Gyimg 103: The Limits

As a child I was limitless. I could see endless possibilities. We are all like that when we are small and young. As we grow up,  we build boundaries. These are psychological and physical. I built mental boundaries for my physical abilities in my late teens. I stopped all the little sport I was indulged into.

In my early twenties, though I was conscious about my health, I never extended my physical boundaries. The best I could do was walk a mile and then feel proud of it. I became more conscious about health in my late twenties. It was simple and rational me. The rationality which kept me bounded was now letting me free. Let me try to break the physical shackles, I said to myself.

I soon routinized exercise. First, it was walking and running routine. I could barely run 500 meters at a stretch. My calf-muscles would give-up faster than my lungs. Then it was run the routine. 800 meters, 1k, 2k, 3k, 4k, 5k 6k, and then came the 10k. In my mind, my physical boundary had expanded.

Was that my limit? there was no way I would not know. I anchored my physical activities to a goal. I knew that I am not going to die of a chronic lifestyle disease if I follow the run routine. I had that conviction. But what was my limit? How healthy and fit I should be as a 31-year-old? I had no clue. I explored. All the running was just the stamina, and I clearly knew that strength was the next thing.

For the past three weeks, functional training has certainly opened-up new possibilities. There is a lot of scope. I see the possibilities. Our physical abilities are really limitless. Our bodies transform and it is never too late to change. And there is a lot of room to be more healthy. There is a lot of room to grow.

Don’t take your career too seriously

I know that might sound stupid. It might sound shallow and contrarian but it took me 10 years to realize this. My early career was a mess. My early career was full of meaningless breaks to find a meaning, and mindless job hopping. Few jobs down the line, I realized a very fundamental truth about myself. And I am sure this truth can be extended to many others as well. There are fundamentally three things I wanted in my career of choice.

  1. The opportunity should align with my core skills/liking and competencies.
  2. It should be fun (new possibilities ) and good, supportive and fun people working around me.
  3. Good money.

After 10 years, when I look back here is how I translate the list:

  1. Career requirements should be stuff I already know: things which I was best at and things which I was comfortable doing.
  2. Career environment should be the way I imagined it to be with the right kind of people I was comfortable working with.
  3. Last but not least ( may not apply to everyone). I needed just the right amount of money to make my life more comfortable and perhaps exiting.

And here was the common denominator for all the above translations:” Comfortable”. 

I wanted to play in a predictable environment with my own rules. 

And as you might know, Life is not a fair game, you don’t make the rules, the world does. Your employer makes the rules for you. The economy does. The supply, demand does.

The odds of getting what you don’t want in life are way too higher (10X higher in some cases) than what you really want.

Now I am not old enough to give any more Gyan here. I am still figuring out a way to accomplish all of the above but here is a solid realization I got that can work and is working for me in the recent past.

I divide life into three spheres. I take a day as a unit.

  1. You spend 8 hours sleeping.
  2. You spend 8 hours doing what you want, maybe spending time with your loved ones and pursuing your hobbies.
  3. And you spend 8 hours working or pursuing your career.

Most people choose the sphere of career to define the other two very important spheres of the day. What your career or day job can give you is only money to maintain the other two spheres and nothing beyond that. Variables around the sphere of career are mostly beyond your control because we live in a very unpredictable world. Now we can idealize and change jobs and feel sorry about it only to destroy your other two spheres. Or we can stop taking our careers too seriously and treat it as a utility which feeds the other two spheres.


What the Air Cooler Taught Me About Acceptance

Summers are really dry and hot in Pune. Two weeks ago I decided to buy an air cooler.  There was a small temptation to invest in an air-conditioner but that idea was soon killed by the quantum of financial outlay and logic. Buying a cooler was easy on the pocket and easy on the logistical front.

Unpacking and installing took 10 minutes. I just had to fill the sump of the cooler and it was good to go. The very next second I could feel a pleasant blow of cool moist air. As I sat in front of the cooler, a strange disappointment settled in. The thing was loud. I decreased the fan speed to the lowest setting. It was still loud.

Several questions stirred in my mind. Why this darn machine needs to be so loud? why the lowest fan speed has to be so fast? Is there a better design for this? It is a reputed company, don’t they have any access to good R&D? I was no expert. I yielded to the complexity of the issue. There was no point in complaining now that I had already paid for the thing. For the next several days I lived in ignorance. The cool air was a pleasant relief after all. But the loudness was obviously a slight discomfort to my ears.

Yesterday as I was resting beside the cooler, I started to ponder upon the same questions which I had parked at the back of my mind. Why this darn thing needs to be so loud? is there no way around it? all the advancements in science are of no help? As I was thinking, I began to deconstruct the problem and then there was a spark of realization.

Air coolers work on a simple mechanism. They have a fan placed before a wet mesh. This mesh is maintained wet through a pumping mechanism. The pump draws water from the sump and continuously drops it on the mesh. Just imagine a giant fan behind which there is a  waterfall. The fan not only throws cool air but evaporated particles of water which multiplies the cooling effect by two-fold. As a consequence, air-coolers are also called as humidifiers. The fan has to change the physical state of the liquid water to vapor and throw that vapor along with air at you so that you feel cool. That is evaporative cooling. That is the very reason you feel cool beside a lake or any other water body.

Now you don’t need to be a scientist or an engineer to know this. It is common sense.

What is not so obvious is the fact that the fan must have a minimum threshold speed to vaporize the water particles. And all this process has to take place in a box. That is how it works. It has to be loud.

Now that I had an answer to the dissonance of the cooler, should I say that things changed for me after that simple scientific revelation? Not really. But simple reasoning can help you to be at peace with your surroundings. I accept the cooler to a greater degree now.