Every morning at 9, we have a scrum meeting at work. A meeting where each one of us(about 12-13 of us), has to report on the work done the day before and the work to be done for the day. Once your status update is out of the way, some people tend to get fidgety and since Phones are the perfect fidget-spinner replacements – they are taken up. The picture above is an illustration of what I do in these meetings. An employee decided to take a picture of the donuts as proof that she had brought them in since she was being bullied for a couple of weeks for not bringing in the customary donuts as a new hire. As luck would have it, the manager who was pestering her to do so was out that day and she wanted to send the manager a picture. Look yummy, don’t they? Yes they were absolutely delicious! But what I am more interested in pointing out is the notepad at the upper corner of the picture. Yes, that notepad belongs to me and when I saw the picture, I was very amused. That notepad is so me. So, so me. I am sure most of you can’t really read my scrawls and so for the ones who are actually the least bit curious about what those are, I decided to write a whole entire blog about it! You will have to read till the end to know what those scribbles are.
I am an avid quora reader. I discovered it a couple of months back and whenever I can, I try to read people’s experiences. For a wannabe writer like me, it is an invaluable tool. One of the things I lack that every writer needs to have in their arsenal, is a keen curiosity of people and things happening around them. I am a very private person by nature. Don’t mistake it for shyness. I am not shy by any measure of the yardstick, but I tend to keep away from the limelight. I like to shine in my own space, with the brightness of a faraway star. I like to be left alone with my thoughts and my efforts towards self-introspection to gain a better view of who I am. I don’t like anyone intruding into my space when I am in these modes. I like to melt away into the background and there is nothing more annoying than people staring at you or worse still making caricatures of you or taking notes of your appearance. (I exaggerate I know, but you get my point).
This need for privacy makes me sensitive to other people’s need of it. I don’t like to make people subjects of my scrutiny. This has effectively morphed into me not paying attention to anything around me. I dreamily float around, aware of everything but not quite taking in the details of things around me. I feel the great disservice I am doing to myself as a writer, when I read descriptive passages from books and even when people are casually describing a particular thing. It amazes me how much attention to detail is given and how well people conjure up images and visions in your mind with their evocative and imaginative way of writing what they have observed about how a particular person looks or how the inside of a particular house appears. I find that simply amazing.
I started doing an exercise wherein when I want to write something descriptive about something, then I turn to a writer’s most faithful research tool – Google. If I want to write for example about a meadow, I search images till I find the one I am looking for. Then I go on to describe it in detail. Yes, a crude band-aid technique to alleviate my lack of observation powers. But it is better than having nothing at all.
As I am evolving and honing this technique, I have hit on something that is nothing short of a gold mine to the writer in me. QUORA. An online community wherein people ask questions and the same people answer them too. I find it fascinating to read people’s stories, their values, their views and what has happened to them. It is like an epic unfolding right in front of my eyes – an epic that has so many layers and each one of those layers is easily accessible to me. Its like being let out in a field rich and laden with your favorite stuff. I feel humbled and amazed that I can observe people, know their secrets, read their views and have access to the intricate details of their lives so up close and personal. Not only that, I could interact with them, solicit their advice, talk to them, encourage them, lend a helping hand etc etc. All this without leaving my comfort zone.
Best of all, my need to respect people’s privacy is intact as I read only about what people want to publicize. The one’s who don’t want to go anonymous and it is great that I don’t even have to know who it is that I am getting to know so well through their words. Mere air these words, but oh, so revealing!
I read them:
Sometimes with sadness, other times with joy!
Sometimes with a heavy heart, other times with a light step!
Sometimes with gratitude, other times with horror!
Sometimes with love, other times with aversion!
But all the times, with amazement!
I bookmark the answers I like to read and savor them later. I watch myself grow as I read. I find myself empathizing with so many people. I feel their trauma, I feel their need. I feel so alive and humbled. I feel immensely grateful for everything that is in my life and more so for things that are not. There are so, so many amazing people in this world. They take time and energy to prop less confident people up. They research and give valuable insight to their readers into their findings. The many facets of life that I get to watch as a bystander is beyond any feeling I have experienced. It is like I am given invaluable insight and experiences into life without having to go through them.
For instance, I feel nothing sort of pure admiration when a 19-year old writes more than a dozen things about what he learned too late in life. At that age, I am sure I did not even have insight into even one thing that he writes about, leave alone expressing so well. Read his views here.
I am fascinated when I read about a dear 92-year old woman’s definition of happiness and feel like I learned something profound reading about her outlook in life. Read about her here….
I can feel tears stinging in my eyes when I read calls for help like this: Lend a ear and then maybe a hand.
I learn to be careful and wary when I read a nightmarish account of a young woman who was saved from being kidnapped by her alert father. Dad’s are the best!
I routinely read about suicides and how people are haunted by it. I was extremely saddened to hear about a couple of prominent quora members committing suicide. One was a 16-year old boy. Many of these accounts are eye openers.
I could go on and on. But I will end with something I read that resonated with me deep down. I found the words so true. They go something like this:
“Perception creates bias as much as it creates understanding. Fear as much as curiosity!” – Mary Gable’s words scribbled on my notepad.
Who is Mary Gable you ask? Another Quoran I read and admire. Here is the link to her complete article: The reality of perception
Mere air these words, but oh! So compelling!