I had a very odd dream last night. Unlike most of my dreams which are mostly fleeting visions on everything from my dog to exotic food and countries, this one felt like one never-ending movie reel with a beginning, a middle and an end. The dream begins with me on a train, with a co-passenger (who’s face I have conveniently forgotten!). Through a random sequence of events, we realize that our train is caught on fire, that is taking down one bogie at a time. However, it seems like the fire is a planned heist because the driver refuses to stop and allow the firemen to put the fire out. Which means the only way to save the passengers is to evacuate – yes – a moving train. (Did I tell you my dreams tend to be very Bollywood in nature). To add fuel to the already raging fire, I realize that the firemen have no intention of saving passengers in the third class – they’re last in priority, a fireman claims. Talk about a coup de grace! Clearly, I am taking none of this discrimination. The remainder of the dream sequence has me and my partner-in-rescue(?) risk life and limb to save the ones who were left behind. (Side Note: Now that I think about it, I think my having watched the finale of the Castle TV series just that evening played a big role in the over-dramatization bit.)
Now, I am not a big believer in psychoanalysis, so my intention to wax eloquent about my dream is not a quest for deeper meanings or signs. If I take it at face value, the part that has stayed with me, and continued to bother me was this odd saviour complex thing I had going on there. You see, ever since I decided that I want to build my career working in organizations that combine doing good with scale and profits, I have been very conscious of the story I tell myself – a possibility of the clever confusion that would make me delusional about the impact me and the organization I work for, are causing. In just the two years of pursuing this path, I have already encountered many who have fallen trap to this facade, and I have been on edge about allowing myself to fall into the same abyss.
Recently, I updated my LinkedIn profile to my most recent position – I was kicked about it. I was the Head of Operations of a social enterprise, and that too, within a month of graduating from the Acumen Fellows program. Until I realized about a week into this job, that this title and the trappings that came with it, were crippling me more than being empowering. I realized that in my mind, the title came with a certain code of conduct that I believed I should follow. But the reality is, that there is only one thing that really matters in social change (or any change, for that matter) – doing the work. I reversed the LinkedIn update immediately. I will put it up when I feel within, that I have done enough work to be worthy of the title. This tiny experience however, was a very uncomfortable reminder of the desires I am holding on to, and what I need to let go of, in order to be effective.
I don’t want to be a saviour – that is probably the one thing I am certain of. The rest, is nothing but a series of questions. Almost every day, I am reminded of this quote we were told on Day One of the Acumen Training and I find myself going back to it over and over again –
Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.
Oh and in case you were wondering – my partner and I manage to safely retrieve all the passengers of that burning train. Just saying. (;-))
Linking to an incredible article I found on Medium, along the same theme.