The Labyrinth

You know what I should be doing? Trying to figure out my life. You know what I am doing? Watching Adele on Youtube and pretending that I am not having a life crisis.

Story of my life.

So I am at the crossroads of life where I have to choose between the perfectly-good, decently-paid job that I have and a probably-not-well-paid, might-or-might-not-be-magnificent job that I don’t have. And since I have exhausted all the people around me by talking about this for the last few years, pretty much nobody wants to hear about this anymore. But I can’t stop obsessing over it and it’s driving me CRAZY. Hence this very short, pretty pointless blog entry.

Something I have noticed is that the catch about having something to look forward to in life is that you often get consumed in what you will do that you often forget to enjoy what you ARE doing.

As John Green writes in ‘Looking for Alaska’, “Imagining the future is a kind of nostalgia. You spend your whole life stuck in the labyrinth, thinking about how you’ll escape it one day, and how awesome it will be, and imagining that future keeps you going, but you never do it. You just use the future to escape the present.”

I think that is the best description of my current predicament. Nevertheless, I hope that I manage to get out of the labyrinth someday. But I wonder what awaits outside it. Another labyrinth, maybe?

 

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The new-found freedom

It was only the last evening while talking to a friend on phone that it dawned on me that I’ve been away from home for nearly 6 months now. Which, of course, in the larger scheme of things is kinda like a drop of water in the ocean. It’s just that I absolutely loved these last few months. And I find that amusing ‘coz if you were to call me up at this moment and ask me to educe my memories of Bangalore, I’d probably come up with more rotten ones than the other.

Huh.

On second thought, that shouldn’t surprise me so, should it? En masse, we humans have this tendency to highlight the bad over good, haven’t you felt? Trashy movies, shoddy books, third-rate politics, mediocre celebs, their sub-standard tactics…all this makes us have collective mini-orgasms. The good stuff usually makes us go “Damn, why didn’t I think of that? And now I have to sit through others praising him. And smile while I’m seething with jealousy.”

And so, it is a truth universally acknowledged that bad experiences end up being a damn good story. And yes, I realise it echoes of the first line of ‘Pride and Prejudice’. And that, keeping in with the tradition, I’ve drifted off the topic. Focus, Navmi.

So yeah, Bangalore. I keep saying Bangalore ‘coz even though I’ve been here for just 3 months, life in Gandhinagar had been a breeze compared to that here. There, everything was handed out to us in a platter – all we had to do was to shell out a few bucks to keep ‘em coming. Here, we had to start everything from scratch. You know how you watched Ayesha paint her cute little apartment in ‘Wake up Sid!’ and told yourself “That’s how it is gonna be when I move to a new place”? Well, I really don’t want to rain on your parade, but THAT is utter bullshit. When YOU move to a new place, you’re probably going to end up in a P.G which advertises free wifi, “homely” food, and a bunch of smiling owners only to realise by the end of the month that (a) it takes an hour to load Google, (b) you can only have so much dal in a day (c) you are the little Red Riding Hood and the owners may as well be the big, bad wolves in your Grandma’s clothes. So there.

And then you are going to realise that life is bloody expensive. I’m not talking about the ‘No cash for petrol’ kinda crisis. I’m talking about the one where you realise a packet of Surf Xcel costs as much as a king-sized Diary Milk Silk! And once you realise the number of chips packets you consume in a month, you’ll start wondering how your parents could afford to stay off the streets. Seriously. But hey, jokes apart, there is nothing like being completely in charge of your finances that helps you grow up. A few of us taste the first spurt of this growth in your college days. For a few others like me, it’s a completely new arena. There is nothing as baffling as watching your carefully scripted monthly budget plan falling apart in the first week of the month. From then on, it’s like increasingly depressing cricket match. Theoretically, there is hope till the last over is bowled. And yet, you get a picture of how things are gonna be in those crucial initial overs.

And somewhere between all these, you’ll start getting hounded by a newfound worry that you are not doing enough for your parents – financially or physically, whether they need it or not. There’ll be times when you’ll be astounded by the heights of your selfishness in choosing to put your life, your dreams, your independence above that of theirs. You are gonna fret over those calls that start with “I have this headache for the last few days…” or “Cholesterol level is quite high…” When they call you up to inform you about the demise of an acquaintance or a friend or are uncharacteristically silent on the phone, you are gonna catch yourself wondering “If only I were there, we could have talked about this…” You are gonna brood over that for a while and will, almost certainly, try and shake it off by watching a movie or reading a book. After all, you gotta do what you gotta do.

And in between all these, strangely enough, you’ll relish the life you live. You’ll enjoy that you can go out at 9.30pm to buy a jar of jam. Or that you can go jogging in the morning just because you felt so. Or that you can blow off a good portion of your salary on books and no one is gonna give you THAT look. Some days you’ll go up on the terrace, look at the stars and simply lie there, listening to the distant rumble of traffic, the impatient horns and wonder where everyone is going. You’ll gaze at the apartments nearby and wonder what they are doing. You’ll have the luxury of being at your whims and fancies…

Some days, most days, that’ll be enough.

