Saturday, August 01, 2009

Diary: Starting Fresh

For a while, I kept my diary private. I wrote it on my blog, but did not publish, with the intent that one morning, when my life has truly changed, I would hit the publish buttons one after another. I assessed the metaphysical qualities of receiving these dispatches from the dead on my email box [and on the email of several others, who love me enough to subscribe to read the junk I write], but thought it would be fun. It will suddenly reveal something I did mean but did not say, something happened that I did not report. These are not earth-shattering events, nor politically sensitive like MI5 mistakenly recruiting AQ sympathisers - so, they can, indeed, be kept private for a while.

Besides, there were several other things weighing on my mind. I could not have written about my life without talking about the dynamics of my work. And, other people, who are almost always present by implication. In these cases, reflecting is always safer than reporting, and I learnt that by experience. I also appeared horribly inconsistent over last 12 months, having decided to leave my current employment but hanging on in the hope that there will be a sea-change in the attitudes of people, and wavering everyday on what I should and should not do. This was, in my defence, a fight between realism and hope; and someone kind would give me the epithet of being eternally optimistic and forgive my starry-eyedness, the inconsistency on what I want from my life in appreciation of a pure heart. But, then, as I learnt by experience again, most people would not treat doubt as a sign of progress as I do, and rather see these as a sign of weakness. When I started appreciating how other people feel, I realized how I appear, in these blog posts, dithering, confused, and by implication, weak and undecided.

In my initial years of work, a supervisor and mentor once commented - while doing my annual appraisal - that intelligence is a two edged sword, and while I am brilliant at work, I have the tendency to philosophize, which reduces my effectiveness as a professional. I was young then, and rather saw my ability to think outside and reflect as a strength, a revolutionary streak that a bachelor must preserve and a thirst for a higher goal that will keep me apart from the average. When I got older, the basic premise did not change. I had the perspective to know the necessity of discipline at work, and why my mentor was bugged by constant questioning and doubts of a junior salesman. But then I realized I got better as I moved up the ladder, and though I did not become an effective general of troops on the ground, I became the one who reflects and studies, and one who can talk about directions to take. I treated my ability to question as an essential skill I bring to table, for my employers, and the fact that I can step back, even from my own actions [and put the ego aside] and reflect, an invaluable asset at work.

However, with age and with some mature perspective earned through the writing of this blog, I also realized that the organization life demands a certain discipline in questioning too. It sounds a bit Stalinist and that's why I refuse to submit to this; but then there is an agreement on this issue right through the spectrum of motivational gurus and employment law specialists. I longed for an organization of enlightened individuals all of whom have the burning love and seasoned wit to question what they do but remain true to the collective goal. But then commercial organizations are usually built on a camaraderie of material self-interest and singular small-mindedness, and questioning usually scares away people looking for steadiness and retirement benefits.

So, there were two choices left to me. The obvious is to curb my inquisitive nature, propensity to self-doubt and start judging the mood before questioning. That would have led to a more successful business career, as many of those who do not love me so much agreed that I have some skills which could be used. I tried this line, but failed - because I am a non-conformist to the core, and accepting a norm for convenience offends my mind as a sell-out. The other option then was to change my career direction altogether and get into things, and there are indeed a range of things - running a small business of my own to getting into social work - where my nature is a gift, and not a liability.

And, thus, I made up my mind. I stopped asking questions in public for what I took to be last few months in a business career, but kept the habit privately. I also started pushing for a career drift, and the choice of word is intentional, towards not-for-profit activity and more meaning in what I do. As August starts, I am wrapping up my old-life activities and preparing for the new ones. This is final and I shall not dither and shall not divert any more. The details of this transformation may vary - I may take longer to get where I want to go to - but I shall get there within the next 30 to 60 days. I know this runs contrary to what I said before, that I shall stay on till February to see this current assignment through, but I am currently looking to work out a compromise formula, wherein I can pursue what I wish to do while carrying out my current obligations part time. Till February, that is.

This time, I shall hit the publish button. Because I have explained enough, and my plans seem more workable now than they were ever before.

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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

Last Words

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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