The Joys of being a Digital Nomad

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Who needs a corner office when you can work from here? 

 

A huge mass of dark clouds approaches. A few determined raindrops patter me & my phone occasionally. The smell of rain, wet mud & assorted forest foliage light up my olfactory nerve. A thin sliver of crimson underlines the clouds in the horizon, like a divine teacher has marked the evening with a perfect score in red ink.
I see clouds breaking against the mountains in the distant, finally winning & covering the peaks in a thick, heavy blanket.
I spent the day working, talking to people & connecting on LinkedIn.
I don’t think many people have an office quite like mine.
People like me who’ve grown up in the city have completely lost all sense of connection & appreciation for nature & I cannot underscore how lucky I am to have broken free of the urban nightmare. Maybe others will see the light as I have, most probably never will.
I spend most of my days experiencing exalted states of peace, joy & happiness. Nothing more that a city could offer could even come close to the quality of life I live now.
Come over to the light side. It’s nice over here.
This is the life.

 

 

 

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On the nature of Solitude

 

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Nofilter

 

After a month of being around other people, partying & socialising, coming back to solitude is both a relief & anxiety-provoking.
After my mind adjusted to the presence of people all around, that was where I felt most comfortable, with snatches of being alone while working or meditating.
I’m finding the readjustment process to solo life quite challenging. It’s interesting watching the anxiety & boredom rise up from my abdomen to my chest, and as I don’t give it fuel, just observing it passively, it is slowly released out of my system.
And yet, my most productive, most satisfying moments have all been spent in solitude: practicing guitar for 5 hours straight, sitting in the wilderness or looking at the sunset, spending hours on the beach alternately soaking in the sun & the surf, writing or producing music, working out outdoors, going for a solo run on the trails, immersed deeply in an exceptional book.
The one exception is when I’ve been with one or two other MALE friends, hiking in silence or tossing a frisbee back & forth on the beach.
Maybe another is when you’re engaged in a collective ‘trance’ state when at music festivals or at the cool club in town, everyone attuned & gyrating to the rhythmic carrier wave of the music.
It’s difficult to be in the flow state consistently when around others. It’s particularly difficult to do so around members of the opposite sex, no matter how enlightened you think you are, or even if you already have a partner. There’s always an underlying sexual tension, subtle as it may be, that’s surreptitiously pulling the strings of your actions & thoughts when you interact with members of the opposite sex.
Also impossible to be in flow is around people who talk a lot, & constantly force you to engage with them. These are the worst kind of people you can be around if you want to do any kind of thinking or creative or contemplative work. These people derive all their energy from external stimulus & attention, & will constantly look to you to charge up their own reserves.
These kind of extroverts are great to party with, not great to work with.
Add to this the neuroticism & restlessness that comes from living in the big cities & you have a recipe for disaster when spending extended time with your friends from the city.
Hermits living away from people, spending their days engaging in contemplation & meditation have always been looked upon as highest examples of human potential & development, venerated in almost all traditions around the world.
Take some time & space for yourself & find your own personal Walden. It just may be the best thing you’ll ever do.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Deja Vu experience & the Nature of Consciousness

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My infinite number of selves

I’ve been having these deja vu moments since I got here. Fragments of reality looped into the infinite space-time continuum, which I tap into from time to time.
Wispy clouds of memories, events & interactions doomed to repeat for all eternity. Is that what we call ghosts or spirits?
Like the ghost in the machine, where random lines of code coming together to cause collisions of algorithms & if-then loops, give rise to unexpected  emergent behaviour.
Is that all that consciousness is? Localised manifestations of many simple lines of code that are defined by this Universe’s current laws of physics?
Rupert Sheldrake’s morphogenetic fields which seem to guide collective specie behaviour come to mind.
Matrices of laws & rules governing our universe interact with each other, & the resulting interference pattern gives rise to the emergent “ghost in the machine” of consciousness.
As this singular consciousness interacts with the vibrations of the laws of physics, it refracts into the multiplicity of consciousnessess that make up all the plant & animal species on our planet, & probably even the rest of the universe.
It’s funny how we say there’s US, & the “rest of the Universe” , when we’re just one tiny infinitesimal part of the whole, & the entire annihilation of our planet would not even register as a significant event in the Universe.

Hostels, Love, Duality & Delhi girls

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I came out into the dark of the courtyard for some cold air & space & to smoke a cigarette.
I was surprised to find other people who had had the same idea already staking out territories on the slate covered walkway, which gleamed dully like a singular trail in the forest determined to lead weary travellers in the right direction, in spite of themselves.
I found a nice patch of real estate between two couples, one on either side of me about ten feet away each.
It’s funny how territorial tendencies seem to show up in the least expected ways, even in a hostel like this where movement & energy & socialising is the norm, & private space is limited to your bed in the dorms.
The beds are a sacred space onto themselves here, a place of freedom & peace; bubbles of privacy where people don’t bother you if you look like you don’t want to be bothered.
That is where we go to recharge, regroup our mental energies & recoup our drained reserves.
So I’m standing here between these two couples & it just occurred to me how beautiful a representation of the nature of the world stood right in my immediate surroundings.
To my right, the couple was either arguing or performing a daily mating ritual, I’m not sure.
Sex & aggression are so closely related that at some point I find the distinction meaningless.
For those who’ve had the priceless privelege of having a lot of arguments with your partner, you will know that makeup sex is the best-thing-ever.
Angry, violent, desperate, primal, lustful lovemaking has an allure that can be an addictive release in a relationship that doesn’t have much else to hold it together.
So the couple to my right was arguing, with the girl railing at the guy for some imagined slight, & the one to my left was making out.
And the thing that occurred to me, as I held a lit malboro in my fingers, is this was the perfect representation of duality in nature, where the same thing can present either the Yin or the Yang aspects depending on conditions external to it.
The same relationship that had locked the couple to my left in a deep, semi-permanent embrace, seemed to be a source of infinite hassle to the other.
Out of politeness, & partly out of wanting to observe this insight into human nature a bit more fully, I stood there in my own little bubble, voyeuristically observing the bizarre scene playing out in front of me in this sleepy hamlet.
Finally, the lovely couple making out left, while the other girl continued her high pitched tirade directed at the left eardrum of her poor beau.
She was from Delhi, so I figured it’s business as usual for them.

