The Man in the Arena and Other Thoughts..

This was probably the worst Sundays I have ever experienced in a very very long time.. I’m not going to get into the reasons because that would mean using the blog as a Dear Diary and I want to try to avoid doing that as far as possible.. The world is not interested in my sappy stories, right? Anyway, so let me instead try the thing where I use writing as a means to lay out my myriad thoughts one by one in an attempt to deconstruct the mesh in my head. A Pensieve sounds fancier than a Dear Diary, eh? 🙂

[Thought 1]

Today was one of those days where I realized how unpredictable life is. Not that I didn’t know that before, but sometimes things happen that make the brutal reality of the situation take over your whole existence like an avalanche. Makes me wonder why the universe is designed in this way, though. Why is it that perfect moments seem to end so quickly whereas the worse phases seem to linger on forever?! Why is it that just when we have taken out our Lazy-boy and decided that we deserve to rest for a measly five minutes, we are called to the war-front all over again? Now don’t give me the crap about learning to appreciate the good while it lasts! Just for today, I am tired of being grateful and learning to smell the roses and counting my blessings. It sounds very Oprah-like and I don’t like her! 😛

[Thought 2]

Expectations. They say, if you want to learn to be happy, lower your expectations. In a disturbing way, that is true, especially of people. We expect from people we care about the most. We expect them to make us part of their life. We expect them to understand us and be there for us without being told. We expect them to stand up for us, to support us and to love us even when we are at our worst. But very few people are lucky enough to get someone who matches these expectations. Which is where all the problems arise. Of course, the easiest thing to do is to just be yourself and let others be themselves too. Accept people for who they really are instead of making them match the mould you have created in your mind about that relationship.

The same goes with life. I remember this TED talk I heard by Sir Ken Robinson where he says that we need to dis-enthrall ourselves from the natural order of things in order to really bring about a change. So true, right! Breaking away from the patterns we have created in our minds is the only way to allow new ones to take their place. But why is it that the sanest solutions are always the hardest to implement?

[Thought 3]

How many of you believe that we are always given signs which let us know whether we are on the right path or not? A dear friend and I were talking about it once- she was about to make a very big move from place A to place B and was in two minds about it. And somehow since the past few weeks, random things just kept falling into place in B and falling out of place in A – which was sort of a sign that it is indeed time to move. I have experienced that once before too.. Just one more element of mystery in the design of this universe, I say..

[Thought 4]

I was talking to this guy and he was telling me about the girl he is dating. He seemed to like her a lot. But in the course of our conversation about many things- he happened to mention how much he hates a particular profession, which coincidentally turned out to be her profession. Then he mentioned that he hates products of a particular company, which turns out to be the very same company she works for! I don’t think he realized this, but it kind of hit me in an odd way. I know your profession isn’t your life, but it does form a very large part of your day-to-day existence, right. In such a situation, how can you truly admire a person if you don’t respect their profession?! Imagine talking to your partner about his/her day at work while in your head you detest the amount of money he/she makes because of their stupid degree or because you think the work they do is not at all significant! Is that okay, or are my ideas a little too idealistic for the real world?! 🙂

[Thought 5]

This one has been bothering me for a few days now. I was playing chess with this person; and let me tell you, it is not a game I am very good at, simply because I have probably played it six times my entire life. Anyway, so I lost the two games I played with him and while he was teaching me what I did wrong, he told me he had understood “my game” in the first few moves I made. Two things he said – One, I am always waiting for the opponent to make their move and then trying to defend instead of attacking first. And sometimes in a game, offense is the best defense. Second, I never make my opponent think about what I am trying to do. Now I don’t want to swear by this guy’s analysis of my game-playing skills, but what he said somehow made me wonder about whether I incorporate the same strategies in life too? If yes, then there are some drastic changes I need to make.. I have always loved this quote by Theodore Roosevelt – “It is not the critic who counts. It is not the man who sits and points out how the doer of deeds could have done things better and how he falls and stumbles. The credit goes to the man in the arena whose face is marred with dust and blood and sweat. But when he’s in the arena, at best he wins,and at worst he loses, but when he fails, when he loses, he does so daring greatly.” Am I this Man in the Arena…?


A Measuring Stick for Life?

I am a scheduler by profession. According to my boss, they founded our group in my company about seven years ago because they needed people who would be trained to look at the big picture, instead of always trying to temporarily work around issues as they came, which is what Operations tends to do habitually in a company of this size. So essentially, an important part of my job is to think of how what we do today, impacts our tomorrow. If I fire people today because I am over-staffed, will I need them three months later? If I work overtime this weekend, will we be out of work next week? Things like that.. And for problems we notice to be repeatable or significant in nature, we know the issue needs a much deeper analysis – for this we seek the help of the Industrial Engineer – which is what I am by training.

You know one of the main reasons I like IE – it is because, by principle, IE’s are supposed to be the fix-it people- which is something I have always loved to be! IE’s have tools for everything- to determine root cause of a problem, to predict and account for inherent risks to a process, to determine how things are supposed to be versus how they are, to eliminate non-value added activities in a process, even to study human behavior. They may not always be effective in the first go, but if applied correctly, can really help lay out all the pieces of the jigsaw.

If you think about it, the above skill-sets are exactly what is required to solve all of life’s complexities!
Make a new friend? – okay, look at the big picture – is this relationship going to be a season pass, or is it a lifetime membership? Invest your resources accordingly.
Trust too often and too soon? – make an Ishikawa diagram of what is wrong with your own brain that makes you do that – fix the root cause, and your failure rate will drop.

I understand that mastering the above techniques to, what crazed psychologists call, “whole-hearted living“, would essentially make us akin to God – but hell, what if we all had a few God-like qualities? Okay, if not a lifelong plan, even the ability to foresee the next one year would be appreciated by many a humans, don’t you think?! Life’s mysteries be damned! 😛

Talking of psychologists – people doing research in psychology, every-day human behavior and interpretation, social work, happiness (yes! people do research in happiness too!) like to come up with verbiage for what they think gives people a “sense of fulfillment” in life. I’ve heard of words like connection, compassion, vulnerability, choice, courage, purpose, meaning etc etc. Well, it’s 2.15 AM on a Friday morning and my head is swirling with a ragoût of unasked questions, unwanted answers, questionable actions and unanswerable reactions; and I can come up with only two things every human being seeks out in this lifetime –
1. To be seen, really seen.
2. To know they are not alone.

If only someone invested their time and research grants on figuring out tools, real concrete tools, that would help us do that instead of beating about the bush all the time. If only we didn’t have to untangle the mess and pave the path by ourselves all the time…