Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Wanting to belong, wanting no attachments

Sometimes I want to belong, to be part of vibrant communities. At other times, I want to have no attachments whatsoever, to be free to keep moving. I am often conflicted about harboring these seemingly mutually incompatible desires simultaneously. Which is why I find the following passage by Anne Lindbergh reassuring:
"Perhaps a first step, is in simplification of life, in cutting out some of the distractions. But how? Total retirement is not possible, I cannot shed my responsibilities. I cannot permanently inhabit a desert island. I cannot be a nun in the midst of family life. I would not want to be. The solution for me, surely, is neither in total renunciation of the world, nor in total acceptance of it. I must find a balance somewhere, or an alternating rhythm between these two extremes; a swinging of the pendulum between solitude and communion, between retreat and return. In my periods of retreat, perhaps I can learn something to carry back into my worldly life."
Anne Morrow Lindbergh, Gift from the Sea

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Taking time out for some personal indulgence

If you asked people who have left their paying corporate jobs why they did so, the reasons will typically have two components: the universal and the individual. Both sets of reasons will be centered around having a lot more time and the autonomy to pursue things that holding down a regular job doesn’t easily allow.

The universal reasons involve spending more time with family, hoping to do good and give back to the world, and to be the boss of one’s own time. The individual reasons vary. Each of us has had hobbies and pursuits which we believe will nourish our soul, but we have subdued into dormancy for years because of other priorities. In my case I seem to never get enough of books and movies, and to a smaller extent travel.

But there is also a third set of reasons, which folks usually won’t talk about.

The third set of reasons is that they simply want to indulge in things that they enjoy, even if it doesn’t do the world any good whatsoever.

Again, in my case I’ve long missed having the time to watch lots of sports on TV, the way I used to before high school, before the pressure to perform academically was impressed upon me. And after a gap of around 25 years, I’ve had a chance to do just that. In the last month, I have had my fill of cricket (IPL and now T-20 World cup) and tennis (the French Open.)

This is one small item in my long list of things-to-do-when-I-have-the-time that I can check off for now.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Pico Iyer: The Joy of Less

Thanks to Arvind N. for sending me the pointer to this Pico Iyer article.

Under the title of "The Joy of Less" Iyer writes about his almost monastic life in the suburbs of Kyoto. He writes:
But at some point, I decided that, for me at least, happiness arose out of all I didn’t want or need, not all I did.
I also found it very insightful that Iyer refers to absorption as the closest he's come to understanding happiness. In other places, I have seen this referred to as 'being in the zone.' Be sure to read the article, though not all of us will agree with its points.

NYT has also published people's reactions to Pico Iyer's article, and I found that equally interesting.

Related Posts Keylessness

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Article: The quest for an Endless Vacation

Even after all these months, I am unable to succinctly explain myself, when people want to know why I am not working, and why I am not settling down in any one place. The reasons are varied, nuanced and to an extent I don’t know them all myself, at least not clearly enough to elucidate to others.

This article in Frommers.com does a very good job of explaining several aspects of it. You can tell a lot about a person by who they respect, admire and want to be like. In that sense, the global nomads mentioned in this article are all people I admire very much. While I don’t necessarily want to do exactly what they are doing, they have captured and explained a lot of what I am seeking myself.

Thanks to Rupal for sending me the article. Do check it out.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Tell me your XYZ coordinates

In many places around the world, but especially in India, people will typically try to ascertain three things about you and mentally assign you a certain rank and position. This rank is often deemed to be a measure of how successful you are, and whether you have “made it.” How they interact with you from then on depends on the rank or score that they assign you.

The three things are: your job (company, profession and title), your house (location and size) and your car (make, model and year). Here in India, I’ve had numerous people ask me directly or obliquely in an attempt to assign me a status-rank.

When these people find out that I have none of the three they are at a bit of a loss, unable to slot me into their coordinate system.

This takes them out of the scripted conversation that they are used to, because they’ve done this dozens of times before with others. But it sure makes for interesting conversations.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Is Keylessness an aspect of Bliss?

For several days this past month I didn’t have any keys in my pockets. The place we were staying at didn’t give us keys – we just knocked on the door and they let us in. With no car keys, no office keys to carry around, it was the first time in a very long time that I didn’t have any physical key with me. But now I am back to carrying a couple of them.

This got me wondering if being without any physical keys was somehow indicative of having achieved some level of personal freedom. Could it be that those who carry around very few keys have also simplified other aspects in their life?

If any of you reading this are able to get by on a daily basis with just 2 keys or fewer, then I’d like to hear from you. Please consider sharing how you manage that by leaving a comment.