The Vegetarian (채식주의자 Chaesikjuuija )

I am a Non -Vegetarian, though I am not quite sure how long I can stay put thanks to Corona Virus and the holistic life I have been practicing because of it. On top of it, I happened to read “The Vegetarian”.

The vegetarian is not a book I would have picked up earlier and it’s strange that it has come to me now when I am open to the title.  In this remarkable novel,South Korean writer Han Kang explores the conflict between our two selves: one greedy, primitive; the other accountable to family and society.

The Vegetarian is set in modern-day Seoul and tells the story of Yeong-hye, a part-time graphic artist and home-maker, whose decision to stop eating meat after a bloody, nightmarish dream about human cruelty leads to devastating consequences in her personal and familial life. The story is told in three parts:

“The Vegetarian” The first section is narrated by Yeong-hye’s husband Mr. Cheong in the first person.

“Mongolian Mark” The second section is narrated in third person focusing on Yeong-hye’s brother-in-law

and “Flaming Trees” focuses on her sister, In-hye.

“The Vegetarian”

Mr. Cheong, considers his wife to be completely unremarkable. He explains that when he first met her, he was not even attracted to her and that suits him just fine. Mr. Cheong is content meandering through life; it seems as if his only goal is to live a conventional, unremarkable life. He chooses to marry his wife since he thinks she would prove to be a good, dutiful wife who would fit nicely into the kind of lifestyle he seeks. After several years of relatively normal marriage, Mr. Cheong wakes up to find his wife disposing of all meat products in the house. He demands an explanation, and Yeong-hye replies vaguely that “I had a dream.” Mr. Cheong attempts to rationalize his wife’s life decision over the next few months and to deal with vegetarian meals at home, but eventually calls Yeong-hye’s family and an intervention is scheduled. While around the dinner table, Yeong-hye’s family attempts to convince her to eat meat; her father, who served in Vietnam and is known for his stern temperament, slaps her when she refuses. Her father then asks a reluctant Mr. Cheong and Yeong-hye’s brother Yeong-ho to hold her arms while he force-feeds her a piece of pork. Yeong-hye breaks away, spits out the pork, grabs a fruit knife, and slits her wrist. The incredulous family rushes her to a hospital where she recovers and where Mr. Cheong admits to himself that she has become mentally unstable. As the section ends Yeong-hye manages to walk out of the hospital and when she is tracked down, she reveals a bird in her palm, which has a “predator’s bite” in it, and she asks “Have I done something wrong?”

“Mongolian Mark”

The husband of Yeong-hye’s sister In-hye, whose name remains unstated, is a video artist. He imagines a love-making scene between two people, with their bodies decorated by painted flowers and, upon learning that Yeong-hye has a birthmark shaped like a flower petal, he forms a plan to paint and record her in order to bring this artistic image to life. It is revealed that he is attracted to Yeong-hye, especially after checking up on her the narrator reveals that Yeong-hye has been served divorce papers by Mr. Cheong and finding her unabashedly naked in her apartment. Yeong-hye agrees to model for him and he paints flowers across her body in a studio rented from an art professor in the area. He follows up this project with a second piece of art, which involves recruiting a fellow artist to join Yeong-hye in a sexually-explicit film. When the brother-in-law asks if the two will engage in actual intercourse, his friend becomes ashamed and leaves. Yeong-hye, who had become aroused during this sequence, claims it was because of the flowers painted on the man’s body. The brother-in-law asks a friend to paint flowers on him and visits Yeong-hye, where the two engage in a recorded moment of intercourse. When his wife discovers the film, she calls “emergency services”, claiming that both he and Yeong-hye are mentally unwell. He contemplates jumping off of the balcony, most likely to his death, but remains “rooted to the spot” and is escorted out of the building by the authorities.

