Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Day 59: Whatever Happened So Far
I started writing a diary and then got diverted. That's me - can't complain - this is why, my teachers would have told you, I remained an underachiever in school. I am entertaining myself thinking that I have an adolescent streak.
The thought invariably flatters me as I am getting old. But, anyway, as I always found a justification, I wrote about Georgia, Creative Capitalism and everything else as if they are part of my life. In a way, they are, but let's face it - I was bored.
I was bored being out of action. I was bored sitting at home, while my passport sat on a long queue at the Home Office waiting to be stamped for two months. This time was useful - no doubt - I got those few days to pause and think what I am doing. However, I run a business, for someone else, in some other country. Or, countries. My head office is in Northern Ireland, I sit in London, and the business I am supposed to run are in India and other places. Without a passport, it seemed I did not have a job.
I did spend a lot of time thinking about future. Asking the questions which I must ask myself. Wondering where my life is going. Reading books like Po Bronson's What Should I Do with My Life and Richard Templar's I Don't Want Any More Cheese: I Just Want Out of Trap. And, wondering whether I am wasting a big chunk of my life chasing nothing.
One thing I sure know : I haven't been chasing money and that's a mistake. For me, life so far has been like a game - fun, adolescent fun. But this space of time tells me that I am getting old and I better SETTLE DOWN. The problem is I don't even know what settle down means. The word is staring on my face with 'settlement' as in getting Permanent Residence in Britain, but, to be honest, it is less exciting a goal for me than I would have thought it would be. I came to Britain on a settlement visa but with a tourists' heart, and so far it has been an enjoyable journey. But, times like this, when everything pauses, I get to wonder whether I am giving up the best years of my life chasing something which I don't want.
So, what do I want? As people who know me will tell - I am the last person to know that answer. But, I do know that answer. Just that it is a bit fuzzy for everyone else and therefore, I never attempt to explain this. But let me try.
I remember this frozen moment in my mind - sitting inside my school classroom and looking out of the window to the playground, on a rainy day, just after the death of my uncle. I was never particularly close to him. And, he was very sick - bedridden for a number of days - and we, the children in the house, were not allowed to go to close to him [lest we disturb him]. I remember seeing him, the day before his death, coming out of the bathroom, his tall figure almost covering the bathroom door, but frail and stooping. I remembered him smiling and saying something, which I did not hear properly as I stood in a distance and he did not repeat. He walked on to return to his bed, and I moved on to do something else, erasing that moment completely.
But, then, next morning, before I woke up, he was dead. I was woken up, but could not enter the crowded room. So, I was standing outside, exactly at the same place where I was the day before, wondering how to wake up my cousin who just lost his father. And, then I noticed - his clothes, what he was wearing the day before, left in a heap just by the bathroom door, where he was standing the other day. Waiting to be laundered - that's what it was supposed to be.
It is hard to say whether I remember the colours of the clothing, or who else was around. I just remember it was raining. I remember my mouth felt stale as I did not have a chance to brush my teeth, and I remember there were people crying and talking in the background. But, I remember what I felt, clearly as this was yesterday. IT MADE NO SENSE.
The clothing left to be laundered, but no one to fit into it. The same moment - the bathroom door and all - with the person missing. Such meaningless emptiness. And, I remember knowing this emptiness looking out in the school ground on a rainy day, knowing that the passing moment stole another wee bit of my childhood away, and it is so easy to be gone. But I wanted to stay - stay on that school bench, forever, waiting for the class to get over and stepping onto the playground with a football.
That moment stayed with me all my life. That mix of emotion - of fear of losing the moment and of knowing that I shall lose it - reminded me every day of the doorframe, of my uncle, of the clothes left to be laundered and of the words I did not hear and I can't hear anymore. Thereafter, I have always been treasuring every moment that I live, knowing full well the meaningless of this all.
With one desire - to not to end in the emptiness of the clothes to be laundered. To make some kind of difference - to have a play. As all boring classes must give way to the moment of the playground, my life must allow me my moment. Of freedom, of play, of making a difference.
I always envied Neil Armstrong therefore - who would sign off thinking he was out to the moon and made that giant leap for mankind. I wanted to have that one defining moment in my life. And, yes, I know that it will come.
Now, can I blame everyone else if they complain they did not understand what I want? Difference is not something you can want, because you don't know what it is. It is difficult to describe as I can't take them to show that empty doorframe, with the heaps of clothes lying about. I can't tell them what I did not hear.
All they can see - and they see - is a boy looking out to the playground while the class is on.
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How To Live
"Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much because they live in the grey twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat."
- Theodore Roosevelt
- Theodore Roosevelt
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
- T S Eliot
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