Thursday, October 13, 2011

what remains ... in the meantime

In between, time has flowed. Bags have been packed once more. Goodbyes have filled the air of the airport. And, bags have been reopened in a new city. A new home is settling in to the familiar chores and music of life. The grand festival of the Goddess Durga happened in the bustling city in the mind. The entire batch of Puja Chronicles have been brought to life.

The sameness of the events, the sameness of the memory of the days, have surprised the self that consciously attempts to live in the 'now'. The fun and the frolic of the festival days seem to come back, each year, with a strange sense of familiarity. And yet, the familiarity does not breed boredom or contempt. It is like a self-sustaining fountain - the same joy that drops at the pool of regular life below the fountain of festival, rises again. With a new force. With a new vigour.

Nothing amazes the mind more than this cycle of re-formation, of re-vitalisation. Except maybe, the cycle of new goodbyes that we have to bid. Last year, on dashami, the final day of the Durga Puja, or the festival of goddess Durga, the family had bid adieu to a well-loved human being. This year, on the same day, the world bid adieu to Steve Jobs.

For many, Jobs is an entrepreneurial icon. For many, the man is an exceptional case of achievement. For some, he is a demi-god. For some, he is not good enough as a human being. For this humble blogger, he is none of the above. For the blogger, Steve Jobs is the man who gave a speech, at Stanford University in 2005, that changed the blogger's life, forever. 

His speech involved stories from his life and the realisations that emerged from them. The blogger remembers the words, just as many of you do. "You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future."  Trust in what the heart says. Listen to its voice. More so when it directs towards the difficult road. 

Two and a half years ago, the blogger had found these words. Then she lived with the ignominy of an unfinished academic degree, that she supposed was her passport to the future. An unbearable agony of incompetence had set in. In a foreign land, she cribbed about what will never be. And then, the most beautiful and powerful thing happened in her life. This blog was born. "You've got to find what you love." She realised her love for words anew. 

What Jobs initiated in her soul, a supremely magnetic lady sealed it this summer. As she sat with the blogger on the couch in her sitting-room, she listened intently to the blogger's plans of doing a doctorate. She heard the blogger's ecstatic descriptions of her creative writing adventures. She shared her joy and appreciation at reading one of it. And then she put forward a question. Why do you want to spend all your energy and time in redeeming what didn't happen? The blogger realised something she has been avoiding all these years - that, the unfinished degree was the reason she was pitching for the doctorate. Not for the love of literature. 

"You've got to find what you love." And when you find it, you simply keep doing it. The blogger realised, at that point of time, what the speaker meant when he said, "There is no reason not to follow your heart." Death comes in so many forms. The fear of failure is possibly the most potent one in our everyday lives. "It is Life's change agent." It truly is. It is a finality that you can despair of and wait for all your life. Or, you can use it as charger to charge up the batteries of true potential and love that lies in each one of you and go on to live a life that made you feel good about yourself.

Steve Jobs may be missed otherwise, but to this humble blogger, those words at the Stanford University in 2005, will remain forever as true and as powerful as it was in 2005.

You can listen to the speech here. Or, read it here
Image: a flower that fell to the ground, and is still blooming. Taken at a monastery in Ha Noi, Viet Nam. 2011.