The black car zoomed through the darkness, interspersed with the glare of many others moving in perfect symphony across the dark highway. And I am driving inside it within my own perfect bubble. The music blares on the car audio, with a personally curated Spotify list algorithmically doling out songs for my pleasure. I am acutely focused, my mind in sync with the vibes on the road. The gray asphalt silhouettes against a dark blue and orange horizon. Night has fallen long ago, with rebellious shards of light appearing to replace a sun long gone. I gaze at the dashboard and the traffic ahead, unconsciously looking out for the impatient lane changers who zip across lanes as they find an opening, trying to achieve a hypothetical advantage over others.
The car noiselessly glides ahead like it has a life of its own, the needle on the speedometer at a constant seventy. The entire world shrinks down to a tiny pinpoint of light ahead of me.
In the dark confines of this shared space , there is a strange kinship that develops with all the motorists going my way. It is almost like we are some randomly distributed molecules who have been drawn by a strong magnetic force to move together in alignment towards a common destination.
And in that moment, there is an epiphany in my mind. In today’s fast moving world, we blame so many of our problems and stresses on speed and pace at which things need to move. This is something that impacts our family, our work and friendships. The general advice we give ourselves is to slow down.
What I learned today from the highway is:
Moving fast is not a problem – misalignment is.
The highway is a perfect example of harmony – where everyone is moving at incredibly high speeds but yet there is perfect order because there are rules of the game which are followed by all travelers on the road.. Pass from the left.. Make way for newcomers entering the road.. Stay on the left lane if you want to go faster than the rest..These elementary rules can make what seems like an impossibly dangerous commute become so simple and seamless.
So next time you are harried with too many things moving too fast in your life – think of the Highway Analogy. Align your priorities or take the Exit.
What would you do to make Life go smooth !?
Photo by Jonas Von Werne on Unsplash
I am gearing up for a lonely three hours, bracing myself for the impact of this all too familiar feeling – a sinking sensation in the stomach, ears popping gently, a faint smell of invading gasoline and the gentle whirring of engines that morphs into an angry roar. Yes, my flight is about to take off. And as it is with all kinds of travel, an agonizing movement from point A to point B – I am hoping that this journey ends sooner than later!
Up.. up .. and away! We are in the air, and I can sense that tiny tilt as the wheels disengage from the runway. On journeys like this – tied to the claustrophobic confines of an ever-dwindling airplane economy seat, I always prefer the aisle. It gives you a decent (but mostly false) sense of space and control. But today is one of those days when I haven’t been able to grab one despite futile attempts, furiously checking the American Airlines app hoping that an aisle seat opens up. So… a window it is!
Settling in – I peer out of the glass porthole that separates me from the cold, harsh yet spectacular expanse outside – and that sight almost takes my breath away. It has been just around five minutes after takeoff, and all I can see is this mingled rush of blues, and a vast expanse of the horizon tearing the colors apart. Squinting my eyes, I try to decipher if the lighter blue is perhaps our atmosphere or the cold inhospitable outer space, trying to recollect the long-forgotten geography lessons of past. The darker shades of blue, with a garland of tiny Christmas lights, is a rapidly disappearing San Francisco Bay. I imagine my family somewhere down there – having a quieter dinner tonight with a distant glow of the TV humming in the background. I sigh, then noticing a dozen boats circling the harbor like tiny glowworms attracted to the brilliant display of lights – each on a purposeful journey of its own.
This thin layer of glass, delicately woven with tiny stitches along the seams and precariously placed thousands of miles up in the air takes my loneliness away for a brief moment. Ah, I hear myself saying – the Window seat is not so bad after all!
She started trudging across the long winding trail, not knowing how long it would take for her to reach her destination. And scurrying along because she wanted to be back home early, and in time before the sun sets. Across a lonely road, with barricades on one side where construction was in progress. And up to the steps leading to a meandering trail.
It was the first time she was walking this way, and it filled her with apprehension. Made her think about all the true crime stories she had read about women in books. But she banished all these thoughts and walked along. The long series of steps led to a bridge across two parallel hills. And crossing the bridge she moved to the trail. It was beautiful, with the setting sun casting a pale golden light on the skies, and flocks of birds flying back home in perfect formation. All this making her feel a bit sad and desolate – reminding her of her own loneliness. But then , this was not the time and place for these thoughts. She had to focus her mind on her destination.
On the winding trail, to her right was a huge mansion, with droopy trees and melancholy shadows beginning to grow ominously with fading lights of the setting sun. And embracing it a huge garden, with blossoming flowers and a mammoth tennis court. A faded board on the fence surrounding the mansion read – “No Trespassers”. The front of the house faced the bustling expressway ahead. She peered curiously. Oh, so this is where he lived – dappled in luxury and excess, enjoying his life within these walls.
Something snapped inside her. Was it a pang of jealousy. Or a plea of belonging? She was desperate to see him now!
There is this seemingly innocent question which has popped up in my mind:
“At what time and age do we feel all grown up and without temptation?!”
