“You know how to talk wisely, my friend. Be wary of too much wisdom!”
— Hermann Hesse
Here’s your midweek newsletter — a gentle nudge to make your week more interesting, thoughtful and productive.
When On The Road, Be Predictable
I don’t drive yet. However, I walk on a lot. Often, with my earphones in. While that’s incredibly dangerous, it helps me curb all that sensory overload. In any case, I often talk to my friends about the road, their experiences with driving, share my experiences with walking et al.
A few days ago, something interesting came out of one such discussion. We figured that the key rule of being on the road was to be predictable. If you’re walking in a straight line, keep going straight. If you want to turn, send out an indicator in advance.
Any time someone does something that comes as a surprise, accidents happen. That’s because once everyone is confused, everyone tries to accommodate that surprise in their own way, and a domino effect of unpredictability ensues.
This happened the other day as I was in a cab too. A person riding the bike suddenly turned inward towards our lane because they were trying to avoid a puddle on the road. Well, it’s a good thing the cab stopped in time and wasn’t at high speed anyway. An accident didn’t happen but an argument sure began.
The thing is, this isn’t only applicable to roads too.
Roads are, by definition, large systems of collaboration divided amongst countless people. So, the same rule applies to any organisation. If you’re a part of a system where people are affected by your actions, and you are affected by their actions, the best course of action is literally to be predictable. How would that translate?
Well, for example, if you’re expecting a delay and there’s an important meeting, inform well in advance because that makes it easy to gauge your behaviour. It’s akin to starting a turning indicator. Since I thought of this analogy, I have been trying to apply it to every experience I’ve had in college clubs, workplaces, volunteering and I’ve realised, everything works like traffic on the road.
The best experiences that stood out from my time in all of those places were when I was predictable, calculative and took into account the entire system and not just my personal preference or whims. The same was true for conflicts too.
So, perhaps, if you’re having trouble being a part of any system, thinking of it as a road might help!
Making Personal Ground Rules
This is a bit more direct. Over the years, I’ve realised that there is a need for ground rules not only in all relationships that you have but also with your own self. The idea is to ensure your bare minimum behaviour and accountability towards yourself.
One example of such a rule is, “I will not keep my laptop in my bedroom” which is a simple rule but extremely effective. This means that any work has to be wrapped before you hit the bed. Another rule that works really well for me is, “The phone shouldn’t be around when I’m reading.”
You can also build these on the fly, “I’ll only reply to this meme my friend sent once I’m done with my workout” is something I told myself just this morning. It worked too.
If ground rules are important in maintaining all your relationships, then making them for your relationship with yourself is a no-brainer.
To Read: Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse
“Never is a man wholly a saint or a sinner.”
I was recommended this book by my boss last year. I didn’t read it until now because I dismissed it as a novel about Buddhism, thinking I’ll read about Buddhism directly. However, this is not a book about Buddhism, as it is about someone like you and me trying to attain the ideals of Buddhism or general spiritual awakening.
The Siddhartha in this book isn’t who we know as the Buddha but rather a general person who strives for clarity, purpose and awakening. Through his journey, he meets the Buddha, spends time with ascetics, lives with a courtesan, engages in business, and so on. He does everything a normal person might, and somewhere along the path, he finds what he’s looking for.
I liked this book not because it made me change or shifted my perspective entirely, but that it came as a reassurance that perhaps, everything we seek can be found in the activities and roles that are available to us already.
What’s On My Mind?
The idea of youth, being in my twenties still, and for the fact that nothing is ever truly certain or set in stone. The things I do today may as well be things I do forever, or they may become things I once reminisce about after finding an odd trinket from these years.
Quick Update On Nudge › How
The last blog post for 2020 was a year-in-review for Nudge as a project and idea. I did the review in different ways including a Spotify-wrapped-esque count of things but also included an overall experience of creating something every day and how it affected my life.
Also, I put out a free compilation of all the Midweek Nudge Newsletter ideas up until now on the Gumroad store which is still up. You can get your copy of the ebook too!
I hope this added some value to your week. Stay safe, stay inspired, and I’ll talk to you next week.