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Thursday, May 7, 2015

#AtoZChallenge - Reflecting on completing the challenge

I don't consider myself as a Blogger as I have seen the real Bloggers out there and how passionate they are about Blogging. Compared to them I am just an amateur. Posting only occasionally, networking not as frequently and commenting even less frequently. I am not even a writer for a writer needs to be disciplined about his work and I am one of the most in-disciplined character in this Universe.
Had it been my way the Sun would take its own sweet time to rise and to set, in between taking as many breaks as possible. So if I am not a Blogger, nor a Writer than what am I doing in this space? Well, I consider myself a person on a trail of self-development through life's experiences and when I am overwhelmed with certain feelings I pour them out in some writings and post those on this blog to share with others.

I came to know about the #AtoZChallenge during my networking trips on its participants blogs long back but never gave a serious thought due to all the reasons I have mentioned above. But this year I had a change of heart and decided to give it a try. Soon I was completely drawn into it and even decided to go by a theme. It didn't take much time to finalize the theme "Buddhism" as the Buddhist stories and philosophies makes sense to me to solve life's mystery. One of my Blogger friend whose writing skills I appreciate a lot Matheikal commented that "While I accept the Buddha's definition of life as suffering, I find it very offputting. It makes us renounce too many things and one can't achieve anything much with such renunciation." I so much co-relate to this sentiment as some years back I started resisting philosophical books, religious guides and in fact, religion altogether. Even today, I do not follow any cult as there is this risk that following a particular practice, ideology, philosophy narrows down your thought process. And I am an advocate of an open and free mind that listens, ponders and then believes or disbelieves. Hence, it's been a longtime since I have followed any ritual or visited any religious shrine as I simply believe every bit of sand, every whiff of air, every single leaf and even the nothingness of space is a sacred shrine. There is no need to search a God outside because that power resides in all of us. Then how come I have become a Buddha fan. It started with a visit to a Spa. Yes, you read it correct, a Spa! The ambiance was peaceful with lot of Buddha artifacts - paintings, fountains, statues and for few minutes I felt calm looking at those artworks. Coming back home I decided to do a painting (I rarely paint otherwise even though I am blessed with a good hand) on Buddha and searched for various images again feeling very calm. I finished the oil painting titled Moksha in less than a month and even today people say they feel spiritual looking at it. Maybe because I felt that way while doing it and it reflects my state of mind that peace and happiness is within. Few years later, I was just surfing the internet feeling dejected about certain unpleasant happenings in my life and this time stumbled upon a Buddhist story. I could see that I agreed with most of what was preached by Buddha especially the optimistic view that all of us has the capabilities to become Buddha, the enlightened one! Reading the stories and the philosophy of 'Life is Suffering' made me realize how insignificant the issue was and I started looking at my life with a different perspective, with an increased hunger for reading more about Buddhism. But I am never consistent with anything, that's my only problem and down the lines I ignored my heart's callings until this challenge. 30 days, regular readings, 22 short stories, 1 Haiku, and 3 thoughtful posts all derived from the realistic philosophies of Buddhism. I couldn't manage to network a lot with fellow challengers as my hectic family life and the personal commitment to write only after understanding the concept gave me little time. But now that I am back from all the travel, I would go on a reading spree. 

SO what did I actually gained from this Challenge? For the first time in years or may be ever, I did something meaningful for my self-development, my happiness without any greed for monetary or academic compensation. I might not have gained followers/readers as that was never the intent, I didn't get money for the hours and sweat I put in each of my posts but I feel my mental understanding about love, compassion, kindness has increased many folds and I have emerged as a better person than who I was a month ago. I have started accepting people with their flaws and merits, accepting my own flaws and merits, thus in the process leaving no scope to get manipulated or feeling victimized or hatred towards others. My anger is much under control and when someone does wrong to me, I am able to keep my calm, convey my real feelings and not disrespect anyone. I can feel the connection with each life I share my space with without any prejudice or delusional thoughts. But, there is still lot of scope on the self-betterment, still lot to read, lot to meditate about life and lot to share. I may not achieve the much sought enlightenment in this life as I am too naive but I am sure this is the right path I have chosen. As for becoming a Buddhist or renouncing worldly pleasures, I am no game for it, it was not even asked by Buddha as he advocated for the Middle path. For me the real challenge is not in giving up everything but to accept everything including the impermanence of all and follow that middle path. To love and not to hurt, to be compassionate and kind, starting with myself and extending to others.

I thank all the hosts of #AtoZChallenge for working so hard to maintain this amazing activity which made me read-write every day of the month and filled me with a new faith that not only these 22 stories but there are lot many beautiful stories inside my heart and I will now definitely work on telling them to the world and doing my bit to make it a better place for one and all. Reflecting back on my posts especially the stories, some were very spontaneous as the plot unfolded effortlessly as the writing progressed and some took time to take meaningful direction. I would like to rewrite some while keep the others same as they are. The personal favorites are almost all but still Loving-Kindness is something I remember most as I loved Rosy's strong character. Natasha in Happiness is something I can relate to as I myself get confused many times about what actually makes me happy. While Ignorance was a bit deviation from the Buddhist theme as it was a regular love story but I connected it with the concept of ignorance in Buddhism. Joy and Jealousy is another of my favorite as it has a mother learning a lesson through her daughter, something which happens with me these days as my daughter is growing up to be a wise and a talkative person. Each story has a story behind how it was conceived but then if I go about writing about it, I guess this post will become a novella itself :) I suggest if you liked reading about my thoughts on this small journey I completed successfully then go ahead and read all my posts on the challenge here. Although the stories are only from A to V and rest from W to Z is a haiku and regular posts as I was travelling during the last phase and could manage to write only that, still I tried my best to explain what I understood about life from Buddhist point of view in a short time. 

With this an interesting journey comes to an end. Thanks for joining me, motivating me, telling me nice things, giving me constructive feedbacks and most importantly just for being there and making the world a beautiful place with your wonderful presence. Hoping to continue taking up such inspirational challenges in future too and find you dropping by here again and again.

Lots of love,
Roohi

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