Why not live again; why not laugh again; why not have fun again?
Why not live the same organizational life that I was blessed to lead for the last thirty years. Well, almost 90% of those years was fun, was a challenge, was a life worth living, full of unknown bends, knowing not what lay ahead, carpetbagging all the way!
I know that the term carpetbagger has a pejorative slant to it. So what! When I hit the road as a ‘sales guy’ thirty years back, that label too was no less pejorative. It was dude-ish to be an Engineer, a Doctor or a Government Officer. A sales guy was someone who could not make it to those dude-ish professions. For me, I did not even try to be one. Since, the flooding waters of life swept me to the dusty and grimy lanes of Selling and I had no choice but to survive. And yes, like many, I did…
I did it My Way!
Every time I looked in temerity around the corner, spread out in front was an uncharted jungle that I knew not. I gingerly took my first steps forward with my carpet bag of philosophy and the need for moving ahead. With every sortie, I learnt more than I ever knew. But, each time ended up getting bored with what I did well in. I sniffed around for more that could challenge me with its limits. I was always lucky to find some barriers, some challengers, mostly worth their name in salt. I moved from one trade to another, from one industry to the other and later from one function to another or from one domain of boredom (some may call it comfort) to another land of unknowns only to be rewarded with new hurdles, new enlightenment and always a new power of identity.
Most importantly, it was a journey that always left me enriched with loads of understanding, empathy, knowledge and scores of experiences of discovering new opportunities. I met so many people, so many interesting, intelligent and vibrant personalities, who became my friends, my associates, my inspiration, my leaders, my protégées and teachers. My parents and my society had given me the culture to respect greatness, knowledge and capability. I have been so lucky all these years to find so many whom I could respect, spar with, learn from and and measure upto.
Last few years, I took a breather, allowed by my organisation – I thank their wisdom – till it became quite a weight on my bored shoulders. My mind repeatedly raced into thoughts to unshackle myself from this ‘breather’. All around me were younger people, a lot of them who had grown up with me. I enjoyed the shade while they were romping on between horizons. I tried to regale myself with their successes, their trysts with their destinies, offering them scholarly advice when they stopped by. My children too were growing up and it was likewise a joy to usher them on and pester them with my foresights borne out of my hindsight.
I almost started enjoying my ‘Banaprastha’ – the 3rd of the four stages of human life prescribed by Vedantic scriptures – only to be jarred awake once in a while by the thought that I was not yet ready to wrap up, I had still years to live, but not with many ideas how to do that. At this juncture, a realization starting crystallizing in my mind – I was not really so much required by most in my advisory role – Like my grown up children, some had moved on and many were almost at the threshold of breaking free.
I wrestled with this artificial Banaprastha. I huffed & puffed, I lectured and pontificated, I held court and berated. I gradually sensed the impatience of my erstwhile followers and peers. I concluded that I need to break free as banaprastha did not belong in an organization. An organisation is about ‘Grihastha’ – the second stage of human life, where one’s Karma is to build, to create and consume. I decided to return to ‘Brahmacharya’ – the first stage of human life, that of a student and register for a Ph.D. I knew it was not going to be easy. I knew it would be a path full of hurdles and hardship. But, the mere thought of such obstacles, fired up the embers in my mind. I was alive again – ready to haul up my carpet bag. Started dusting the bag up and was just getting ready, when like of the old, came an offer to start another innings in organizational existence. I was flummoxed for a while! I had given up organizational life in my mind for sometime and to live it again was like going back to Grihastha.
The Ph.D. offer was not yet in my hand and hence was not really an option. The new role offered in my organisaiton was about something I relished in the years gone by – to create, to build, to develop – to live for a dream! So what if I was not in the circuit for sometime. So what if I did not know all that had transpired in the meanwhile. So what if I was not clear about what exactly needs to be done. Hey! that is what I had always done all these years – peeking around the bends, jumping into uncertainties, playing with risks and making something out of unknowns. That was My way…
But, somewhere deep in my mind I had a sense of guilt. Should I be dancing again when so many youngsters are there waiting for their chance to take the bulls by their horns. Do I deserve to be happy again in the same way as earlier while so many have their aspirations in the budding phase. For the first time in my life, I slept over the decision to jump out of the corner into the new lanes of life. For the first time in my life, I conferred with my family and friends.
I finally succumbed. Made my creaky self stand up again. The engine sputtered and muttered, but stayed on. The steering shivered for a few days, but now drives steady. The gears were rusty, but caught on. I am striking out again in my jalopy. But, one thing IS different. I know this would be the last flutter, the last organizational corner I jump out from. Grihastha if it has to be, so it will be…for a few more years.
Lucky me…I thank all those who taught me without my knowing, the art of jumping out from the corner, hitting the new lanes on the run and finding a home of serendipity! Habits die hard and I am no exception. It is back to old ways – living Beyond Expectations!
© Amit Chatterjee