Monday, March 23, 2015

Ponder - Paradigm shift

2014 looks like a fragment of my imagination from where I see it. It is amusing how my brain completely shuts off this part of my world once I am in my homeland. It is as if this home and these streets never existed. And magically, the same thing happens when I get back. It is probably my inbuilt defense mechanism that shuts these things off, making me more resilient and adaptable to the surroundings I am in.

My extended stay back home bought so many things into light - it was an eye opener in more ways than one. Some of the discoveries were made within and some without. Like they say - everything we see is a perspective and everything we hear is an opinion. There isn't the right and wrong like we categorize things - no black and white but numerous shades of Grey. The possible reference to 50 shades is just a sheer coincidence :-)

I was always known to think 'weird' - one of my close associates used a euphemism to tone down the 'weirdness' and called me 'eclectic'. Like I keep reiterating again and again - labels aren't for me. I am as volatile as it can get though the reflections, the experiences and the exposures did frame the core of my insides. I used to despise certain things from this very core - 'common sense' or lack thereof, for example - or Stupidity. Though I categorize myself as 'live let live' and never make 'to the face' judgements in general, I should be fair and admit that I always thought of myself as a practical and rational thinker. This obvious pride often led me on the roads of 'judgement' and undermining the people I thought were below my understanding of having common sense or being stupid.

Go place yourself in a country like India, and viola - you see a totally new ball of wax - one sees many stereotypes, blind beliefs, social taboos exercised with utmost pride - and most of all - the attitudes and the bandwagon effects and herd behaviours are totally amusing. It is said that people who believe they are rational are often more susceptible to cognitive biases and mine was probably the 'bias blind spot' - as in the tendency to see oneself as less biased than others :-) Yes, point made and how!!

I cannot completely take credit to my so called 'well rounded' personality (and no, that's not the midriff I am referring to ;-)) - I spent the better part of my life in the amazingly diverse 'west coast' of the USA and a better part of that better part wasn't spent parked in a three by three cubicle, going through the daily grind. Thanks to the spouse that granted me all the freedom to pick and choose and be myself. Over the past decade and a half, I transformed from this small town young woman into someone that had exposure to several different cultures, works of thought, situations, unlimited knowledge that unfolded on the world wide web, a fresh 'perspective' and not to mention the advantage of aging. And when you arrive with all these tools in tow, to a place like suburban India, it could be a ego inflating and an isolating experience at the same time. You would suddenly appear so larger than life to yourself that every bit of 'ignorance' you see around irritates you.

The silent judgements were masked, the irritation was carefully concealed - but I did end up feeling like I belonged else where and not in the place I chose to be. It probably made me feel like this because I was pumped up with a 'holier than thou' halo effect. Had I been living there, with that kind of environment and people around me, I am sure, I'd have been half this global, progressive or broad in my thinking.

Common sense and stupidity are very subjective. In an Indian household, it is common sense to leave the footwear outside. Just because your American counterpart doesn't do it, it is not a lack of 'common sense'.  Rather - it is not a common occurrence in that particular culture. I remember writing a blog about how 'hating someone with bad grammar' group on a social media website was a little over the top. In the same way, the group shares, the memes, the jokes and the inspiration messages that people share, reflect their own personal preferences. Just because they don't match my sensibilities - I learnt not to disdain them. Guilty as charged - I seldom open or acknowledge any of these links that are shared in my friends' circle. After this Aha moment, I make a conscious effort to go thorough them and appreciate what is seen on the sharing end of the link. I have to admit, my being 'smart' stopped me from doing so earlier.

We are a product of a lot of things other than our own prowess. And no matter how smart I consider myself to be, I am sure I fall somewhere in the spectrum of 'stupid' when it comes to the numerous smartypants out there that inhibit my planet. I have my share of biases, committed a few blunders and brutally judged people for who they are or what they are not.  But once the paradigm shifts, the panoramic view comes into picture.

Dear God, Let me never get too big for my britches! Amen.

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