one thing, really really well

Today’s theme is something on the premise of doing one thing really really well. I’m not sure if this is popping on my head as I’m getting older, but I’ve always felt that it’s inspiring to see people do specific specialties on a different level. It may not be necessarily in their regular jobs. It can be a hobby or a craft in which they’re ardently passionately into. As I get older, I am having a realization that too much multitasking actually kills us from the inside. Hopping between several things at the same time takes away the soul from any activity. I was lately reading a Zen book on minimalist philosophies and one of the aspects that the author touched upon was on being present in what we do. While eating, for example, it’s a different experience when we enjoy every morsel and munch it relishing every bit of it. We won’t get this feeling when we scroll our phones while eating, for instance.

Tim Denning writes on his piece The Power of Doing Only One Thing on bringing about focus and improvement with this practice.

Doing one thing gives you extreme focus. This focus can be channeled towards tasks that lead to mastery instead of trying to dabble in lots of unrelated passions. Focus is how you reach states of flow and achieve results that look impossible.

Doing one thing causes you to focus and practice more. Through this process, you can see your failures, areas of improvement, and areas that you’re good at. This form of reflection gives you real-time feedback that can further compound your results.

Similar resonating thoughts were read from Carl Newport in his book Deep Work

“Professional activities performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that push your cognitive capabilities to their limit. These efforts create new value, improve your skill, and are hard to replicate. Deep work is necessary to wring every last drop of value out of your current intellectual capacity. We now know from decades of research in both psychology and neuroscience that the state of mental strain that accompanies deep work is also necessary to improve your abilities.”

“Shallow Work: Noncognitively demanding, logistical-style tasks, often performed while distracted. These efforts tends to not create much new value in the world and are easy to replicate. In an age of network tools, in other words, knowledge workers increasingly replace deep work with the shallow alternative — constantly sending and receiving e-mail messages like human network routers, with frequent breaks for quick hits of distraction.”

– Cal Newport , Deep Work

To complement this, I’d highly encourage you to skim through a recent write up where we talked about Maker’s time.

The “world” is inside you :)

Vision is so magical if we ponder about its intricacies. A photograph of Netta that I took from Havelock Islands

The title of the post might make you puzzled. But I would like to take you through a small journey of thoughts and discover the secret embodied in the title! It’ll be good if you can be distraction-free for two minutes as you read this, as this is a very important reality that can blow your mind! I value your time. Let’s think together : )

Today, we are adding a slice into our Ponder Series. I read something along these lines about a decade ago through several books that profoundly changed my perspectives on how we perceive the world. If you haven’t read about this theme before, this could possibly be a key that could unlock many secrets of thoughts and perceptions about people and things around you and everything happening to you. Right now, you’d be reading these words on your phone/tablet or PC. If it’s the phone, for example, you’d be now scrolling with your fingers on the phone screen or touching your mouse/touchpad if you’re reading on a computer. Reality for most people is what they can see with their eyes & touch with their hands. You touch your phone now while reading this and believe that it’s real. This is the normal conception of reality that has conquered generations and their views. But there’s a deeper side to it if we ponder deeply. Everything we confront and experience – everything – the chair that you sit on, the bed you sleep on, the window of your room, the buildings near you, roads, cars, people you see, spaces, cafes, your loved ones, the experiences we go through in life, in short everything is perceived through our five senses. We know this well, but have you wondered how this magic really happens! Let’s ponder on how the information of the exterior world reaches you through your senses.

You and me have five sensory faculties – sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch. If we think about it from a scientific point of view, all these senses work in the same way. For each sensory faculties, stimuli from objects in the external world and taken through these senses and nerves carry them to the sensory centers in the brain. These stimuli that induce these signals include lights (for vision), sounds (for hearing), smells, tastes, textures (for touch). These stimuli reach the brain only as electric signals.

Let’s take our vision as an example. Light rays (photons) emanating from different objects around you reach the retina at the back of your eye system and passing through several stages, they get converted into electrical signals. These signals then reach the brain’s vision centre through the nerves. This colorful and bright three-dimensional imagery that you see is formed at this vision centre, which is only a few cubic centimeters. So, when you hold your phone in your hand, you’re perceiving the “image” of the phone at the back of your brain in a minuscule space. This system of electrical impulses broadly applies to our other senses as well.

