It is the beginning of a new year, and there are many endeavors I wish to conquer in 2012.
I am proud of the person I have grown to be in the past thirteen months of my life. But I will not allow complacency to set in. While I’ve accomplished more than ever before in the past, I vow to re-discipline myself to maintain all that I’ve achieved, and I vow to set new heights to climb towards heartily.
Before I pen the new set of challenges that I resolutely intend to fulfill both gradually and intermittently over the course of the year, let me reflect on specific lessons learned from my experiences to prime my mentality and shape my goals. These include all my learnings from camp, from the “5 Steps” to Guru Arjan Devi Ji and his work, and it will also include the main point of advice that Cau Chin had given to me (three times in the same conversation).
In the last week of 2011 at Houston Sikh Youth Camp, a man named Bhai Gurdarshan Singh Ji taught of a way to achieve a form of enlightenment in five steps. The last three steps of this are said to naturally follow true understanding and realization of the preceding two, so my focus will stay on these two first steps: jaag and laag.
Jaag: to awaken, become aware, and be conscious. Great lengths must be taken to consistently reach this pure awakening at all moments. Indeed, it will be a tragedy to lose myself to a beastly mindset of physical indulgences and instant gratification; only a mind clear of such obstacles can focus on the necessary, purposeful actions.
Laag: to apply, become disciplined, and be willing to learn. An awakened mind will do nothing without a point to trek towards. Find a path, stay true, and do everything I can to move forward with both a constant remembrance and as complete an understanding as I can hold.
Guru Arjan Dev Ji: the 5th guru in the Sikhi way of life, this man was chosen to lead his people at the age of 18. Considered the most accomplished guru, this man completed the construction of Amritsar and Harmandir Sahib, founded other cities such as Taran Taran and Kartarpur, constructed a baoli (well) in Lahore, and most importantly in Sikh history, compiled the Adi Granth — the first time the teachings of the first 5 gurus were ever recorded. Penning the Adi Granth was arguably the greatest of Guru Arjan Dev Ji’s accomplishments; it laid the foundation for the completion of Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, whose guruship will remain eternal.
Imagine that. A young man of 18 having the vision and focus to do all of that. I don’t care much to speculate how I will stack up against him when all is said and done, no. I simply wish to adopt a few ideas that I am determined to ingrain as truths in my reformed mind and properly undertake the new challenges.
Life is eternal, and I have all the time in the world. This isn’t even an idea that I hope to adopt; this is something that I already know to be true. I’ve seen my grandfather pass, felt my mama ji slip away in prayer, and heard of countless others leaving this world behind — sometimes inhumanely, unjustly, and prematurely. Though these souls ascend from the physical properties we know as reality, life continues to thrive all around.
A single moment defined this for me, in the work of Louis C.K. Fed up with his friend Eddie who wanted to kill himself, Louis began to tell him off, that if he wanted to tap out of his life—and then it dawned to him in a flash. He declared to his suicidal friend, “You know what? It’s life, it’s… life is bigger than you, if you can imagine that. Life is not something you possess. It’s something you take part in, and you witness…”
After pondering on these words, I find these ideas to be simple yet profound enough to do two things. First, they give life a grander, unlimited scale for me to work with. All of a sudden, life is so unimaginably huge, it’s almost as though every dimension of height, depth, and horizon has been stretched out, ready for me to explore. Second, these beliefs allow me every benefit of an out-of-body experience to watch myself as a performer in this life. It gives me control in how I want to interact with everything around me, and it connects me to everything life has to offer—including everyone who ever was and still is. These ideas are, in itself, a difficult task to cultivate any further, but I will patiently work on them nonetheless.
And finally, it’s been over a year since I’ve permanently made you a part of me, Ajmer Singh. I look to you for strength often, and this year will be no different in that regard. But this year, I will also try to emulate your work ethic. I’ve recently been given advice from a Buddhist monk named Cau Chin to “cut out the lazy,” and you, grandfather, did not know the word even in your last resting bed. I will draw strength from you — just, please be patient with me, Pita Ji.
Now, the list of growing resolutions:
- Travel outside of Texas (I hope Texas Bhangra will allow me this opportunity)
- Choreograph and teach bhangra (in the process)
- Learn a new style of dance (hip-hop / contemporary, ideas are forming)
- Walk in May and get a full-time offer
- Learn the meanings of my daily prayers (in process)
- Complete 4 workout regimes (strength & mass, explosiveness, basketball, running)
- Learn Punjabi fluently
- Go to a shooting range
- Go to at least 2 operas or plays
- Run a 5k or complete a Warrior Dash
- Watch at least one documentary every week (so far, so good)
- Leave my mark in Austin (graffiti)
- Grow out my beard for at least 60 days
- Give away 5 of my favorite possessions
- Visit my camp buddies and brother in San Antonio more than a few times
- Complete the Plucker’s 25 wing challenge
- Eat a package of Oreo’s in one sitting
- Do a 3- and 7-day fast
…and many more to come.