“Flaming Trees”

In-hye remains the only member of the family to support Yeong-hye after her mental and physical decline. She has separated from her husband after the events of the previous section, and is left to take care of their son in addition to her deteriorating sister. As Yeong-hye’s  behavior worsens, she is admitted to a mental hospital at Mount Chukseong, where, despite receiving high-level treatment for mania, she behaves gradually more plant-like. On one occasion she escapes the hospital and is found standing in a forest “soaked with rain as if she herself were one of the glistening trees”. In-hye, who constantly ruminates about the pain of dealing with her divorce and the care of her child and who throughout the chapter shows signs of her own depression and mental instability, visits Yeong-hye regularly and continues to try to get her to eat. Yeong-hye has given up food altogether, and when In-hye witnesses the doctors force-feeding her and threatening sedation to prevent vomiting, In-hye bites the nurse holding her back and grabs her sister. In-hye and Yeong-hye are driven to a different hospital by ambulance, and In-hye observes trees as they pass by.

The Vegetarian is structured, as a novel, in a slightly unusual way. It is divided in three parts: “The Vegetarian,” told from Mr. Cheong’s point of view; “Mongolian Mark,” from Yeong-hye’s brother-in-law’s, In-hye’s husband; and “Flaming Trees,” from In-hye’s, Yeong-hye’s sister. Yeong-hye is the figure around which all the narratives revolve, but she is almost never the first-person narrator, and we hear her thoughts only in the first section, when we are presented with her dreams, and at the rare times (she is rather the silent type) in which she speaks in the other sections. Throughout the book, Yeong-hye remains a mysterious and ethereal creature which different people, and among them the readers, try and understand in different ways and to different degrees, while being confronted with the existences with other people at very intimate levels as well.

As memorable works do, The Vegetarian touches on what it means to be human, taking a special and almost literal approach to the idea of “humanity” which passes through many themes.

Why Delay Gratification?

Source: www.Thelollipopeffect.com

Studies show that delayed gratification is one of the most effective personal traits of successful people. People who learn how to manage their need to be satisfied in the moment thrive more in their careers, relationships, health, and finances than people who give in to it.

The way I see it, there are two paths we can take in any given situation: one is the path of avoiding pain in the moment, and the other is the more difficult path of delaying pleasure for a bigger purpose. Our cultural norms encourage us to seek Band-Aid solutions and temporary comforts. Basically, whatever it takes to ease our discomfort now. This is apparent in the prevalence of casinos, commercials for psychiatric medications, and get rich quick schemes in our culture.

Some people don’t see the value in having patience during difficult times or working toward a goal; they want to lose the weight now and would rather buy the latest, greatest cell phone than save for retirement. We often make our life choices according to how we can avoid pain in the moment and, in doing so, fail to see that the path of delayed gratification is sometimes where the real solutions to our problems lie.

Pleasure Principle

There’s a term in Freudian psychoanalysis known as the pleasure principle, which is the instinctual seeking of pleasure and avoidance of pain in order to satisfy biological and psychological needs. According to Freud, the pleasure principle is the driving force guiding the id, the most basic part of ourselves.

Freud compared the pleasure principle to the concept of the reality principle, which explains the ability to delay gratification when a situation doesn’t call for immediate gratification. Whether it’s saving for that future dream house, choosing a healthy lifestyle now to stay healthy as you age, or putting up with a difficult job to help boost your career for the long-term, delayed gratification can yield tremendous returns while helping you develop a tolerance for waiting.

According to Freud, the id rules the behaviour of infants and children by only satisfying the pleasure principle; there is no thinking ahead for the greater purpose. Children seek immediate gratification, aiming to satisfy cravings such as hunger and thirst, and seeking whatever they want in the moment to ease their discomfort.

Pleasure is central to our survival. We need things like food, water, and sex in order to survive and pass our genetic material on to the next generation. However, as we get older and mature, we must learn to tolerate the discomfort of delayed gratification if we have a greater purpose or goal in mind.

Unlike infants and young children, adults are characterized by their ability to delay gratification and tolerate hard work, discipline, and occasional unpleasantness in order to fulfill responsibilities and achieve goals. Mature adults don’t expect others to meet their needs. They understand and accept that they won’t always be gratified.

