Sunday, February 8, 2015

Needs and Progress - 2

In the previous blog I stressed about making a change in your life to make a change for the better in society. Take a chance, take a risk.

In this blog I want to say that it really is not easy to take risks. A number of these risks involve losses that we have to live with. Not everybody comes out a winner.  Then there is the whole thing about capability - some people are just not capable of doing anything different. And lastly we get used to a way of life and we become good at it. And one day we realize - I don't know anything else! I don't know what else to do in life.

Let me start with losses involved in taking risks. I can take a risk with the blessing of everyone, but still, I may end up losing something in life. The loss can be taken as a positive or negative depending on the kind of day I am having. The loss can be of moving to a new location, thus not be able to live close to family and friends (I have been there); the loss can be that of moving to a different country and thus losing touch with family and friends and culture (I have been there!). The loss can be of telling your nice boss - I need more, I have to take this opportunity and move on to a better job (I have been there!). The re-locations can be due to family needs, education or job opportunities. But there is still a loss. If it all works out - then this change can be taken positively. There is no doubt that one grows so much by leaving one's comfort zone. If it does not work out - then also one should have the courage to either change that status to something else or move back. No one can ever predict the outcome of a decision.

Then there is the loss of family/friends if a decision was made that was not blessed by all. This loss is harder, its more emotional. Sometimes we have to make changes in our life so we can get up in the morning and look ourselves in the mirror and say, "I did it - I changed my status quo. Whether that change is good or bad - time will tell, but I made the change that was best for me."  These decisions are tough, we may feel lonely at times, but it turns out it needed to be done. The decision to not support a child/sibling/friend for their drug habit, especially after you have tried so much, is a tough one. Your heart breaks but sometimes a drastic step has to be taken. Leaving an abusive relationship - so hard! To get the courage to stand up and say "No more!" is a hard one. Adopting a child - sometimes a decision that seems so positive can also cause a rift in the family. Or on the other hand - getting an abortion - such a big decision. But we need to make these hard choices so our needs are met so we can progress in life - move on to better things, happier days.

If someone is limited intellectually to make changes then they cannot be blamed. Their exposure, their experience is so limited in life that they don't know all their options. And sometimes, even if they know their options, they are really afraid to do anything.  These souls live and die in their status quo. Some may be happy in it, but the sad ones also cannot change. Such is their life.

The last point I want to make here is that sometimes even if we want to change our status quo, we are not able to. Its not about money, its not about risk, its also not that we are afraid of change - its just that we don't know what else to do in life. We got educated to become doctors - well...we are treating patients. What else? We started teaching - we teach...what else to do? Our training drives our careers and sometimes, especially in the science and technology field it is really hard to shift gears mid-life or later. Soft fields like humanities have a better chance of getting molded. So we get stuck.

And absolutely the last thing.......if one wants change then the best thing to do is to really go deep within oneself and follow ones dreams. What did I want to be when I was growing up? Or even when I was in college? Living in USA has shown me that its never too late to do anything. People follow their dreams even in old age. People get married in their 80s....! Amazing! Now that is progress!

Needs and Progress - 1

If we all stayed with the status quo there would be no progress in this world.

So many times, we say "just let it be" or "let it drag until it can" or "its always been done this way" and in hindi, "chalta hai" or "chalno do jaisa chal raha hai"....well, all these statements are of the people who are afraid of change; people who cannot see beyond their little world.

Why do we let the status quo stay? The biggest reason is - we are afraid.
  • Afraid of what exists if that status is changed.
  • Afraid of being the one who causes the change - because there is no doubt that a person who brings about change will stand out and be noticed. 
  • Afraid whether our decision is right or not. 
  • Afraid that we might have to stand alone.
So really the biggest deterrent of action is .... we are afraid of change.
People will stay in bad relationships, bad jobs, bad homes, cities where there is no opportunity to do anything...all because they are afraid of change. Why are people so afraid of change? (There are several books out there regarding this topic - most popular that I know of is "Who Moved my Cheese?")
  • They lack self confidence - If one does not have self confidence, comfort in one's own ability and intelligence then it will be hard to take that risky step. One should have the confidence in themselves to push oneself through hard times, or different times.
  • Lack of family support - we have always been taught "family is everything" "blood is thicker than water" etc...Sure. That is all good, but where are they when you need support? Sometimes they are the ones pulling you down.  Depending on your own nature, they might be tired of supporting you all the time, because you are a loser or troublemaker. But other than that, family also likes to have their own traditions and way of life. It is hard for them to look beyond those to help a family member who may want to try something different. They are also afraid of having a black sheep in the family, even though that black sheep is really just trying to live his dreams or just doing the right thing or just trying to make life a little happy themselves.
  • Lack of financial support - we need money to do certain things. If the financial backing is not there, then things don't get done.
  • Burden of responsibility - in some cases we are so burdened with responsibility that we just have to keep going on the usual path - there is no time to take that risky step to be creative or be happy.
And then there are always going to be people who don't mind the status quo. They are comfortable in it. "My friends did it, so I will also be okay doing it"; "This is how its always done"; "Why should I try something new". Or they will convince themselves that there is nothing better out there.

