Friday, September 28, 2012

Breakpoint: Endings and Beginnings

I am at the endpoint, as I should be. Only a few hours to go before a phase in my life ends and another begins. Despite the thrills of the new beginning, it is the sadness of the ending that dominates my thinking at this time. Yet, endings are inescapable and often, as now, desirable, and a matter of entirely my own choice. 

John Lasseter, the Pixar maestro, ascribes all of studio's success to one simple principle: It's gotta be about how the main character changes for the better. Regarding my various endings and beginnings in life, I keep asking the same question: Did it leave me a better person? This ending passes this Pixar test. This is one episodic tale where I really changed things, dramatically and significantly, and transformed the whole proposition. But, more importantly, in so doing, the work changed me - for better. 

It has something to do with the many wonderful people I worked with. I have always held the view that everyone has a gift: But the college being what it is, I saw so many gifted people together. In fact, if I did anything to transform the college, it is to bring and hold together a set of gifted individuals. In the end, indeed, legacy got better of our efforts, and outside environment overwhelmed our gains. But this shouldn't undermine the joys of the journey itself, the wins, the learning and the finally, a different legacy, which we created and would now be lived through the lives of all of us.

When one goes, it is best to carry nostalgia - memory without pain - and not the excruciating details that marked a typical day. But there were battles to fight, often based on values and what I saw as the mission of Higher Education, often to define the vision and the strategy of the enterprise. Indeed, the ending marks a defeat of sorts, that the ideas were ill-fitting as it finally succumbs to the imperatives of individual motives, but when something is lived through, it is not just the outcome, but the process matters as much. This is the process that make the victors look lesser men, winner of a pointless victory, and the departed more noble, as they had and lived for a nobler vision of what could be. These stories will reside within the daily details, and therefore, this shouldn't be glossed over, but should be lived through, again and again.

But I feel happy, as this is, in a way, the end of the beginning. This is my long preparation for what I wanted to in the field. My real life schooling of the enterprise, at the very heart of the sector, which, combined with my studies on the theory of Higher Education, connected me to real work, but in a rather grand way. As I move on, I take all this with me - now to be put in practice, now to be built upon. As the day starts, the climax of a long goodbye, I brace myself for another start, but a confident one, as if this current episode never really ended.

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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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