I mean, all care and caution is abandoned in the heady enthusiasm of youth. I get that.. But do we really grow up and lose that thrill of risk and adventure. Do we grow up and become model citizens and parents and hmm..well.. Grown ups!
Who knows ? Sometimes it might feel that we’ve never grown up. Or never will. There are moments when you want to slip back into the stage of life when you do everything as you wished to. To live your life without any fear. To have to answer to no one.. To be free of all the cares and responsibilities which being a grown up brings..
But then, these are ephemeral wants.
Because in the end, we wish to be tied up by our relationships. We desire to be wanted, loved and cared. We secretly hope things fall apart when we’re not around, so that we’re missed. We want someone to fall back on us.
Otherwise if I were a free bird, and no one’s life depended on me then I imagine I’d feel far worse – thinking that I have wasted my life!
Yes. How paradoxical are these things we want. Sometimes our wishes attempt to set us free, and other times they only serve to bind us in the most irreversible ways. We are so utterly conflicted – but frankly its a bit too difficult to decide. Maybe because we are selfish and want a bit of both.
Perhaps that is what Growing Up is all about – knowing about your conflicts and developing defense mechanisms to survive them with minimum collateral damage.
What do you think?
I’m certain Google is turning my brain into mush. Its shaping the way I think – putting ideas in my head and making me imagine that all of them were my own. So, every time I have to process a question that will take more than a few microseconds of thinking time, I’m tempted to turn to Google for answers. Now that’s an evil genius!
My laptop is now an extended part of my self. Long periods of absence without using it make me anxious, and I see myself increasingly shoving mine in the back seat even on short trips. And yet ironically, we have a deep unfaithful relationship – wouldn’t mind leaving my current love if a better one comes by.
Solving problems helps me thrive. When I’m frustrated , I go solve a problem – clean the dishes, go fix the cracked dresser. That makes me feel better, every-time!
I have lost my capability to monotask. Doing just one thing at one time makes me paranoid, with a voice screaming in my head that I’m missing something urgent. Even driving alone without the radio on makes me uncomfortable – I’d rather not be left to my own thoughts. I’m certainly doomed. Sigh.
Sunday nights always make me think about what I’m doing with my life. And trigger random unrelated discoveries and existential questions. Which are also entirely meaningless.
Thank you if you’ve read them so far though. Have a rocking week ahead! 🙂
Everywhere you go, you see people ..and places.. Houses and roads and means of transportation. People going somewhere. Everyone trying to be someplace else, different from where they are now..
And that’s how life is in every part of the world. Everyone trying to do something. Reach someplace where they are not right now..on a constant journey. Which is what makes the wheels turn and our blood flow. Or whatever is the term for making things seem normal and routine..
And the moment you wake up somewhere someday with no place you feel inspired enough to go – life comes to a whirring uncomfortable halt. If you do not have any purpose for yourself – however mundane and insignificant it might be, then there is this evil question which creeps up – Am I doing anything worthwhile at all?
And a gnawing question this is – which follows you around like a hungry puppy and bites you in the hand when you try to feed it with inconsequential answers.
So what can you do to tame this ugly thought?
Go with the flow. Do something that makes sense in that moment. Follow a trail – or create a new one.
Because a river is always more interesting than a pond. New experiences always enrich your life’s perspective and because .. “A bend in the road is not the end of the road…Unless you fail to make the turn.”!
Image Credits: http://ohksocial.com/small-business-growth-go-with-the-flow/
If you are a creator of things, this is the question you hear all the time.
Does your idea have a USP?. What is your core competency? How will you differentiate yourself from the crowd?
And the more I think about it- the more it seems to be the key question for all you do . I mean if you’re doing something just for the sake of hanging in there, then you’re fine. But if you want to grow up the ladder, get that promotion , make money in your business, get your idea spread .. Then you absolutely need to nail this thing – “What’s your winning difference?”
And as elementary as the answer might be, the process of discovering it will be the most painstaking one that you’ve gone through . Because if it were that easy, everyone would have done it, right?
When you are creating something.. a new product , a website, an app , a book – the rules are pretty simple. You either differentiate or you die!..
Even in the workplace – wouldn’t it be magical if you knew how to use your eccentricities to stand out in the crowd. So – Are you the creative types, who can offer a new twist or perspective to your team, or the hard nut with numbers who can churn out any what-if analysis in a jiffy? . Realizing what you are great at, and using it to your advantage makes a lot of difference.
The next big question then – Is there an App for that? 😉 😀 .. No app yet , but a technique to give you very strong leads:
- Focus on your audience. Give them what they want. Solve their problems. Help them achieve their goal. Whether it is your Boss, your customers or your readers – you make their life easier and they can’t help but notice you!.
- Experiment with your strengths. You may find you have this tiny little winning difference. A quirk, a talent, an approach to problem solving – call it what you may. Go ahead – capture and nurture it! . Tinker and experiment with it. Add your dash of mad and crazy. You might think.. Hey this outspoken guy is not me. Or I’m not that risk taker who can take that leap of faith on a hunch. But then – “You must be the person you have never had the courage to be. Gradually, you will discover that you are that person, but until you can see this clearly, you must pretend and invent.” ― Paulo Coelho