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Archive for October, 2006

I was watching the Australia, West Indies match tonight in which West Indies actually pulled a surprise when it beat Australia.
I was favouring Australia to win till the last minutes of the match, when the wicket of Clarke fell and I knew then, that the Aussies had given up on the match.

It’s a very funny feeling this … giving up on something.
Knowing that no matter what you try, what you do, you aren’t going to make it.
The thought of it is actually very depressing – who would ever want to give up on someone or something that they want real bad, but life is ruthless and more often than you’d like, you end up ‘giving up’ on the thing that you were chasing.

I have faced this situation a lot while playing basketball back in school and junior college.
We had one of the best teams while in school and we lost very rarely, so I was not hit by this feeling that often.

However, once we moved into junior college, people went in different directions, our team shrunk, and the 10 good players who’d play the 40 minutes shrunk to 4 or 5.
More often than not, we’d lose closely contested games in the dying minutes due to the sheer exhaustion that we’d experience towards the end of playing time.

I am guilty of giving up on many occasions, but all of them, as much as I can remember were due to physical (and fitness) reasons.
The series of events would be such …

You’ve been playing for 35 minutes continuously and you don’t have the stamina you had back in school. You are barely just able to run.
The other team is leading by 2 points. There are 5 minutes left in the game and you can easily win it.
At precisely this time, some random guy from the other team comes around, takes a three and makes it. Your heart sinks with the ball and you trail by 5 points now.
You are completely exhausted, panting, and want nothing more than to crash on the ground and lie there for eternity.
You are pushing yourself to run all the way across court to get in position for the pass. Somehow your team loses the ball, the opponents are on a fast break and you are chasing them.
At precisely this moment, a couple of thoughts will flash in your mind.

1. That you can’t take this anymore and you are going to die soon.
2. That this is just a game … is it really worth it?

I think the entire game turns around depending on the answer each player gives himself.
If everyone (or the majority) push themselves harder, your chances of winning increase a lot. Any rational person would definitely say that people need to push themselves … and stick with it – giving themselves a good chance.

However, nothing seems rational at that particular point of time. When you can hear your heartbeats distinctively, but not the voices of those around you nor the crowds cheering insanely.
More often than not, people give in … and the rest is history!

I was speaking to a friend of mine who recently took up boxing and did exceptionally well at it (he represented the state in his first tournament).

I asked him what made him give up sometimes, while he was boxing.
He thought for a while and said that boxing is a very tiring sport (and painful and very risky too). So while you are out there, fighting this random guy from another never heard of city, in some small town where nobody cares, you come to a point where you ask yourself whether it is worth it …
And there you get your answer …

I feel the trick here is to postpone the “Is it worth it” question as much as possible …
Every human being has a break-in point – and so, everyone can be broken … the question is to find that point and somehow avoid, postpone or hasten it depending on which side you are on.

Anyways, experience tells me that once you give up, there is no way even a miracle can save you … What I’d really like to know is why people give up in other life scenarios and what drives them to it …

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This is one more of those grey area posts – where I am myself not so certain about anything – and in the end it turns out to be – just some sort of general loud musing actually …

The story begins with my brother (with no prior computer programming experience whatsoever) turning up to me two days before his IT exam and asking me to teach him javascript programming.
The task was pretty much uphill from the beginning itself, as he had no experience at all – and he gave me so much little time to teach him in.

So anyways, I thought of giving it a shot and got down to teaching him.
After a couple of hours of tutoring and assignments, he told me that he had understood whatever I had taught him and seeing that he was getting the hang of things and actually doing the assignments right, I thought he had too.
So, I left it at that and decided to continue with much more advance topics the next day.

However, when I did start the next day, I realised that he had not understood a thing – had got all his concepts wrong, but still somehow, was able to do the assignments that I had given him.
He had found some vague similarity and a coincidental method by which he was able to solve the assignments. His method, though not entirely incorrect, was a one off thing and actually ended up being a series of (coincidental) flukes which made him think that what he had understood was correct.

Hence, in short, what had actually happened was that he “thought” he had understood, whereas he clearly hadn’t.

Which brings me back to the post … the difference between “actually understanding something” and “thinking” that you understood something …
This boils down to some sort of a paradox, because how can you say you understand something unless you “think” you do, and vice versa …

Also, even though you think you understood something because your application worked using the principles that you applied (which you thought were correct), how will you know for sure whether what you “think” you have understood was the exact same thing the author / teacher was supposed to make you understand?

You can probably run a larger number of test cases but then again, there is no limit to how many different cases there could be and for how many your theories would fail …
Which kinda brings us to the thought that nothing in this world is absolute – and everything is relative …

Or then maybe, we just need to invent some higher means (or forms) of communication by which we could eliminate all these paradoxes and come to absolute conclusions …
Here is me again wandering off into the oblivion … :p

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