Sometimes you NEED to know You’re an Asshole

“Self love is good thing, but self-awareness is way more important.” Louis CK

My mother called me earlier this week. Our conversations usually revolve around the same spiel.

When are you going to get married? What are doing with your life? I’m worried about you? Continue reading “Sometimes you NEED to know You’re an Asshole”

Why I started Intermittent Fasting

These days I have water for breakfast. Sometimes I’ll get a little fancy and boil the water. I won’t eat a bite of food until 1pm and will stop at 8pm. This leaves a 17 hour window of fasting. Which isn’t so bad considering I stop eating in the evening and the majority of fasting hours are spent sleeping. Continue reading “Why I started Intermittent Fasting”

How to Find Inner-Peace

I got out of bed at 3:30am to the smell of fire. I walked outside to my balcony and noticed the sky had a pinkish hue. Falling down was bits of debris. I felt ash on the wooden ledge, but could not see any evidence of a fire. I proceeded to the internet and saw that Napa/Sonoma county are currently experiencing forrest fires. My heart is with them. Continue reading “How to Find Inner-Peace”

The 38 Bus Ride

Whenever I have to run errands in the city I take the bus. Although having a car in San Francisco, CA is convenient, it doesn’t help me arrive in the same way in which the bus does.

Let me Explain. 

So when I got to the bus station, I had the choice of getting on the 38 or 38r. The latter being faster with less stops. Yesterday, both buses came at the same time with the 38 (slower bus) being in the front.

Not surprisingly, everyone took the 38r. I wasn’t in a rush. These days I never am so I gladly took the 38. I often think about why people rush because no matter where you run off to, the earth will keep on spinning. If you think about it, we are actually going no where.

Most folks aren’t in a rush because a loved one is on the brink of death or trouble. Shouldn’t these be the only reasons to rush?

I’m usually on time for things, but if I’m late, fuck it! The world will still move on, my appointments will understand and I’ll still be okay.

When I see people rushing, I see anxiety. I see the world riddled with it and don’t think anyone deserves it. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why I write. I don’t like to see people suffering from problems that they can control.  I’m not sure if it helps others, but I do hope so.

Anyways, I digress. So I got into the empty bus and started noticing my neighborhood for the first time again. I choose to see everything I encounter, even if somewhat familiar like it’s brand new. It makes every day exciting and intrinsically blissful.

I saw Darryl during my ride – a middle aged white man, bald head, grey scruffy beard, faded light blue jeans and a blue hooded sweater. He was skinny, but healthy. He was also homeless. I know him by name because while going to Subway one hungry evening, I asked him if he wanted a sandwich. I gave him the sub and we started chatting. We didn’t talk long, and even the times we do talk, he’s always in a rush and today was no different. I sincerely hope that wherever Darryl goes, he gets there.

I saw Russian grocers selling meat, fish, vegetables and other Russian delicacies to their fellow comrades. A taste of home makes us feel like we’ve never left, doesn’t it?

With the exception of a few passengers the 38 was still empty. I got off on Spruce st. to get my computer repaired. The letter G came off.

I noticed that the 38r – the bus with fewer stops and more people was only now in-front of the 38. I looked at the crowded bus. People standing, crunched up against one another in discomfort and disarray.

Sometimes going faster means bombarding ourselves with more problems and keeping the mind cluttered. As humans we will never be complete.
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If you look at life like a race, you will never finish, but if you’re aware of this whole spectacle of creation – the not knowing why we are here – you can truly see life for what it is. It’s important to enjoy the ride.

There is no finish line. You have to enjoy every moment and give them all equal attention and admiration.

Enjoy the good, enjoy the bad, cry your ass off when shit goes sour, and cry again joyously when they get better. All these events are just bus stops. They will change.

Enjoy the ride my dear friends, and whenever possible, opt for the slower ride. The ride that will make you contemplate existence..the ride that will make you smile as the sun shines on your cheek from the heavens.. the ride that makes you see a stranger as a lost sister or brother.

As far as the eyes can see, we will never have another.

Sincerely,

Anand Swamy

The Dumps of Our Life

This week I’ve been spending the majority of my time helping family move.

If given a word for every time I’ve moved or helped another I could very well write you a sonnet, but today I’ll attempt to give you more with limited wording so to keep in the spirit of this topic.

Helping others move has become an exercise in the observation of the human condition. It has helped me access my very own nature as a consumer.

I visited the city dump many times to trash the material items that brought me so much joy. In this observation I can and with confidence say that material items even those of sentimental value bring temporary pleasures, so to neglect earthly possessions is an act of virtue.