I will take marriage as an example since I had a poor one myself and have seen all kinds of relationships among my friends. Ask a man why he married his wife and he will say, "Everyone has to get married, so I got married too," (that is what my ex husband proudly said!!) Or he will say, "She can take care of me and my house....," meaning a housewife. It is certainly possible that he is genuinely satisfied with those qualities and he got married because everyone does. The most common reason for this is because he has not seen it any other way. His mother was that way, his female relatives are all that way, his friends wives are also all yea sure - that is how it is and it is okay. And for most part it is okay......until.....they meet someone who has it different.  His friend married for love, his wife is involved with all aspects of his life - personal and professional, both take care of the house and both can talk about issues that are important in their lives etc. And suddenly he may realize - "This is better. I could have had it too. I did not realize this was possible." And then the unrest begins; the relationship starts going bad; people start lying to each other, the husband starts looking outside to fulfill his needs.....and the poor wife may or may not be clueless about what is going on. On the other hand, he may still be happy with what he has - a housewife - because that is all he wanted in life. His does not need more than that.

The same happens for jobs status. We get stuck in a rut of a job because we are too afraid to make the move for a better opportunity. We think, "At least I am getting some money", "At least I have some status here", who knows what it will be if I move? The "at least" gets us down. It brings a sense of comfort to us....
I am commuting 2 hours to work - at least I am getting some money.
I am living at home with my parents - at least I have a home to live in.

This "at least" breeds the status quo. Once we convince ourselves that this is the best there can be - then we get into the rut of life. Then there is no progress.

So coming back to needs and progress: Our Needs Drive Our Progress. If we satisfy ourselves with the minimum needs and don't ask for more, then there is no progress in our life, in the society, in the world.  We will continue to be mediocre in life.  Great things happen only come when people take risks in their lives.

In order to see progress in our lives, we have to increase our need level, we have to ask "What more is there?" - once you start needing more from life, you will start asking questions, you may start seeing opportunities that will get you where you want to go. I do want to mention that your need level should be within your values and morals. No one person's needs should cause someone else to suffer. My needs should bring about a positive change not just for me, but for everyone.

One last thing to say about needs is the need for Romance. Yes Romance. Where does this fit in? When I am in love I feel I can achieve anything. It gives me the power, the drive, the confidence, the motivation, the support and most importantly the pure happiness that is needed for life to go on.  I will need more so I would be more willing to change when I am in love. Falling in love is a risky behavior in itself - we make ourselves more vulnerable to emotions...but that is another blog.  In love may mean different things to different people; it may not just mean love between two adults - it could also be the love of a child, the love of a sibling or parents. Of course there is no doubt that the love between two consenting adults is the major factor here.  It is driving force for a lot of many artists, authors and creators have been so because of some love they lost or found.

So....don't accept the status quo. Find the romance in your life that gives you the need to become better for yourself, become better for your family and eventually for the community. That will also increase your happiness index.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Growing Ginger

As I am approaching mid life, I am thinking what have I created in my life? And really the answer is: a big fat nothing. I don't have kids, I don't care for having pets and my green fingers are practically non existent. I am not planning to have any kids now or getting any pets, so I thought I would give growing plants a shot.

"Raat Ki Raani at my home"
For the past five years, since I have had a house, I have felt like experimenting on growing something. I planted a few plants in my little garden outside, but everything died - don't know what happened.  Even something as easy to grow as mint, which everyone says is a weed, did not grow for me. I was losing hope.  Then I last year I planted "raat ki raani" (queen of the night), and went on my summer vacation. When I came back, it has grown beautifully and was flowering! Success!! For the first time, I felt that I could try something out.

Ginger on the Big Island of Hawaii
Two months ago, I bought some ginger from the grocery store. It was fresh and had some green growth on it, as if it wanted to grow. So I thought - why not! Ginger flowers are one of my favorite flowers...they are beautiful and so colorful. I saw them for the first time in Hawaii and since then just wanted to have them in my house. I don't know what color the flowers would be in this plant but it has been a pleasure to see it grow. 
So to continue on....I  took the ginger root and buried it just under the soil of in a small planter. And I watered, and I placed it in the sun. It got plenty of sun and water and it started to grow.....Oh! I was thrilled! I took pictures as it was growing...enjoy the photos below. No flowers yet. And then all of a sudden, I see two more shoots coming out of the soil.  Okay!! Now I have a small piece of happiness! I thought there would be only one plant, but now I am curious to see the new growth.
just starting......
First leaf....
Second leaf....I think I can grow this! 
Its on its way now. 
Two month old now....
New shoots .... my little bit of happiness