Perpetual Patterns

Perpetual Patterns by Neil N. ChopraAuthor: Neil N. Chopra
Publisher: Shadow Script (2012)
Number of Pages: 94
How long it took me to read: 6 days
Where I got this book: Uncustomary Book Submission
ISBN: 9780985086008

Like a Moth to a Flame

Again, poetry is knocking at my door. It’s tapping its fingernails against the lacquered surface of the entrance to my current domain. Who am I to screen my visitor, especially since he came out of his way to make his appearance on my stage?

Favorite Five

Whittling 10 down to 5…I propose that the top 5 quotes from this book are:

5. “The irony of not accepting your own darkness is that you are causing yourself to be haunted by it.” (p.80)

4. “Only when someone fearlessly swims in the truth, and revels in the challenge of charting its waves, do they become a beacon of strength that can be relied upon.” (p.28)

3. “An honest leader is not afraid to follow someone else when it is more beneficial to others.” (p.5)

2. “Genius is not an abnormal capacity to learn, it is an abnormal hunger to learn.” (p.51)

…and my pick for the No.1 quote is…

1. “If you open your eyes, everything is interesting.” (p.11)

Conversation with the Reader

While I read, I write, and as I write, I read. Here’s some of what I wrote while I read this book:

“I believe in patterns. In a way, I dread them. To me, they’re not the symbol of organization or order that many perceive them to be. To me, they’re a sign of repeated mistakes.

“No, I don’t normally look at life as a series of right and wrong choices, but when I’m faced with an obstacle that I don’t seem to understand how to overcome, regardless of how I approach it, I begin to see all the wrong things I must be doing that prevent me from moving forward. If I’m not moving forward, what the hell am I doing? Even sideways feels like a fail. So it’s when I notice a pattern that I know I’m not cluing in. Patterns are my amber alerts.”

“Chopra’s structured his book in a similar way to Gibran’s The Prophet in that it’s divided into topics that he then addresses from a poetic mind. Where Gibran writes of laws, freedom, and friendship, Chopra ruminates over obedience, darkness, and noise. He diverges onto his own path at the end of each section, where he includes situational questions designed to provoke deeper reflection and conscious acknowledgement of the reader’s stance on each theme. The format lens itself quite well to book groups and other community-based studies of his work.

“I recently read a book with my husband that did the same thing of challenging its readers to open up to discussions of the topics it presented in an effort to help readers work through deep-seeded beliefs and fears that contribute to the resistance of letting go. It taught me a lot about simply allowing the joys and pains of life to happen as they may. It was one of the most enlightening shared -reading experiences I’ve had.

“Letting myself to disengage from the speedy chaos of a nonsensical life in order to take a closer look at the person I’m becoming did two things: it took me on a barefoot stroll through the valley of hot coals that represents my limiting belief structures and fear-based perspectives, which eventually led me to a place where the weight of the world no longer sat on my shoulders, where I could breath in the fresh cleansed air of self-liberation. That second stage is quite an invaluable place to reach, but the price to pay to get there can be pretty high, depending on how long it’s been since you last took that barefoot stroll.”

“Chopra purposely doesn’t include anecdotal stories from his life in the book. He explains that his reasoning to stay in this logical space of simply outlining a clear picture of a concept without expanding on his personal experience of it allows his readers to have something to think about that could be applicable to any time or situation they find themselves in. I disagree.

“If there’s one thing that doesn’t resonate with me, it’s safe writing. It’s often sterile, boring, and shallow. When writers distance themselves from their words, they end up filling pages with an excuse to write, often without saying anything of much substance. I’ve only just started reading this book, but I can already tell you that this author isn’t giving me much reason to believe in his words; he isn’t giving me much reason to believe that he believes in them. The only time I’m touched by his prose is when I read his poetry. There’s a light that shines off the page when he exposes his subtle humor and his perceptive wit to me. It’s only when he unfolds a layer of himself, regardless of how thin a membrane it may be, that I feel him through his words. Chopra’s right when he admits in his introduction that ‘when you force yourself to creatively express an idea through some constrained medium, like short lines that rhyme, you gain a deeper understanding of it.’ (p.xi)

“He later writes the following on the topic of ‘privacy’:

“When you can accept the reality that those characteristics you are afraid to expose will most likely be shared by someone else, it opens up a freedom to reveal who you are.” (pp.24-5)

“What stopped him from revealing more of himself through his book? What stopped him from taking his own advice?”

