Like many people, I have never been comfortable writing or sharing my life experiences with a larger crowd. The concept of keeping a journal (Yes! I am old fashioned) or having a blog has a daunting effect on me. Hence I never keep them. So I have never written what I feel directly, I may have talked about it with some people as discreetly as possible. These people are those who I am absolutely comfortable with, few friends who have supported me in every phase of my scary little adventures and have been there to see it or listen to it. And as I like to keep my real life as separate as I can from my social media presence (I hardly post anything btw); I may never broadcast or share the events that are shaping my real life to a much larger audience. It’s not really a thing I believe in anymore. Perhaps someday when I will be someone important for what I do or who I become; I may write a fancy book or do a talk telling how things played out for me. Until then I will be as offline as I can be, but something happened last November (Year 2016).
As I was turning 26; I realized something strange. I figured I am nearing half-life of the average human life expectancy limit. As geeky as it may sound; I looked in the mirror and thought I am at a certain age now. Wait! If you are older than me then you might be thinking what this young man is talking about; he has to get to the tougher part yet and he hasn’t seen the other side of 26; you might even have a large list of not so useful stuff that may have happened in your life. A big promotion, a massive wedding, twins or even multiple pilgrimages to the holy sites of your belief system. I will get there some other time, remember I turned 26 last November. Let’s not worry about it for a while.
And more importantly; if you are younger than me then you must be thinking what weird stuff I am about to talk about; did I grow horns on my 26th birthday or was I chosen by the Green Lantern Corps. Or simply is it that bad. You see; its never about the number. 26 is an even number, a two digit number; there is nothing special about it. It mostly about that moment of realization; if you are smarter than the average fifth grader; you will have that moment much quicker in life. It’s important that you experience that moment. 26 or no 26. So whats that golden moment of realization. I like that phrase bit’sits getting mundane now since I used it twice already in this section. The question that hit me hard was “What have I learned in my life so far?”
The question was a trick-phrase my mind threw at me. It was the paraphrased title of one of my favorite books “Things I have learned in my life so far” by Stefan Sagmeister and its a fantastic book; I recommend every creative to read it. The book is not about what I am about to tell you but the statement had me thinking about my own experiences.
So I asked myself at 26 years of age; “What have I learned in my life so far?”. I thought for a moment; that moment stretched to a few hours as I scribbled every thought I had on the page of the fancy yellow notebook with cappuccino stains on its cover (I guess it’s not fancy anymore). I jotted down everything that I could. Every statement derived from some experience I had in travel, a memory, an affair, a painting or a glimpse. It was tricky to track back my every learning experience. I kept on writing.
And it turned out to be a weird mix of both intentional or unintentional things I have learned in my life about myself as a person. They dictate who I am now. They may not apply to anyone else (or they may) but they are a result of several hundred hours of experiences I had from the most mundane daily things to the ethereal moments I have lived.
So here is what I have learned in my life so far, not in any particular order. Some of them are written as statements while others may sound like advice but they are clearly my advice to myself. Enjoy!
1. School children and school buildings make me very happy.
2. Being kind is far more important than being rich.
3. Morality has nothing to do with religion.
4. Evil spirits exist; they are trapped inside human bodies and roam around us.
5. Balconies with washed laundry, a random glimpse of someones house excites me. I like to observe lifestyles.
6. Social norms are manmade; followed blindly by people who never question it logically.
7. Depression is real; its okay to cry randomly.
8. Everyone is right; until they are uncomfortable with what they believe in.
9. People will forget you and the things you have done for them. You must forget them too and move on. At one point in life; they will benefit from it once again and it will trigger back the thought of you.
10. Gyms and people with fitness goals freak me out.
11. The smell of baby powder is the most annoying fragrance. Even babies shouldn’t use it.
12. Take care of anyone who is sick. Accompany them for their tests, bring them meds. Tell them to take care of themselves. Remind them to eat properly.
13. Stop talking when everyone’s talking.
14. At least once in your half-life, love someone to a point of madness.
15. Help others by being in shadows, not all superheroes land in broad daylight wearing capes (or cowls at night)
16. At least once a year; pay for someone’s school books, tuition fee or medicines. Help someone save.
17. Being intellectual has no effect on people brought up in mediocre mindsets.
18. Stop answering questions that everyone’s asking. Stop asking questions that everyone’s answering.
19. Being creative can backfire any day.
20. People do all kinds of weird stuff daily; let them act as if they don’t.
21. Share your skills with others. Educate someone. It may change a life. Yours or theirs.
22. Separate yourself from anyone who disrespects your craft. You will soon be closer to the ones who do.
23. Attach memories to objects and places. Hold onto that last spray of cologne you wore that day. Revisit that cafe you had that date. Revisit each memory, cry over them and then live with them happily ever after.
24. Share your belongings to the man or woman you love the most. You will be surprised by the results.
25. It is easy to lose weight. Those who are struggling haven’t found the secret yet.
26. If you play by the rules; prepare to be ridiculed. You will soon win.
27. Never ruin someone’s selfie. Never.
28. Never break a queue. Park the cart back after grocery shopping. Put things back in the correct aisle if you decide not to buy it later.
29. Read food labels and medicine leaflets. You should know whats going inside your body.
30. Avoid eye contact with women who you think are cautious about it.
31. Sharing a smile with special children makes me happy.
32. Use loads of post its, make lists. Stick to the list.
33. Always keep some new clothes. Always.
34. Let your beloved pick your outfits every once in a while. It will remind you of him/her every time you are in it.
35. Pray for animals who you see or know are injured, abandoned or lost.
36. Medicines fix the symptoms, the mind fixes everything else.
37. Write long emails to the person you love about your feelings for them. Go over them a few times, make additions in them with dates and timings. Let those emails sit in the drafts for a while. Eventually, you will either send them or delete them.
38. Be in a love story you want the world to see in a movie or read in a book.
39. Saving money has a therapeutic effect on me.
40. People measure success by the car you drive or the mansion you live in and the lavish lifestyle you project all over the internet. Disappoint such people.
41. Share a chocolate only if you really love someone. Else you must eat the whole thing yourself.
42. Give food to people before you eat.
43. Discussing movies, tv series, computer games and comics is absolutely pointless and a waste of time. It wouldn’t change or improve what the creators made it like. Likability is a personal matter and no single person is capable of judging a piece of art made by experts. So it is pointless. Keep your opinions in your head.
44. Ignore them, Ignore them, Ignore them. Nuke them.
45. Talking about taboos make people uncomfortable in the society. Do it more often. Break the taboo of not talking about the taboos.
46. If they think you are an atheist, do not make the effort to make them believe otherwise.
47. Talk to yourself. Play out those fictional scenarios. It will help you make them real.
48. Interview yourself every few months.
49. Accents are cool. Learn as many as you can. No matter how corny or cheesy you may sound.
50. Mention your teachers by name. Always. No matter how many people know them. They shaped you. You owe them.
51. Stalking sometimes can be helpful. It will exactly show you where you didn’t end up.
52. Feeding birds bring blessings. Tried and tested.
That was long. Wasn’t it? Is this all I have learned in my life. Perhaps not. I may not have included many things that I am aware of and many I may have picked up and never noticed but practiced. Someday sometime, a few years later I might re-write or extend this list. For now; I leave you with a thought of me, a perception and maybe an image. I try every day to be better, I fail mostly like a human but somedays I succeed like today. I picked up the courage to share this and cross the last item from my list of the day.
Thanks for reading and do good.