Regardless of what our developmental stages dictate, most adults have a complicated relationship with pleasure. We spend considerable time and money pursuing pleasure now instead of delaying gratification for a greater reward later. It’s complicated, because certain types of pleasure are accorded special status, such as wearing the latest fashion or driving a limited edition car.

Some of our most important rituals such as praying, listening to music, dancing, and meditating produce a kind of transcendent pleasure that’s become part of our culture. In this way, feeling good in the immediate term isn’t such a bad thing. It’s provided us with an opportunity to survive and experience some relief from our stress.

But what happens when you want to be instantly satisfied in all areas of your life? What happens when you only avoid pain? What results from needing to have the newest and most expensive car, even though you’re in horrible credit card debt?

Living for a purpose becomes impossible at that point, because a life spent avoiding pain doesn’t result in goals getting accomplished. It might be an easier life in the short term, but it won’t necessarily be a better life in the long run. When we live in pursuit of immediate pleasure, needing to have the newest gadget or accessories the moment they’re available, or wanting the perfect job without getting an education or working our way up from the bottom; we become just like toddlers again, completely incapable of delaying gratification. 

Being able to delay satisfaction isn’t the easiest skill to acquire. It involves feeling dissatisfied, which is why it seems impossible for people who haven’t learned to control their impulses. Choosing to have something now might feel good, but making the effort to have discipline and manage your impulses can result in bigger or better rewards in the future.

Over time, delaying gratification will improve your self-control and ultimately help you achieve your long-term goals faster.

My 2 cents on the First 20 Hours

Source :

https://sachachua.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/20130705-Visual-Book-Review-The-First-20-Hours-How-to-Learn-Anything…-Fast-Josh-Kaufman.png

Sorry Josh Kaufman.

I’m a kind book rater, but I’m really disappointed. The first few chapters (2 chapters to be precise) got me all excited because it seemed that I could finally Learn how to Learn.

However it went downhill from there.Most of what the first 20 hours is about can be digested from the first 2 chapters. The additional chapter’s concepts are elementary when it comes to understanding how to use the strategies for rapid learning. Check it out from your local library before buying it if you can; you may get all that you need from doing so.

Once I read the first few pages, I skipped everything. It goes too deep about his personal goals like yoga (I have the working level I need to enjoy benefits of yoga), programming (was never interested), and few more skills that I’m not interested in.

Rather than stretching the book in depth for all the skills not everyone needs, why not briefly explain how we (the readers) can implement or apply in our cases, or maybe give a workbook, or simply how we can use the principles mentioned in the first chapter.


If you haven’t bought this book already, I suggest you to read the above infographic by Sasha Chua and see Josh Kaufman’s Video on the same and you are all set.

Choose Your Deep Work Strategy

While you may be convinced of the value of deep work, you may be unsure of how to implement it in your life. Newport describes four different types of deep work scheduling you can choose from: monastic, bimodal, rhythmic, and journalistic.

All four of these philosophies have their pros and cons that should be carefully considered:

The Monastic Philosophy of Deep Work Scheduling is the most dedicated form of deep work and involves spending all of your working hours on a singular high-level focus. While this philosophy has the highest potential for reward and the lowest level of context-switching, it’s unrealistic for most people who are required to perform various kinds of work in their role. I find it unrealistic unless you are a fulltime freelancer or artist.

The Bimodal Philosophy of Deep Work Scheduling allows for a high amount of deep work while enabling you to maintain other activities in your life that you find valuable. Successfully adopting this philosophy requires the flexibility to arrange your year, months, or weeks as you see fit into larger chunks of deep work. I plan to schedule my Goals under this philosophy because it seems realistic and balanced to me

The Rhythmic Philosophy of Deep Work Scheduling is ideal for individuals with a fairly static schedule. If you can anticipate what most of your days will look like, it’s feasible to block off several hours every day for deep work, thereby getting into a daily “rhythm”, and leaving the rest of your hours for shallow work.

The Journalistic Philosophy of Deep Work Scheduling is an option for people who are constantly on the move with little to no regularity to their days. This method demands vigilance with your time and the keen ability to notice natural ebbs and flows in your day where you may be able to fit in 30 minutes or an hour or two of deep work. Unfortunately, this method is not for beginners and is likely to fail for people who are not experienced in deep work.

