Year of Relentless Dreaming

This year will be a year of relentless dreaming. I’ve dedicated the past five years to becoming more capable. What would complete my education would be time at the Stanford d. School; my dream school. If I get in, that would be a true testament to my hard work all these years.

Relentless dreaming to me means persevering in this dream of mine. It is clear that there is not equity in the world. I am in pursuit of my dream to help others. To use my privilege of education to empower others to achieve their full potentials through access to opportunities.

At the helm of my experiences is the concept of beauty. I am motivated by a beautiful world. A society where we can live in harmony and at peace with each other. A community where there is no unnecessary suffering. Hunger, water scarcity, and avoidable health issues should be the priority of our efforts to lift each other up.

I’ve been increasingly focused on the phenomenon of the rural to urban migration. To me, this migration is a symptom of a larger systemic cause. I want to interview these migrants. They are located in the slums. The origin, however, as a colleague, Noorie, shared with me is that these migrants originate from the rural areas. The slums represent the fringes of both localities; urban and rural.

At the same time, it is the consumption patterns of those living in the city that fuel land degradation, rural degradation, and larger environmental degradation. We need to have sustainable cities, meaning that value systems are aligned with environmental regeneration. Bolstering the rural will not be enough. It is interesting that cities do not exist without the rural; this interdependence, as such labeled inter- because the cash economy has penetrated into rural regions, is shrouded from plain view.

We need to introduce and instill in citizens everywhere, regeneration as a value. Otherwise, the diversity of species will dwindle, our air will become more polluted, and we’ll have a degraded world landscaped by our human hands.

I have three important goals for this year.

  • Persevere harder in becoming you
  • Master non-violent communication
  • Be wildly grateful

We often get asked the question of “who are you?” It’s a question that pierces into the void we’ve avoided confronting. I want to be able to better answer this question. It’s a question I ask myself everytime I travel to a new place, as if mobility creates reality.

Persevere harder in becoming you. Fight the temptation to falter to mindless media like YouTube and aimlessly browsing websites. When you feel this temptation, write it down and confront the void. Spend more time reading, drawing, and creating. Continue the habit of two books a month. Continue attending drawing school in your efforts to master sketching as a medium. Find ways to create whether that is through writing, photography, or crafting journals. At the core of me sits a desire to learn so that I can become more capable of capturing and describing my experience of beauty.

Master non-violent communication. After reading Non-violent Communication by Marshall B. Rosenberg, I realized that I am not cognizant of my needs nor the needs of others. To become a better listener, is to listen for needs. I want to become more patient in my listening. I have always been averse to my own needs, thinking I don’t need much (a belief that originates from gratitude and how much I’ve been given in this life). It is however that ‘much’ that needs to be attended to. By recognizing what I need, I can distance myself one step further from reacting, become more patient in more communication, listen more effectively, and achieve a mode of communication that values the other.

Be wildly grateful. Ever since I moved to New York, I have found less and less time to be grateful for those that believed in and given to me. It is time to reinstate wild gratitude as the forefront of my life ethos. I want to always be in constant gratitude to my professors, my parents, my friends, and my mentors. The list gets longer each year, and keeping in touch with all of them takes intentional time and effort. Something new I want to try is be grateful towards strangers or those lesser known. To implement this goal, often send handmade postcards and letters to those beloved.

As the greater half of this year will be spent working with my advisor and colleague Sheeba, I will still make intentional time for these three goals. In the recent year, I have let work define a large part of my existence. As a result, I have made less intentional time for adventures in nature and spending ‘unproductive’ time with friends. I love my work, however, as Sheeba once said, “I believe you can do all you want to do in your daily life”; meaning one can fit these desires into life without dissonance. The book Immunity to Change by Kegan & Lahey has helped me uncover deeper layers to why I am the way I am. Through a four-column exercise I did on the 33-hour train ride from Bangalore to Delhi, I discovered that I have a need to appear knowledgeable or to always feel the need that I have to offer something of value to others. I assume without knowledge, I am worthless as a person. As a child, I was lectured very frequently by my father. These sessions would happen in the living room, and the result was always tears on my and my sister’s part and fear, anger, and discipline on my father’s part. Having not attained a higher education, my father would always tell how at work he was discriminated and pushed around by educated colleagues. It was drilled into us from an early age, that education is paramount in my father’s cruel world. Our father once told me and my sister that we were trash, worthless and useless. On a psychological level, I was determined to prove to my father that I wasn’t trash, that I’ll prove my worth and have him see the wrongs of his words.

Another aspect that was revealed was that I have an unarticulated need to be seen as a good person with best of intentions towards others. Not having my true intentions shine through is my worst fear and failure. Although I have always said I do not care what others think of me, this exercise revealed to me that I still do care about what others think of me. I can recall many instances where others perceived me in a way that was negative. These instances would create the conditions for feelings of hurt to well up within me. I care whether or not I communicate effectively and genuinely with others, as thus their response and view matters. The crux of this all is that I have now recognized my need. By recognizing my need, I can start to see that it’s not always about me (as a friend I’ve lost once wisely said to me). I don’t need to react or feel sad when perceived in the wrong way. Negative reactions on other people’s parts simply reveals their vital needs and desires; an opportunity to listen to others.

My father is a changed man these days. He no longer has fits of rage and anger within him. I do wish to spend more time with him, despite the difficulty of conversing with his traditional thinking.

My last entry for this long sequence, is what I have learned from Sheeba. It’s a rare delight to be able to spend so much time around those elder to me. Sheeba has taught me an immense amount in regards to living in the 30’s. Through my time with her, I have seen how she runs a family, prioritizes her child and work, how she spends time with her husband, and how she makes time for herself. Alongside all of this, I have been introduced to her entire network, from her mother to her husband’s mother to her close friends. It is a treat to be surrounded by all these slightly elders. Often times, these individuals speak to how I am teaching them things! For me, however, I am learning that time is truly made. I am learning that it is still possible to keep that sparkle in the eye while running a family. There are many ways to save time such as utilizing the oven more in cooking, hiring cooks and dishwashers, and getting groceries delivered. Date nights with your significant other are important as ever and should be done either weekly or bi-weekly. Cooking for friends is a joyous activity that should be done more. Sheeba feels quite alone in this practice. Cooking is a joyful skill to have. Become that, an exquisite meal for others (Hafiz). Make your future house cozy and environmentally friendly. Do not use cement in your future house! Recognize that there are things some people feel strongly about. Know when to push and how to ask for what you want. Be very direct in your asks. From Rohit, continue reading books voraciously.