Tag Archives: Meaning


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The world can impose, force, and project all the voices it wants, but as long as we remember what we want to do, remember why we have chosen what we want to do, and continue doing what we believe in doing…

It will work out.

So far, I think I’ve been blessed to be surrounded by people who remind and encourage me to remember my focus, who at times even remind me of what the focus is. And I’m thankful for the reminders to stay on track.

“it’s about the work” – OBAMA.

In Moments of Silence

In moments of silence,
We question
What is it that makes us, Us.

When stripped of the things we thought we have control of:
The words, the choices, the senses, the memories.
What is left?

In moments of silence,
I question.

I have yet to arrive at an answer.
Maybe the silence is it.
Maybe it’s all I need, and all I want to be.


Early Morning Thoughts

A few mornings ago, as I lay in bed in the early hours of the morning, I thought of how our lives are but specks in comparison to the infinity that is Time and the Cosmos and basically… All of Creation.

I thought of the meaning of life, as one is wont to do when you compare yourself with the infinite. I thought of the meaning and significance of my emotions, my endeavors, my joys and sorrows, my likes and dislikes, my thoughts and emotions, and all the things we attach the “i” and “me” to.

In the expansiveness of reality, do these things still mean anything? I guess I was trying to think from a “what meaning could they have” perspective, rather than a “there’s no meaning to them” perspective.

I believe in the inter-connectedness of consciousness – both the individual and the collective. To find meaning in an individual life is also to find meaning in the expansive scale of things.

Maybe that’s where the meaning of all the “I”s and “my”s lie too. All my tears, laughter, burdened thoughts, light whims, disappointment, anticipation and hope, and the infinite layers of human experiences and expressions – They each have a meaning in themselves, by contributing to the collective consciousness of the reality we live in.

Just some early morning thoughts on the last day of 2015.

Personal Spirituality

At a recent tutorial session, a classmate was presenting on the application of music therapy in palliative care. Towards the end of her presentation, she stated that one of the goals achieved was helping the client find spirituality and spiritual meaning in her life, as the therapist was able to use songwriting techniques to help the client re-accept God’s Love for her, despite her sense of low self-esteem, and discover a sense of peace within her before she passed away.

I was intrigued and inspired, especially at the use of songwriting to facilitate catharsis, self-acceptance, and yes, spiritual meaning.

However, something at the back of my mind nagged at me – I felt that the implied definition of Spirituality used was a little narrow. The presentation and wording of the case study seemed to imply that spiritual meaning can only be found in a particular religion, concept, culture, and image of God, leaving no room for other avenues or paths to spiritual meaning.

So I was really glad that A, our sensitive lecturer, picked up on that as well.

“When you said ‘spiritual meaning’ and ‘spirituality’, what did you mean by that? Is spirituality only defined by belief in God?” She asked at the end.

“Yes”, came the almost immediate reply.

Unfazed, A continued: “Well, spirituality need not mean religiosity. It is whatever gives people meaning in their lives. Some people find meaning in the bible (or other scriptures), others from being close to nature.. Some people find meaning in self-effort and discipline, others people find meaning in helping others, and the list goes on. So to live spiritually need not mean being religious. It means being able to live in accordance to what gives our lives meaning. As MTs, we need to be aware of that when we work with different clients.”

That short exchange stuck with me. I’ve always been inclined towards spirituality more than religiosity, but could never explain the difference properly when people asked me to. Now, with her words, I feel more empowered and better positioned to explain my worldview.

I find meaning in life from being able to do work that helps others, maintaining equanimity of mind so that I can have inner peace, happiness, not hurt others through any words, thoughts and actions. To have any hope of achieving that, I try to practice mindfulness in the moments, and try to dedicate my actions to something bigger than myself, because I agree that human effort is limited, and a distorted focus on self-efforts might only lead to an increase in the ego (nevertheless, a balanced amount of self-effort remains necessary). I take pictures to remind myself of the beautiful world we live in. I reflect, write, and have conversations with myself, hoping to water and nurture the positive and wholesome seeds within and around me. For now, this is the spiritual meaning in my life, the life which I try to live according to spiritual principles. It’s a work in progress, and the imperfections many, but I trust that everything will happen in its time, and I just need to live every moment of this journey as a destination.

Gratitude is one of the spiritual principles I hope to live by, and today I am thankful I had the chance to reflect and think about this.

“I Can’t Work With Normal Kids Anymore”

Imagine my relief, when I blurted this line out, and Y, a wonderful therapist whom I greatly respect and adore, echoed my sentiments and told me that she could totally understand.

“I used to get so frustrated with normal kids as well”, she said. “I’d look at them and think – you have everything you’ll ever need and yet you are not cherishing it. There are kids who have so little, born disabled… and yet they are trying so hard” (I almost started tearing when I heard her say that).

“Yes! I felt that way even before I came here, and now I feel that even more strongly.”

R, who was nearby, also agreed, saying that once you’ve gotten a taste of therapeutic work, it’s hard to go back to whatever we were doing, because it will naturally seem so much more meaningless (he was from the corporate world, imagine that!).

And indeed, I do feel that most of the things I’ve done before has been pretty meaningless. Not all, but most.

Because when you’ve seen how a non-verbal person can communicate through singing and smiling, when you’ve seen a so-called intellectually disabled young woman reach out and give you a high-five in the middle of our drumming improvisation, when you’ve felt the hands of a 4-year old with autism stretch out and hold your arm and bring your fingers to the piano, laughing as she plays the piano through your hands, and then reach out to touch your hair and say your name in a loud clear voice… How can one go back?

