When I was 20 something I first heard the words “why does anybody do anything?” on Pink Floyd’s DSotM. At that time I was looking for answers to questions I didn’t even know and somewhere this question got lost among many other things (including my gumption). But today while chatting with a friend about the state of affairs at work and my life in general, I realized that what I look forward to from life is definitely and intricately tied up with what I expect from work. But talking about work is not something I am going to do here. I’ll just talk about two things which I have always sought from life.
The first thing that I have always wanted from life is experience. This is a loaded word. For some it might be a comb life gives you after you’ve gone bald, and for others it might be the ‘rush’ that we all seek consciously or unconsciously (or have seeked). I use this word to mean something in between these two concepts. I have always wanted to experience what it feels like to be alone and have no one but yourself for company. I have felt it and it has given me a sense of fulfilement. I have experienced how it feels like to travel unplanned and get stuck in an alien city and I have learnt a thing or two from this.
The second what I have wanted from life is growth. Growth can come from experience, from a conscious effort to learn, from interacting with smart people, from failures…..from many things. But not to grow is to stagnate and to stagnate is to die. Even dogs on the street learn not to step in front of speeding vehicles because they know what would happen. And they have learnt how to cross roads. Which means they have grown from being immature four legged creatures that didn’t know that a car could kill, to being able to cross a busy street. Sometimes this growth happens out of the need to survive. But largely, growth has a lot to do with attitude, intelligence and willful need to want to grow.
How does all this relate to work? Simple. Everything I do, whether the profession I choose or the vacation I plan, is keeping either or both of the above in mind. Either I want to experience something or I want to learn (and hence grow). In every relationship I want to experience things like love, togetherness, happiness yada, yada and at the same time grow to be a better person. Basically, when I neither grow nor get anything feelgood out of a situation or a person, I quit. Cos there’s simply nothing more for me in it anymore. And this way I have either quit, or simply not even shown interest in many a people, places and things. For example I always avoided Bollywood movies cos there is nothing in it for me. I know people who have been amazed at the fact that I don’t watch Bollywood movies. I have always avoided such people too. Cos apart from the fact that they are not aware of an alternate source of entertainment, it also reflects the fact that they have not been ‘exposed’ to the fact that someone can actually not watch Bollywood movies. This probably sounds either totally absurd to you, or you might be thinking ‘I hear ya..’. But trust me, I have come across such individuals who have been completely surprised about someone not interested in Bollywood movies/music and staying away from them has never proved costly.
But all this talk about experience, growth and Bollywood brings us to something else – the kind of people who are out there in this world. Clearly there are people who neither want to grow nor want to experience something new, something ‘high’ (a subjective word, I know) or something fresher. I have seen blokes in buses carrying cellphones playing mp3 tunes of latest brash Hindi tracks, as though the stuff played on MTV (and a dozen other channels) is not enough. I have seen people resisting change, smug in what little they know or feel. But then, who am I to judge? That’s right. Everything and everyone’s cool about living and let living. But only as long as these stagnant people don’t stand in your way.
Coming back to what I was talking about initially – why do we do things we do, I can speak for myself and say I do things to either experience something or cause a reaction that will help me grow. I avoid spending time doing things that don’t have either of these two in return. Lately I have been indulging in petty things like road rage which, one moment after I’ve let out the steam does feel like a stupid thing to have done but that’s the part I need to work on – how to move on and not get bogged down by people who stand in my way. Needless to say, these people neither share my sense of direction (or search for a sense of direction), nor stand on my way because they want to. Such people generally exist pretty cluelessly, so ‘stand in my way’ shouldn’t be taken as offensively as it sounds. It’s just that I see too many people standing around cluelessly and it gets crowded and hinders swift movement of people like me who want to get someplace fast. And I don’t like to push. To top it, these days we need to collaborate and work with all kinds of people without too much of a choice at times, and when the ratio of cool v/s uncool (categorize and judge at your will) becomes skewed, things get to you.
Of course life is not so easy that I can summarize it in a blog post. The interconnections spread deep and complex, and it takes more words to straighten them out for observation. For example, I have chosen to put up with lowly people where I presently work because in return I have more free time to learn new things and go to new places. That’s only part of how things are related. There’s more but I don’t want to get into that now. Cos when straightened out and observed with a keen mind, life’s problems always appear simple and the solutions seem so obvious that you might appear stupid for not implementing them. But it’s not as simple as it appears. Or you are not as simple as the solution can be. Always.
Nevertheless, remember that you always have to first get into yourself and understand why you arrived at this. And I have looked into myself and I’ve realized that I seek to grow and I seek experiences that gave me the direction that brought me here. Where to I go from here? Gotta see.