A Look Back at 2005 in The MrSikhNet Blogiverse

Well, 2005 is gone and a new year is ahead of us all. Here I am sitting on the couch with my laptop by a roaring fire (Yes, a real fire!), Listening to some Celtic music as I look back at this past year. I see so many changes in my life and a lot of accomplishments. One of the major changes in my daily activities has been blogging (posting content to this website every day). It started 9 months ago with casual pictures of my family and has really grown into something much more useful, and I think interesting.

It took a lot of time just to post the family pictures (The blogging is what I do in my “free time”), so I said to myself “If I am going to keep doing this, it has to have a bigger purpose.” It’s not enough for me to just entertain people with pictures and happenings. I guess this is how my family raised me, and the way I am. For me everything has to be productive and have some value. When I was growing up my father worked a lot, and most of what we did together had some level of educational value. We didn’t watch sports and I rarely played video games (Though back in my younger years (80s) games were pretty basic. Anyone remember castle?). So, that rubbed off on me. While I was getting into computers and setting up SikhNet, many of my friends were playing video games late into the night or just passing time with this or that. I guess I felt like watching too much TV or games just wasted the time away and didn’t give me a sense of accomplishment. Everything I do is measured in what I have accomplished.

For the past few years I was feeling boxed in. In the early SikhNet years it was just me developing the website. I used to come up with ideas and “Just do it” (create the service). Over time as there were more services on the website, the number of visitors increased, and the staff of SikhNet increased, it took much more time to maintain. (SikhNet is now run by 6 different people in various capacities. A few of us have roles in our jobs that fall outside SikhNet so in reality we have about 2-1/2 full time staff hours).

I found myself trying to keep my head above water, and struggling to keep up with the day to day operations of SikhNet. I had to do more management stuff, budgets, financials, manage employees, figure out funding to keep up with the growing expenses, and stuff like that. This was a shift for me. I love the creative and teaching aspect of SikhNet and found myself not having much time to do these “fun projects” anymore. I didn’t feel like I was accomplishing the things that I wanted to do. I enjoy creating NOT maintaining. My main motive for SikhNet was to provide a way for Sikhs to connect all over the world and to support the Sikh youth.

I remember the end of 2004/beginning of 2005 feeling empty, uninspired, and not excited about my work and life. I know I needed some change or shift in my life, but wasn’t sure what. Guruka Singh had just come to work with SikhNet as Executive Director (as well as working with other areas of some of our organizations) which was such a blessing! Siri Singh Sahib had passed away earlier in the year and we were all going through personal changes. There was a large group of people that went to India in January to bring the ashes (from his cremation) to spread in the river at Kiratpur Sahib (Just outside Anandpur Sahib). I went on this “yatra” to participate, document and photograph the event. This trip to India gave me the opportunity to get out of my normal day to day routine and have a chance to think about my life. It really did help to break my normal pattern of day to day life. For me this was much needed.

When I got back I had a renewed sense of mission and inspiration. I felt it was time for me to “Just do it” again, and take more of a leadership role. Around this time I had also met Ashvinder Singh who was about to start the SikhPal.com website. For so long I have felt alone in the internet world of Sikhi. I didn’t have friends that had the same passions for this work, and were doing it on a regular basis. Even though I was involved with one of the largest Sikh websites, I lived in small town (Espanola) and didn’t feel connected with the rest of the Sikh Community. Honestly I felt pretty disconnected. My life revolved around SikhNet work and my family.

It was really great for me to meet Ashvinder who had the same type of creative ideas and visions that I had. Plus he was ready and willing to spend the time to put these ideas into action with me. When I see him now…It reminds me of when I was much younger starting SikhNet up. Anyways, making friends with him was a big support for me. I didn’t feel so alone. Since then we have continued to come up with new cool ideas and put them into action. It’s great having someone to talk and share ideas with on a day to day basis. Nowadays he lives in Singapore, but we chat all the time on Skype about upcoming projects.

I also decided figure out a way to travel to different places around the world and network/connect with other Sikhs. I have been to Toronto a few times and once to England which was really great. I hope to travel more to different communities around the world. It really does help me to stay in touch with the issues of Sikhs and also to build support (Plus share personal experiences with the youth). I can only do so much, and really want to work together with other motivated Sikhs to continue SikhNet.

(Back to the topic of blogging……) Over the past years I have been bogged down so haven’t kept up with the latest technology and internet trends. Ashvinder on the other hand seems to do so pretty well. I visited him while he was still living in Toronto, Canada. He showed me his blog and how easy it was to add pictures. He was trying to convince me to blog but I didn’t quite get what a blog was. I didn’t have much free time, and I didn’t understand what benefit would come out of blogging. I am a photographer and take lots of pictures, so when I saw how easy it was to post them to a blog decided to give it a try.

This blog has evolved since then to what it is today. Once I got started, things just kept on moving. I’m up to my neck in blogging that’s for sure (I just starting podcasting too, yet another new thing to explore). About four years ago SikhNet bought a video camera because I had plans to do little educational Sikh videos for the youth. I never found the time to do this at SikhNet, and it wasn’t until this year that I just jumped in and decided to do it in my free time. Blogging is pretty time consuming. I work all day at the SikhNet office and then end up again on the computer at home. If this were not being done for a good cause I don’t think Arjan (my wife) would let me spend so much time on the computer. I tend to live a lot on the computer, so I am always struggling with keeping balance in my life and taking care of myself and my family. I feel like there are never enough hours in the day to do the things that I want to do.

A big part of what motivates me to spend the time doing this, are all the emails and comments that people post on the blog. I am always blown away with how this blog and SikhNet has impacted so many people. It has been such a wonderful learning experience for myself and many others. It has put me more in a role of teaching and sharing rather than just providing a Web service. I have always felt that my destiny was to teach and share with others (“Guru Mustuk”). Service like this is what gives my life purpose and satisfaction. I try to stay humble and just leave it up to the Guru to guide me since I know it is not really me that is doing this. I definitely feel my life being guided by some higher force and know that ultimately everything is always taken care of and goes the way it is supposed to.

It is also cool to see more people read and participate in this blog. In any given week about 4,000 people visit the blog which is really cool. You can see where some of the last 100 visitors are from.

I am really happy to see our little Blogiverse grow and to see so many other Sikhs use this medium to share with others in a very personal way. I wish to thank all of you who have participated in this evolution and supported me in a big way. My prayer is that Guruji continues to guide me in my life so that myself and others can continue to share with you all in this way. Thank you again, and I look forward to more blogging adventures in 2006.

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