Monday, May 17, 2010

Sitting down

:-D What is it this time?? A whole post on 'sitting down'?? What will a year-old grad student write about 'sitting down'?? For one who has to spend more time with the Computer, it would probably be about dealing with Hemorrhoids.... Well, er... you got a dozen websites on that....

What is it then?? Taking up from one of my posts called 'Adrift'..... Today was like a sequel to that day... Even worse! :D.... Only a responsibility that was due last week and could no longer be put off (they'd slice my throat!), pulled me out of the bed(couch) - in the afternoon! Peak of laziness in the week after the finals (not that I slogged through the finals, but still it's the week after the finals!) - it seems to take me a lot of time to 'recover' ( from nothing, actually - but please, let me!).....  After the job was done, I had 'planned' to bring myself to work on my project..... It would have been very unlikely of me if I had stuck to the 'plan' -I was feeling gloomy how novels used to be such an integral part of my life a few years back and how I miss finding one that could keep me engrossed for hours... Minutes later, I was 'sitting down' at a seminar hall, for a panel discussion on 'Mental toughness'. I felt like a mental - why do I keep attending such lectures?? The doubts about my sanity vanished when the hall got jam-packed, myself being one of the lucky few early birds who got a seat to 'sit down'...

Apparently the 'panel' consisted of  Marvin Lee Minsky (Inventor: Confocal Microscope), David Goggins ( Toughest nut to crack, in short. Check out his biography - from his childhood),Lieutenant Commander Eric Potterat (Ph.D., a Naval Special Warfare Command psychologist) and a couple of others from the US Navy SEALs. uhm... I should have probably come a tiny bit prepared for this. I bet I was the only one in there with mouth-wide-open at the introductions....
I'm not going to bore myself or you with everything that they talked about... I just want to record whatever I loved there....

The Faculty who did the intros (red jacket) : " If you are in MIT, you must be mentally tough "   (..... or learning to be that)

Eric Potterat (the one in the middle) : He spoke about the training for the SEALs which is totally high-end, inhumane, but serves its purpose - to select the toughest ones out there and train them to endure even more. The reason why selection is so crucial is that even if one person sat down tired during the operation, it would spell out catastrophe for the entire team. The fifth week of training is called the 'Hell week' with  non-stop training with close to no sleep at all. Each day is filled with 5 hours of drills in water, 3 hours of P.T., 6 hours of running with a rubber boat on the head, 2 hours of paddling and so on.... NON STOP training! And the sign for quitting is a brass bell that hangs in a prominent place - so the keyword is MENTAL toughness, more than physical toughness.

David Goggins(at the rightmost end) : Single,divorced parents; Single black kid in school; A rat-infested 7$-rent house; First one to discover step-dad's murdered body in the garage; School drop-out; Worker in a pesticide-spray company (Heads up from David: DON'T eat at the 'Red Lobster'); Lost weight from 295 to 190 pounds in 59 days to join the SEALs; Hadn't so much as dipped his toe into the pool until learning to swim the hard way at the SEALs' training; Sickle cell anaemia;a hole in the heart; Without having run a single marathon in his life, he volunteered to run an 130-mile race - shed more pounds in a couple of days to qualify for that - DID THE BIGGEST MISTAKE OF HIS LIFE - SITTING DOWN AFTER 100 miles - couldn't stand up, but wanted to urinate - asked his wife near him if she loved him, to help him - he pissed blood, kidney failure- wife,being a nurse, fed him, walked a couple of miles with him- something happened inside his head- he started running again and finished the race in under 24 hours; Well the story continues till him being what he is now -- and sharing it with an audience at MIT.

David talked about 'one second decisions' where he makes up his mind in one second to think it through and set his goal. One second is all it takes.... He keeps putting himself under new pressures and difficulties cos that is really when he finds out who he really is, under all those artificial layers - whether he can get through it or if he is going to cry for help and give up. There is no finish line. It doesn't stop. We all do something that sucks every day. He doesn't enjoy running. He just focuses on putting each foot ahead of the other. Keep touching the spot that hurts the most, till you become immune to the pain - till you no longer have any emotional attachment to it.

Marvin Lee Minsky (second from left):

Marvin : "How long does it take to drive the unicycle?"
Friend: " 15 minutes"
Marvin : " That's awesome!"
Friend: " Well, it takes 3 weeks to accumulate those 15 minutes"

Marvin quoted a lot from his book 'The Emotion Machine'. So read that if you want to know more - take my word, the excerpts which he shared were brilliant.

The book 'Lone Survivor...' kept getting mentioned often--- the characters in that book being close buddies of David.

I got books to read!

And well, the title is about the conclusion that I have drawn today (Get ready for another Pearl of wisdom :P) - " It's not totally wrong to sit down. Just make sure you sit down at the right time, near the right people and DON'T forget to stand up and get going again!"

Ha ha, I love MIT!!!  :) :) :)

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Happy Mother's day

I never tell my mom ---
Her love and care keep me charged up miles apart.

I feel her presence--
Every time I try to be tolerant like her; 
Every time I eat the pickles that she made and sent with me;
Every time I use her hand-made spice powders that somehow,as if by magic recreate the aroma and taste of her cooking; 
Every time I look at the mirror; 
Every time I look at the little pics of God that she has stuffed wherever there is space in my baggage...:D ; 
Every time I try to do the little things that make her happy;
Every time I realize what a lot of qualities she has passed on to me.... :D

Love you, ma.

Friday, May 7, 2010


Get up at 9 am finally after 3 hours of staring at the view outside the window.

Clean the week-old-fungi-clogged kitchen sink - valiant efforts for an hour.

Laze on the couch for 3 hours in the Students' lounge, attempts to read a paper sadly going in vain.

An hour-long Kiran Mazumdar Shaw lecture brightening up the day considerably.

Play for an hour in the pool. Day looks even brighter.

A 3 hour-discussion on 'Searching the meaning of life through Science' at the mit religious activities centre.

Back to square one. Head filled with ??????'s.

A noisy telephonic conference with 7 or 8 school friends for a couple of hours, on bed.

The end changes it all. I'm not aimless. I know what I'm going to do - Sleep.