Select the deep work philosophy that best suits your work and life. Also, feel free to experiment before you land on a method that finally takes hold in your schedule. Let me know which style suits you better and why.

Deep diving into Deep Work

Cover of Deep Work by Cal Newport

Consider reading it this Lock-down.

I will refer to Cal as “He” (akin to Him, god the all-knowing) in this write up because he has definitely earned himself the authority on this topic. He gives a name to the productive state of “flow” most of us like to attain at work but which we can rarely maintain for more than a couple minutes when the next emergency interrupts our attention. The book is all about how to create an environment in which Deep Work is possible and how to reduce the time spent on Shallow Work.

According to him the ability to perform deep work is becoming increasingly rare at exactly the same time it is becoming increasingly valuable in our economy. As a consequence, the few who cultivate this skill, and then make it the core of their working life, will thrive. He further goes to define “Deep Work” as:

“Professional activities performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that push your cognitive capabilities to their limit. These efforts create new value, improve your skill, and are hard to replicate.”

Whereas “Shallow Work” is:

“Non-cognitively demanding, logistical-style tasks, often performed while distracted. These efforts tend to not create much new value in the world and are easy to replicate.”

The book is structured in two parts. The first part motivates Deep Work in stating that Deep Work is valuable, rare and meaningful. The second part describes four rules that help to facilitate Deep Work. I had some trouble staying motivated through the first part which goes into details about why Deep Work is important. You can skip Part 1 totally if I am able to convince you the importance of Deep Work but if not skim through.

Chapter 1 explains why deep work matters. Our economy is changing, and the days of doing the same thing over and over for 40 years until you retire are over. Cal lays out an interesting theory for 3 types of workers, Superstars, Owners and High Skill Workers and makes a convincing and important argument for the importance in the future of being able to work at higher levels of abstraction and work with intelligent machines. In this chapter he also makes a case for the two critical skills for knowledge workers:

1. Learning Quickly

2. Producing at an Elite Level

Chapter 2 focuses on why deep work is rare and essential for achieving success in this VUCA (Volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) world. He shows how distractions are becoming more and more common for knowledge workers, and that attention is becoming a rare ability. Newport makes a good case for how complex knowledge work is often hard to measure, so managers measure busyness instead of output that relates to bottom line results (KPIs). People end up optimizing for looking busy instead of getting real work done.

Chapter 3 goes into the why of deep work. Newport give 3 theories on why deep work is meaningful, a psychological, neurological and a philosophical reason.

Part 2 is full of tips and insights and covers four chapters on the rules of Deep Work ie Work Deeply, Embrace Boredom, Quit Social media (take what resonates and leave the rest) and Drain the Shallows. I plan to write more on it but here are a few takeaways that I could list down:

  1. Schedule time for Deep Work, ideally in a rhythmic fashion to establish a habit. By Rhythmic he means fixed times for work and relaxation. This is to ensure we are not all work and no play.
  2. Set impossible deadlines. The only way to keep an impossible deadline is focused work.

Schedule every minute of your day in order to keep shallow distractions at bay.

  • Consciously decide for every entry in your schedule if it’s deep or shallow to set the mood. Give yourself a budget of Shallow Work and don’t overspend it.
  • Ritualize where you work and how you work. Create rules that help you focus.
  • You needn’t be alone for Deep Work. Collaborative Deep Work is possible (Newport calls it the “Whiteboard Effect”). This doesn’t mean that Open Space is the best office layout, though.
  • Take breaks from focus, don’t take breaks from distraction. Schedule breaks from focused work regularly.
  • Execute like a business. Focus on the important, measure your deep work time and results and keep track of them on a scoreboard, and do a regular review. This is called the “4 Disciplines of Execution” (4DX) Framework
  • Have a weekly rendezvous with yourself to review your achievements and plan out the next week.
  • Don’t extend your work day into the evening to do Deep Work, because it’s most likely not productive. Establish a “shutdown ritual” to follow every day after work in which you check the status of today’s tasks and your calendar for the next day. This helps to free your mind to let go until the next day. Take downtimes away from work seriously as they help to recharge.
  • Meditate productively on Deep Work problems when running, driving, or anything that is not mentally engaging
  • Quit social media because it’s a shallow distraction. Be hard to reach to avoid shallow distractions.
  • Identify the high-level goals you want to reach and the key activities that help you reach them.

