Inspiration is an Amazing Thing

A Wall of Inspiration outside of a Yoga Studio in Goa.

 

I’ve realized recently that I can maintain a positive attitude and high energy level during the day simply by staying inspired. Even the smallest thing will inspire me.

I’m incredibly inspired by people who are passionate about something in their life and fiercely do whatever it takes to make their dreams a reality.

I’m inspired by people who want to do more than sit in a cubicle and become a cog in a dying system of doing business just because it’s safe.

I’m inspired by people who are not living for the weekend and are actively changing and growing themselves.

I’m inspired by developers younger than me who have created amazing things and can see a world of infinite possibilities for their generation.

I’m inspired by people who are living simply but purposefully.

I’m inspired by people who have given up much of their life to benefit the lives of others.

I’m inspired by the growth of technology and it’s ability to network so many people together who are like-minded to share thoughts with people who may be a world apart and grow niche communities that otherwise may never have formed due to geographical limitations; essentially allowing for instantaneous communication across the globe.

I’m inspired by change-makers and trouble-makers and everyone in-between who bucks authority and against all odds attempts to forge their own paths in life.

I’m inspired by people in-tune with their internal energy and make it a point to spread positive energy to others out of pure kindness and compassion.

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We are all carriers of information. Whether that information is simply knowing the answer to a question or describing a life-altering experience, we carry with us information that we use to make decisions in the world around us. Some of us consume a lot of information and we become data banks and experts on a certain topic. Some of us discover new information that can be shared to others. In many ways, these are just messages. Messages we constantly send via our body language, presence, speech, and other mediums like text/email/IM.

Gandhi wrote: “My life is my message”.


Information is very fluid, it flows like a river and creates currents and waves depending on the importance of it. Information can be power if it provides understanding to those that receive it. Information can be strength to those that it enlightens. Information can simply be a sign that says where you are and where you need to be.

Information flows to all of us in some way or the other like the water of a tree. We are all roots and branches of the same tree — literally. Family trees map out our close ancestors, but if you followed it far enough, you’d find we are all connected deeply down this tree. Science has shown this as well — our DNA is a genetic footprint of this fact.

The most noble thing you can do in this world is live by the truth you know deep in your heart. We all know it because we are all connected to it on some level. It’s that tug you feel inside when you hear about a friend who has cancer. It’s that void you feel in your chest when someone close to you suddenly passes away and a veil is lifted on the world and you realize certain things just don’t matter in the grand scheme of things — our homes, our cars, our status, our job, and even money.

We realize money can only get us so far, but love can get us farther. Love for ourselves, for others and the world.

“Forsake not truth even unto death.” – Gandhi


We must make our lives our message. Live from the inside of our beings out into the external world, not the other way around. Not be defined by the media — that we’re not good enough, that we’re not pretty enough, that we need that promotion to be respected. Our best selves are always within us, we just have to choose to realize that and live by it.

Life can take many turns. It can go over roadblocks, be met with uncertainty, provide unexpected outcomes, but like a ripple in an ocean, our lives continue to move with the current.

***

I’m inspired by the smile of a little girl I met on the streets of Ahmedabad who may not have much in life, but exudes happiness that seems to evade the most successful of us in the western world. There’s something we can all learn from her.

 
What has inspired you recently?

 



Color your Life

Jan. 14th and 15th is the Uttarayana kite-festival celebrated in Gujarat, India. It’s a tremendously colorful spectacle with thousands of people flying kites on the terraces and rooftops of buildings throughout the city. Uttarayana is meant to mark the day that the Sun begins to travel North above the hemisphere signaling the approaching Summer. It’s a truly amazing sight that has to be experienced to understand. Kite shops line the roads and shops close down for the weekend as everyone takes time off to be with family/friends and fly their kites while dancing to music.

The day after I arrived, we went to a kite shop to pick up a pack of brightly colored kites on our way to downtown Ahmedabad. The cultural richness of the city is not missed when passing through the old city walls that used to encompass the town.

