Saturday, July 20, 2013


A character in Haruki Murakami’s book ‘1Q84’ designates a new age when she noticed a change in a police man’s uniform. It was like the world had shifted and she missed the transformation; noticing that Japanese police men has new uniforms and high caliber weapons, no longer the quaint officer with an antiquated pistol. The character also missed the major event that brought about this modification, an assault against a highly equipped radical cult group in the mountains that resulted in the death of several officers.  Similar to Orwell’s novel, the world had shifted towards some new state which to Murakami’s character was un-noticeable until someone brought up the change in a bar. Sometimes I feel the same way, like humanity has moved towards a new turn and every one had adjusted except me. Perhaps that is what Murakami’s character had experienced, calling the shift ‘1Q84’. But these days, it’s common; all about revolution whether technology, politics or world events like the Arab spring.

The shift is evident in Jonathan Alter’s ‘The Center Holds’ about Obama’s re-election as president, highlighting the sophisticated data driven campaign the led to victory. Of course, his election as the first African-American is also change, as well as Obama care, same sex marriage, drone warfare, electronic surveillance and so on. Last weekend, I watched a video of a lecture from the London School of Economics by a Chinese official who now works for the IMF, where previously he worked in the Chinese central bank. He talked about the changing patterns of finance and the emergence of Asia as the coming giant in world trade and finance (especially China but with Japan and Korea). Times are a-changing as Bob Dylan would sing, but it is no longer an intellectual exercise but an actual reality. For the past several weeks, I am starting to appreciate tablets and its link to smart television via Google and YouTube, with access to new content like lectures; everything is being created for a mobile world. Perhaps it’s the shift everyone seems to be moving to.

At work, I am in a new role, though still bewildered despite being in this position for nearly 2 months, struggling with my former position, still working on a project that has not gone live due to several issues. I was optimistic, thinking my mind would handle the changes but like a conservative Republican, missing the mark; now one has to accept mediocrity, perhaps slowed down by age and the maturing brain. I lose track of emails, missing some deadlines and important information, not replying in time and slow in adjusting to the new software that everyone needs to use. Accepting change is not a concept but a reality of adapting; often dissolving into drink or mindless activity (surfing the internet or watching television or movies) that I have reached my own 1Q84. Perhaps this is the new totalitarian entity, the onslaught of change, bedevils GOP conservatives striving to inject vigor by absorbing libertarian ideology from the tea party. One wonders if the center will truly hold.

Actually embracing the change is the key, not the passive intellectual acceptance of its concept, by constantly being in motion, with no time for reflection. Tomorrow I will be traveling to Columbia for the district officers meeting, a new experience since becoming area governor, another new role in Toastmaster. More and more one realizes the benefit of quiet time, of reflection and meditation, whereas one goes to the gym or swim which merges meditation, physical activity and biological upliftment. This is the key to accepting change, where one needs a momentary pause, perhaps via yoga or Tai Chi or mindfulness but also by exercise, running and swimming so the mind is stilled or coursed with oxygen. I still have not finished my project of laying down tiles in my back yard, but already I am planning for the next project - a pergola where I plan to spend some evenings reading articles or watching video in my tablet while I enjoy an outdoor fire place and watching the sky. But when this tomorrow comes, one is confused and looking at the next future.

The antidote to a restless and anxious mind is music. One night I could not concentrate, could not focus on the book I was reading and wondering what do so I listened to Mozart, enabling me to read several chapters and relax. Another is to write; forcing the mind to focus and scribble sentences, but one cannot do so at work, so music is an alternative. I had thought that it was a distraction, but taken in the right light, can be soothing and calming. I guess it depends on the music that one listens too.

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