Spontaneity – the spice of life

After thinking for days on end and spending countless hours googling the words “25 best writing prompts”, I finally closed my internet browser, shut down my laptop, took out a pen and some scratch paper, and came up with this essay. But what was it that finally helped me overcome my sluggishness and put pen to paper? Was it a “5 steps to become a better writer” book? A suggestion from my family? Google, perhaps?

Nope.

I discarded all those prompts, all those ideas that had stemmed from the minds of others. Instead I am putting into the words the ideas in my mind, the beliefs that I hold, and the experiences that I cherish. Spontaneity and individuality are the two key aspects of any essay. When I started writing this piece, I had no idea whether it would turn out to be a 750-word article complete with obscure quotes from random famous persons, or a short 200-word reflection of my latest musings. I still don’t know which one it will turn out to be. But the important thing is its going to be something which reflects my own thoughts not those of another person.

“Only in spontaneity can we be who we truly are.”  – Random famous person.

In the eighth grade, our English teacher gave us a three-minute speaking assignment. She told us to pick any topic of our choice. Now this was a problem. What would I talk about? The latest developments in the field of artificial intelligence? A potential cure for cancer? Politics? Sport? I was overwhelmed by the sheer possibilities. After careful consideration and extensive research (Google Search: “Speech topics for grade nine”) I settled for a topic – Self driving cars.

Having finished my speech, I strode to my seat, proud of myself for having done such a great job of talking about a topic I knew little to nothing about of. Next up was my friend. As he walked up to the front of the class, I took a peek at his sheet of notes.

It was empty.

His speech?

One of the best I have ever heard. He just went up there, and spoke his mind. His favourite book, his trip to Australia, his favourite meal, and what he learnt from all of them.

Spontaneity brings out the best in you. A science magazine article doesn’t define me. My interests, my identity, and my hobbies do. Writing spontaneously gives you a freedom to express your thoughts and ideas without the shackles of a “topic”. So, the next time you find yourself stuck in a rut, just remember,

spontaneity-in-motion                              

For The Love of Sport

 The 90th minute. 100,000 fans inside one of the biggest stadiums in the world, and billions worldwide, cheering on their heroes in the final of a major tournament. On the pitch are players from countries all over the world. Some are just stepping into the limelight on the global stage, while others, in the twilight of their short but illustrious careers, are preparing to pass the baton on to the next wave of global superstars. All of them have come here the hard way, through years of hard work, training and dedication. Fans have travelled thousands of kilometres from around the globe to witness this great sporting spectacle.  As the world watches on in awe, the ball thunders into the back of the net, leaving one side heartbroken, and the other, ecstatic. This is why we love sports.

Having been a sports fanatic from a very young age, it’s easy to identify just why competitive sport has such a global appeal. The thrills and spills of competitive sport enchant billions of people all over the world. The adrenaline rush caused by witnessing your favourite team win an important game, that feeling when you get the autograph of your favourite superstar, and the joy of watching a game amidst thousands of raucous supporters spurring their team on to victory cannot be adequately expressed in words. We look to sports like football, basketball, cricket and so on to seek a break from our daily lives and enter a completely different, alien world, one in which dreams come true and miracles are no longer uncommon, but almost inevitable. The world of sport.

The players are the human elements of this game, making the impossible seem possible. Score the winning goal, make the winning basket, and you are a hero. Miss, and you can go from hero to zero within seconds. These players embody the spirit and the passion of the game, while also depicting its cruel, unpredictable nature. Not all players have had it easy. Some wait years and years to get their chance to make it to the big time, while others are thrust into the spotlight very soon, sometimes almost too soon. Some of them had to face extreme hardships and difficult, poverty-stricken childhoods, while others had to fight against bad luck and lack of facilities. But those who do not give up become legends.

Take the case of Pele, the great Brazilian footballer who had to work as a servant to earn money to play football, or LeBron James, who was homeless at one point. Fans look up to and support them, because these players rose to do what many of them could never manage to do. We celebrate our team winning the championship as if it was our own victory, as it brings us the satisfaction of achieving something so astounding it seems unreal. Fans identify themselves with teams and players, and this deep, everlasting connection is at the heart of the popularity of sport.

Perhaps no other quote captures the essence of sport as strikingly and aptly as this one from Heywood Broun –

Sports do not build character. They reveal it.

Sport has the power to change lives, make dreams come true, and unite nations. In the eyes of the fans, sport is a means of forgetting your troubles and wandering far far away into a realm of endless possibilities and exciting experiences.     

camp_nou_mes_que_un_club

 The official slogan of Barcelona, one of the biggest football clubs in the world, is “Mes Que Un Club”. More Than A Club. That just about says it all.

 

Envy

Envy. The feeling of discontent or covetousness aroused by someone else’s possessions, success, or luck. That’s the dictionary definition, but what is envy? The feeling when your best friend beats you to an award or a prize you have been craving for, when your friend wins the lottery with the ticket you gifted him for his birthday, or when your co-worker gets a promotion as well as a huge pay rise, while you are still stuck in your cramped, tiny cubicle.