“Experiencing” an orange juice through sensory faculties

When you taste a glass of fresh orange juice, cells on your tongue surface transfer the stimuli into electrical signals that we perceive as taste. The aroma of the fresh orange juice near you is transformed into electrical signals by the cells in the epithelium of the nose. When you touch the glass cup, there are special sensors that are lodged beneath the skin surfaces that transform touch impulses and sensations of hardness/softness to electric signals. Similarly, your ear also have a similar mechanism that converts sounds into electricals signals. That’s how you hear the sound of the glass when you place it on the table. You perceive that you are drinking an orange juice when all these senses cohesively and harmoniously work together with these electrical signals for different senses.

Now is the important concept that needs to be thought about. Whether the orange juice exists or not cannot be known by us. The “orange juice” that you know is a blend or collection of its taste sensed by the tongue, its odour sensed by your nose, the color, and shape captured by your eyes, and only its attributes perceived through these senses is what is accessible to you. You don’t have access to the “original” version outside. It shows the limitation of ours to reach the physical world. Everything around us we are in touch with and our experiences are a compiled effect of different perceptions such as sight, hearing, and touch. All we can do is process the data of electrical impulses in our brain’s sensory centers of our brains. So, instead of the “original” of the matter, we are confronting its “copies” inside our brain. At THIS point, we tend to believe that the copies that we experience are the real matter outside, which is not the case as we just examined 🙂

Orange juice that you drank is only a simulation. Which orange juice is real? The one that is formed by your senses or the real one on the table? It’s no doubt that we are experiencing an aggregate of our perceptions throughout our lives. From every object you touch to anything you experience are perceptions. So whatever you touch, hear, smell and define as “matter”, or what you think as “the world we live in” is nothing else but an interpretation of electrical signals in our brain. The “original” cannot be reached, but only its copy is experienced in your brain! So that means if your olfactory nerve from the nose receptors are disconnected, you cannot feel the sense of smell.

Similar concept shall be extended to the sense of space and distance as well. When you read these words on this page, the distance between you and this page is emptiness perceived in your brain. When you think of stars or moon, you think they appear distant in the sky, but what you’re actually seeing is within you, in your vision center. So, as you sit and read this blog post now, you are technically not inside the room you think you are in, but the room is inside you! The body deceives you in thinking that we’re inside it. Like the orange juice we just discussed, your physical body is also a set of images or perceptions formed in your brain!

You may be able to comprehend this better when you think of how you dream. When you dream, you may experience that you’re riding a horse for example, but in reality, you’d realize that you were on the bed when you wake up from your slumber.

That brings us to the conclusion that our access to the external world is very limited. Now you would understand why saints say that the universe is within you! The way we look at our world changes when we understand and comprehend that our soul is experiencing and watching everything on a screen. Everything is inside you. Think about it. Ponder about this magic happening every single moment. Thank you for reading Ponder Series with me 🙂

Some of the chapters from the Ponder Series that you can read on :

> Perceiving Time
Ornate Blossoms
Visual Narrative – Ponder Series
Reflecting on Shadows
Stumble over Pebbles
Ethereal Quality | Petals
Golden Ratio
Vision – Pondering on the intricacies
Ruminating on Bird Nests
Living Embellishments
Pondering on Birds 

If you are reading this series for the first time, have a look at the intent post.

perceiving time | ponder series

I couldn’t write for the past few days due to my frame of mind, not in the beautiful space I need to be in, to put my heart into what I do. Today, I’m planning to write about the perception of time and some contemplation on some of my recent thoughts on this theme. Welcome to another slice of our Ponder Series. You won’t be bored with a long read while we explore together on the wonders of time and its perception.

The perception of time and its intricacies are keys to several extraordinary secrets about the world we live in. A baby does not come out in a moment, but takes almost 9 months. A seed could have become a huge oak in a day, but it takes hundreds of years. We don’t eat the fruit on the same day that we plant a tree. Fruits of labor may not be seen right away. All things take time. There are certain things that cannot be fast-tracked. We often wonder about the magic of time and how it’s perceived.

In a wonderful article with regards to time on the brain, George Musser writes,

“It’s not that our memory is a glitchy wetware version of computer flash memory; it’s that the computer metaphor just doesn’t apply. Roediger said we store only bits and pieces of what happened—a smattering of impressions we weave together into feels like a seamless narrative. When we retrieve a memory, we also rewrite it, so that the next time we go to remember it, we don’t retrieve the original memory but the last one we recollected. So, each time we tell a story, we embellish it, while remaining genuinely convinced of the veracity of our memories.”

