Thursday, July 12, 2018

How I found my fourth gear

For a multitude of reasons, I have been living life in the fast lane for the past couple of years. Golly, I’d have to say from the time my mum met her maker, about 18 odd years back. It began with necessity, which turned into habit, which in turn, culminated into an obsession.

An obsession to keep improving, learning, growing; physically, spiritually, mentally, emotionally, academically, financially, in all possible spheres a human life encounters. A drive to be a better representation of my innermost and truest self, a reflection of the values my parents had imbibed in me, and those that I hold dear to this very day, those principles that continue to shape my very being.

The obsession—as I mentioned—was not completely unfounded. During trying times—someone who has lost a dear one would concord with the remark that there isn’t a more disagreeable period-- when we as a family were facing emotional and financial upheaval, failure was not an option. Success wasn’t a savory victory; success was the very means of survival.

I had to grind. I had to work, study, cook, be entrepreneurial, fend, absorb, deflect, defend, become independent (fiercely at that), evolve. I did all those things with academic rigor and verve to consummate a simplistic, perhaps naive, yet singular goal; become a person and do deeds my late mother would be proud of.

I’m suspicious if all my deeds since then must have made my mother proud; au contraire, I am near certain some would have had her veritable and thorough disapproval. But therein lay my naivety. It took a while for the realization to dawn upon me that I was not my mother, and I would do ill to live by her and her principles alone. I needed to form my own opinions (something she was an ardent believer of), adhere to my own set of rules, and in doing so become a person she would well and truly be proud of.

But, as is the story of my life, I digress. And howsoever diametrically opposing a notion yet equally true, as is the saga of my life, I jump right back on track. Long story short, I was studying hard, working harder, and when I now look back (mildly to my chagrin), partying harder still. However, being duty-bound was something I was focusing hardest on.

Late nights, early mornings, being a night owl, and being the early bird that catches the worm, all stood true to my mention. For a good man, what is life but a constant quest for self improvement became my mantra. A smidgen worth of improvement brought about objectivity, empathy, and perhaps a rise in emotional intelligence. It provided perspective, and abundant than before moments of clarity. My idols were no longer just the academics, the thinkers, but also those of the celluloid persuasion, but of a different kind. I began idolising Spock, the Vulcans, and yearned to become a better student of detachment. All this led to-- and this is my extremely pragmatic, if not humble opinion-- commensurate prosperity, be it in stature, economic standing or confidence in self. Friends, humans and inhabitants of universes, this was I well and truly ensconced at fifth gear.

On many an occasion, by many a well wisher, I was cautioned, chastised, cajoled, coaxed and counseled to slow down, to take it easy, to, erm, find my third, and if not third, at the very least my fourth gear. But with obsession comes stubbornness, and perhaps a massive ego. YOLO was my slogan, and by jiminy, I was completely happy to live by it and kick the bucket with no regrets whenever that happened. My family was well secure financially in my living or upon my demise. And I had always done what I could, when I could, for whomsoever I could, with what I had, from where I was. I had led a full life, walking the fine tight rope between living up to my mum’s ideals and respectfully moulding my own with elan. I was extremely satisfied with my fifth gear.

All I’ve ever sought from life or the various supposed forces commandeering it, or if ever a prayer has escaped my lips in recent memory, it has been to ensure that I am always stepping out of my comfort zone in order to continually grow. Little did I know that a curve ball the size and complexity of a Canis Majoris fibonacci sequence was headed my way.

I came a visiting my motherland and mother town to get some paperwork done for my father with the additional ulterior motives of spending some time with family and friends, and devouring the delicacies that usually surround such private gatherings. It was at this opportune time that my town decided to welcome the largest water-logging in its history due to what could only be aptly described as a deluge with a mean streak, a rainstorm befitting satan him (her?)self, the nuclear variety of a party pooper.