I’m in awe that we’ve created a multi-billion dollar industry just on shit we waste (no pun intended).

The human who has tasted riches but can still live in poverty or the poor who has had the ability to become rich and continues to live the way in which he/she had is a pursuit many will not undertake.

Minimalism has become a way of life . In the past few years I’ve opened myself up to the world of mindfulness and philosophy and a tectonic shift has occurred with an earthquake of high magnitude. The life that I led previously contains a crack so wide that I could never go back to the former.

Minimalism has taken on many different definitions, but to me it’s living with what you need, being extremely guarded with every new purchase that does not derive sustenance and the awareness that everything you purchase will go back into the earth.

To see the world for what it is – temporary, rented, short and constantly changing has given rise to gratitude and eternal joy – or at least until this bodily frame will allow me.

Visiting the dump, seeing an excess of technological gadgets, the amount of wasted clothes/shoes – brings me to Walden Pond where Thoreau speaks to me through recycled trees and carbon black ink. About minimalism he said, “we have become tools for our tools.”

The more things we have the more we become a slave to them. The sojourner cannot begin to seek if he/she has so much “material crap” to constantly manage.

Written with Love,
Anand Swamy

The Floods of Our Life

This morning my step-mother and I watched the aftermath of the floods in Houston. So many lost, hurt, displaced and even dead because of natures wrath.

It’s a stark and meek reminder that natural disasters bring out our vulnerabilities without permission.

I don’t know if good thoughts transcend to others but I will continue to send them to those affected by this tragedy because what else can I do.

My step-mother started telling me stories of hurricanes in Fiji. They have happened so many times that she has gotten used to them.

Her experiences are similar to many Fijians. Most have proper flood emergency protocols down in memory. She said the hurricanes don’t necessarily pose hardships these days but instead become a nuisance that simply needs to be dealt with.

I have attempted to take her stories and see what lesson I could extrapolate from it.

———–

The hardships in our life are the floods. The more floods we get the more experiences we have to deal with them. Makes sense.

If this is true, then the hardships are good.

I have been following this advice in my own life. I have been chasing hardships. The pleasure in pain has become more enticing than the pleasure that comes from pleasure.

Some examples

    • I take cold showers. When I first started it was unbearable, but through time it’s gotten easier. It’s helped me become creative, attentive, alert, resilient in the face of adversity and in awe of this thing called life
    • I fast 16-20 hours everyday. By putting myself in a state of hunger, the mind is more alert and seeking nourishment. It’s the closest thing that I have practiced that allows me to connect with my primal ancestors. It also has some scientific benefits. My body has become a vehicle that is burning fat instead of short term sugar storage. It’s amazing how little food the body needs to run efficiently
    • Drugs/Alcohol – The occasional joint and cold glass of beer still grace the lungs and pallet, but I’m slowly departing from these mind-altering substances. I’ve tried almost every drug under the sun, but none have left me more happy, challenged and at peace than meditation………and avocados
    • I’ve given away the material things that mean the most to me.Everything material has molecules. The less molecules you acquire, the more space you have. This space allows for clarity and the expansion of conciseness

The people of Houston will come out stronger, more resourceful and united. In a really fucked up way I’m a little jealous.

Tough times bring out the best in people. It brings out the truth and the essence of who we are.

I urge you to think about the things that are hard in our life. Do you negate or face them?

When it’s a flood you have no choice but to act. Take this same urgency and act now.

The things that cause us hardship is usually what makes us stronger when confronted.

Fear carries a mighty roar from a distance, but when faced, it is silenced as if it never existed.

Written with Love,
Anand Swamy

Changing Before My Eyes

I’ve been working out of Illana’s coffee shop for a few years now. It’s a small, quiet joint in a city where shops like this are a dime a dozen – often in business for less than 5 years, but there is something oddly special about this place.

I don’t know if it’s the brawny, aggressive and loud Irish construction workers that come in every morning and order their patented combination Vietnamese Banh Mi sandwich, or George, an elder millionaire psychologist/lawyer that walks around with his light grey sweats, loose maroon shirt and obscenely large gold necklace with a medallion that reminds me of Flavor Flav’s clock chain, or maybe it’s all the Asian business owners that congregate in the mornings while gossiping about their customers as if they’re trading war stories.

I’ve grown to love my neighborhood in the Richmond District. I’ve made this place home for the past 3 years and have many friends – some even became close to kin. I moved a lot growing up, but I intend to stay here for a little while.