“I’m just about to start the section on ‘noise’ and I have to stop myself. It strikes me that I can’t decide whether noise is a good thing or a bad thing. I suppose my initial reaction is that noise is bad because of its connotation to distraction, a force that takes you out of the silence within, spinning you into the blur of illusion. But at the same time, there’s a part of me that would absolutely love some noise in my life—the kind that brings excitement, vibrancy, and the contagiousness of wanting to live life to the fullest.

“Over time, I think I’ve started to realize that the better matched my environment is to my character, the more vibrant the noise I make; the poorer the match, the more distracting noise I seek out. That pairing speaks volumes.”

“In searching for a new person to join a team for the long term, Chopra writes:

“In your search for such a person, do not let your preconceived notions of what they should have already accomplished, or how they should act, cloud your judgment. If you solely look for a prototypical person that checks off the boxes on your list, you are limiting the number of people that can be of benefit to you. Furthermore, those prototypical people will have an erroneous assumption that who they are is more important than what they can accomplish when given the opportunity. When a wider net is cast, individuals will not take the opportunity for granted. Theorizing about what someone is capable of is no good. Allowing them to prove what they are capable of is better for both parties. Deserting those who do not fit the mold is counterproductive.” (p.48)

“I’m not sure if it’s because both Chopra and I live in the Bay Area (he’s a computer scientist with experience in the computer game industry), or whether this is a ubiquitous truth, but I’ll admit that I know first-hand what it feels like to be deserted for not fitting the mold. In my case, it wasn’t a specific person or a particular project that I didn’t quite fit with; it was just that the company was evolving in a different direction than I was. Although I accept that people and situations come into our lives for either a reason, a season, or a lifetime, that knowingness doesn’t make the severing of a connection easy.

“One thing I did learn from that experience is that I have a very different perspective on how to hire people than that shared by some of my past colleagues. For me, it isn’t as much about the schools you attended or the names you can drop. Those things are certainly interesting and can go a long way to evidence that you can work hard and dedicate yourself to reaching your goals, but it’s the nature of your goals and the way you deal with disadvantage that reveal the deeper truth of who you are, and thus, of what you have to offer. For me, it’s not about interviewing sixty candidates because I’m able to find something wrong with every one of them. For me, it’s about setting the applications and resumes—the packaging—aside, and digging into the package itself. Otherwise, I’ll probably end up finding someone to fit a mold, but is it the mold I really want to fill?”

“This piece will be a masterpiece
Anything less would be worthless
Perfection, it has to be
Anything else, and I will burn it.” (p.53)

“Reading the start of this poem, it strikes me that there are two ways of seeing perfection: perfect on the first try, or perfect eventually. I don’t need perfection on the first try, although getting a hole-in-one on the mini golf course is sweet. I think I prefer the kind of perfection that demands hard work to achieve. Yes, there are times when working hard can start to feel akin to banging my head against concrete, but gratefully, the evolution of experience doesn’t lead me there very often. Although when it does, I do let go of the perfect image I’ve created, if for no other reason than because it no longer brings me joy to strive to manifest it. So I guess perfection, for me, means purpose, and with purpose, the sense of belonging.

“I’ve been told that perfection isn’t profitable, so it’s best to just forget about it. Only read every few words of an email to get its gist and don’t bother writing in complete sentences because no one will read them anyway. I’ve been told that striving for perfection is a neurosis, a sickness to be purged from the system, but to me, perfection, in whatever its form, is living poetry; it’s the beauty of striving for it, of working toward it that makes for quite a rich, purposeful life.”

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  1. Teta Bombardieri says:

    Yes : “If perfection isn’t profitable …. it’s the beauty of striving for it … ”
    I like that.

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