The word envy has become so commonplace in our vocabulary that we end up using it, more often than not, at least five to ten times a day. But the word envy actually comes from the Latin word invidere, which means “to look against, to look at in a hostile manner”. Invidia, or envy, is one of the seven deadly sins in Christian belief. But, in reality, my opinion is that envy is just a harmless emotion that is typical of human nature.

Any normal human being is bound to feel disappointed if he just missed out on winning a $100,000 lottery, and his or her close friend won it instead. But we don’t go killing our friend or trying to steal the ticket away from him or her, right?

Well, mostly, yes. But there lies the problem. For most of us, envy is not a very significant emotion. Life just goes on. But in the extreme cases, envy can be quite discerning. Sometimes, the feeling of envy is so overpowering that we can yield to it and make terrible decisions we will regret for a long, long time.

Envy doesn’t even have its own emoticon in our smart phones, because it is just so ambiguous. If I asked you what envy would look like, would you have a definite answer? Well, most probably, no. The way each one of us experience envy is unique to each of us. Unlike fear, or anger, envy is a type of emotion that is, in a way, very difficult to explain.

However, one thing that is closely associated with envy is the colour green. “Green with envy” or “Green eyed jealousy” is commonly used to describe an envious person. Even Shakespeare used the latter phrase to describe envy in the late 1500s and early 1600s. But why the colour green, and not red, or brown, or black? No one knows for sure, but one credible theory is that it is a reference to cats, which are usually green-eyed. Maybe even because dark green is sort of like a very mysterious colour, being associated with the dark world of wizards, witches, and sorcerers.

Yes, envy is a negative feeling, and can often lead to despair and disillusionment with life, but it can also be used in a constructive way. Let’s go back to those previous examples. When my friend beats me to first place in that 100m race I desperately wanted to win, the envy building up inside me is so overpowering that I cannot rest till I win the race the next time around.

Envy spurs us on to achieve that success or award we covet, so much so that once we have our heart set on something, we just can’t stop till we have accomplished our mission. The agony and grief of defeat creates inside us that indomitable fire, which nothing in the world can extinguish. Then, success will inevitably follow. Take a look at this quote from Margaret Thatcher –

“The spirit of envy can destroy; it can never build.”

But let’s modify it a little bit,

“The spirit of envy can destroy weakness, and build strength”.

And that is its silver lining.

5 essential things at home

My house is on FIRE! I have exactly 30 seconds to decide which 5 of my favourite belongings I want to take with me, my 5 most important things at home.

Well…. Let’s start with the ceramic painting hung on the wall in my room. That painting had been done by me and me only, and considering my high artistic skills, or lack thereof, I have to say, it came out pretty good. I started working on it in my art class at school in August, and now its almost February, so I’ve put a lot of work into that thing, and I don’t want to see all that go up in smoke, quite literally.

Next up would be my favourite bed sheet. I know it sounds childish and all that, but that bed sheet has literally been with me all my life. I’ve had all my favourite dreams, like the day I went skiing down Mount Everest, as well as my most horrific nightmares, like being chased by a fire-breathing dragon, or falling off a cliff into a bottomless pit, with that sheet on. So it is fair to say I’ve got quite a lot of sentiment attached to that particular bed sheet.

For number 3, it has to be my laptop. I’ve got all my games, programs and documents on that thing, so life without it would be very difficult indeed.

Number 4 would have to be the ‘student of the year’ trophy I won back when I was in pre-school. It was the first award I ever received and therefore still holds a very special place in my mind. Though it may eventually make no difference to my future, it still is not one of the things I’d like to see in flames.

Finally, last, but not the least, the photo of a 3 year old me in a blue jacket, smiling away, oblivious of the world out there, which brings back memories of those carefree, merry days, a far cry from the kind of life we all lead today.

Honourable mentions go to my very own journal, where I used to list out my memories, and the cricket ball I got as a souvenir when I visited the MCG, the home of Australian cricket, as well as a photo of me standing in the hall of fame, a corridor which the likes of Roger Federer, Pete Sampras, Rod Laver, and other tennis greats have graced, at the Rod Laver Arena in Melbourne.

Deadly Deadlines

“Deadline”. That’s a word each and every one of us dread. I can safely say that it is the one thing humans fear maybe even more than death. Yet deadlines continue to surround us from all sides. An important project due the next day, a report you kept pending for months, lying on your table unfinished. Deadlines are inevitable, and especially in this fast-paced, advanced world, keeping up deadlines can often mean the difference between life and death.

Everybody in the real world will agree that the moment a project is behind deadline, quality assurance tends to go out the window. So does that mean, deadlines actually lead to a decline in the way we go about our work? When a report or a project suddenly has a deadline, however far away it may be, does it change the way we look at it? Once again, it all depends on the perspective.