Aligning the present-day-you with the ‘dream-you’

Of late, there is this one thing that has been bugging me. Relentlessly. It is always there in the back of my mind, this thought that I’m trudging through today so that I can live tomorrow.

Just close your eyes and think for a moment. In college, our aim was to get a job. ASAP. We sailed through the college days, had the time of our lives, downed a couple of celebratory Cokes when we got placed and waited for our lives to begin. Awesome job, money in the pocket, independence – life set ho gaya.

And then we started to work. Now here, some of us got the jackpot. Some of us knew exactly what we wanted and worked for it. Hard. But most of us didn’t. We were not clueless, no sire. We had/have a pretty good idea of what it is that we want to do. Or be. For instance, we know that we want to earn a fat paycheck every year (How many of you will admit it, that is a discussion for another day). We know that we want to be respected. We know that our parents should be proud of us, that we should be able to provide for them if need be. But how? We don’t really know. And we don’t want to either.

And why should we think about it actively? So far, everything has gone pretty well for us. Everyone told us to study regularly. We didn’t. We mugged up some stuff day before the exams, slept for 2-3 hours and contrary to our parents’ prediction, were able to recollect quite well during exams. We got pretty good grades and without toiling too much, got into reasonably good companies with a reasonably good pay-packet. This ain’t the first time that we’ve been told how important it is to plan your future. And it’s definitely not going to be the last.

These are some of the thoughts that have been swirling through my mind for the past few weeks. Disturbingly recurring thoughts. You see, I have a pattern. Every morning I get up, go off to work, survive through it and look forward to the evenings when I’ll finally get to do some ‘quality work’. Now the evenings, of course, rush off in the blink of an eye and before I know it, a new day has dawned. Every single day at work, when confronted with something that is beyond my immediate understanding, I vow to myself “Today I’ll go and try and get to the bottom of this.” And then I remind myself that I’m not here to stay. This job is just one of the many, many steps I have to climb so that one day, I can drink from the ‘Dragon Well’ upon which my life will miraculously be perfect.

My life was starting to piss me off.

Today, I had a very interesting session at work. The speaker, a wonderfully articulate JNU-bred business skill specialist shared some thought-provoking ideas. To be fair, there was nothing new in what he spoke. It was just something that had come to me at the right time in the right mood. He told us that ‘goals are dreams with a deadline’. Goals are tangible, not abstract – they are not something that you want to do at some point of your life. Also, there should be certain expectations behind your goal, something that you expect to gain once you attain that goal. He went on to ask a few of my colleagues about their goals. Not one could articulate what she/he wanted to be. And those who tried were stumped when he asked them what they expect to gain out of it.

Now this got me thinking. And once I started to think, I couldn’t wait to get home to try sketching out my path in life. And, as is apparent, I couldn’t. As sure as I am of what my future should be like, I couldn’t translate it to a piece of paper to lend a bit of clarity to it.

Which is why I’m bugging you with this long-drawn solipsism. Plus, there is something that I’d like you to do. Sit down in front of your lap or take a paper and jot down what you want to be few years down the lane. And then, jot down how what you are doing now is helping you get there. I recognize how unlike my usual self this particular post is, but please, just go with me on this one. And yes, I buy your argument that every single thing in life can’t (and shouldn’t) be planned. I agree with you. I’m not telling you to prepare a chart for life. I’m just requesting you to make an attempt to align present-day-you with the ‘dream-you’.

Sleep on it. When you wake up, you’ll realize that you’ve peeled off another layer of the mystery that is you.

New Horizons..?

Today was my last day at work. What I have in front of me are 20 days of freedom. Freedom to do absolutely anything and everything. Freedom from having to get up every morning, and drag my ass off to work where I partially enjoy what I do. Don’t get me wrong, it was good while it lasted, but now its time to move on.

The thing about freedom is that its a double edged sword. With freedom from having to work comes the problem called ‘money’. Trust me, it truly is a hell of a problem. Especially once you’ve gotten used to getting a reasonably fat paycheck in your pocket! You have no idea how unbelievably easier life becomes once you have a few extra bucks to spare. The other edge of the sword is this – uncertainty. What comes next?

I’m at this juncture in life wherein I have legitimate doubts of a dream that I was once, sure I’d pursue and (obviously) be good at. But once you’ve met people who set the benchmark at the height of K2, it’s rather difficult to shout out loud that you wanna climb that mountain too. Being out of breathe before you even begin your climb…? Excruciatingly painful. Plus, you identify new streams that give you joy. Maybe not exuberant, jump-off-the-couch-Tom-Cruise-style joy, but joy, nevertheless.And it does make sense to pursue that line of thought,

So what do you do? Which one do you concentrate on – the riskier life-long dream or the safer new-found passion?