Mind Fe(A)st Diaries- Part III The Conclusion

When you are used to a certain amount of anything, less is always bothersome. It makes you restless and you are lost as to what to do of all this energy now. I was fully anticipating this low after returning from a great Mind Fest weekend today. Call it ‘Monday Blues’ or plain disappointment about life not being so interesting everyday. It was literally like returning from the cold winter- lit Pune to the melting Mumbai.

Last day’s event started with the discussion on the difference between perfection and excellence. This is a subject extremely close to my heart because of my personal trajectory. My maternal grandfather, a person I absolutely love and adore has always been insistent about things being a certain way, the newspapers have to be folded correctly, the beds have to made in a way that no creases should be created on it in the first place. Little things in our mundane lives have to all be performed in a certain manner. He made it a point to imbibe that same quality in both his daughters and grandchildren. All of us thought it was his demand for perfection; for we would have to suffer his disappointing gaze and expression every time we didn’t do anything as per his standards. Initially, he was the ‘Haanikarak Baapu’ from Dangal and we observed neatness only to escape ‘that’ look We openly make fun of and imitate this very specific look of disappointment. At this point, Abba has a hearty laugh and says, “But aren’t you better off because of these habits?” None of us can help but agree. In my teenage I realized the importance of neatness and even though it was boring, I didn’t compromise on it. Today, when I have come away from home and have created a space for myself in another city, I observe the same neatness to every last nook, corner and thing in my house. But the process, unknowingly has become meditative. I see the beauty in symmetry, folding clothes with edges on one another is nothing short of meditation. I can literally be lost in cleaning and arranging without any inclination of the time I spend in it. It is, in all justice, a true journey from the Limbic system to the neocortex, where I find immense meaning in orderliness, believe it or not.

Another huge shift from perfection to excellence for me was academically. HSC was the time when everyone focused on marks. Securing a place in Fergusson College for me was on the one hand so precious and my confidence about it on the other hand was so not high that I, for the first time ever in my life focused on fetching marks, on ‘perfecting’answers. Anyone whose got many marks at any point would realize its a very different game, that has potential to make people drown in it. Last year, I had to pay the huge cost of leaving home to learn what I wanted to. I was clear I hadn’t made this emotional investment for mere numbers. I wanted to learn. This naturally had me focused on bettering my skills and the demand for perfection evaporated. I am nowhere near excellence and the word can’t even be thought about, yet. But I would like to be grateful about the minimum fulfillment of a criteria of freeing myself from the shackles of perfection here.

The most relatable thing during the sessions yesterday was the bit about ‘Affluenza’. I find that not only is the incidence of this condition high and increasing day by day, but those who don’t have it are instead believed to be living in bubbles, have to suffer isolation and believed to lack substance as people on the whole!

The four pointers about the appropriate domains for spending money like education, health, etc, are helpful not only for those higher on the materialistic end of the spectrum, but for the overly misers alike. As Sir pointed out, spending a lot of money on the beautification of the outer self is always much less useful than spending time on honing the inner self. Exactly a couple of years ago, I and my partner in intellectual discussions, dear Srujan, were talking about people who have an “aura”. We observed, there are certain people who stand out, not merely because they are intelligent, smart, funny or educated; but because they are learned. We conceptualized them as having an “aura”. People having the most beautiful physical features can lack an aura, while the plainest of faces can demand a certain respect owing to their aura. People with this aura can be spotted in a crowd of hundreds and one look at them is enough to hints at what Sir calls ‘earned, mastered ease’ in their specific domain. This is what inner beauty means to me today. Beauty is simplicity with an aura.

I cannot help but marvel at the amount of work that must have gone into simplifying the simplified. Too many metaphors have already been given by scholars and yet, we nurture within ourselves, a need for more simplification with more metaphors, especially from today’s day and age.

The biggest irony of this entire process is that the level of simplification required by a concept of knowledge is inversely proportionate to the complexity of application required in life. This realization, right since I was listening to the event with rapt attention, has given seed to nervousness in my mind.

Mind Fe(A)st was a breath of fresh air, the sweet summer after a long winter. To give a ‘Game of Thrones’ analogy as we part, Winter has Come long ago for all of us. It is going nowhere unless summer rises from within every single one of us. The mind celebrated a true festival for the past three days. Now begins the herculean task of letting this Mind Fest seep slowly and build to become a Life fest!

-Ketaki Joshi.

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