Saturday, July 23, 2011

Being A Student

I live with curious justifications. For example, I believe that since the leaps in medical technology in the last forty years added a good 20 years in average life expectancy of a person living a regular life, I am twenty years younger. Well, it works this way: I was expected to live 60 years when I was born, and can now safely expect to be around for 80, hence I am 22 years old. This makes some people jump, particularly those who have not been born by that logic, but they miss the point: This was a relative measure rather than an absolute one. They may accumulate as many years of extra lifetime by the time they may reach my age, but, for the moment, they are yet to earn it.

So, that is one way of extending my life: There is another. I keep coming back to this theme of living two days life in one day. If I could manage to do this everyday, this will eventually mean I end up living about 160 years' (80 real years x 2) worth, a pretty decent time to make a difference. But, indeed, sometimes I lose the days doing nothing, as I possibly did last week, struggling with a bit of depression that invariably caught up with me. It is of that existential sort, what am I doing with life kind of depression, and surely I am feeling this now as I have achieved some sort of objective that I set myself around this time last year.

That objective was to lie low and recover from the burn-out that I had from my previous job. As I have written before, I was tired, bankrupt, and exploited to the final degree in that position: I just couldn't go on anymore. My decision to go into the private education business was to stay low and reassess my life's priorities. And, accordingly, though I have not achieved much over the last year, I feel free, unburdened from the past, imaginative and happy. Altogether, alive again and looking forward to the future.

The problem, however, is I have not done much for this future over the last year. I contained my ambitions and necessities, and have been content, or pretended to be content, at the passenger seat of life. These months, structured in a predictable timetable of trains, recesses and meetings, were very unlike anything I have ever done before. Indeed, I pretended to lead the agenda for change at work, and everyone else, more or less, pretended to accept my rationale, but everyone around the table possibly knew this was a game being played: In my infinite wisdom, I kept playing though, since I had nothing better to do. The only conversation about future that I had during the time was with my brother and my wish to eventually go back to India, when my agenda of travel is over. But as he passed away in January, and all conversations ended abruptly. Since January, I have almost given up on India and did not even make an attempt to go.

So, at this time, when 'what's the future' kind of question has to be answered, I am suddenly at a loss. This, mind you, does not arise from any dissatisfaction about the present, but that it is ordinary and boring. I have done this before, walked away when life's got too predictable, but I am possibly older and wiser now to do it again. I shall survive doing what I am doing now, but this will involve a surrender to conformist dreams which I am periodically unable to do. That, for example, starts with the acceptance, nay feeling, of being old. But as I mentioned at the very start, I believe, seriously, in my own formulations of having earned twenty extra years and want to behave like a twenty-something sometime.

There, a note of caution: I am not after the lifestyle bit here, just the possibility bit of being twenty. I have given up on alcohol now, and this is going to stay. I have come to realize that my brother's untimely death was caused by his drinking habits, and possibly by his attempts to stop drinking towards the end, suddenly and abruptly. I am not a regular drinker, but off late, possibly due to the demands of work and social bonding, I was going out with work colleagues during the evenings and ended up drinking beer almost every evening. This prompted me to stop and think: I realized that it is perfectly possible to socialize without having to drink alcohol, though I am not struggling with the copious amount of fizzy drink I am having instead. I am not a party-going kind anyway, and if I like someone, I can't even say it for years, until it is very late and the person has gone away: So the fastness of twenty-something life fits me as well as a 28 waist-size jeans will fit me, and I am not aspiring myself into that.

I am rather thinking this way: Can I start again and learn something new? I am a student, doing my Masters, but this is a part time course which is not in the top ten priorities of a given day for me (except on the day when coursework is finally due). However, the only way I can look at the future is by bringing it up towards the top of my priority. I am close to the finish line of my Masters but I will have to write the dissertation still. This is actually a good time to see whether I can possibly live like a student, when studies come first and work second perhaps, and everything else afterwards.

I want to do this because I am trying to decide whether I should pursue my studies further and try to complete a research degree before I eventually go away from England. I came here not to stay but to learn, and completing a research degree before going away, and this may not be going back but going somewhere else to see the world, will be consistent with that goal. But I am also painfully aware that I lack certain key attributes a successful researcher must have: Discipline, focus, commitment are the three top things in the list. I haven't given up on these attributes, but I just know I don't have them. My best chances of getting some of them is if I force myself into a life where they matter: This is why I think I shall try out living like a student for three months.. not 100 days this time, but I shall try with 90.

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