 

Twilight Evenings in a Sleepy Indian Himalayan Village

The town seems to be winding down. Apart from the main chowk in the village, businesses were starting to shut shop & make their way home.
I could hear children being scolded for returning home late, dinner was a time for family & socialising.
I believe this is a tradition harkening back to our ancient hunter-gatherer roots, when nights were safest with your tribe & a fire blazing nearby. The days hunting & gathering would be prepared to make a feast as thanks for the fruit of the day’s toil.
The thousand bird calls of the morning were being replaced by sad mournful notes at the sun’s passing & the coming chill creeping down the slopes.
You could almost feel the energy of the place softening, slowing, ready to snuggle up under their blankets & duvets, and no joyless alarms to wake them in the mornings.
I could see the occasional headlights of the few taxis coming down the main town in the distance, ferrying stragglers & returning to their homes in the hills.
They glimmered like golden beads running down a snakes back, evoking comparisons with kundalini, often described using the metaphor of a snake.
Feminine laughter echoed through the air, no doubt from one of the travellers in one of the many invisible cafes which spocked the slope above me.
But the highest point in any village was always the temple. Small cement boxes with a red, sloping roof, with a flag planted on top.
This one had many.
The ones that I did manage to get to were invariably about a devi or Goddess, with an image of Shiva & adornments by the side. And each of these small cement boxes had an air of purity & holiness that I’ve seldom found in much more venerated places of worship, no matter the denomination or faith.
The chill grew sharper, & the hills got quieter. This fascinating correlation between temperature & activity is something I’ve observed my entire life in different places I’ve stayed in.
It’s like nature is telling you to rest & lie down & sleep, and like a patient but strict parent, first gently nudges, then demands that you acquiesce, until you have no choice in the matter, & unwillingly embrace the warmth of your covers, then sleepily muse why you resisted this idea in the first place.

Creativity, Nature & The Importance of being Idle

Sitting among trees or other natural settings seems to set up certain pattern of neural firing, what is termed as an alpha-wave dominant states by some, a state of active relaxation where creativity & introspective thoughts are enhanced.
I also consider this as the default idling state of the human brain, & necessary to spend large amounts of time in daily for healthy long-term mental & emotional wellbeing.
Key word, Daily.
We cannot abuse our limited cognitive capacity for extended periods of time & expect to schedule this mental decluttering during weekends or yearly meditation retreats.
Just like eating, sleep & hydration, this is a profoundly important daily habit, though unfortunately unrecognised by most of our hyperactive modern society, which has the capability of transforming your sense of wellbeing, productivity, happiness & peace of mind.
Modern life seldom allows this kind of undirected, unscheduled time for ourselves, or others.
It has become even worse since the advent of the cellphone, & all but destroyed our last vestiges of privacy when the smartphone & ‘always connected’ messaging apps were invented.
While amazing for commerce & Information sharing, on a personal, individual level, this has been nothing short of devastating, the results of which are only now becoming apparent.
The biggest losers in this is the current generation which grew up on social media, who were the scapegoats of this large-scale human psychological experiment.
There are two aspects of this issue:
1. People act differently when they’re being watched, or think they’re being watched.
2. When external validation becomes the primary way in which your sense of self develops, your self esteem, confidence & drive suddenly become subject to the whims & winds of whatever is trending, & who or whatever your fickle social circle deems is important or cool at the moment.

Morning Musings in a Sleepy Indian Himalayan Village

Mornings here are a fascinating, even surreal experience.
I still haven’t gotten used to it being daylight at 4. 30 am. A lifetime of being attuned to my home town’s circadian cycle is not easily overcome.
As yet, because of the limitations of settling a population on rocky slopes, the population remains low enough that it’s peaceful most of the day.
Low hanging clouds seep in through the cracks in the mountains, just as alluring as a bead of sweat running down a woman’s breast, making their way down & disappearing in the deep reaches of the valley.
The sun valiantly tries to cut through the masses of clouds, but eventually & unwillingly accepts defeat, vowing to fight another battle, another day.
A thousand birdcalls I’ve never heard before, and a few that I have, echo through the mist. I find it fascinating how our minds strive to reach for the most familiar, almost ignoring all the rest of the streams of sensory input coming at you from all sides, like a beautiful woman brushing away the advances of a suitor grasping a little too out of his reach.
The dogs here have a fascinating social life of their own. The rigid & violently defended territories of the Mumbai strays that I’ve been used to give way to a fluid, tolerant hierarchy, with most of the dogs acting more like friends & kin rather than opposite tribesmen.
The sun finally breaks through, but I don’t believe its flimsy promises of daylight.
There’s no need to go down to the town, I tell myself.
In any case, my laundry probably isn’t dry yet, I mused needlessly.
The lack of dry laundry wasn’t the issue, my idle demeanour was.
It took a few days, but I finally shook off the last vestiges of Mumbai hyperactivity & attuned to the p(e)ace of the valley.
The sun finally came through,

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an unreliable lover surprises his mate with uncharacteristic thoughtfulness when he fears she might be considering leaving him.