I first laid eyes on this older vietnamese couple 3 years ago. They would come in at about 11:00am every morning. I’ve seen them so many times but have yet to share a conversation, but when we play tic tac toe with our eyes and smiles – it’s vividly apparent that we know each-other more than we think.

They are nice to each-other. He would read his books. He recently got a kindle which I think he loves because it’s never not by his side. She is always gossiping with Lan – Kevin’s wife and the head-honcho of Illana’s. I obviously don’t understand what they’re saying, but the moments they crack up in laughter I can’t help myself and do the same. Lan usually tells me what they were laughing about, and I laugh harder finally understanding the joke.

Lately the husband has been sick. He’s in a wheelchair, he doesn’t read as much. Instead he looks at the wall, sometimes at me, sometimes I don’t know where he looks. His granddaughter comes sometimes which gives him energy and his woes of not walking are temporarily lifted as he lives vicariously through her.

As I am writing these words he’s sitting at the table across from me. We just shared a glance and a smile.

Their story speaks heavily to my heart because I know what is to become of him. I know what is to become of me and you.

Like many of us, I feel lost at times. I don’t know if I’m doing the right things, but because I know this journey will end one day – I live and continue to progress, I keep moving.

The somber contemplation of death gives rise to living another day with vigor.

Below I have listed what death has taught me

  • Kindness and Love – Everyone that I hold close will leave soon. I can only be kind and show love now.
  • Someone else’s problems are not yours – This is very hard for me to put into practice and I am still trying, but we will all die with our own problems. We can be there for people and help them, but should never take on another’s sorrow as our own.
  • Compassion – I will never know the struggles of my family and friends. Although many of us look at the sky the same way – we perceive it differently. I have compassion for all views because they are intrinsic and unique to us. Compassion is the closest we can get to putting on another’s shoes. Think of this when talking to others who open their wounds to you.
  • Ego – I don’t know what the ego is, but if it’s a need to be right at the expense of calling someone wrong, then I am slowly leaving that because at my death bed I will not care who is right or wrong. In essence, I’m living in my death-bed now.
  • I don’t care for things – I know I will not take anything with me so having enough is not just a minimalistic clique of new age thinking, but rather a way of life. I care for people because once they depart, something leaves with them. This is the mystery that fuels my love for the unknown and my dismissal for the material.
  • Urgency – I am not an ambitious person. I will die, so I have a sense of urgency to complete things for the sake of completing them.
  • Every moment is special – If you knew you had one more meal for the rest of your life, how would you eat it? Would you eat it fast, or would you enjoy every morsel? I’d pick the latter. Take this example to life – what if life was your last meal? The thing is, that life is our last meal. It’s ending with each moment. My showers, conversations, walks in nature and almost every thing I do have taken on a new meaning because they are ending.

Death has given me the strength to dust myself off and try again. I leave you with one of my favorite movie quotes from, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.” A great movie if you haven’t seen it yet.

“For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again.” 

I am not perfect and screw stuff up sometimes, but because I know I’ll die soon (relative) I’m not hard on myself. I can always try again.

After-all, we can’t go anywhere, we can’t escape. We can only see moments like we feel our breath – slowly coming and slowly going. Be attentive, take the time to observe, and contemplate more. Cherish time with others and experiences, even the most uneventful ones. The small things in life will always be the big things.

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With Love,
Anand Swamy

The Joy of Work

It was another sunny day in December in California. A few months ago a good friend of mine who moved from Minnesota remarked how the great weather in the Golden State made it hard to live elsewhere in America. I’ve never known the difference..perhaps I need to spend some time in another state or country so I can appreciate how the sun shines yearly?

Today I was at Stanford University. It had been about a year since I’ve worked a traditional corporate job. Much of my time was spent in free-lectures offered by various universities, online classes, books, writing, cooking and going on long expedition like nature walks. Don’t you remember as a child how we use to explore the world and find a certain amount of fascination with the simplest things? Why does that leave us? Does it have to be this way? Aren’t we all still children? With that being said, I quite loved my wanderlust lifestyle. It made me feel like a kid. I intend to keep it up for as long as life allows me.

Today I was looking forward to hearing Sadhguru speak. He’s somewhat of a spiritual celebrity in the West. I’ve grown to enjoy his teachings, especially while cooking – it makes cutting the onions slightly more pleasant. I first read his book, “The Flowers on the Path,” after my cousin from Canada gave it to me – well I actually took it from him. Have you ever been so close to someone that everything they own automatically becomes yours? This is my relationship with him. Put his personality on Halle Berry’s body and I’ll put a ring on it with the quickness.

