See a table

What does it mean to truly see, to see things as they are?

To see things as they are, is to see them without interpretation or judgement. If you look at a table, and think “I see a table”, the table is lost, and you don’t see the table, but your mind’s interpretation. This would become apparent if I asked you to look away, and then tell me the color of the table. Perhaps you would respond, “brown”, or “white”.

But if you look more closely, you see that this is not true. The table isn’t one uniform color. If this was true it would look flat and two dimensional. It has a variety of shades, tones, and even various colors reflecting off in different lights. Perhaps it is a wood table, and has complex textures and grains. Maybe another object in the room, of a different color, is creating a reflection in the table. Look again, and you see a rich variety of colors, not a single one.

And aside from color, I could ask what shape the table is. A square with four legs, you might respond. But if you look again, what you see is probably more like a stretched parallelogram with various extensions. Most likely you can only see a couple legs. Four legs exist only in your memory and interpretation. And if you walk around the table, at every moment, the shape that you see changes.

This changing shape is much more true. It is unique, based on your current experience. To describe it in words would most likely fill a novel. Even so, it is difficult to convey with words, as words themselves communicate through the learned meaning attached to them. Over time you come to understand meaning in words, but this meaning is built up of your past experiences. Specific connotations of words and phrases can vary significantly from person to person, especially between cultures, so words themselves are not even constant between people.

So, what started as a simple table, is now a complex object, which you naturally simplify based on your historical knowledge of what a table is and how you use it. But this label of a “table” is not the truth of your experience.

If this is true of a table, how about everything else you’re thinking about during the day?

The HSBC security device

HSBC recently decided to send out security devices to all of their customers, as an extra measure of security on the website. I postponed activating it until today because I find it quite irritating to have an additional “thing” I’ve got to carry around with me and this extra step when logging into my account.

It is interesting how this irritating plays out. In my head there was a dialog of whether or not it made sense to switch to a new bank account. Yes, it is bothersome, but I transfer money to other HSBC accounts, and doing this from another bank would be even more bothersome, so bottom line, I am not going to switch.

Then, I kept having thoughts of how I would seek my revenge for this unwarranted attack on my now more complicated log-in procedure. First, I’d lose my card. Then, I’d complain when I was out and didn’t have my card with me. Finally I’d press the button repeatedly until the battery wore out.

The worst part, is that these thoughts are just background mental chatter, and are not something I would take action on. But when I think them, I feel even more irritated. So really, I’m just generating thoughts that make me feel more miserable. This apparent attack in my head on some nameless corporation serves only as an attack myself. What purpose does that serve?

None. It is pure pain-inducing silliness.

First git

The world of open source is truly fascinating to me. People sharing work, and building platforms together, that make it easy for others to do cool stuff easily. When I think about all the people that have contributed to tools I use on a daily basis – eclipse, ubuntu linux, the birt report writer, python, stack overflow, and countless plugins of all sorts – it’s truly quite amazing.

Well, for the first time, I created my first project on git, the collaborative version control system… posting updates to a wordpress script that I used to convert posts from wordpress to evernote.

Maybe now I can call myself a real programmer.

Meaning in what we see

The street was crowded this morning, as I walked into the place where I work. It was a bit annoying. There were people everywhere. Not like in India, but like a Monday morning in London.

London is quite a diverse city. Lots of cultures, ages, backgrounds, walking paces. There was an elderly lady with a stroller. A few touristy looking people and construction workers. And tons of people in work cloths bustling along.

I wasn’t annoyed specifically at any one of them – I didn’t even know “them”, yet still they managed to collectively emerge into the exact location where I was trying to walk. I just wanted to walk at my own bustling pace, and couldn’t. Annoyed.

So I turned left and walked back along a different street. There were no people there. The street was oddly quiet and peaceful. And, yes, I felt happy again.

In Chennai, India, there are people everywhere. There are just a lot of people. And they move at a very different pace. It boggles my mind… yet it never bothers me. London is practically uninhabited in comparison, and yet I get easily disturbed. The only difference seems to be that in London, I am trying to get somewhere.

I seem to have attributed the sight of all these people as an obstacle to my walking pace, and felt annoyed as a result. Not really a productive reaction. If I was slightly more aware, then I would have just accepted that this was so, and then turned left without any of these thoughts that left me feeling more stressed.

This is easy for me to grasp in this situation, but how many situations during the day do I react to something I see negatively, with some fictional meaning that I’ve created?