Almost everything on terra firma was under four feet of h20 mixed with what I’d politely wish to describe as leptospirosis juice. We were very quickly bereft of the luxuries of modernity we’re so accustomed to; electricity, access to internet, and the prospect of ignoring one another whilst peering at some electronic screen or another. As our family—the ones nearby-- congregated at my house to stay together in such testing times, we began to feel the pinch of the want of said luxuries; we were forced to talk to each other to bide time, distract oneself from the current and impending misery, and maintain a semblance of sanity about us.
What started off as a pinch for all became the gnawing recognition of digital addiction for some, a saviour for others. Contrary to—I can bet my last un-wet dollar on it-- popular belief, I fell among the latter category of peoples. It was a refreshing change of pace for me, my brain had no business going a mile a minute, it did not warrant multiple and prodigious context switching, there were no meetings to attend, no tech to be tinkered with. I was left to my own devices to arrange for some fodder to satiate my mental faculties. I could have slinked into a corner and curled up with a book; it had been a while since I had laboured on, straining my eyes under candle light to make sense of the portrait Alexandre Dumas was painting. I could have gotten busy being the duty-bound stereotype I had created around myself; something which in fact upon a good mull was my comfort zone, I realised. I did a little of the latter, yes, but chose to do something else. Nothing radical, mind you. I chose to spend time not only playing games but having a dialogue with my family. An uninterrupted one, with my undivided attention.

If one is even a less than average astute observer, living in close quarters with intelligent, articulate, feisty people in a stone ages sort of environment provides with great learning opportunities. For almost three days, we talked, laughed, got concerned, snapped, got snarky, got overprotective, felt humbled, created fond memories, experienced gratitude, encountered despair, were exposed to unbridled joy, a very sound discernment of our bowel movements, a sense of wonderment, and for me personally, a stark awareness of im-perpetuity and impermanence.
This too, shall pass. Someone with an overabundance of wisdom had formed this quote. In my head, I imagined this person as someone whose intellect was was well beyond their years, someone far, far superior to even Nemoy.
I was content and I welcomed passing through life at the highest of gears my body afforded me, nay, at times, even when it ill afforded me. But if there was even a sliver of a chance that I was missing the moments I experienced because of the cloudburst, was it what I wanted? Was it what I needed? And was it something that someone even as vulcan like as I, would some day regret? Probably not. Or maybe yes. I was, after a long time, apprehensive. Not uncertain, it was not just that. I had suddenly, and very clearly, entertained the idea of self doubt. Did I wish or need to lead my life this way? I did not know. My sprain (spock like brain, copyright on term pending) alluded that I could always switch gears up if I wished or needed to, but I had near forgotten how to switch gears downwards.
I do not wish or need to slow down; I SHOULD. I should switch to my fourth gear. And I should do it now. The unfortunate rainstorm facilitated it, my times spent joking and learning from my family facilitated it, my forced abstinence from self improvement and employment facilitated it. Everyone, one and all, I had well and truly found my fourth gear..


4 comments:

Unknown said...

So you've found your fourth gear, does this mean it's the end of the sprain and LLAP? I think you now have a krain and need an appropriate new sign off slogan!

Bob Gt said...

Kartik, thanks for sharing how you poignantly found your forth gear. You intelligently articulated your thoughts and gave us a clear visual of your life odyssey. Good one mate. Keep it coming more.

Anant Dwivedi said...

That's my sesquipedalian brother right there, folks!

But what a read, big bro. Although I had to switch between the article and the dictionary every two sentences, I realised what a keen sense of observation you have! Love you loads.

On a side note, keep us informed about your promotions. No matter how frequently they happen.

Anonymous said...

Amazing. Reading your incredible writing (between tears about your mum) took me back to when I was 16, in college already, and hanging out with the cool literary students at the cafes in Charleston, SC. They taught me that well-written lines, with lovely long elusive words, can accentuate and crystalize our deep observations and emotions, not obscure them. You're a master. ;-) Here's my favorite line: "I was left to my own devices to arrange for some fodder to satiate my mental faculties. I could have slinked into a corner and curled up with a book; it had been a while since I had laboured on, straining my eyes under candle light to make sense of the portrait Alexandre Dumas was painting."

Inspiring, thanks for sharing. And here's to family time and reconnecting.
tia tana