About a year back, I wanted to live in a steady state: Stay home, and have a predictable life - that's what I opted for. I got what I wanted in good measure, and now it is boring. I seem to have come a full circle and life must now change again.
I shall, indeed, look back at the past year with satisfaction. I have achieved a lot. I have put in real efforts at work and changed things significantly. I have learned a lot. I have met interesting people, at work and outside, who would probably now remain friends all my life. In a way, this was an exceptionally productive, happy period in my life.
But like all good things, this must evolve or otherwise, this will end. I have started feeling the burden of standing still now. Change isn't any longer fast enough. There are days when I am deeply frustrated, losing my way in the face of entrenched vested interests: On other days, I am worried, as forces outside our control threaten to destroy whatever we were building. But, in any event, not moving forward is going back - and I am deeply fearful of a roll-back.
So, like I do every Saturday morning, I am thinking about my priorities. This time with a little more worry, a deep sense of urgency, with that fear that creeps behind one's mind when one seems to be lost. This isn't insecurity, but my essential process of living. I never want my life to dumb down and be completely predictable: I have got myself into this situation in the first place by trying out living on the edge. However, feeling on the edge is essential part of this living, because if I am not worried, I shall not change - and keep changing is the way to live.
I sometimes think of myself as a tightrope walker. Always holding things in balance, always mindful, but full of thrill in every cautious step I take. But there is one difference: I can afford mistakes and often make a lot of them. Unlike tightrope walking, there isn't a set goal that I am walking towards. May be this is more like walking inside a maze, without the pressure of having to reach anywhere in particular, but having to make the right choice every time I am at a crossroad. And, indeed, this is a choice: I can fold tents and go home and retire in a provincial life, living on the modest inheritance I may have. Or, at least, I would like to think that way.
So, thinking about all this, here is an agenda I came up this morning.
First, I realized that I couldn't live a leisurely life anytime before I am dead. So, if I was expecting to achieve an 'academic lifestyle', which meant working sparsely, I should give that up altogether. There is a certain sense of pride in hard work, and I must reconcile with the fact that this is what I would have to put in all my life. Like my grandfather in a way, who worked every day of his life till the morning he died at the age of 91. He never thought about the possibility of a leisurely retirement. Despite the fact this life is full of disappointment, sweat, tears and missing out on lot of things, this is heroic too, in a modern sense. I have been sneered at, by some friends of my childhood, because I worked hard to 'make money'; but I didn't make money. I worked hard for the sheer charm of working hard: For the sense of belonging, living, that this gives me.
I have also been told that this is dumb, as one would not think about working hard if one knew good things in life. Like driving cart bikes perhaps, or playing golf. My ignorance about that aspect of goodness of life have to be admitted. If I ever take a break, perhaps, I shall not go golfing: I intend to travel. That's hard work too; I can vouch for that after walking 10 miles or more every day of my seven day travel to Rome and Florence last week.