Sunday, December 25, 2011

137 Monday Musings - The tyranny of year ends

137 - The tyranny of year ends

In a lot of ways, each year that passes by is unique, bejewelled by the events that decorate it, by the footprints that one leaaves on it and what it leaves on us - and yet in a lot of ways each year is also similar to all others - in that each one finally, ultimately and permanently passes. After a few decades, years that have gone by become faceless, similar and difficult to distinguish from one another. When they begin, they are pregnent with possibilities and when they end they are one among the many, like faces in the crowd that we know exist but cannot make out in the blur. The year gets born in January and dies in december, never to be recovered, never to be distilled as something unique, remembered only through random events. Do i really remember 1988 as distinct from 1989 or any two years of my life? Can i really demarcate what began in 2001 and ended with it?  Do we really plan life year by year - If yes, i salute the methodical in us and if no, then what is the brohuha in the end of 2011 and the beginning of 2012!

Sometimes i believe, that the end and the beginning of another year is such an overrated event. In taking stock of the year, the way it will be done the whole of this week, i get an impression that every year is a project, which has to be accounted for at the end of the measuring period. In measuring time as a linear construct, wtih a beginning and an end, so much angst and stress gets generated in the pursuit of salvaging what lies between the beginning and the end. I wish there was a better measure of time, something that leaves more to celebrate and less to regret. Yes, i want to make the best of the time i have got, pack in the most in the suitcase i am given, but i want to do it at my will, my pace and my comfort - not with the sword of damocles that hangs on my neck, not under duress and pressure. Yes i understand that fulfillment will come at making every moment worthy, but sometimes fulfillment also comes in going slow, in less, in moderation and in thoughtfullness, rather than a mindless frenzy for more. I love driving slow so that i can see and enjoy the countryside. I want to experience the year as my muse, not as a tyrant.

So yes, this is my last musing for 2011. I should have mused more often than i managed, i missed many mondays and i missed many experiences, insights and thoughts that should have converted themselves into cogent and coherent musings. Many of them are permanently lost, in a way many died untimely for want of adequate intellectual and emotional noursihment, and yet i would want to believe many are just hibernating - waiting for the right conditions to spring to life. Going by the xperience of the years gone by, I doubt i will remember 2011 as a unique year with an unique identity, despite many audacious attempts at doing something new, but i will definitely be at peace with myself in the wisdom, that the world has not come to an end. Its just a meausre, that has its moment of glory, but at the end of it all, its just a measure of time, not the meausre of life.

And that still rocks.


Saturday, December 17, 2011

136 Monday Musings The folly of Certitudes

136- The folly of certitudes
The other day I got to deliver a talk (calling it a lecture would so much denigrate it) at my B school alma mater. When I was told to talk on 'Career Management', a part of me went stiff, for in my own mind, I am probably the last person suitable and able to to guide youngsters on an issue that has plagued my own journey for so long, and with so little clarity.
My Professor chose this subject for me because in her assessment my journey, brownianesque in a way, had not followed a traditional course. I had graduated in pharmacy, and then studied marketing during my management course, started off as a product manager with a pharmaceutical company, but soon drifted again to hunt for fortunes in the sales training business in a life insurance company. The questions I was asked were pretty predictable for the audience who was at that stage of their career where such questions do corner a large proportion of their existential angst- How to chose subjects, how often one must switch jobs, how to make money fast, what are the pitfalls of going entrepreneurial, how easy or difficult it is to change functions or kind of jobs so on an so forth. I can only imagine how hollow and theoretical and how utterly patronizing my answers must have appeared to them, going by how they felt when I used to sit on that side of the auditorium.

I have played that interaction of an hour or so many times in my mind and have desperately wanted to change the answers, like one distressingly wants to change the answers after appearing for an exam where he knows that he could have done better. How much more sense I wish I had made to them, given them a sense of script that I had before embarking on my journey, script which they were probably searching for, a formula they probably had imagined I had before I took my call and got it right, in their eyes at least!. If only they knew better.

Restlessness can be a plague to the soul. Being permanently in search of that thing, which would give the elixir called satisfaction, a sense of completion, of having arrived - and then having reached that milestone, that terrifying existential question - is this what one was looking for, making one question the worth of all those years, a sense of waste and emptiness engulfing your sense of being. Only those cursed by that sense of restlessness can identify with that sinking feeling, when on the face of it all the pieces of the puzzle have fallen into place, when on the face of it, life has just fallen into place. Each time this abyss faces squarely on your face, the clock has been reset at 00.00hrs.  

I have asked myself many times over, as I mull over the confidence with which I answered those questions - did I really have a plan, did I really take a calculated decision, completely aware and informed, was I really sure of what I was doing? I am sure of the answer - Certainly NOT. One acts on hunch, on instinct, on something deep beneath the diaphragm that is screaming that this is to be done, that this MUST be done, for it FEELS right. Surely not a scientific algorithm that one will risk the ship to, not a map but only a compass, to borrow a phrase. I am not even sure that those punts have been right, but at least i feel OK that I played the hand that way.

The best of advises come from the worst of people and I have this nagging feeling that someone with a penchant for losing his way being made the cartographer! But being lost in this time and day of certitudes can be a virtue. In any case there are others who are much more lost but living much more fulfilling lives. Amir Khusro says
"Khusrau darya prem ka, ulti wa ki dhaar,
Jo utra so doob gaya, jo dooba so paar"
(Strange is the way of love, only he reaches the shore who has the courage to drown)