How can I go back to the system where days are spent rushing through syllabus, where fancy lesson packages are prepared with no time to carry them out, where obedience and silence are order of the day, where countless events and excursions and enrichment activities are carried out not because they are truly beneficial, but because KPIs need to be met, because portfolios need to be beefed up, because people need to look good on paper.

I just want to pull my hair in despair when I think about it.

As much as I am living in the present and getting the most I can out of this amazing experience, I know that this too shall pass. And then… what?

For Meaning

I’ve known about 5 or so people who have quit the service since I joined. I think its safe to say that they all left for various specific reasons, but the underlying theme is similar. They all feel/felt that they did not want to continue doing something they didn’t see anymore meaning in.

And I agree with them.

There are days when I feel I’d do the same, if money wasn’t an issue. But because we live in the “real” world, and money is an issue, I don’t really think about that a lot. Most of the time, especially during hectic periods, I am in “survival mode” – doing what one needs to survive. Skipping lunch here and there so that I don’t need to bring so much work home and can read before I sleep. Staying back on a Friday afternoon to get at least that Saturday morning off. Writing my head off on Sunday nights to calm my nerves before Monday begins again. Survival mode, at least in my version of it, means trying to make the best of the situation, and hoping to make at least some good come out of the chaos. And maybe because I’ve been blessed with relatively understanding bosses and colleagues, I’ve still managed to see meaning in most of the work we do.


The fear remains – what if the day comes when I too decide that there is no more meaning in what we do? After all, I still do have 3 more years to go. And after getting a glimpse of an alternative career, I do find myself wishing I need not return to the system.


But I guess I’ll have 1 year and 8 months more to think about that seriously.

For now, let me continue to live in the moment, learn and experience as much as I can. And when the time comes… Trust that everything will fall into place. For meaning.

Sometimes, at Dusk.

sometimes depressing dusk

There can be something immensely depressing about experiencing dusk in the city.

Perhaps it is the sense of futility one gets from seeing humankind continue to rush around heedlessly, even as Nature prepares itself to succumb to the natural order of the world – Rest.

It is time to rest, but humans stubbornly press on, confident that we can squeeze out that last bit of efficiency to make our day more worthwhile. One more errand. One more meetup. One more call. One more hour.

By dusk, we are surrounded by dust from the entire day’s regrets, settling like a shroud around our unwilling body.

We are tired from running the race, demoralized to see that we are no closer to winning the race against time than a day before.

The dimming light behind the trees does nothing to calm our nerves against the growing dense of desperation, the sense that time is slipping through our very fingers, as subtle and as unstoppable as the air we take in.

It is dusk, and there is nothing we can do to stop its onslaught.

Sometimes, dusk in the city can be that beautiful, and that depressing.

Paper Towns


“Here’s what’s not beautiful about it: from here, you can’t see the rust or the cracked paint or whatever, but you can tell what the place really is. You can see how fake it all is. It’s not even hard enough to be made out of plastic. It’s a paper town. I mean, look at it, Q: look at all those culs-de-sac, those streets that turn in on themselves, all the houses that were built to fall apart. All those paper people living in their paper houses, burning the future to stay warm. All the paper kids drinking beer some bum bought for them at the paper convenience store. Everyone demented with the mania of owning things. All the things paper-thin and paper-frail. And all the people, too. I’ve lived here for eighteen years and I have never once in my life come across anyone who cares about anything that matters.”

In the initial chapters of “Paper Towns”, I actually started getting the impression that this book was nothing more than a novel about a bunch of teenagers growing up and seeking their identity. How could I, after reading “The Fault in Our Stars”, still underestimate John Green like this? *Shakes head at myself*
The story is about a bunch of teenagers growing up and seeking their identity… and so much more.

It is also a poignant portrayal of what our world has become, with our pursuits for so many things external, so many things on the surface, that what is within us has become neglected, abandoned. Like something that exists but isn’t really there. Like Paper Towns.

And in a very John Green-ish way, he not only created metaphors for us to look at the lives we have created, but asks us to choose them. What are we like? The strings, the grass, or the vessel?

“But there are a thousand ways to look at it: Maybe the strings break, or maybe the ships sink, or maybe we’re grass – our roots so interdependent that no one is dead as long as someone is still alive. We don’t suffer from a shortage of metaphors , is what I mean. But you have to be careful which metaphor you choose, because it matters. If you choose the strings, then you’re imagining a world in which you can become irreparably broken. If you choose the grass, you’re saying that we are all infinitely interconnected, that we can use these root systems not only to understand one another but to become one another. The metaphors have implications.”

Maybe because I’m an inclined pessimist, I’d go for the string metaphor. I imagine God, or some higher force, allocating everyone a set of strings when we come into existence. Some use these strings to tie ourselves down to this world. Others, realizing the impermanent nature of these strings, refuse to weigh themselves down. These people can float away at any time and moment, because they are not secured to anything. But it is also these people who may become lonely, and sometimes irreparably so. They allow themselves to float away, knowing that the world will still go on without them, and they ponder the reason for their existence without ever getting an answer.  I suppose the wisest would be those who attach their strings to Meaning, for Meaning has no physical weight, yet Meaning is a string made out of the toughest materials. Meaning holds us to this world, and gives us reason to endure the Paperishness of everything.

But that’s getting me started on another book I read recently. And that shall be for another entry, on another day.

Tomorrow, we step back into our Paper Towns, Paper Worlds, Paper Lives.

Oh Happy Day (I)






Sometimes its the things that we cannot hold in our hands, that last the longest.

Sometimes its the most short-lived of moments, that stay in our hearts forever.

Sometimes its the simplest things, that bring the greatest joy.

Do you believe, that everyday can be a Happy, if only we look for the right things?