Life Lessons Recap…

Here are some life lessons I am reflecting on this Saturday afternoon. Now, I pass you my wisdom:

1. Truth is definitely stranger than fiction. You just need to find the people who live that strange truth, which is a fraction of the large human population. Surrounding yourself with the right or wrong people can make all the difference. If your truth is strange for the people you’re with, the problem isn’t the strangeness of your life as much as it is the dullness of theirs.

2. Humans are simply animals in clothes. They live in a concrete jungle, minimize risk in their daily lives, and will abandon all morals when their survival is at stake. So really, humans are simply animals in clothes. Once this truth is internalized, it’s easy to lose fear of people and also forgive them for their more-often-than-not evil ways.

3. Learning to engineer the mind is tougher than mastering any external force. It is also more rewarding than any external victory. It is a controlled mind that can create joy in misery. An uncontrolled mind can find misery in heaven.

4. Everything around us is an impediment to controlling the mind. From the people eager to learn everything about us to social media sites that force us to paint a picture of a happy life, everything forces us to look outwards. In all this relationship-balancing, success-painting and errand-running, the only person ignored is our own selves. How do you feel every time you log off Facebook? Do you feel “Aah, that was the best 10 minutes I spent today.” Or do you feel “Really? Did I just spend my time liking pictures of what people ate for lunch this Saturday? Won’t it all just mean crap (literally) within the next day?”

5. So really, the sum of 1,2,3 and 4 is this: don’t stress about what you see and project outwards. There’s too much chaos. There’s chaos in our homes, on the streets, in the Parliament, and in the galaxy. And one human lifetime is very short to fix all this chaos. There’s a sea inside of us though, waiting to be discovered. Diving inwards may make people – weird, reclusive, whimsical. But it just may make you happier. So, don’t care, and do your thing.

Seeking our answers in data

Websites were burgeoning with analyst perspectives during the US Presidential elections. XKCD took a dig at this in their comic, but I cannot rule out some political pundit may have actually concluded “No candidate whose first name contains a ‘K’ has lost.” I follow New Scientist on Twitter, and usually get tweets like “Dinosaurs might have once gazed into the Grand Canyon.” My response usually to such tweets is, “Ok”.

I believe advent of numerous analysis techniques, and human curiosity leads to all kinds of research. That is great – research and curiosity are important, fulfilling endeavors. What I find absurd is the human audacity to conclude “Rigorous analysis shows X happened in the past, hence Y will happen in the future under similar conditions.” I find this logic echoing in many expert opinions across politics, science, health and even arts.  Here’s a Dilbert comic on our need to extrapolate research facts to understand ourselves.

I believe the need to know, and atleast predict the future, is a human flaw. Historical lessons and analysis can definitely make us wiser, but they cannot help us predict the future. Case in point: During the ’80s, sci-fi movies showed us grandiose visions of space travel, and us getting eaten up by aliens. 2001: A Space Odyssey gave us HAL, thus painting a vivid picture of a future filled with abominable space creatures and evil, plotting, philosophical computers.

However, nobody could predicted the scientific breakthrough that came to redefine our lives – the Internet. Such is future, it unfolds in often unexpected ways. Trying to predict it is futile, let it play like a movie you haven’t read reviews of and give yourself room to be surprised (hopefully, pleasantly).