 

The downtown streets of Ahmedabad are very narrow and so similar to all the other streets that it was like walking through a maze finding the right building to climb up. We actually got lost twice after we parked going to the building and on our way back to the car. After we got to the building, we ascended the stairs to the roof where others had gathered either tying their kite together or flying it off the roof. Even the strings of the kites were brightly colored neon-pink or yellow that would leave your hands colored after the paint chipped off of the string.

Here are some pictures of what it looked like flying the kites:

The festival continued well into the night as we watched in awe as the night sky was lit up by orbs of light similar to the chinese festivals. Essentially they were tiny hot air balloons powered by small candles and hundreds of them flying up through the sky at once.

An orb of light flying above the terrace. It appears reddish from the glow of the candle flame within.

The festival is known for continuing throughout the day and night.
***
At night, sitting on that terrace, reflecting on the colorful kites during the day and the balls of light flying at night, I realized something about the transition:

Our world is filled with Dualities. Day/Night. Black/White. Up/Down. Hot/Cold. Ying/Yang.

When you balance the outside, you balance the inside.

If you build strength on the outside, you feel stronger on the inside.

Why do people feel better after a tiring run? You feel better if you’ve accomplished something on the outside, which drives that accomplishment inside.

Our exterior world and inner world, which is our own body, mind and spirit are inter-linked.

It’s about finding that balance within yourself and the universe.

When gurus always say “hapiness within you” or find “peace within”. What they mean is that simply reflecting those thoughts and feelings into the exterior world, reflect back into your interior world. If dropping weight makes you feel better about yourself, you truly will be better. You must actually be happy and endlessly satiated with the state of your weight or you go into imbalance.

Whatever you do on the outside reflects back on yourself inside.

***

We live in a very vanilla world. We get drawn into patterns of big brands, big box companies, and bland products. We seek out a Starbucks not necessarily because of their coffee, but for the familiarity. In many ways, this cuts away at the core of creativity. Other brands and companies begin to copy the way of the leading brand until they all are vanilla, the same message, the same product. Corporations have been structured like this for years, leading to the same idea for work schedule, retirement plans, benefits. Creative ways in actually achieving production and consumption are thrown by the side as bigger solutions are seen as the sole answer. In times of economic woe, as we’ve seen in 2008, the necessity to tighten spending, consumption of resources can lead us back to the infinite possibilities of a business/product/service/idea. New ideas begin to be possible as opportunities for change open up. The truth is that these ideas were always possible, but money, systems and familiarity blind us from seeing the way.

I walked into a restaurant in Goa that had over 50 items but nothing mentioning simply some cut up fruit. Since I noticed some items used bananas and oranges, I  simply asked for them to cut me up some bananas and oranges. At first there was a look of confusion on the server’s face as to how this would work, but I simply smiled and he went back to the kitchen and had this made:

When your menu item isn’t there, why not just create it?

Just like the kites flying high above Ahmedabad, coloring the sky with bright hues, color your own life with new experiences that add value. Create a handmade card instead of picking one up from Hallmark, skip Panera for a local bakery down the street, make your own pizza from scratch with fresh ingredients rather than ordering delivery. Share these moments with others so they can experience them too. It’s the little things in life that add spice and flavor to keep things interesting.



Bloom Your Vision From the Depths of Uncertainty

 

The Matrimandir at the center of Auroville in Pondicherry, India. Symbolizing the bud of a Lotus flower blooming.

 

“Our world is merely a reflection of ourselves.”

The blooming of a lotus flower is an amazing thing. I’ve been in india the past two weeks where the lotus is regarded as the national flower. It’s the only flower that is able to fully bloom among the dark, shrouded sludge of a swamp. Among all this muck, rises beauty in a magnificent form.

It therefore symbolizes spirituality, fruitfulness, wealth, knowledge and illumination in India.