Anyways, I was on campus waiting for Sadhguru. I got there a little early to enjoy the new surroundings – something I do everywhere I go. As I got to the front of the building I saw him finishing up a conversation with a few folks. He looked at me with eyes that pierced my soul while removing everything from existence. He was dark skinned – with impeccable clear complexion and his patented turban and garb. He signaled me to come over as if he knew me and had something important to share.

I put both my hands together in Namaste fashion to greet him – but he opted for my hand and gave me a sturdy handshake while holding my forearm. I said, “nice to meet you” and told him I read his book. He looked at me with intensity and said, “That book is too easy for you, read something more complicated.” I thought it was funny and endearing how someone can insult me while giving a compliment.”

I share this story because during his talk he shared a valuable piece of advice that I feel will benefit you.

Our Work

It’s no surprise that our work will take much of our lifetime.

  • 8 hours of work
  • 8 hours of sleep
  • 8 hours of friends/family

Total – 24 hours in a day

Give or take a few hours depending on how demanding your job is, about 1/3 of our life is devoted to work. If we live till 90 – that’s 30 years.

I’ve come to understand that life is not about finding the perfect job/career. We should still strive for the best if the ability and means presents itself, but it’s far more important to Work Joyously.

Almost all self-help books, advice from titans of industry and the majority of the verbiage around the west resonates with working hard, but few talk about working joyously.

Working hard can be stressful, but working with joy takes the stress out of it. It helps you enjoy life moment to moment.

This is not only helpful for spiritual well-being, but also psychological well being. If our life can be an expression of our joy then it doesn’t matter what we do and where we do it.

5 Ways to bring Joy into your life Today

  1. The chance of your existence – The probability of you existing at all comes out to 1 in 10 to the 2,685,000th power  — yes, that’s a 10 followed by 2,685,000 zeroes! To give you context, there is said to be 10 to the 80th power of atoms in the known universe. In hindsight the probability of us being here at all is 0. We don’t know why creation took place, for what purpose and we know eventually this ride will end so lamenting on anything for too long is trivial. If we can understand the sheer joy of being alive – then we can bring that joy to work.
  2. Life is Leela – “Leela” is the sanskrit word for “play”. When you think about the world objectively, without emotion and for what it is you come to some interesting conclusions. Everything humanity has created will one day perish. When our sun runs out of energy in the next 4 billions years this planet will be null and void and unless Elon Musk finds a way to propel us to a different planet – we won’t be worthy of even a memory. It’s as if our time here is a night club. We all know that the music will end sooner or later so instead of agonizing over when it does, just dance. At times we tend to fall into our problems as if they are forever. Everything will pass, but while you’re in situations that seem insurmountable to come out from – invite Joy into your life by understanding impermanence.
  3. Gratitude – It’s a practice. The practice of gratitude makes the mind stronger. Everyday I wake up with the same prayer.“Thank you for another day. I don’t know why I’m here or where I’ll go, but I’m thankful for the air in my lungs, the friends and family around me and the ability to experience this day once more.” Gratitude is infectious because through my smiles and acts of kindness I am able to see the same in people, In essence my gratitude for life gives others permission to unlock the joy that they have inside.
  4. You will die and that is lovely – If you’ve been reading my blog or you know me personally then you know how candidly I talk about death. Knowing that my time is limited has opened the floodgates to love. My heart hurts with every new person I meet because I know we will all share the same fate of leaving this place, and while it hurts I choose to be kind, smile and show love. Your worst enemy can become your brother and sister instantly.
  5. Service to others – You don’t have to be part of an organization or join a soup kitchen to show service to others. Service is given from the moment you wake up. The way you interact with people, the thoughts you have about them and inevitably how you treat others is service. Everyone in our life will perish, and by giving them the best in us we both find ourselves in unity for one kind act begets another – even if briefly.

—————-
Our time here is short. Let this be a beckoning call to yourself during moments of strife.

I sincerely hope that whatever you do, you do with Joy. Practice gratitude, know that your life was a stroke of luck, contemplate death and let service to others be the epitome of character.

Written with Love,

Anand Swamy
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I Went to Prison

The cops pulled me over. I knew it was bad, although I didn’t know exactly what I did. It was dusk and the air was restless. The mood of that evening reminded me of the first episode of the Wonder Years when Kevin went for a walk, only to find Winnie in the forrest after her brother had just died in Vietnam. Except with this story there is no comforting end and no Percy Sledge to ease my woes.  Continue reading “I Went to Prison”