Overall Thoughts:

There are lots of powerful insights in the book. Even if you don’t buy the entire process, you’ll pick up some tips and tricks that will make you more productive. I personally find it annoying that he talks about deleting social media accounts! Social Media provides pleasure and relaxation to people, which is exactly why it can be addictive.  The secret is moderation, not elimination. This Lock-down has proved to be a blessing in disguise because not only did I get the opportunity to read this book but also actively implement some of its principles. Cheers to Deep diving into everything we

To Extroverts with Love- Day 9

Source: How to Love an Introvert by Kim Sutton

Dear Extroverts,

First things first, I empathize with you for being locked up in your homes and not getting your daily dose of fresh air and fresh people. I can understand how difficult it is for you and I want to take this opportunity to let you know how difficult it will get for us, the introverts once this lockdown is over. in the hope that you would extend us the same understanding

As an introvert, I would probably rather listen than talk most of the time. We are adept at building deep and lasting relationships. We’re trusted, accountable, and a core contributor. People look to us for our Zen like demeanour. However, we’re not a schmoozers and that really sucks in a social setup. We value your space and quiet time. Regardless, you have distinct advantages that enable you to understand people better but finding your tribe is really difficult. Atleast in my experience.

On the flip side we are naïve to the social art of retorts. Certain overtly well-meaning queries that desperately try to put us down are never ok! And while we should hone some standard retorts it doesn’t hurt to set certain healthy boundaries with such

So here’s everything that you should never ask an introvert (actually any person that you want to impress) on their face because it is crass and downright rude to say the least. I will never admit off course that It’s basically how to talk to me but in third person

  1. Don’t talk to them if you want to lie. They can sense your energy even if they might suck at understanding your body language. So please don’t try.
  2. Save your veiled relationship status questions for someone else. If we trusted you enough, you would know without asking and if you still don’t know then we want it that way.
  3. Respect our No. You should actually respect any living things No. Even that cat who doesn’t want to play just because you are in the mood for it
  4. Please respect our “me time”. That’s when we gather energy to deal with the big bad world and it’s essential for out sanity
  5. If you can’t talk anything good to us, then please don’t talk
  6. We are told that we are good listeners. And we are good at keeping secrets too. So if you make friends with us you have also earned yourself a counselor, patient listener, someone who can comfort you with good food and good stories and overall a great company. But don’t abuse our good intent and expect us to be available all the time.
  7. Don’t take it personally if we refuse your invite. It’s not always about you, you see. Afterall the only company that we seek is ourselves so please don’t take us refusing your invites/requests as us rejecting our relationship with you.
  8. How much we are earning unless off course you are in HR.

That’s all that I could think of today but I would like to revisit this topic if and when I have something to add to it. Until then much Love, peace and deeper understanding of ourselves and that of others.

Regards,

Anewya

Skills that will pay off- Day 8

Source: https://www.humanresourcesonline.net

So my virtual Quaranteam, how are you updating yourself? Here is the list of all the things I am working on. Also I have nothing else to speak today, grrh..

