When we first started learning physics in school, I was having difficulty in grasping one basic concept in physics - the concept of initial velocity. To me, initial velocity was always suppose to equal 0 because we always start at 0. It confused me that it was always not the case. Being unable to visualize what was going on, my primary physics mentor then - my brother - explained it to me as such: he asked me to visualize that both our parents and my brothers were traveling in a car at x km/hr. Then God suddenly decided to drop me inside the car between them, while the car was traveling at x km/hr. Therefore, the initial velocity for me would be x km/hr, while to rest of the folks in the car it was 0.
I got it crystal clear.
Fast forward sixteen years, I was sitting in the train, and found myself observing a human being - first I observed her gender, then her skin color, subconsciously assigning a culture and a race. Then I proceeded to notice her clothes, and her accessories, once again mentally evaluating her age, whether she was a professional or a student. My mind even went as far as to assign personality traits to this stranger till I caught myself. I suddenly felt very tired by my own thoughts, and wanted to stop this auto-pilot. Not just because the thoughts had faulty foundation, but my eyes wanted to see her differently.
Once I read about this guy who was color blind when it came to skin colors. His best friend was African american and he did not even notice. What if I could view people through that lens? Not just race but gender and appearance. What if nobody had pointed out to me these aspects about us? What would I notice if I am looking at someone for the first time? How do I consciously move into a 'fool's' mentality, where my perception is unaffected? What would my experience of world be like?
Sometimes I try to imagine, if I was suddenly dropped into being inside the current moment in life, what would be my initial velocity? Who would I be? Who would you be to me?
I was once sitting in a traffic signal while I was a teenager, still living in Dhaka, Bangladesh. It is a common scenario to be approached by beggars or the flower girls at your car window, while you sit in your air-conditioned suede seats and complain about traffic.
On one evening, and only on that evening in my life to this date, a man in early to mid 20s approached the window of my car, offering roses for a price. Dirty white shirt, unkept hair and lack of nutrition was apparent all over his face, as was the case with all others who were selling flowers for five cents, hoping for one meal a day. But something caught me off guard as he spoke. As he spoke, this young man in dirty clothes, he spoke like a gentleman. His voice poised, his pronunciation flawless and his demeanor humble, yet direct. I looked up and noticed his face, to find absolute decency beaming from his soul, through eyes so earnest it cut my air-conditioned bubble like a knife.
He noticed my started look, as my voice shook, "No...". He stepped away and dropped his eyes. His chest was held high, like one determined to live with dignity that only comes from a dignified soul, irrespective of the appearance of his life. He walked towards the next car, offering his roses for a price. And for a brief moment his eyes shortly gazed back my way, at my still startled face. There was clear pain in his eyes - perhaps he felt vulnerable because I saw through, or may be it was through my arrogant prejudice that he saw through.
The beauty of this strange soul still haunts me today. I hope his dignity has been preserved, I hope his determination was not in vain. I hope his heart is light, may be we will meet again, in another life, at a different time, and there will be no price to be paid for roses.