Friday, March 18, 2011

11/100: On Courage

I am at it again. I am sitting on the edge of abyss intending to jump. I don't need to, but I thought it was required for my self-respect. I won't jump perhaps, as I am a bit older and a bit wiser, but this is familiar territory.

But play aside, there is a question of principle here. This is what I actually said. I said compromise never actually achieved anything significant. But, then, that's not strictly true. Most things in life are based on compromise. Why did I say that then? To be honest, it sounded good when I said what I said. The thoughts only came thereafter.

But there was a rider: An important one. All compromises are not the same. Some are big compromises, which makes everything open for tweaking. These are things when you give in. This is like agreeing to steal money or murder people. The compromise has gone so far that it violates what most people will think to be important principles. This can also include the things like acting fairly and with integrity, treating others with respect, etc.

But then there are other little compromises. I am reading Guy Kawasaki's Enchantment, where he claims enchantment turns hostility into civility, and civility into loyalty. I am currently in the run for the Type 1 compromise. Civility, in the particular case, will be a great achievement.

But, then, indeed, Big Compromises can't achieve anything worthwhile as I said. I have been trying to advice a friend that one must be prepared to defend a vision. Otherwise, there is no point having one. The central point is, no one can't be everything. Therefore, if you aspire for something, you have to give up something. Like, I loved the winter mornings in my home in Kolkata, and to spend time with my parents and brothers in the calm laziness of Sunday mornings; but I also wanted to see the world. So, I had to give up all of that, irreversibly as it appears now. Indeed, I always hoped I can go back. But, as I know now, I can't: This is giving up something for something else, which we all do all the time.

So, this thinking about eating your cake and having it, which in my case translates into - carrying on with business as it is while aspiring to be different - is counter-intuitive. I tried to plead my case citing everything I could muster, particularly Einstein, that madness is doing the same thing over and over again expecting different outcomes.

Interestingly, that's exactly the time I saw my madness. It felt like familiar territory. It was sublime, I felt I have argued this case before. I have tried to impose my perfect vision into an imperfect world, and wanted to change the thinking. As an idea, that's fine - this is what I should be doing. But, I am too optimistic, I always see the bright side, and that's my mistake. I always assume that people will see my point, when they are actually laughing and thinking I am an wild eyed ideologue. This was a scary moment: I told myself to shut up.

I have now arrived at another Einstein dictum, a problem can't be solved at the same level of thinking that created it. But I am equally aware changing thinking isn't easy; it is actually the most difficult job one may have. It seems I am cursed with this task of 'why not' thinking, and therefore, chained to the edge for the rest of my life: I shall always have to challenge others in pursuit of my perfect vision of future.

One thing I learned is that I need courage and I need friends. I need to get used to looking at the abyss: Some day, I may have to jump, but not yet. But I have been bad at getting friends, people who will think worthwhile to stick with me. I am not sure whether it is about my ability to pick the right people: I am too optimistic and believe anyone can do it, and often this goes against me. But, older and wiser, I must try again to form a team which will stick together in the pursuit of change.

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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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