How does it feel to run a startup?

Running a startup feels like mystery

Warning! If your heart and mind are immune to poetry, and its ability to communicate complex ideas and feeling, please stop reading and come back later!

Silence yourself, really..whatever it is you are doing now, just let it all go. Done? Okay, here is a little poem that gives a hint of how it feels to launch a startup and create a product. As I said, if you have never felt poetry hit your heart, this might not work. Anyway, pay attention and read it now.

How to build an Owl

Decide you must.

Develop deep respect

for feather, bone, claw.

Place your trembling thumb

where the heart will be:

for one hundred hours watch

so you will know

where to put the first feather.

Stay awake forever.

When the bird takes shape

gently pry open its beak

and whisper into it: mouse.

Let it go.

That gentlemen is how it is. There is indeed a science and reasoning behind everything but a large part of it feels like a mystery. You could have been an Oracle in a temple of Delphi trying to figure out what the spirits are trying to say!

If there is just one aspect I have to highlight as most terrifying, then it would be figuring out what to build. That single question is like every imaginary evil figure come together just to mess with you. You think that is easy? Ah, I thought the same too. Let me clarify. This is like the Mule, Zombies, Satan, Voldemort and..and Sauron coming together..they all shake hands just to mess with you..exclusively. That said, it is an amazing ride and sure beats playing politics and putting up with mediocrity.

Credits: Poem by Kathleen Lynch, discovered via Jack Cheng.Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Johan J.Ingles-Le Nobel via Compfight

Immortal Wound

It is absurd to think that the only way to tell if a poem is lasting is to wait and see if it lasts. The right reader of a good poem can tell the moment it strikes him that he has taken an immortal wound — that he will never get over it. – Robert Frost

What struck me about the quote’s perspective was the notion of ‘right reader’. I thought about it for a while and have come to some understanding. The right reader is someone susceptible to the immortal wound. Someone who consciously opens himself to the pain of receiving the beauty of poetry.

Meera with her Divine Beloved

Perhaps it is this same susceptibility, or perhaps a naiveté, that makes the adventurer head out into unchartered seas, makes the devotee lose herself pining for the Divine Beloved or makes a creator stake his all into building something. Perhaps each was, and is, aware that it might all come to naught.

There seems to be one trait that links adventurer, devotee and entrepreneur types, each is a dreamer. Someone who overlooks what is, in pursuit of what can be. Someone who has to courage to be open to a wound.

We started with that sublime phrase ‘immortal wound’. Our little tangent seems to have gathered a potential oxymoron, susceptible + courageous.

What is the point you ask? Well, nothing really..just savor that phrase ‘immortal wound’, forget the rest.

Go Forth – Levi’s Campaign

Poetry, even when employed to peddle souped up nothing, still carries with it the majesty of the spheres it issues from. Like a flame in the cup of your hand, a thing so fragile, yet so rife with possibilities.

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Krishna – Sri Aurobindo

Krishna's birth Of all Avatars of the Divine Sri Krishna alone has a special place. Sri Rama is venerated. Every other Avatar prior to him is acknowledged and prayed to. But none is adored with the intensity and rapture that Sri Krishna is. Why is that so? We would not know entirely, until the same intensity of devotion and divine insight is given to us.

But suffice to say, I don’t care..I don’t need a reason to adore Sri Krishna. I adore him because what would I be without this capability to adore? Why would I give myself to an inferior joy?

There is plenty of devotional poetry composed around Sri Krishna. But I like the below poem by Sri Aurobindo.

Krishna

At last I find a meaning of soul’s birth

Into this universe terrible and sweet,

I who have felt the hungry heart of earth

Aspiring beyond heaven to Krishna’s feet.

I have seen the beauty of immortal eyes,

And heard the passion of the Lover’s flute,

And known a deathless ecstasy’s surprise

And sorrow in my heart for ever mute.

Nearer and nearer now the music draws,

Life shudders with a strange felicity;

All Nature is a wide enamoured pause

Hoping her lord to touch, to clasp, to be.

For this one moment lived the ages past;

The world now throbs fulfilled in me at last.

– Sri Aurobindo

Invictus and Invitation – Two Poems

I saw the movie Invictus recently. It chronicles how a game of Rugby brings together the erstwhile victims and perpetrators of Apartheid in South Africa. The movie is brilliant by itself what struck me was the poem Invictus that plays a significant role in the movie and hence its use as the title.

While reading about the poem on Wikipedia, could not help but notice that it was written by someone who was not exactly dealt the best cards by life.

And I was reminded of another poem, again written by someone not in the best of circumstances, called Invitation.

I reproduce both these below.

Invictus – By William Ernest Henley

Out of the night that covers me,

Black as the pit from pole to pole,

I thank whatever gods may be

For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance

I have not winced nor cried aloud.

