The Power to See

By Sindhujaa Kumar. First published in The Pioneer


I’ve always lived on an omnivorous media diet.


Wild swings between genres. No one category has managed to tie me down.


I love books and films. I was that kid who read all the time – in bed, under the covers, with a flashlight. Walking down the street, lost in story. My little library at home (which is now growing on Kindle, and a tad bit on Audible) includes collections of poetry from around the world, memoirs, epics, fiction- especially fantasy, deep spirituality and personal development, romantic comedies, science, international affairs (I confess I have rather few of these, although I wish I had appetite for more… you know… when someone asks you what you’re reading, it’s kind of cool to say ‘Good Economics for Hard Times’ or ‘Confessions of an Economic Hitman’ etc… instead of saying ‘Lord of the Rings’ for the 400th time).


Above all, I love epics. The stories that make us dream of heroic cultures, idealism, and adventure. The stories that speak of love that stands strong despite all odds. The stories that have the power to reimagine the world. The stories that can dissolve barriers between people and communities. A few dragons and elves don’t hurt along the way!!!

Over time, books, and then films, also turned into toolkits I used to fix things, from the most practical to the most mysterious, from my little gadgets to my heart, and to make things, from cakes to boats. Some gave me wings… some were medicine, bitter but healing. Some put out my fires when they were burning house, some ignited flames that would warm my fantasies for decades to come.


I grew up watching ‘Xena: The Warrior Princess’, while the rest of my friends were glued to ‘Small Wonder’ and ‘Friends’ (I haven’t managed to sit through even one entire episode of ‘Friends’, I’ve no idea why but I just can’t!). Even now on Netflix, while people prefer ‘Squid Game’, I head off to comparatively unconventional places like 'Destan' or ‘Resurrection: Ertuğrul’ (which has given me a peep into the true values of Islam, a culture that is so much more nuanced and beautiful than shallow, misunderstood views) and ‘Kara Para Aşk’. Talking about Ertuğrul, that one offbeat meandering led me to a whole world of Turkish delight – the bridge between Asia and Europe – the sweet spot between tradition and new-age. No one can do romance like them (watch ‘Kara Sevda’). And plot twists too. Production values make every frame picture-perfect, and characterization is to-die-for.


Humans come with an irrepressible hunger for truth and meaning. The stories we feed our minds can make us or break us. I’ve heard of books saving lives, movies metamorphosing entire cultures, a film turning a petty thief into a paladin. The power of stories never ceases to fascinate me- as artists, entrepreneurs, philosophers continue to ruminate on and articulate on era after era.


You can choose how and what you see. You choose the lens through which you focus. You can choose to see the world full of opportunities for growth and creation or you can choose to see it only for its wounds and disabilities. When you own your power to see, to choose, and to act, to create circumstances that you want (instead of more of what you’re afraid of), you stand in your sovereignty. Your media choices reflect this.


Ayn Rand. Sarah J Maas. Wayne Dyer. Paulo Coelho. Brandon Sanderson. Marian Kayes. Gabrielle Bernstein. Tim Ferris. Tony Robbins. Willard Price. Enid Blyton. Willard Price. Robert Arthur Jr. JK Rowling. Gretchen Rubin. Joel Osteen. Just some of the authors who’ve gifted me new worlds over the years.


I thought of why I lean towards what I lean. Sometimes sci-fi. Sometimes magic. Sometimes epic historical battles. Sometimes sweet romantic comedies. Always something beautiful. Always something good-over-evil (don’t roll eyes- it’s feel-good, and sparks hope. That’s the right energy to immerse yourself in. May make a few rare exceptions for anti-heroes like Jack Sparrow, Arya Stark and Riddick). Books and films made me hold space for our humanness, and our superhuman-ness (yes, we each have a bit of both). We build our world, our lives and our businesses, one story at a time. We can choose to step out of those stories that bind and bedevil us, and step into ones that embody our widest horizons, our biggest dreams.


Who do YOU want to be (today, this year, this decade? I ask because you can choose to be someone a little different, in each frame. You can be Beyoncé today, Buddha tomorrow, or a blend of both maybe?).


We each want to put a dent in the world. Whether you’re a monk in the Himalayan monastery praying every day for world peace, or a software engineer helping build the next network that connects our world, or a housewife adding huge scoops of love into the next meal you cook for your husband – you want to give the world the gift of ‘you’.

Which book or movie changed you? Pay attention, because it’s a clue. A clue telling you - what YOU want to do for the world. Be the change you want to see. Support the people working towards these changes. Or start a revolution on your own!


For example, I have a long list of things I want someone else to revolutionize. I don’t see myself leading the change here, but rather being a spoke in their wheel. Like education. Everyone should have it- for free. Like medicine – we should focus on prevention, not reaction; we should treat the cause, not the symptom; emotional healing, nutrition and exercise should be part of the healing model – not just drugs.


These are things I ache for when I see the mountains of change we need to scale. I’m aware this is from the core of my deepest impulses for growth. But what is it that ‘I’ want to lead the change on?


I want to revolutionize how we (as individuals, and as a community) hold power.

Personal power – understanding that no human being, no matter what the situation, is actually powerless. We hold portals to vast fields of power within us - and true power is always from the inside out, not from the outside in. Its not what the world gives you, its who you are. Spiritual power that can make the impossible possible. Emotional power that can resurrect lives. Mental power that can revolutionize industries. Physical power that can lead to spontaneous remission of so-called terminal diseases. Community power that can right all wrongs. We are powerful beings, and I want every individual and community to feel their own power and sovereignty.


I do want to revolutionize how we each experience power… but… tall order. Road’s been ploughed. Long way to go. Limping towards the mountain. Bleed, heal, shout, pray… but keep going.


And then it occurs to me, to revolutionize, all I have to do is LIVE a revolutionary life.

Me… leading me. That’s the only dominion I truly have. And its enormous.

How you live is how you lead. You and that life of yours – are the real revolution.