Flavors of Failure

I looked at my first story submission rejection email. And I smiled. And I rejoiced. And I am totally sane.

So much of the world is a perception that has been filled in our heads, first by the society and then by our experiences. There are subjects we think we can feel or expect to feel because we have been told about them. And while these descriptions are often true, the way we truly feel is something only we can uncover.

“You’ll never know unless you have your own kids.” “You’ll never know till you start earning.”

We are often reminded. Because it is an experience reserved only for us.

And there are many experiences we never have, all of them we cannot have. We operate solely under the circumstances of bounded rationality. We suffice most of the time. And there’s nothing wrong with it. Human lives are about sufficing, that is what makes it every bit interesting.

Then what about failure? What about the volcanic outcry of pain that precedes failure? Or so we are told.

If we evaluated failure as a concept, as a word that simply means not being able to attain a goal and isolate all emotional feelings, who is to say it will be bitter? May be you’d find it sweeter? or salty? or 132 other adjectives that strike your head- positive, negative and neutral.

I had failed. And I am surprised it did not bring me down, like it normally should have. I could have been distracted in the middle of an examination or a pile of spammed mail that had almost eaten up a rather important one. There could have been 302 other variables that jumped and played inside my head. But I have isolated much of these extraneous elements to realize that I was actually delighted to fail in that moment.

When little children fall down and hurt themselves, right before they begin to cry from the burning pain inside, our elders pounce in and say “you’ll be taller now”. A wound on my leg meant I’d grow taller, a leg ache meant I’d be one inch closer to the stars.

Of course none of us grew in direct proportion to all these folklores, but it kept us from crying and falling apart so many times. Falling flat on the ground did not need to hurt, it could mean something good. We saw for the first time that what we felt at the moment necessarily did not need to hold the same results, and vice versa.

Then why have we come to dread failure as a monster bought to life right from the frankenstein movie? Why haven’t we told ourselves, that it could be something very different from what we’re feeling?

Stephen King failed. And he cherished his rejections. The day when his novel Carrie credited his bank accounts with $200,000, he was standing in the doorway between the kitchen and the living room receiving the phone call that would change his life, at least financially. But he was always a writer at heart, nothing changes that, not his early rejections, neither the $200 short short stories he wrote to breakeven or the millions that followed. It was his book, On Writing, that challenged me to look at writing and failure rather differently. Combined with Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic, I’d just discovered paradise.

If you’ve just tasted a hot pepper and can’t seem to handle it, run for the sweets! If you’ve hit rejection, run towards improvement and learning. It is the taste of the final delicacy that lingers on your tastebuds.

These are all a set of concepts that run down our heads, and yet when it boils down to failure we see of it as something much beyond the parameters of a simple concept. We’ve been told it hurts, we’ve been directed to fear and punishing ourselves. Certainly, feel the emotions, but don’t let them eat you up.

We’ve always been told, it’s bitter, perhaps it is time to discover our own unique flavors.

This is the first flavor I have discovered with my conscious mind, that failure can be more than bitter images and hurtful emotions. I am convinced there are more to come. I’d like to cherish my writing rejection, by simply writing more. There’s nothing more appropriate to do.

Now, a rejected but ever hopeful writer,

Alfa


Photograph of the sky of Kamalanagar, Sindhuli, captured from the bus park as a bunch of balloons from a near by street vendor flew right across.

The Festival of Reminiscence

“What does a rhombus look like?” the teacher asked.

“A Kite!” the students replied unanimously.

A rhombus in our heads was always represented by a kite. And a kite, was and will always be about Dashain, one of the most important festivals of Nepal and Hindu devotees around the world.

Lately, I have been trying to remember what is it about this festival that I absolutely adored as a kid.

Perhaps it was the month long holiday (which is now only being cut shorter and shorter as we step into adulthood!), or perhaps about the cramped shopping with my mother and aunts. May be it was about meeting my cousins after a long summer at school, flaunting our new dresses and making plans weeks before on what we would do the day we finally met. May be it was the kite flying tradition at the last moment that we always lost, because some other neighbor always had sharper and stronger thread. Or perhaps it was the amusing game of cards that the adults played as we counted the number of years when we would be able to join along.

We learnt about cards in probability or probability in cards. Whatever it was, it was certainly worth the wait.

A big part of the festival was always about my cousins. Some of us have moved abroad, some of us in the city are studying and busy chasing our respective lives, others- the younger ones, the new generation is growing up and living the times we once lived. Some of us have joined the cards table, borrowing a couple of hundreds from our parents to marvel at the game while it lasts. The younger ones are demanding kite traditions and traditional clothes, moving their tiny heads away from their iPads and tablets.

It was simple. And it still is.

As I watch from the observer’s seat, the child like excitement may have faded away, but a new set of perspectives are on the rise. For each year, it means a different thing. For each set of transitionary period, it represents a new angle of life.

It is about the buzz in the town, the shades of new color that paints the city for a short while, the conversations in the table, an anticipated break from the routine that we are accustomed to, the new set of photographs in social media. Behold the time has come and gone in a flash, what have you seen? What you have seen is all that counts.

