Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The person in the mirror

The man in the mirror is often used to illustrate a point that we only need to look inside ourselves to find the change we want.

In reality, the people we interact with are pieces of broken mirrors, reflecting bits and pieces of ourselves. It reminds us of the flaws and goodness within, yet never having the full picture.

On rare occasions someone walks by with a big piece of glass that reflects a whole face, or even a torso and for once one could see how the small pieces of glass fit into our web of existence.

Yesterday I met such a person, whom life's regrets, rants and experience showed me this big piece of my own reflection. Strangely, he didn't have the same experience, he didn't lose his mother, but the sentiment of having survived despite of adversity makes one grow up very quickly. It's also the sense of survivorship, and despite it all we are still hopeful. It also reflected a long struggle of mine - the self pity and swinging between inferior and superior complexity. I have no sympathies, and being more cerebral than others, I often intellectualise a problem. Yesterday in that conversation, I am starting to catch a glimpse of this person....and I understand now why people say I don't listen enough.

It is perhaps not a coincidence that the day I received news of having won an academic medal, I also received a strange call from someone who would also show me the sum of the parts.

Perhaps it's also a reminder that I'm ready to see and be honest with what I see within me. Hubris often prevents us from taking our rose tinted glasses off and admit the ground below is thin ice.

It is also not a complete coincidence that the past week, people have been opening up to me, and how I've been telling them what my counsellor told me a long time ago - it takes great courage to admit you were wrong, you were young, and you made mistakes. Reflection is circular and as much as we listen, sometimes listening to others, we become healed in return.

The pieces of the broken glass now fits and I see my faces within each shard that people in my life have given me. It is not a complete mirror, complete with ornate frames. We are broken and some parts of us cannot mend.

We are also larger than the sum of our parts.

There is no person in the mirror, there are many selves in pieces, some of them we haven't even discovered yet.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The letter and the number

People usually say math is a language, and when I was younger at school, it was certainly as impenetrable as Sanskrit.

Fast forward to present times, my finance team struggle to structure a convincing email to ask my clients to pay, and my engineering university mates could not make a symphony out of words even if their lives depended on it.

Are verbal and numerical dexterities really so different, that we cannot grapple with both in tandem?

I suppose with the cheem words I've just used, it might be "yah duh?"

Many of my course mates in geography are put off by statistics, numbers and all sorts of numerical representations. A wall of text is our SOP. I've always found that amusing, because we're so infatuated with the written word, we completely close off ourselves to the other half of the world that speaks a different language. It might take more effort for me to fiddle with numbers and trust me, it wasn't an easy process. However it must be done or we risk alienating ourselves from having meaningful conversations with people very different from us.

On the other bank, people who work primarily with math and equation, can benefit greatly from the swaying power of words. Words behave like a seductive mistress, caressing your subconscious and draws you toward certain outcomes. The directness of math and the poetry of translating that into other aspects that keep our work going, cannot be understood and appreciated if business propositions are not written, emails not crafted and grant applications not filled out.

The sword and the shield are both equally important in battle. Increasingly I'm starting to read numbers and discursively analyse my campaign results by looking beyond the "text" and drawing links between cause and effect. Then explaining using words to rationally lay out the facts while at the same time phrase it in ways where clients can be convinced by both word and number.

We of course cannot straddle both well at the same time. I'm not suggesting we become extremely adept at both. But it's always good to explore what's on the other side and learn what we can to help enrich our own backyard.