Many people have a stereotypical view of India as being a very chronically dirty place. With dust, pollution, over-crowded traffic, limited city planning, and a humid heat that keeps people in a state of low energy. Pollution isn’t limited to the trash that is littered throughout streets, but also the imposing noise and light polution wherever you go. Endless honking can be heard in every corner of every city as the common way of driving seems to be honking as if you were dribbling a basketball.

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I just finished traveling through almost 5 states in India, three of which I had never been to before. Relatives were asking “who’s accompanying you?”, “why are you going?”, to which I would simply respond “I’m going alone to really see India, not the way others do, but the way I do.” I never de-value having companionship or family/friends when visiting a new place, but simply appreciate the value in everything including solo travel. My journey took me through Bangalore -> Pondicherry/Auroville -> Madurai -> Kochin -> Goa -> Ahmedebad and the states of Karnataka -> Tamil Nadu -> Kerala -> Goa -> Gujarat. There is one profound thing I realized as I mingled with tech professionals in the bustling city of Bangalore, found inner peace in Auroville, enjoyed company of family in Madurai, experienced coastal richness in Kochin, traded stories with new friends while growing a deeper understanding of Yoga in Goa, and finally landed in the Ahmedebad airport last Friday… all of us express an inner desire to see the best of ourselves and our beliefs in the world around us. We want to prove with our actions an inner truth that lies within us. We crave deeply in our hearts to show this to others through: material possessions, charitable donations, volunteer work, organizations we join, recognizations (awards, trophies, medals), our status or position in a company, and even our own art.

I noticed it was beautiful not what people were doing or how they were doing it, but rather why they were doing what they were doing. Why had someone who had lived most of her life in London now make handcrafted paper in Pondicherry? Why had an Austrian couple who had stable jobs back home leave everything to open up a creperie in Goa? Why had an auto rikshaw driver in Kerela left his poor village to make a living as a driver in a wealthier state? These were all stories I encountered on my trip that had one common thread — there was an inner truth as to why they were doing what they were doing. From the outside it may look like someone is just driving, or someone is just serving crepes, or just making paper… but deep down there’s a story, there’s a reason, there’s a purpose within all of us.

Where we find beauty, we find inspiration, we find meaning, and we find ourselves.

***

Pondicherry and Auroville was devasted just 3 days before I had arrived by the largest cyclone seen in over 20 years. Neighborhoodds looked like impoverished ghettos, with trees collapsed in every direction and crumbled concrete walls blocking the roads. Power lines were hanging open across storefronts and many areas were being cleared by large tractors. The botanical gardens, which I was told was normally much more open was now shrouded by fallen branches and looked more like a lumber yard. The cleanup crews had cleared much of the streets and Auroville was still accessible even though 70% of the trees had been knocked down.

Here are pictures of just some of the destruction:

 

Among all this destruction, there was a beatifully and artfully placed authentic French Boulangerie, a French Bakery, still open called Baker’s Street.

From the steps of the shop you could see a collapsed roof, an open drainage system that was filled with green water, and debris littered across the street, but this well-known shop had placed their sign further out into the street and opened their doors to the smell of freshly baked baquettes and pastries.

The contrast was stark and noticeable, like a white lotus flower rising out of darkest depths of a pond. I noticed something amazing in that moment about India that I had failed to realize — most of India is actually like this. Anyone who has visited India is well aware of the dusty air, the dirty streets, the endless traffic, and the pollution that is everywhere. But there is always some nice-looking shop in the middle of all of this. Typically these are the shops mentioned in travel guides, the shops locals know well, and the highly respected ones in the community. They could be well-known silk shops, jewlery shops, or restaurants, but they are all very noticeable from their storefront appearance with the contrast of everything around it. Even in the more developed areas of India, you see this on some level.

This is no different than our own experiences in life.

While others may just see the murkiness — the difficulties, the challenges, the hard work, find the beauty in the little things around you and cultivate your own vision from the depths of uncertainty. Create those things in life that will allow your own lotus flower to bloom into this world.