9 June 2024

Book Review: Note to Myself by Hugh Prather

I am not somebody who finishes a book in one sitting. I have three unfinished books in my library to prove that. The only one I have ever done before is a book called “The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur” which is easily finished in 20 minutes.

However, this book, I did finish in one and a half hours sitting in the park in Marietta Square while Sharmila was at her art show. The book is written mostly as thoughts journaled by the write Hugh Prather.

It is a very quick read but full of some insights that the author has gone thru…

Here are some that resonated with me:

1. My anxiety does not come from thinking about the future but from wanting to control it.

2. The key to motivation is to look at how far I have come rather than how far I have to go.

3. I believe that for almost everyone else life is also a mixture of unsolved problems, ambiguous victories and vague defeats – with very few moments of clear peace.

4. My trouble is I analyze life instead of live it.

5. Now that I know I am no wiser than anyone else, does this wisdom make me wise?

6. The number of things just outside the perimeter of my financial reach remains constant no matter how much my financial condition improves. With each increase in my income, a new perimeter forms and I experience the same relative sense of lack.

7. Don’t fight a fact, deal with it. Don’t discard your self, be more of it.

8. Most mistakes are corrected through increased awareness, which usually does not come without some discomfort.

9. The unstill part of the mind travels from one trivial issue to another, avoiding the present and avoiding love.

10. I can be faithful to my image or faithful to myself.

11. Most decisions, possibly all, have already been made on a deeper level than the sentence level of my mind and my going through a reasoning process to arrive at them seems at least redundant.

12. If the desire to do something is not accompanied by actual doing, then the desire is of not doing it.

13. I don’t think religion is an attainable subject for the intellect. I can only believe when I’m not talking about it.

14. I am noticing that when I am bored, I think I am tired of my surroundings but I am really tired of my thoughts.

15. If I feel disapproval of someone, if I find myself ignoring or turning away from someone in a group, I am probably avoiding in myself what this person represents that I believe is true about me.

16. There is no such thing as “best” in a world of individuals.

17. Whenever I find myself arguing for something with great passion, I can be certain I’m not convinced.

18. I find it almost impossible to make a strong declarative statement in conversation without feeling little nagging doubts and reservations.

19. I thought others’ liking me was a comment on me, but it is a comment on them.

20. If I feel compelled to answer every question, *I* am the one compelling me.

21. Silence can mean confidence. And mutual respect. Silence can mean live and let live: the appreciation that I am I and you are you. The silence is an affirmation that we are already together – as two people. Words can mean that I want to make you into a friend and silence can mean that I accept your already being one.

22. An argument is always about what has been made more important than the relationship.

23. I get along with people a lot better when I recognize that no one ever feels exactly the same about me or anyone else from one moment to the next.

24. All acquaintances are passing.

25. Perceptions are not of things but of relationships.

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6 May 2024

Number line representation in your mind

You might find this interesting. Close your eyes and try to count the numbers 1,2,3…. Do not count it verbally but visually eye thru the numbers from 1 onwards to 100.

Is that number line a straight line? Does it go up and down? Does it go left to right? Does it have colors?

Interestingly, we all have very different mental representation of the number line and we are still not sure how to explain it. Some part of it is definitely the way we read stuff. For example, for me and for most Westerners, the number line goes left to right. When asked, all the 20 students from Iran (studying in a US college) said their mental line went from right to left.

About 5% of the population even associate different colors in different parts of the line. Do you?

My line looks like the one I have drawn here. It goes left to right for the most part, steadily rises till 20 and then takes a sharp bend. 20-40 goes right to left. For most people, these breaks come at a multiple of 10 !!

For some unknown reason, I have a distinct breakpoint between 69 and 70. My mental eyes do not smoothly go from one number to the next – it makes a discrete jump to a point left and higher for 70.

After 100, the pattern repeats. On the negative side, I have no pattern. In fact, this can be explained by the fact that we learnt negatives much later in life. Negative numbers are so unnatural for us to think about (in real life negative number of objects are difficult to comprehend) that the brain consumes a lot of power to hold steady with negative numbers instead of fluently using memory.

Interestingly, when I look at the number line and traverse from left to right, somewhere around 7 is where I feel I am looking straight. 1-6 is on my left. 8 onwards is on my right.

How do you visualize your number line?

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20 April 2024

Ghulam Ali evening

Chori chori ham se tum aa kar mile the jis jagah
Muddatein guzariin par ab tak wo thikaanaa yaad hai
Ham ko ab tak aashiqii ka vo zamana yaad hai
Chupke chupke raat din aansuu bahana yaad hai

Aa gaya gar vasl ki shab bhi kahin zikr-e-firaaq
Vo tera ro ro ke bhi mujhko rulana yaad hai
Ham ko ab tak aashiqii ka vo zamana yaad hai
Chupke chupke raat din aansuu bahana yaad hai

Roughly translated…

That place where you used to come to meet me secretly
Much time has gone by but I still remember that place
I still remember those days when we were in love
I still remember tears flowing secretly day and night

If ever any mention of parting came up during those nights of love
I remember how you would keep crying and then make me cry
I still remember those days when we were in love
I still remember tears flowing secretly day and night

16 April 2024

Why the heck do we write 4 that way?

Given my love for numbers, lately I have started reading a book on where do our senses for numbers come from? Do animals understand numbers? (They do – but not the way we think). Does a child of 2 months understand the difference between 2 and 3? (You will be surprised!!)

Now I am trying to figure out why is it that in most cultures, we write 2 by repeating 1 in some fashion. Same for 3. But when it gets to 4, we go a very different way. And all cultures have uniformly decided to take a fork while representing 4.

The Roman notation is the most unintuitive. After denoting 2 as nothing but two of 1 and 3 as three of 1, to denote 4, first it introduces 5 !!! And then the understanding of subtraction!!

Why did they do that?

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