Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Day 9: First Steps

This week is running much better than the last, so far. Things are getting resolved in a way. Matters are coming to a head. People are saying No. So far, in two days, I had two people telling me that they don't want to go ahead with projects we discussed last year. A straight, unambiguous No, which leaves a lot of past work undone, but invaluable in moving life forward. The New Year has finally began.

This evening, sitting in my usual Tuesday workshop at the UCL, I realized another thing that needs to change in my life. So far, I have been playing a part imposed upon me. In our discussions about learning as transformation, the Course Leader touched upon and I discovered the deep significance how learning can be liberating and help me achieve what I want.

In fact, I am in a bit of an introspective mood right now. I know there is no point living the life as I am doing now, a sort of a mid-air existence: I can't fly and I can't fall. This is what gets reflected in my search, which suddenly seems to be more about my cowardice than about my courage. I simply did not have the courage to commit myself single-mindedly to my goals, and hence, searched around all my life to find an alternative way to achieve that.

I can say that I was led into this road by prescriptions handed out to me early in my life. I can say that all this was shaped by social expectations I grew up with. But that says nothing about my own initiative, my effort to defy the gravitational pull of the existence I was destined to default into. I take pride in being unconventional, risk taking; but it may as well be construed as an effort to escape, rather than transform, my destiny.

This is why learning plays a role. It goes deep, beyond the technical necessities of such an exercise, and helps me unlock my mind and think my life through. Growing up in a patriarchal suburban family, I always had problems with authority. I was driven by free will, quite stubbornly so, and always hated when I was told what to do. And, as one would imagine, in my growing up years in India, I was always told what to do, for everything.

I have hated that since then, and have been trying to run away from such plight all the time. But I was running to wring places - from one job to another - which had, alternately, nastier and nicer people telling me what to do. I have spent some years working in mid-sized companies, which prided themselves about their industrial era processes, and always tried to fit me into one of their boxes. And, invariably, I grew tired of being fitted around and after a while, I left for another, newer box. The funny thing is, while at the hindsight, the futility of it seems obvious, it is never so straight-cut while you are at it.

However, I am on my Karl Marx moment now: enough explanations, the point, however, is to change it. So, what should I do? I know the usual mind-numbing excuses are all popping up: After all, I have to keep paying my bills. But, that surely is an excuse or a statement of no-confidence in my own ability to pull things off.

So, if I overcome the fear, how would my life look from now on? I think this is the way it will go:

From now till March, or may be till the end of these 100 days, I shall focus on organizing my life. I have left so many loose ends as I was rushing madly behind my project for last three years. I am starting to run into the debts I incurred during travelling and my finances need urgent sorting out. So do my learning projects, where I have a lot to catch up on, and my books in general. So, this 100 days are really meaningful - I should close my eyes and just focus on getting my life back on the rails.

Beyond March, I want to pursue my interests. Yes, this means living without a job, in a bad market, but I am hoping that I shall be able to create a portfolio of work to be able to pull myself through. Initially, I was thinking of creating the Open College; however, for the moment, I am scaling back my ambitions and trying to start on a small learning technology and content creation outfit. This is within my means, and I think growing from small roots is the way to go.

Yes, there is a significant chance of failure and I am mindful of this. However, I am at a tipping point and it does not help me to sit back and fear. I shall go ahead and fail if I must. But I should not try to return to the comfortable existence of a meaningless job. If I have to work, I shall create something worthwhile - a project which makes real difference to a great number of people. Or, go into teaching and writing full time, which seem to appeal to me. At this time, I know what I don't want to do: Sit around and waste my life just because I did not know what to do with it.

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