This is very profound. What we know and perceive as “past” is really a smattering of impressions we weave together as the author articulates it. All the experiences, events happening truly runs as “stories” in our minds and we only have impressions of them as they pass us. When you read an article on my website, for example, that’s a story weaved in your mind when you think about it later. We “perceive” time by usually comparing a “story” or a “moment” with a previously known moment or event if we think about it. When you’re reading this blog on your phone or on your computer screen, just clap your hands once and you’ll hear a sound. If you clap once again, you’ll hear another sound. Now, we call this interval between these two claps “time” by thinking that there’s an interval between them. When you clap the hands for the second time, the first clap sound you heard is only nothing more than a memory that’s formed in your mind, sort of like an imagination. You see, this comparison of moments and events and correlating with each other is what we perceive as time in our lives.

Before reading this post, let’s say you came to the room that you’re in now from a different room and let’s say you sat on the couch/chair or on the bed that you’re in now and once you sit and read what you’re reading now,  the images of how you came to the room before opening this website are now only information in your memory. That’s how we perceive time. Hence, the perception of time is heavily tied and if not only tied to the sequence of memories and stories running in our brains. It’s sort of like a movie being loaded with us being the actors in that play. Without these correlations of memories, there wouldn’t be any perception of time. I turned 32 recently. I determine it so because I have my mind being accumulated with memories and events related to those 32 years. If my memories do not exist, then I wouldn’t have any clue of a so-called “preceding period” and would only be having an experience of the single moment in which I’m living. In case if you haven’t thought about it before, pause for a moment and ponder on this reality.

Reels are being played in our brains and stories and perceptions are weaved on and on. That’s a true wonder only for minds who think about them. Deep thought is the key to gratitude.  Thank you for reading. I’m planning to write some other chapters on the same theme. It’s actually one of my favorite topic that I can write on and on with a hot cup of tea. Do write your thoughts to me.

Some of the chapters from the Ponder Series that you can read on :

> Ornate Blossoms
> Visual Narrative – Ponder Series
Reflecting on Shadows
Stumble over Pebbles
Ethereal Quality | Petals
Golden Ratio
Vision – Pondering on the intricacies
Ruminating on Bird Nests
Living Embellishments
Pondering on Birds 

If you are reading this series for the first time, have a look at the intent post.


Quality | indelible objectivity

The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.”, said Benjamin Franklin or Aldo Gucci. This is something that’s cemented in my thought process when I conceive of quality in a product or service. We’re living in an age and time where monetary considerations and market situations generally impel companies and individuals to sacrifice quality to a certain extent and base the purchase decision, in some situations, solely on the aspect of price. It doesn’t happen with everyone and all companies and is definitely not a generalization, but you know, that’s the general way things are dealt with. I’m always with the idea of getting something durable and long-lasting and using it for sufficient time rather than getting something cheaper and of inferior quality and then lugging around fixing it when it breaks down or does not serve its intended purpose every other week. Even if it doesn’t break, if the lack of quality in the product or service does not make you happy for whatever reason we bought the item/service in the first place, that requires some careful thought and consideration. Of course, that doesn’t imply splurging on some product that’s priced more than its really worth of, but the intent here is to cautiously use our intuition and sound judgement to carefully evaluate what works specifically for each one of us, and to get things with a long term plan and intention. As the famous social media joke run reads, Tajmahal wouldn’t have been so stunning if Shah Jahan had asked for three quotations and decided to go with the lowest. In total quality management (TQM) principles, it’s often said that the “cost of quality” isn’t the price of creating a quality product or service. It’s the cost of NOT creating a quality product or service. The highest price does not always necessarily yield the highest quality. And another aspect of this thought is that something expensive for a particular person may not be the same for another person, but everyone can decide their priorities and invest in quality catering to their requirements. Empirically if we generically assess the products we have used for the past couple of years and recollect the service industries that we have engaged with directly, we can get sort of a pragmatic and realistic emphasis on the importance of using high-quality products for the long term. That’s definitely worth to get our thought on.

We take a handful of sand from the endless landscape of awareness around us and call that handful of sand the world.”
― Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values