Wishing everyone celebrating a prosperous, lively and meaningful Vijaya Dashami. May this festival bring you closer to what you’ve been looking for.

Best Wishes,

Alfa

The Ambidextrous Project: From papers to dinner tables

I won’t say I’ve been lazy. I’ll just say I have been absorbed deeply into thinking, as The Ambidextrous Project discreetly travelled from blog posts, Facebook updates, instagram photos to dinner tables and tea gatherings at home.

When your little project becomes the conversation topic in family gatherings, it’s a proud moment. When we talk about exercising the non-dominant hand to exercise the brain, “Hand works, but brain doesn’t,” my sister and aunt add a bit of humor.

My uncle talked about the use of abacus to practice the non-dominant hand through the medium of mathematics. My mom says she will join along.

Handedness served as the desert alongside main course!

And my friends have been up with some interesting ideas too.

Here’s an amazing gif by Ben from his ambidextrous project.

And I have some friends who have painted silhouettes with their left hand, some of them who believe this to be their “fun festival”, some other who believe its like yoga or meditation, some of them who write exceptionally well with their non-dominant hand right at their debut season this time and some others who are brushing their teeth with their left hand.

See, there are no wrong hands! (It’s biology, let the brains decide!)

Curious about handedness, I managed to finished two books on lefties this summer; The Left Stuff by Melissa Roth and The Left Handed Book by James T. deKay.

Some interesting excerpts from the book The Left Stuff: How the Left-Handed Have Survived and Thrived in a Right-Handed World. A book just for lefties, but for anyone who wants to marvel at the mystery of the human body.

Lefties as parameters:

In cross cultural studies conducted by social scientists, the percentage of left-handers in a society can serve as a barometer for that society’s tolerance for difference.

Handedness is not absolute:

Because so few people use only one hand to do everything, handedness is more of a continuum than an either/or identity.

Worried that lefties are more disorganized?

No one ever conducts studies of right-handers to determine what percentage has autoimmune disorders and other pathologies, so in the end, it boils down to what Ward refers to as “a numbers game”. In other words, left-handers only appear to have more problems because there are fewer of them to start out with, which results in fewer of them with no problems.

It takes two to tango (or salsa!):

“The two sides of the body always do complementary things; one supports and the other acts,” explains Ward. “Think of ballet dancers spinning on one toe. It’s all about optimal coordination of body movement patterns.”

The secret behind the lefty power:

Growing up surrounded by right-handed equipment, instrument, appliances, and tools, lefties give their non dominant side more exercise than the average righty. Biomechanics research has revealed that training the non-dominant side of the body actually enhances the dominant side-something known as the cross-training effect-since the body’s neural network is integrated on both sides.

Handedness is a beautiful mystery of nature, there’s only so much to discover about our little brains hidden inside the cranium.

Right hand. Left hand. Who remembers? The hands are so essential that we often forget about them. Now you won’t.


A big thank you to everyone trying their customized ambidextrous project, the ones following it regularly and inspiring me!

A left handed writer,

Alfa

I’d love to hear your ideas on handedness! Drop a comment.

Why did I start this Blog?

I don’t quite remember.

While Columbus headed towards the West in search of India and ended up discovering America, I had no clue where I was heading. I knew I wanted to write, now I know better.

Why? How? I know the questions better.

To write. To read. To be read. To learn. To improve. To discover. To explore. To dream. To dare. To face the fear. These have been the refined goals I discovered during the journey.

Sometimes it’s the journey that teaches you a lot about your destination. – Drake

When the frog got to see a world beyond the well, she was awestruck by its magnificence, a little too scared at the same time. Suddenly the boundaries shifted and the sky became bigger to measure in distances, with eagles, hawks, pigeons, sparrows and white metallic creatures called airplanes all sharing the same blue canvas.

Writing has helped me make new friends, expand horizons with older ones, I have met people exclusively because of writing. I said, boldly I want to be a writer in front of five people I’d never seen before at a program, and how they backed me to share my ideas that day has been a big big surprise. (Gave a power boost to my confidence.)

I love the community here. The people behind these work of art have become my inspiration; people juggling with life, education, family, finances and managing to type a few lines everyday. I somehow landed on Blogging University and now here I am considering three concrete goals for my blog.

Three goals for my blog:

Learn, Learn and Learn

A forever goal.

Write more interesting articles and research more

It takes sweat to create interesting works. And tedious days of churning and writing, rewriting, writing, thinking, reading. I will focus more on topics that interest me and try to find more about them. I already have a few topics at the back of my head. Let’s see how they turn out to be.

Consistent Features

I’d like to be more consistent with #PawMgmt, where cats (my pets) and management (my major) come together here at my blog. I also plan to continue the Book Quote series (which has been dormant for a long long time.) Likewise, a mini fiction series too (smells like hardwork!).

I had a story to tell. I have many many more. I know you do too.


Til’ the next post! With hopes that I will be able to stick to my goals!

An amateur writer full of hope and dreams,

Alfa