Welcome to the 27th edition of ‘The Lighthouse’!
I’ve been reading Anne Lammot’s Bird By Bird and it’s a delightful take on writing and life. I’ll be sharing the ideas from the book very shortly.
A particular phrase from the book stood out to me - “..that good writing is about telling the truth” and so I’ve written something that appealed to me when I was about 10 years old. This experience is a quarter of a century-old!
I loved writing about it, it’s deeply personal and I hope at the end of this piece, you find your sanctuary too!
Let’s dig in!
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For me, the word Sanctuary is a metaphor. It could be a location, but then it isn't the place alone. Or it could be a moment in time. It is a place I often visit at times of distress. For me, it is an intersection of space and time that I can crawl back to, sit there, or spend time in that - sanctuary of peace.
A quarter of a century ago, we used to go with our parents after school hours to our industrial establishment. It was the one dad founded way back in 1988. We still continue to own and operate it. It was a lifelong dream for me to work there. I love every waking day and look forward to work. Back then, it all started as a small place - a tiny one. Like how these things have small beginnings, but memorable ones.
It was located in an area earmarked for industries that wasn't very much like an industrial locality at all. There were no harsh fumes, no lunch break sirens, no noise. It could pass off as a residential neighbourhood if not for the orderly sheds, like Spartans in a phalanx. They stood painted in Ochre Yellow which resembled the shields. The pillars painted in white looked like spears emanating from the phalanx.
From afar they looked like they could take on anything you throw at them.
Our establishment was one of these tiny little sheds that bordered the industrial area and the adjacent residential neighbourhood. The street on which it lay was a quaint one with hardly any people at all. The street saw a majority of the people just twice a day - once during opening hours and again during closing. The street longed for people to walk on it - that's the entire purpose of a street isn't it? It exists for people to use it. From this perspective, the street seemed devoid of its purpose. I pitied the street for it wasn't serving its purpose - other than twice a day.
6 industrial sheds lined our street, and the land opposite to our shed was vacant. I remember our shed and our immediate neighbour’s were the only ones that were functioning. Even now they're the only ones that are still up and running after three decades. The sheds stand evidence to changing time and tide - except they're painted white now. They’re at peace now. They stand apart - pristine and in immaculate condition when compared to the others around it. The phalanx has all but fallen. Like battered and bruised soldiers, patches of paint falling off, exposing the nakedness of the building. You can even see the steel framework holding the structure together - the flesh and bone exposed.
During our summer vacations back then, my younger brother, myself and a couple of our friends used to meet up there. It was time to let loose our hair and play to our heart's content. Presumably, that was also when the street was the happiest. It was being trodden upon for hours by tiny feet, some not so tiny, for a month or two and then things would go silent again. The street would ache and long for the next summer vacation.
During one of these days, I sat on the stairs leading up our establishment - looked around and then at the street. It was evening, there was twilight, and the sun was beaming down on the entire scene. It was one of those summer evenings which you wish never ended. All of a sudden, a feeling of peace swept over me. I didn’t and still don't have words to express the feeling of content that swept over me at that moment. It was a divine experience. It wasn't just the sun beaming down on me. It wasn't the stairs I sat on either. It was the street. A perfect moment birthed in the intersection of space, time, and light. It may have been a tiny moment, but its effect on me was momentous. It remains with me to this day. I have vivid memories of that evening.
Fast forward 25 years. Whenever I go there - I make it a point to walk to the exact same spot, look around, then look at the street and experience the moment all over again. The street is still there, it has been asphalted in the recent past. A larger number of people use it these days, but not as many as the street would want. The street also longs for the tiny feet that ran, jumped, and tripped on it.
My sanctuary lies in that moment. It isn't by the beachside, by a mountain, or anything grand - it was the street that my heart went out to on that day. Even as I type this sentence, I pause, close my eyes and think of that pristine moment, and it brings me peace. Not happiness, not joy, but peace.
I use that place as my anchor - during times of distress and times of chaos. When I am lost, or when I am angry, I visit that moment. I've noticed that once I go there and come back, everything seems more transparent to me. Everything seems open. It feels like I was blessed to experience that moment. I pray that everyone gets to experience something similar.
Life's most precious treasures are hidden within such tiny moments. Seek them out, hunt them down, and I know you will find your sanctuary too.
Here’s some interesting stuff I came across this week:
Decomplication: How To Find Simple Solutions To “Hard” Problems by Nat Eliason: This post has been one of the best I’ve read this year. There are simple problems. These problems have simple but hard solutions. Since we cannot digest these solutions, we complicate the problem looking for quick fixes. Sleep is one such example - sleep is now commoditised and it is a Billion Dollar industry as Nat writes. Productivity is another such problem. The solution is simple - cut out distractions and put your head down and work. But we’re constantly distracted by our social media feed, what our colleagues are saying and so we want a quick fix to improve our productivity. You cannot eliminate problems such as those associated with sleep or productivity, but you can decomplicate them. DO NOT MISS READING THIS!
The Billionaire Who Wanted To Die Broke . . . Is Now Officially Broke by Forbes: It’s impossible for someone to visit airports and not come across DFS. DFS stands for Duty Free Shoppers and Chuck Feeny is one of the co-founders who made his fortune building this empire. But he is also the Billionaire who is broke now. But with a difference - by donating all his money. In Feeny’s own words, “Since you can't take it with you—why not give it all away, have control of where it goes and see the results with your own eyes?”
Think like a bronze medalist, not silver by Derek Sivers: A wonderful lesson in gratitude by Sivers. A Silver medalist frets over not being able to win the Gold. However, a Bronze medalist is grateful for making it to the podium just ahead of the guy in the fourth place. (I actually interchanged Sivers and Silver to have fun but then let the words be in their appropriate places! 😂)
A Gearbox Of Time by Tinkered Thinker: A few days ago I tweeted this: “A slow life is its own reward”. In response to this Tinkered Thinker sent me a link to his post. It is one of the most profound ones I have come across in recent times. Lucilius is a boy who tries to make sense of exercising control over time and learns a valuable lesson in the process. This is an insightful read.
Survivorship bias: when failure gets forgotten by Anne Laure Le-Cunff: Survivorship bias is when we draw conclusions based on survivors and not the larger populace that has failed. The one chain-smoker who lived for a century tries to become the case for smoking. These and many other anecdotes reveal the flaws in our understanding of success. “We see the ones who “survived” and pay no attention to the ones who failed.”
Hell Yeah Or No by Derek Sivers
Image Courtesy: sive.rs
67 Chapters, most of them under 2 pages in length, but they pack a punch. A compilation of blog posts, Sivers’ explores all the things that are worth doing in life, how to develop a growth mindset, and most importantly enjoy your life. On the surface, it appears to be a light read, but once you go underneath the layers, what you see is essentially philosophy for living a useful life.
Here are a few ideas I gathered from the book.
Here’s a link to the Goodreads summary.
Online store link: Hell Yeah Or No
A few weeks ago, I was pondering on how we lose focus of the moment and instead are searching at what the future holds for us. In doing so we are losing the present which is mostly what life is all about. I tweeted this and for an account of my size, it went viral. I still get engagements with this tweet. I’m sharing it with you here. This is a statement worth pondering.
Here’s a thought I’m ruminating on, rather its a tweet:
Till next weekend, take care.
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