I’m a runner. Always knew I was a runner ever since I knew I was bipedal. Running late, running marathons, running away from crowds and in general running from confrontations. Then I heard about people talking about the “Core” – you ought to strengthen your “core” they say. I see people huffing and puffing trying to do spidermans, mountain climbers, crunches, planks and trying to imitate other reptiles! I dabbled too. Then I realized I had the upper body strength of a gnat perhaps. I began going to some spin classes. I used to feel like I’ve been through a blender after those sessions. I used to experience pain in body parts that I never even knew had existed! I can afford to laugh at my beginner’s runner arrogance/ignorance to think that my legs are the crème de la crème of my body. The “core” works silently and diligently supporting the body, balancing and enabling locomotion and any attempt at strengthening it is quite humbling and beneficial to the whole body. Whether you’re a runner or a fighter, the core keeps you moving or helps stand your ground and throw some punches. The “Core” is truly the core of our existence.
I experience a sudden loss of words whenever I need to defend my position or argue or reel off some facts or even bring up a topic related to the current topic. I search and search and all I can see are empty shelves. Where are all the podcasts and trivia I keep listening to all day? My brain is one helluva leaky cauldron or a super massive black hole. I can feel my brain getting obese – lethargic, pompous and privileged prick or just being its plain old self. The thing is I’m getting paranoid if I have Alzheimer’s which is also a part of my brain’s function. How I wish there was a secondary thinking machine. Sometimes this thing called “gut feeling” does rear its face. Most of my cooking decisions are made unnoticed by the brain. Recently i heard that willpower and decision making uses active memory and that we deplete our energy resources when we exercise it. This could be a reason behind the sugar cravings after a particularly stressful day. Sometimes I have to cajole my brain for a hang out with people and talk to them. It definitely counts as a stressful day on my calendar – the definition of being an introvert. It is a breeze with a bunch of familiar faces playing poker. However with new people, the brain tries to overcompensate – attempts to walk in their shoes, empathize and respond in a conversation appropriately and when it finds nothing to say, it beckons you to be silent – what an INTROVERT!
Our brains do quite a stupendous job behind the scenes doing the daily math jobs pattern recognition, depth perception, time keeping etc. Bees can apparently do a better job than computers to solve the NP hard travelling salesman problem. They use heuristics to find the most optimal path to food – presumably their only goal in life. Humans might be more complicated in the goals arena. We are the only species that can kick off more than two trains of thoughts in parallel. I was yet again mind blown by Neil degrasse Tyson (duh). After a long nail biting pause, he stacked up reasons fastidiously on why he thinks we might be living in higher dimensions idea. There are things we can’t prove with science today – does that imply our human brain hasn’t evolved yet to even begin to imagine or process the higher dimensions? The DNA we share with our common ancestors differs by only about 1%, he says and yet the differences in our abilities is gargantuan. So maybe we are not that smart? However it is heartening to think we have begun to tease the idea of what might be a “God”/superior being in sci-fi movies like Interstellar and Arrival. We are limited in our purview due to the limits we perceive in our world.
Today, I decided to put myself in the spacious shoes of my opposite gender and wonder about the world for awhile. I see my colleagues chatting around me gossiping about new gadgets and deals. They talk and complain about the commute, work and politics. They look and behave like normal humans. It is easy to mask yourself intellectually as any gender anywhere. If so, why do we (females) still feel like we are being treated to chivalry and sometimes misogyny at worst? Is it something ingrained in the female genes to feel inferior or is it a cultural byproduct? Physically (I know since I’m a runner), that it is quite impossible to bridge the gap between genders unless you’re a pro in the sport. But it still pains me to see the abominable quality of some men who call themselves sportsmen and underestimate competition from women. I’m waiting for the day when there is not gender equality but gender neutrality!
Is it fair to claim genealogy when you’re the best at something? I was watching an interview of the great stand up comedian George Carlin. He attributed his genius to genetics and added that even hard work is genetically inclined. This made me wonder about all the brilliant scientists and musicians in the world. I believe in the theory of natural selection but isn’t it uplifting when you read these rags to riches stories. My genetic endowment would probably be dwarfism and believing in superstition. Now how do I create an art out of these gratuitous gifts from my heredity? Well, I’m trying my best at being the opposite – an athletic cynic.
Why do we defend ? We fear harm and we feel pain which is flagged as an error signature by our brain. Evolution has bestowed upon each one us earthlings – the art of fight or flight as a defense mechanism. Being non-confrontational with all forms of life is the path I unconsciously chose. Simply put, I’m constituted of social awkwardness, so I adopted the latter. People ask me why I run. It started out as an alternative to watching sitcoms on my PC since I have seen all of them. I was into track events as a kid and was quite good at it. However my breathing was hampered due to chronic wheezing – an evil joke played by my lungs. The most happiest memories of my school life are on the road outside my house playing badminton with my brother, my best friend and neighbor during school days, my room mates in college. Then abruptly one day, existential crisis hit me. I started working and there was nothing else to do. I found a few friends but was too afraid to ask them if they played any sports. I realize now that the best gift in the world for me is finding friends who have a few quirks in common with me like playing badminton or TT or any random game. So I started running. It was a loner sport and I loved it! It gave me freedom and power. I was conquering my brain and its boredom. I was welcomed by a faint twinge of wheezing again. But I conquered my lungs too. My life had met a purpose. Then I met a group of crazy runners who ran fast and ran for a cause. I trained with them learning a lot of different things. I can say I’m a better person now because of all the people I have ever run with or played with. I’m still an introvert running away from things. Well, isn’t the universe doing it too – expanding?.
You have the “this song reminds me of this” syndrome if you listen to your discovery of the day in a loop until ears start pleading. I can get obsessed with a song and play it over and over while working or travelling or some other verb. The other day, I was listening to some 90’s rahman throwbacks – it reminded me of the time when the radio used to on between 6 and 8 am at home blaring and we kids were getting ready for school. I could even recreate some of the noise my mom made in the kitchen while she prepared lunch, my dad yelling every 5 minutes that 10 minutes is up, grandma combing my hair, my brother running helter-skelter and ironing wet socks. Some older hits remind me of laying spread-eagle in the hall of my house at 11 pm trying to solve ridiculous math problems – radio mirchi used to start their 80’s hits show around 10 pm. The other day, I was scrolling through my brain for college memories by paging through songs history. I must say backstreet boys, JT, Usher were kind of like JB,One direction and Adele of today. I was just making a comparison of popularity – no comments about skills! “Just so you know” – by Jesse McCartney makes a special entry here since I must have listened to it like a ritual every day for a week during my bus ride in Bangalore. “Firefly ” – by Owl city, Eminem’s “Lose yourself” and Linkin Park’s “numb” gives me glimpses of some of the serious phases of my undergrad life – preparing for projects, exams and interviews. How I wish I could go back in time to the firefly times! I seem to have a black hole in my brain after that phase. Maybe it needs time to pickle the memories! It is an amazing feat – since people may come and go, money may come and go – only thing that stays will be these memories and songs of course! I have got to go make my discovery of the day now – bye!