a brief flash of time. All you know that you are in it. Now. These questions are many and trivial. I would have ignored them because it never made sense to me. Yet, for these little ones it is a matter of great awe. I’m also amazed at the observation skills, and after listening to the questions, I would wonder why didn’t I think of it before or Hmm, this is also possible. The common element across all such questions is honesty of ignorance and determination to know the why.

When Dhriti was 5 years old, in her school, she was taught about professions. Her school, Shree Ram stressed on values and included many from real life. I didn’t know about this till Priya pointed out an observation. It was a honest answer and noble purpose.

Dhriti, what do you want to become when you are older?

I want to become a farmer.

Why?

So that I can grow trees and make oxygen.

Dhriti is 8 years this year and has still maintained her ambition of becoming a farmer, though this time she also said that she wants to become a Rockstar at night.

There are only two professions, a man is either a hunter or a farmer. Yuval Noah Hariri’s book, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, marks the agricultural revolution, which started in about 10,000 b.c. as one of the milestones in our evolution. Increasing number converted from foraging (hunting and gathering) to farming. Harari writes, “Before this, they (humans) were insignificant animals with no more impact on the environment that gorillas, fireflies, or jellyfish.” Now we had more time to think and plan because now food such as grains could be stored. Therefore, everyday hunting for survival was not required. Humans became more interested in studying all the patterns responsible in detail to become better such as, knowledge about soil, seasons and water, so that output could be similar or better. We became more settled, protecting the land and our produce. However, according to Harari, the agricultural revolution did more damage, “A faustian bargain between humans and grains” in which our species “cast off its intimate symbiosis with nature and sprinted towards greed and alienation”. It was a bad bargain: “the agricultural revolution was history’s biggest fraud”. A bit sensational, but it would do. I could finish Sapiens in 10 days, because it was very entertaining and well expressed.

Not just Dhriti’s answers, but also Yuval Noah Harari, poses fundamental questions about happiness for us as a race. Were we happier being farmers or as hunter gatherers chasing the game and feeling accomplished for the day? Or it is our quest to seek beyond the unknown, such as fathom death. Some of these questions will encourage you to think more about us and our future.

While I pondered over these questions about farmers and existential questions on happiness, few events hinted at harsh truth. A boy approached my car, while I was waiting at the red light. He was carrying books, including Sapiens. The boy was not tall, about 3.5 feet in height. Thin structure, determined to sell, sharp eyes. His prominent jawline defined his face. My book of choice “Elon Musk” was wrapped in plastic and would cost only Rs.350. I negotiated and the deal was struck for Rs. 160. “What if pages are missing?” Priya asked him as he delivered the book. Proudly, the boy took the plastic cover off and said very confidently, “I would replace the book if any pages are missing”.

I probably bought the book, not because of the title, but because of the boy and his accent. I was also intrigued to find a small boy selling books, which I’m sure he couldn’t read. The boy looked very young and from my home state in India, Bihar.

Because of the long queue, I was not able to get through the red light and met the boy again. This time he came to check if we found any pages missing. Instead, he had to face Priya’s questions, ranging from where he came from to whether he studied or not.

The boy was not amused with the questions. He came from a village near Patna, the capital of Bihar and had ran away from home. He didn’t like staying in his village because they were poor. He came to Delhi to earn money. He also said that there were many people who offered him opportunity to study, but he has no inclination. He only wants to earn to make a good living.

No matter how much we debate about the sensation aspect of Sapiens, the reality is different. When I look around Gurgaon, place I used to live, I can see only tall building. Farmers are selling land, because their crop doesn’t earn them enough to sustain. Farms could be found in patches, more likely it would be because of short term interest than for actual reasons.

Trading land for cash isn’t a bad bargain. If it helps you survive.

“Mr. Cooper, we need more farmers today than Doctors or Engineers.” (From Interstellar)

Digital Marketing, Life, Transformation

Money #Day 10

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“Money isn’t the most important thing in life, but it’s reasonably close to oxygen on the “gotta have it” scale.” Zig Ziglar

Money ranks high up in the priority list of basic necessities. It’s vacuum can spell catastrophe. This post is not about its excessive preoccupation, but about not disregarding the importance of money; contrary to the thought of infinite write ups available, which propose that the intent is supreme. If there is no commercial viability, the idea dies its own death, and so does the intent.

Money is important, and the earlier we learn it, the better it would for us to respect it and put it to good use.

Rule no.1 that would be universally true is that managing money, is a function of behavior and not statistics, budget or maths. This would be the most fundamental change that you would have to make. Behavior mandates that you strictly have few guideline rules for yourself, such as the one that I follow, inspired by Mr. Dave Ramsey: no debt. This is the rule that you would live or die for. Therefore, if it means junking your credit card, do be it. If it means carrying more cash in hand, I would do so. There should be one guiding principle for this behavior which is sacrosanct.

I have seen that you fundamentally need a shake-up if you want to change to a new habit or change behavior; easily would be the most difficult job in the world. I would not wake up on one side of the bed one day and find myself to be a changed person. There are rigors to be followed to instill this discipline. The benchmark is 66 days, which is the essence of my 66 days rigor. Changes at fundamental level change the lifestyle, which one should be ready for. This is on an average, however may take more or less depending on individuals.

Rule no.2 is that you should be able to know where your money is going. Mr. Dave Ramsey proposes budgeting as a great way to achieve this. He has been fanatical about budget, so much so that he takes this as a counseling tactics to get husband and wife on the same plane. And that is true, improper financial planning is reason no.1 for the couple to separate. And if they are aligned, it will restore understanding and financial success. Again, this is a function of behavior, where the husband and wife need to be transparent to each other, get committed and follow the budget. Budgeting also gives the picture, where the money is going and therefore your ability to control it. I would recommend that you also keep and expense tracking app and note the tiniest of spends that you are incurring. I feel that not just us, such deep discipline should be inculcated in our children as well. A good financial well being amounts to success and confidence.

Rule no.3 are goals, therefore one should have a set of goals. The most important goal is to save. Starting with at least 20% of your income and depending on your expenses. But by and large the thumb rule for saving should be 20%. This should be going first from your income to any instrument of your choice. And then one should put in the expenses, starting with the most essential ones to the least. Such as you would want to mandate are Food, House (rent) and maintenance essentials such as electricity, water etc. Mr. Ramsey proposes baby steps, which I would highly recommend, no matter in which part of the world you are in. His process are unique and if you follow them, you can expect results. The other part of the goals are life ambitions and essentials such as buying a house, kids education.

Rule no.4 is not to be emotional in making a financial decision. Impulsive decisions are recipe for disaster. You are much better off delaying gratification, thinking more about it, discussion with your spouse before making the decision. This is hard exercise, especially when it concerns the loved one, your kids or an immediate family. One needs to very rational in money matters.

Lastly, Rule no.5 is continuity. Like any other habit, if one leaves any of the plan midway, you will not get the benefits. Continuity in the long run multiplies and compounds and gives you superior results. This is the real key to financial success to be regular with your belief and practices. It would definitely require rigor.

Money requires a hard taskmaster to manage it.

I hope that you start your financial/money management behavior when you finish reading. And when you would look back, you may reflect this as the most important step that you would have taken towards securing success.

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PS: If you are interested in a budgeting sheet, please do leave your comment or subscribe to the mail.