Monday, 26 May 2008

Tug of War

On my way back to London this afternoon, I was sitting on the train seeing the French country side pass by. The lush green fields and bright blue skies had me smiling through the journey. The pristine landscape had me day dreaming – what would it be like to sit in the fields, jot down the myriad thoughts in my mind and listen to soft music playing on a piano. At that moment, in all sincerity, I wanted to float on the clouds and see the world, have a camera and capture the beauty of nature’s creations, take a pen and describe every passing moment and save it all for posterity. The child in me wanted to spring out and run wild. Is it just me or does every one feel the same at some point or the other? If not as crazy as these, everyone must have some tugs and pulls for adventure? Or maybe there is only a fleeting thought, yet a thought, of trying something new, something different from the routine?

Maybe, maybe not. Personally, over the last twelve months there have been a few occasions when I have felt the urge to switch lanes. Maybe do a PhD in behavioral finance, take up guitar lessons or maybe even spend some time traveling over the world. However, I love what I do at work. I enjoy having the opportunity to establish a business practice in India and learn more about the Indian economy, capital markets and regulations. Now I have discovered that I enjoy writing. I might not be great at it, but I still like being able to communicate and in return train my mind to think through one issue at a time. (Otherwise my mind has the tendency to wander in ten different directions simultaneously!) As they say, so much to do and such little time. Life is too short and too fast. This does not seem fair! Does it?

However, is it really just the love of work that is binding me to my desk? No, and I am sure everyone is intelligent to guess the same. If I am being honest, it is also because I am used to a certain lifestyle. I am scared to give up the regular pay cheques that afford me my standard of living. It is this fear that curbs my temptations and pushes me towards achieving more professionally. While it is a blessing in disguise that my so called fear pushes me ahead professionally, I think in the long run it would do me good to sit down and take a stock of where I want to be and what I want to be doing. Without this clarity after a few years, I might find myself in an unhappy and unfulfilling situation. Hence I have decided that my next vacation will be dedicated to some introspection.

I am not going to bore you all with my introspection (I guess I already have to some extent so let me qualify the statement by adding “further” before the word introspection). What I would, however, like to share with you is a conversation that I had with Chandler a few nights ago (for those who do not know this absolutely adorable individual please read my post on Beer). After a few glasses of wine and some absolutely scrumptious dinner (cooked by the master Chef, Chandler, himself) Chandler was geared up to discuss “life and the choices we make in life”. In his view, every individual lives a life based on the choices he makes. From education to profession to relationships, at every turn of life, each individual makes a decision on the road he wishes to traverse. However, my contention is that in today’s fast paced life, not every individual sees the road forking at points where the choices present themselves. I think in some instances the realization of having an option does not even dawn upon people until much later. Or as it is my case, the realization of the existence of options might exist, there even might be the ability to take the road less traveled, but the fear of unknown can keep individuals away from trying out something new. So while we all might have choices I am not convinced that with our lives as they are, we acknowledge the presence of these choices.

Is it us, is it the pace of life, is it social pressures and expectations or is it just plain simple capitalism that is driving our generation? While I am trying to answer this question myself and analyze why we opt for the alternatives that we do, I would love some assistance and views. At the same time I would like to leave you with a poem, from one of my favourite poets, Robert Frost. Do let me know what you think.

Until next time, Auf Wiedersehen!

The Road Not Taken – Robert Frost (1920)

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference


Anonymous said...

Your poem reminded me of this one that was taught to us in school...

The Calf-Path

by Sam Walter Foss (1858-1911)

One day, through the primeval wood,
A calf walked home, as good calves should;
But made a trail all bent askew,
A crooked trail, as all calves do.

Since then three hundred years have fled,
And, I infer, the calf is dead.
But still he left behind his trail,
And thereby hangs my moral tale.

The trail was taken up next day
By a lone dog that passed that way;
And then a wise bellwether sheep
Pursued the trail o’er vale and steep,
And drew the flock behind him, too,
As good bellwethers always do.

And from that day, o’er hill and glade,
Through those old woods a path was made,
And many men wound in and out,
And dodged and turned and bent about,
And uttered words of righteous wrath
Because ’twas such a crooked path;
But still they followed — do not laugh —
The first migrations of that calf,
And through this winding wood-way stalked
Because he wobbled when he walked.

This forest path became a lane,
That bent, and turned, and turned again.
This crooked lane became a road,
Where many a poor horse with his load
Toiled on beneath the burning sun,
And traveled some three miles in one.
And thus a century and a half
They trod the footsteps of that calf.

The years passed on in swiftness fleet.
The road became a village street,
And this, before men were aware,
A city’s crowded thoroughfare,
And soon the central street was this
Of a renowned metropolis;
And men two centuries and a half
Trod in the footsteps of that calf.

Each day a hundred thousand rout
Followed that zigzag calf about,
And o’er his crooked journey went
The traffic of a continent.
A hundred thousand men were led
By one calf near three centuries dead.
They follow still his crooked way,
And lose one hundred years a day,
For thus such reverence is lent
To well-established precedent.

A moral lesson this might teach
Were I ordained and called to preach;
For men are prone to go it blind
Along the calf-paths of the mind,
And work away from sun to sun
To do what other men have done.
They follow in the beaten track,
And out and in, and forth and back,
And still their devious course pursue,
To keep the path that others do.

They keep the path a sacred groove,
Along which all their lives they move;
But how the wise old wood-gods laugh,
Who saw the first primeval calf!
Ah, many things this tale might teach —
But I am not ordained to preach.

So listen to you heart and creat your own calf path....

Tanushree Bagrodia said...

Thanks, Anonymous. Will hopefully find my path soon and also have the guts to follow it through. Cheers!

Pankaj Singh said...

You have a lot of good things in your life… you have a nice family, you are young, great job and colleagues, you live in the beautiful city of bridges etc etc… :) Setting high standards for oneself is always good; however, you don’t have to put too much pressure on yourself for finding an ultimate solution at this stage. Just be kind to yourself :)

Out of what I understand about you, it’s my feeling that at some stage of your life you will be involved in a lot of social work as that seems to be your intrinsic nature. You may consider for example joining an association for women in India and dedicate about 1 week/year of your time. I am sure that it will bring you a lot of happiness :)

World tour is a very good idea… Switzerland can be a good place to start ;)

Cheers, Pankaj

SV said...

Well put. I do agree with Chandler though, that every individual choses his own road.

We probably don't miss the forks, it's just that the road less traveled appears too risky for most of us.

BTW, I like this blog. Just too lazy to post any comments, but couldn't resist doing that after seeing my fav poem. :)