Human beings are creatures of habit, of routine and just like most of my kind, I also try to do things in a specific manner which should follow the same pattern. I am bound to patterns that rule my life, well most of it anyway. While making tea, for example, water has to go first, then ginger followed by tea leaves and milk. It has to be the same every time. The water must boil for a certain amount of time both with and without ginger, followed by a specific tea boiling time. It has to boil exactly three times and then cool off. There is no other way to it. I have perfected the process to my taste buds. This is just tea; my friends and thoughts, however, are another story.
Just as I was beginning to set in my ways with changing cities thrice this year, I met a girl, Simran*, my colleague and neighbor who can make tea in any random order. It has a specific (which I now know) but a different taste, color and even the fragrance. The twist in the situation is not lost on me and just like that, the thought of doing the same thing differently led me to ponder about randomness that’s life. It is undeniably more intriguing.
Life as an India fellow becomes intense at times. The similarity that I gathered from the conversations with my co-fellows, alumni and personal experience is that it’s overwhelming. The new surroundings lead to a mix of emotions. The place(s), it’s people and even the wind. This kind of setup makes us intensively engage in problems that were mere words/terms once. As mentioned in my first blog, “we become blinded by our privileges”, it comes with the kind of lifestyles we have led until now. This is an experience and until we get a taste of it, we fail to understand its intensity.
Living and working with a community makes us more conscious of our surroundings. It teaches empathy in the purest and organic manner which otherwise was mostly sympathy that fades in the everyday hustle.
There is so much to observe and absorb here. It’s not a lot to take but it’s not less either. We (the fellows) also deal with living alone which makes us feel lonely at times. We miss the people and places, sometimes the privileges which can be as petty (for us) as having a water purifier or a refrigerator. I never really thought that adjusting without these things will also require a lot of thought. It’s hard to imagine how I’m living with all these changes, plus the personal feelings.
What an over-thinker like me thinks is beyond reflection. It is quite fascinating though, how our brain can intensify an irrelevant passing thought. It can start from anything; a leaf may turn into a Monet, or a cricket’s chirping suddenly sounds Beethoven-ish. Memories, reading, environment, experiences, our five senses, people, situations and many more factors count in generating every single thought. To top all of this, and take in more, I also found out that it is scientifically true…
The human brain is composed of about 100 billion nerve cells (neurons) interconnected by trillions of connections, called synapses. On an average, each connection transmits about one signal per second. Some specialized connections send up to 1,000 signals per second. “Somehow… that’s producing a thought,” says Charles Jennings, director of neurotechnology at the MIT McGovern Institute for Brain Research.
Sounds deeply intense. Doesn’t it? Entangled between all this, a bout of randomness hits me. It was about thoughtlessness. A dreamy one, amidst all the powerful engagement. Like what if…but then…
If thoughts are so complex, I believe thoughtlessness to be even more. With thoughts, we still know what they’re about but thoughtlessness comes with no baggage, no package and no knowledge. Is it even believable? What if, even for a moment we can attain thoughtlessness. Nothing on the mind, whatsoever. Is it even possible? Our brain has been running constantly, especially in the modern times. Its constant need to update itself with all the content being shoved in our faces, makes it even more difficult to reach the blissful and absolute state of thoughtlessness. This is way too philosophical but we can try to understand it in a relatable manner, like looking out the car window intensely while sitting behind the driver and seeing the scenes change but focusing on nothing in particular.
What we all need is some amount of stillness, a little nothingness to revive and reset our brains that are constantly struggling, thinking, working and almost always evolving. Our mind deserves a vacation from time to time just like our bodies do.
What I would firstly practice and also suggest to my co-fellows or whoever is reading this is that it’s healthy to embrace thoughtlessness once in a while. It can prove to be really helpful. We can consider it as a treat to ourselves. Our own thoughts can be bleak at times. We can try and be thoughtless sometimes, relax our mind and then start with a more positive pursuit. A little hack for life I’ll say!