Any suggestions or additions, please let me know by commenting

  1. Learning how to Learn: The most under rated competency but nonetheless the Holy grail of all skills.
  2. Ability to Adapt, improvise and overcome obstacles: Thanks to the recession and Corona hard times are ahead. You will be put down on ground or you already are so these skill needs to  be looked upon.
  3. Meditation: You are your mind and what better time to calm your mind when the world is in frenzy.
  4. Ability to verbalize what you think and feel: Relationships are born and maintained by this important skill and I need to work on it. Am thinking of joining the toastmasters after the lockdown ends anyone wants to join me?
  5. Ability to Sell and negotiate: Life is a series of negotiations and selling yourself and your ideas is a big part of it. Read “To Sell is human” by Daniel Pink to understand what I am talking about.
  6. Art of Listening and responding not reacting: With the world becoming noisier, listening selectively and making sense of it all is a survival skill if you ask me.
  7. Ability to self- motivate: Like I am pushing myself to write an article everyday.
  8. Discipline: Play the game small but daily like me writing this. I can’t believe I took 1 full day to write these 500 words and let this inspire you and me  
  9. Time Management: Time is the most precious resource
  10. Speed reading: Read for self-development as well as entertainment. Read, read, read, you will never regret it. The average CEO reads 50 books in a year,  we should at least read 10.
  11. Self-Analysis: You can only improve that which you measure and knowing where you stand is so crucial.
  12. Emotional intelligence and empathy: As an introvert I don’t like to get out of my cave but unfortunately, we all have to deal with people so high time to gear up for this necessary soft skill.
  13. Self-respect with a backbone: Stand your ground.
  14. Generate ideas that have value than just imitate: Your mind is a fertile land and its value depends on how many ideas it can grow. A string of ideas can make not only yours but everyone’s life better. That’s what the likes of Steve Jobs,Bill Gates and Elon Musk do and we respect them for that, so why not give it a try?
  15. Ability to simulate outcomes: Simulate the end outcome for both personal and professional decisions and hence make better.
  16. Gear for post traumatic growth: We are recovering from this pandemic collectively and as a escapism are diving in deep into our passion projects and learning new things and this period will also be our learning benchmark for the years to come.

Now, let’s get cracking.

An ode to all who left Unceremoniously-Day 7

Sutapa Sikdar’s overwhelmed address on Twitter to her Global family

The grownup Pi Patel in the Life of Pi lamented about his heartbreak when the tiger Richard Parker left him on the coast of Mexico without saying goodbye.

“I was weeping because Richard Parker had left me so unceremoniously. What a terrible thing it is to botch a farewell…it’s important in life to conclude things properly. Only then can you let go. Otherwise you are left with words you should have said but never did, and your heart is heavy with remorse”

I am moved to tears while seeing this Movie today knowing that Irrfan has left us as unceremoniously as Richard Parker left Pi, the characters Irrfan Khan plays in the movie. I have never met him but I think I knew him from all the characters he has played and that familiarity is enough to move the thousands that are pouring their heart on Twitter and other social medias. And I wonder if animals have this ability where you grieve a death in your species though they are not a part of their “herd”. Do they feel a sense of loss like we do?

There have been many deaths across the world and we all were moved beyond words by them. We all have lost something, something which will not come back. I do not want to leave you all pessimistic and would like to share the hope which Sutapa Sikdar, Irrfan’s widow has shared with the world and may it restore your faith in all beautiful things that life has to offer, like love , like humanity and everything in between.

On the shoulder of Giants-Day 6

Have you been pursuing all the things you wanted to do but couldn’t do for whatever reason?

Did you start at it? Like I started or restarted reading now that I am between Jobs and can pursue passion projects.I wonder why did I wait, why didn’t I read more good books and why didn’t I learn from other people’s experiences any sooner

In order to cut the learning curve and minimize the number of mistakes you’ll make, you need to do one thing: You need to read a lot. Reading books and articles from individuals who have done what you are looking to do will cut the learning curve by months, years, even decades for you.

Understand, whatever your goals are in life, there are two ways of achieving them: There’s the long conventional path. And then there’s the shorter less conventional path.

The long conventional path is the result of not being someone who actively seeks out new ideas. The long conventional path is what happens when you think you don’t have to read about other successful people in your field who are 20 years down your same path.

This is the penalty of not reading and having to learn everything the hard way. The penalty of trying to do everything through trial and error is that you will have to achieve everything you’re going to achieve 20 times slower.

Save yourself the time and effort and remember what Socrates once said,“Employ your time in improving yourself by other men’s writings, so that you shall gain easily what others have labored hard for.”

Stand on the shoulders of Giants by reading on them, by them.