Sunday, September 22, 2013

Monday Musings 183: The anatomy of atrophy

Monday Musings 183: The anatomy of atrophy

Everything begins as a movement, becomes a business and then ends up becoming a racket. 

All status quo generates a need to change from within. Only sometimes the need is felt just in time but most of the times it is late. All status quo germinates an ecosystem of vested interests, however much the system raves and rants about the authenticity of intent. Hence the forces of self preservation will keep change at bay. There in hangs the tale. Change from outside is rarely peaceful and the change from within is often late. 

Every religious system began as a movement to reform the status quo and soon it became an oligarchy, spawning reformist movements as a response, over time meeting the same fate. Reformist movements needed reforms. There goes a Zen story that captures it so beautifully. Disciples of a wise Zen master were searching for truth in a jungle and soon it became a competition as to who will discover the truth first. A disciple came rushing and shared with disappointment that someone had found truth first. The Zen master replies with nonchalance, “do not worry - they will make a religion out of it - and soon the truth will be lost". 

Economic systems which promised El Dorado are nowhere to be seen and those which are still around are struggling for acceptance in the puritanical form and shape that they were conceived. Communism is buried in history and capitalism is a prisoner with the capitalists. If the former had the hypocrisy to deal with the latter has cronyism to battle. Both began with great intent, but got corrupted along the way, like a clean spring from the mountains acquires silt and mud as it flows down the plains. 

Organizations begin with fancy vision, mission and value systems and soon become a caricature of itself. More remain a pale shadow of the promise that they had shown than the ones who blossom to their potential. It takes only a few years of blinking to let the innards get corroded. Academically organizational processes, systems and institutions are supposed to keep a watchful eye on this degeneration, and yet there is clear evidence of all of them failing - sometimes dramatically, and at other times corrupting the fabric like a silent malignancy. Individuals gone berserk can bring even the most sensible organizations to its knees over time. Soon everything becomes a sham, a charade, an act - and ultimately a racket. 

This seems to be an ageing process. Is it natural atrophy, which is the way things will always be? Will things become a racket only because only then it will give birth to the chrysalis of reform? As Peter Senge, a systems thinker says, "Things become worse before they become better". 

God - why are there always more questions than answers? 


Friday, September 13, 2013

Monday Musings 182 - The someday list

Monday Musings 182 - The someday list

A friend of mine introduced me to this phrase the other day - what it means is the list of things that we want to do but keep on postponing it for some reason or the other. The modern day cubiclist is a work in progress of guilt and unfulfilled list of things to do. A random conversation with a score of such cubiclists will reaveal to you that it is not an isolated case worthy of being quarantied and treated in isolation, but a pandemic which does not kill but leaves you in state of permanent suspension, bereft of imagination and joie de vivre. This is not to say that the life of the cubiclist is all that bad, but there it is not all that hunky dory either. The drugery of the powerpoint can be lethal. 

Each has his own someday-list which they so ruefully talk about, usually when they let thier guard down aided by the therapeutic effects of a few beers. Some want to do more music, some a little bit more of painting and yet others a bit more travel. Some want to read a bit more, some want to watch some great movies and yet others want to excercise a bit more. Some want to do thier own thing and yet others, like me, want to do nothing. Nothingness has great virtues. 

Whatever it is that they are aching to do someday, is both a liberation and thier greatest bondage. It does not allow you to enjoy what you have and currently do as much as you can, and yet not having it keeps you going in the hope that some day lady luck will shine and you shall reach the El dorado of your dreams. The underlying assumtion is that you will live happily thereafter, but that is another story. 

Each one has his own script that he uses for not being able to do the stuff on the someday list. The most popular of them is not having enough time. Long commutes, late hours and ever increasing domestic chores is a grim reality leaving no time and energy to do what is a springboard to the soul. The less you do them, more acute is the void, which means you do it even lesser. The fall in the abyss is long and hard.  However it is also true that most of the time lack of time is a ruse, a master script on self deception.

The second reason is lack of opportunity. There are a lot with amateur talent which can be chiselled with a little amount of care or who missed doing thier stuff in thier prime because of thier own reasons. The genuine ones amongst these require the most empathy, for the wheel of time cannot be turned back. We must only nudge them to reclaim whatever they can at this stage. There are enough and more tales of late bloomers around that have the potential for inspiration. 

The third type are waiting for enough money in the bank to be able to embark on the journey for which they think they were born for. There is never enough money in the bank to give you that security to jump. Ask me! This is the second worst script of self deception after the no time deception. I can personally vouch that the real reason is often lack of initiative and courage. 

The someday list can either be an inspiration, that eggs you on, replenishes the fountain of hope or it can be an albatross around your neck. 


By the way, have you ever compiled your someday list.