Under the bludgeonings of chance

My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears

Looms but the Horror of the shade,

And yet the menace of the years

Finds and shall find me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,

How charged with punishments the scroll,

I am the master of my fate:

I am the captain of my soul.

Invitation – By Sri Aurobindo

With the wind and the weather beating around me

Up to the hill and moorland I go

Who will come with me? Who will climb with me?

Wade through the brook and tramp through the snow?

Not in the petty circle of cities

Cramped by your doors and your walls I dwell;

Over me God is blue in the welkin,

Against me the wind and the storm rebel.

I sport with solitude here in my regions,

Of misadventures have made me a friend.

Who would live largely? Who would live freely?

Here to the wind-swept uplands ascend.

I am the Lord of tempest and mountain,

I am the Spirit of freedom and pride.

Stark must he be and a kinsman to danger

Who shares my kingdom and walks by my side.

I wonder what it is about the human condition, that makes it grow radiant when under the crucible of misfortune. Arrayed against the furies and fates, the piffling human soul grows vast enough to take on the elements, space and time.

Fragments of Aspiration – 1

Repentance, that alchemy of the heart
Transmuting vileness into a luminous submission
**********************
Deeper the mire, vaster the heavens
************************
There is a need for evil in the world.
Without it virtue has no reason to exist
In a way every aspiration wakes the shadow of its own ascent.
************************
The tyrant is but a tantrum thrown by the Ishwari
To compel her lord, the Ishwara, to waken from his musings.
************************
I would dissolve one day
Into a burst of rainbow hues
Become one with the pollen on a butterfly’s wings
Or plunge headlong as a blue fisher into a forgotten pond

I shall be a verse one day
A murmur upon every lip
Or throbbing as thought in a remote mind upon a snow-peak

I shall be austerity too
The death knell of desire in a hermit’s breast
Homecoming of the long wandering senses
Back once more at the feet of the Supreme Mother.

Shakespeare in a River Of Tweets

The weekend was dull. Amongst the teeming conversations in the blogosphere nothing made me pause. It was the same thing over and over. Yahoo this, Google that, Microsoft sucks and so on. Sometimes reality resembles a junkyard. Debris in various stages of preparation.

Me needed a little poetry. And all I had in hand was the blackberry. I checked twitter on GTalk and it was shorter versions of the same debris.

Thats when I realised, on GTalk there is no option to watch the public feed. Not always of course, but just to take a peek now and then.

I wanted something with sap. Something that made the barrenness inside a little moist. On a whim I tracked the word eternal. It was my digital ear to the ground listening to a single word.

All was silent the whole of yesterday. And today it arrived, without context, a lofty arrangement of words..

Would be eternal in our triumph: go

I obviously wondered who would have crafted this! It did have the rhythm of a master poet, but not being familiar with the particular work I was not too sure. And then I saw who had sent the tweet. Billionmonkeys was the user. A whois revealed the following

…typing out the complete works of shakespeare

I started following the user. And what delight. I don’t read every tweet. Don’t have the time to read enough to get the drift of the plot. I take a handful from the river of tweets that passes by and drink every refreshing gulp. I did stop to think why this user would do it. But then thought why the hell bother. One does not question the motive of a blooming flower.

One understands the depth of a Master poet. Every sentence is crafted! Every sentence even without the scaffolding of a plot stands as a monument!

All I could remember was the phrase “accelerated serendipity” that I had come across in this blog post. The phrase itself is supposed to be by Tara Hunt.

Life is not structured. The greatest impact is left behind by that which was not anticipated. The web 2.0 type apps in aggregating the many seem to bring together the un-anticipated. In doing so make the process of “happy discovery” easier.

Oh, I need to thank Billionmonkeys and twitter for making this happen.

Sleep

Such a guileless beckoning from the worlds of sleep
A blanket of hush upon the clamour of life
High and low, rise and fall postponed
Another day, perhaps another life..

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Sorrow is knowledge

And thus began the self-deception that all sorrow is knowledge and the tacit acknowledgement of grief as the sign of wisdom.

The phrase occurs in Manfred, a drama in poetry by aord Byron, in the first soliloquy of Manfred, the protagonist who debates the intent of life having known all that is to be known, has an unknown and mysterious grief gnawing him.

The start in itself is one of my most favorite passages in English poetry.

The lamp must be replenish'd, but even then
It will not burn so long as I must watch.
My slumbers-- if I slumber-- are not sleep,
But a continuance of enduring thought,
Which then I can resist not: in my heart
There is a vigil, and these eyes but close
To look within; and yet I live, and bear
The aspect and the form of breathing men.
But grief should be the instructor of the wise;
Sorrow is knowledge: they who know the most             10
Must mourn the deepest o'er the fatal truth,
The Tree of Knowledge is not that of Life. 

I read this when I was but an impressionable personality, and vastly more ignorant than I am now, around 19 years of age. How misleading is time, to imply and assume number of years as the measure of a thing’s worth!

To be continued…

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