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  • Shishir Rattan

The Within and Without

Updated: Jul 5



Human lifetime, is spent upon at the edge of a coin called life. The coin's face, that we mortals succumb to, tangents our fate into its several meandering rivulets running throughout one's life. Thus leading to experiences, learnings and regrets that we either impart to other's or take to our grave on our final day of deliverance.

I have often wondered that if I could go back in time what would I change? The answers tend to change almost every time I ask myself that question. The reason is simple, with each passing second, we are hurtling forward into time and creating new memories and experiencing new things that either gains significance over the past or pales in comparison to it.


Now that got me thinking and so I resolved to look into this a little deeply whenever I got time to let my mind wander. I resolved to take an example of a particular situation in my life that would be fresh in my mind and would constantly be in in front of me. I settled upon the stock market! I am not an ace investor by any measure but I have always been fascinated with the exchange that happens in that frantic place. I have burnt my fingers in the past and so if I were to ever go back in time; I would definitely make some lofty changes, that's for sure!


Now then, I had my mind set. I began to follow the shares of some of companies and created an online portfolio on a site that simulates the exchange without consequences. I did this over a few months and as expected, I knew what I wanted to change if I ever went back in time!


Here's what I discovered – remember the coin I mentioned earlier? Well think of life as a coin and we're walking on its edge all through our life. One side represents the 'Within' and the other, the 'Without' and here's how I think they can be our best sides and ultimately help us become our best selves.


The Within is our free-will and is within us, hence the moniker of the 'Within'. We can control it to a very large extent if we put our mind to it. The free-will is at our disposal at every waking minute of our life. It helps us make decisions that can be as mundane as turning left when you walk into a super market or to light up a cigarette when you know its not good for you. At every step we have to make a choice and what we choose is totally up to us. Browsing through social media, you can simply choose to scroll away from an inflammatory post or choose to comment on it or share it. If you choose to scroll away you may come across another post that's similarly instigating and then again you can choose to ignore it or interact with it. No one is really forcing you to comment on the post. Nobody has a gun to you head or holding your hands and forcing a click.


Well it turns out while we control our own free-will, that is not the only thing we need to be cognizant of. Enter – The Without. It's the world we live in, the things, people, interactions, sights and sounds etc – essentially the world around us. That's what makes up the Without! Picture this, your free-will and then there is the whole wide world! You cannot control the Without like you do the Within. You cannot control people and decide things for them or live their lives for them because they still have their free-will and they can choose to follow you until one day they choose not to.


The Without may seem manganous compared to the Within which is just your being in an ocean of many people but keep this in mind - The world cannot dictate terms for you to follow if You choose not to!


The Without can be influenced though, you can choose to, with your free-will, to interact with the Without in a way that is either detrimental or beneficial to you. Let go back to the share market and delve into what I experienced.


Am not ace investor but I am curious and fascinated by the idea of investing in stocks. That's the Within, my free-will choosing to enter a new territory that I do not fully understand. That is also the Without influencing the Within to explore an unchartered area of financial industry. I could choose to stay away thinking; 'while I can make money, I do not understand how the share market works and so there is a greater chance of losing money!' Here the influence of the Without was greater and I eventually found a website that allowed for non-consequential trading and hence I chose to explore the market within the safety of neither making nor losing money but still gaining experience in a simulated environment. Here's where I discovered an instance of harmony between the Within and the Without. I chose to refrain until I found a safe zone to learn.


I bought and sold shares on the platform to my heart's content. I sold some at a profit and most on a loss which got me thinking about finding other opportunities to learn. Not too long into the experiment, I began watching online videos and read blogs on share market investing and trading. The very first step to choose not go head long into the stock market set the tone for me to actually seek out a safe platform to experience it and also gave me the opportunity to learn more about it.


That, my friends, is a very small slice of life that I have shared with you to help you relate to this topic. But my intention here is to not essentially delve into the financial market but rather to dig a little deeper into what this realization should mean to us in the broader scheme of things. I want to delve into exploring how this can enable you into being a better human.

Picking up the example of the social media posts, how can we be our best selves on a ubiquitous platform? Its not easy to not be influenced by something that's easily accessible by our phone – a gadget that we carry around with us everywhere.


The process is not easy, it may seem simple, but its not easy at all. We have to not only fight the negative influences from the Without but also ensure that our free-will doesn't tip on the negative side either. Like all things good, this too will be difficult to do but it can be done if you put your mind to it. Ask yourself, what good is going to come out of commenting and shareing an inflammatory content? Is there any way you can influence it for the better? If you have something to say about it that gives the right context or insight then go ahead, interact with it but be ready for others to question you, attack you with their counter comments. At that moment what you choose to say or do is what will decide the next course of interactions and so on and so forth.


The bottom line is this – The Within helps you decide what will be your next action, how you choose to interact with the Without is also what will decide the next course of actions and interactions but it all starts with your free-will and understanding of what is right and what is not. The power is within you because you're not someone's slave nor are you a zombie.

In closing I'd like to just say this, being a better human is a hard task but one that is worthy of the time and energy because on one lives in isolation. Our actions and interactions have a bearing on the world at large. One stupid habit or action can trigger several people in many ways and the actions of a group can make individuals go berserk. We're all on this planet, it's a home we all need to take care of, the least we can do is to fight and bicker among ourselves and let the harmony of the Within and the Without get disturbed by spreading negativity.

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