The ever enthusiastic optimist might argue, it doesn’t really make a difference. Or even if it does, it helps us go about it with more determination and effort, and it drives us to put in more effort into it. However the vast majority of us agree that once a deadline is set, completion of the work becomes so much important that we don’t even care about the quality of our work.

Therefore, we can say that they are just two sides of the same coin. I think the “what-if” factor is what makes deadlines so deadly. Much like the fear of impending death scares people more than death itself, the days leading to a deadline are the most nerve-wracking and stressful. And this is when people tend to make mistakes and freak out. This is where the issue of procrastination comes in.

As aptly said by Christopher Parker, “procrastination is like a credit card: it’s a lot of fun until you get the bill.” And that bill is one no one will want to receive. It makes easy things hard and hard things harder. The key to avoiding the anxieties produced by deadline is setting realistic time schedules, enlisting help needed when deadlines go awry, and negotiating new deadlines when it becomes quite clear that, for one reason or the other, deadlines are going to be missed.

Another key factor is keeping calm. DON’T PANIC. I know it’s really tough to keep calm when your marks, job, or maybe even your life, depends on it. Breaking down of deadlines into a series of smaller deadlines will certainly help. I know it sounds weird, but each small deadline you meet gives you confidence and keeps you motivated for the big one. Before I end, I’ll leave you with some quotes about deadlines that will transform the way you look at them.

“Deadlines refine the mind. They remove variables like exotic materials and processes that take too long. The closer the deadline, the more likely you’ll start thinking way outside the box”

“The thing that would most improve my life is 27 hours in a day. I could meet all my deadlines.”

I’m sure you’d all agree with that last one.

Sibling rivalry

“I don’t like her, grandma. Let’s leave her here. I don’t want a baby sister.” These were the exact words that came out of my mouth when I first saw my tiny, little sister wake up from her slumber, in my mother’s arms at the hospital. I didn’t like her. In fact, I detested her. I couldn’t bear the thought that she was going to be with me for the rest of my life. Or was I just jealous of all the attention she was getting?

So why exactly do we hate our siblings so much? (I’m talking about the great majority of people here). There are many possible theories for this particular question. Most of the time elder siblings envy the attention and love everybody seems to devote to the younger ones, while the younger ones resent the seemingly arrogant, know-it-all attitude of the older ones.

Being an elder brother to a cranky, attention demanding little sister, I have to say it is quite tough to argue in favour of the younger sibling, who can seemingly get whatever they want and get away with just about anything and everything. It is this grass is always greener on the other side attitude which creates all this friction between siblings. I’m certainly not saying all younger siblings are arrogant, little brats, but it is fair to say, they do have an unfair advantage when it comes to getting their way.

Now, let’s look at it from the other perspective. If you are a younger sibling, then you’ll agree that it pains you when you are all the time compared to your elder brother or sister. The bossy, seemingly superior attitude of your elder sibling only serves to make matters worse.
But, despite all this, even when you are forced to hand over the remote so your baby brother or sister can watch Disney channel, or when your elder sibling mocks you in front of your best friends, you can see that look of love in their eyes. It shows they care for you, and love you from the bottom of their heart, possibly even more than their own parents, and that they will always be there for you when you need them the most.

They just have a very different way of showing it. So, for now, elder siblings, hand over the remote. It’s time to watch Disney channel!

MEDITERRANEAN AGRICULTURE

Very informative

Agriculture Science

The Mediterranean climatic region which experiences winter rain and summer d~ought has given rise to a distinctive type of agriculture. This type of farming is also found in irrigated semi-desert and desert areas in similar latitudes. Farming is intensive and highly specialised. A variety of crops are raised.

Citrus fruits, olives and figs, with long, widespread roots, scant foliage and thick skinned fruits are best adapted to the Mediterranean type of climate. Dates are prominent in semi-arid region in North Africa and in scattered areas in south-west Europe, where cultivation of other crops is not viable.

Viticulture or grape cultivation is typical of the Medi terranean regions. It calls for a highly intensive form of farming. Not only good conditions of moisture, tempera ture and soil are required, but much personal care is also called for, if the grapes are to be of high quality. Grapes grown in different parts…

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Blogging 201 starts next Monday. Are you registered?

Blogging 201

The Daily Post

Please note: the content of this edition of Blogging 201: Branding and Growth is the same as the challenge offered earlier this year. If you’re looking for something new to tackle, more Blogging U. courses will roll out this fall and throughout 2015.

If you’ve been taking part in Blogging 101, we’ve reached the end of our journey together. But if you want to keep going — or if you’ve been blogging for a while but need to give your readership a boost —  Blogging 201: Branding and Growth gets going next Monday, October 20.

Two weeks of daily tasks will help you:

  • Define your blog’s brand
  • Understand your blog’s stats
  • Highlight your existing posts
  • Build your audience

There’s no requirement or expectation that you write a post every day; Blogging 201 is made up of non-publishing tasks to help you grow your online presence. Weekends are free time to…

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