After a rather good summer, which began getting on my nerves as it drew in to a close, it’s been valorous attempts to get back into the groove.
While I was definitely putting slog throughout the summer, that sort of life was one with a lot of structure and purpose, and one where you didn’t have to plan… things just happened. It felt like I just had to go through the motions and things would happen, and happen quite well. Quite unlike my life in school where nothing moves unless I move it. The frame of mind needs to undergo so much change that it scares me quite some.
Like in Bangalore, social life was not something I actively sought… there were too many people in the frame, and it was rare to even get some time to myself. Here however, even a coffee needs lots of planning and scheduling and syncing. And work life… it feels like code wrote itself, literature read itself, whiteboards filled up by themselves… now however, there’s no green fairy or leprechaun, which means my overloaded harddisk isn’t going to organize itself, and nor are my new list of addictions going to update themselves on Leechblock.
It’s not entirely a bad thing… heck, it’s not at all a bad thing. I’m more active, I feel more in control. I plan my day, I organize my schedule. There are no external factors messing plans up, not much. Yeah, which means, insert reference to power and hence responsibility.
It becomes easy to lose perspective when your environment is structured for you. Really easy. So when you move into an unstructured place, it makes it that much harder for you to regain perspective, especially when it’s so easy to just remain lost in your own world. Small things seem colossal, big things seem too far away. The works.
I seem to have lost my NITK-gained street-smartness, edginess, sharp-tonguedness, desperation and general ability to make arbit small talk. Not all of it is a bad thing… I’m less rebel-without-a-cause and more mellow… which definitely can’t be a bad thing… but there’s no more raging fire in me that makes me do the unthinkable, the impossible, the never-been-done-before, the politically incorrect.
And in the midst of all this, there are decisions to be taken, not all of which can be taken in cold blood and not all of which can be whiteboarded or decisionTree’d, and none of which can be procrastinated on, because they are mostly blink-and-someone-else-has-snagged-the-spot sorts.
I’ve been rather lucky that I can sedately write about these things, not live in denial about things going out of balance. ‘Balance’ is a state of flux. I wouldn’t be happy living in a ‘balance’, and I don’t suppose you would be, either. It’s only this desire and attempt to bring back the ‘balance’, whatever that means, that pushes us harder, to achieve greater heights, to try new things, to meet new people, to go out of our comfort zones. It would be very easy for me to just say that I go living from deadline to deadline or unhappiness to unhappiness, but I won’t… because I see myself grow from one deadline to the next… in terms of a new book read, or a new concept learned, or a new dish attempted, or a new person befriended, or a new perspective gained.While it’s important to target happiness, that shouldn’t be our ultimate goal in life, because that totally discounts all the time we spend frustrated, misunderstood, failed… as if these experiences don’t help us gain anything. It’s just this mindless pursuit of things that you think will make you ‘happy’ that causes unhappiness…. just the ‘knowledge’ that you aren’t in that extremely ideal state you’ve marked for yourself… either your caviar is too salty or your diamond too bright.
It’s easy to envy your neighbours, peers, friends, enemies, not that there’s anything wrong with that, but that envy only makes sense if you really want what they have. In most cases, you don’t. And heck, in a lot of cases, they don’t either. Not many buy their new shiny red car or get that new job to be the cynosure of all eyes. No one plans on these things. ‘Happiness’ just happens. It’s a side-effect of your pursuit of loftier, more tangible goals like career, wealth and family. Happiness is not a mine-is-bigger-than-yours game.
I don’t think the question ‘Will this make me happy?’ should prominently figure when you’re making a decision. Because you have no way of knowing whether something will make you ‘happy’… your perceptions of life and definitions of happiness keep changing. As they should. Because you’re constantly growing as a person.
I don’t think happiness is the natural, mean state of the mind either. If we were all happy all the time, if we found some way to keep the pleasure centers of the brain constantly activated, we’d be living in Huxley’s A Brave New World. Which is why I’m very suspicious of people who are always happy, always perfect, always enthusiastic, and couples who are ‘very much in love’, even thirty years down.
All I’ll say in conclusion is that states of mind are volatile, and happiness surveys are not indicative of anything substantial. It’s important to keep on moving, keep on learning, keep on making money, or introspecting, or acquiring material possessions, so that when you have sufficient data points to go by, you can look back and see you’ve lived a full life. Until that day, let’s keep trying to lose those five pounds, complete more than 50% of our daily TODO lists, diss or praise the Ayodhya judgements, worry about the sad state of folk art today, whine about not being paid enough, drink like fish, watch birds, dream pipe dreams, learn kickboxing, watch lame movies, create the perfect masala dosa, and take that cute colleague out to coffee.
About the title: Here. I don’t care enough to watch the Qatsi trilogy, and it doesn’t sound remotely exciting to me. A word meaning ‘Life Out Of Balance’ sort of appealed to me, and hence it makes it to the title. I came across it while watching this really nice tourism video for Mexico City. It’s a good video, but it seems to be shot for Southeast Asian audiences. I would have preferred more focus on the touristy locations in the city, the food, and it would have not been out of place to have a few people in the video exhibiting general joie de vivre.