“The mind adapts and converts to its own purposes the obstacle to our acting. The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.”
— Marcus Aurelius
Here’s your midweek newsletter — a gentle nudge to make your week more interesting, thoughtful and productive.
Of Bank Fraud, Staying Calm & Trouble Muscle
If there’s something I’ve learnt in the past few years, life is random. Things happen all the time, and often these things tend to rile you up. This past week a new adventure ensued when I realised my debit card was being swiped off in Dubai. I didn’t incur a major loss thanks to how intelligent systems have become lately.
If you’re not aware, banks now employ complex systems and rules which detect transactional patterns. If these patterns break such as you transacting for increasingly high amounts in a currency you’ve never transacted in, the bank temporarily blocks your card or account. There are countless such rules.
So when my card was off being swiped to pay for someone’s takeout, it was blocked automatically. It was then that I realised that I was grateful for two things.
The first was the increasingly smarter world that we’re now a part of. We often fail to give credit to the systems that keep our lives afloat and running. There are hidden forces in the background, making sure each person gets through their day relatively smoothly. It is important to be grateful for every sort of development we so cluelessly enjoy throughout the day.
The second was that this little experience made me realise how far I had come as a person. An earlier version of me would’ve absolutely freaked out over it as soon as I realised what was happening. However, I was oddly calm and followed through with the needful steps. I was grateful for the person I had grown into and the experiences I’ve had thus far.
Once I was done, I called my brother and told him about it. Yesterday, I carried out the rest of the procedures and while there are tiny inconveniences, the fact that I remained unfazed when it was happening made me realise something I’ve been calling the “trouble muscle” since.
The more we go through trouble, the calmer we start to get in the face of adversity or problems. It is perhaps, as simple as the stoic maxim: the obstacle is the way. Once you cross enough obstacles, you learn to be calmer as you encounter more of them.
To Read: The Myth of Sisyphus by Albert Camus
“One must imagine Sisyphus happy.”
This has been on my to-read for a long time. I only finished this wonderful essay and commentary by Camus. It’s a beautiful book and while I’m still going through some addendum essays, I felt I was ready to recommend this one. The Myth of Sisyphus is Albert Camus’ commentary on what he calls the “absurd” which forms a major school of thought called absurdism.
Absurdism dictates that humans continually seek purpose or sense in the universe and that there is inherently no meaning in anything which creates a conflict. The conflict is the absurd. Camus’ talks about the absurd in a multitude of examples of scenarios from that of a creator to that of a general person to a lover and so on.
The writing (credit to Justin O’Brien’s translation) is poignant as with any of Camus’ work!
What’s On My Mind?
This particular quote from Sherlock, the series starring Benedict Cumberbatch, where Sherlock says:
Taking your own life. Interesting expression. Taking it from who? Once it’s over, it’s not you who’ll miss it.
It makes me wonder that if you die for other people because you cease to exist when that happens, it is perhaps a logical extension, that you live for other people too.
Another thing that comes to mind is the old quote/adage that a person dies twice, once when the last breath leaves his body, and then when their name is spoken for the last time.
Should life then be lived primarily for others and secondarily for ourselves?
Quick Update on Nudge › How
Last week’s blog post talked about the idea of productivity but in a different sense. I shared projects and hobbies that have been in the pending pile for me for a while now. The idea was to share that no matter how productive you are, there are going to be things you leave halfway, then pick up again or leave altogether eventually. No one can truly finish everything they pick up. It is important to try all the things and then, ration your productivity on things that matter or are working out first. Then, go back to the other stuff.
I hope this added some value to your week. Stay safe, stay inspired, and I’ll talk to you next week.