Can't we just enjoy the busy schedule, the pressure of deadlines, the mad rush through the week and the tons of emails that deluge our inbox?
Make a commitment to live in the present, lest you miss today reminiscing of yesterday and worrying about tomorrow
A few of us friends from school were reminiscing of our school days and the fun times we had. We all had stories that had been oft repeated, but that nevertheless brought out uncontrollable laughter with each repetition. This is when Agastya (my 7 year old son), who unbeknownst to us, joined the party and popped the question, “Appa, why is school so good only when it is over?”
It had all of us stumped; he was obviously referring to the fact that school was not as much fun for him, but we obviously seem to think otherwise. Thinking back, all of us, who were missing good old school now, couldn’t wait to get out of the drudgery of school and get to college! We hated the early morning rush, those endless classes, and exams and couldn’t wait for us to become “BIG”. What’s the scene now? Blame it on nostalgia or whatever. The truth is, for us, the past is glory, the future is cause for concern and the present is a blur.
I experienced this recently myself. Recuperating from a surgery, I was a crabby bundle at home. I was wishing the week would get over soon and I would get back to office. When this conversation with Agastya happened, I realized what a fool I was! I was getting a week off from office in the middle of summer vacations with my son and wife. There was so much I could do with them! Catch up on movies, play on the Wii, dust those board games, call friends, do my writing … And look at me!! I had become a new age cribachari.
Before you start smirking and sharpening your knife to rib me – let me remind you, you are no different. It is in our human psyche to always look at the green grass on the other side. Cribbing and reminiscing is often a human mechanism to make the routine ordinary occurrences of daily life more visible. When we focus our energies on cribbing, suddenly the past becomes rosier, the not so pleasant experiences that may have haunted us, are conveniently forgotten and finally the present becomes a burden that weighs down on us so heavily, we begin to hurt.
And of course the future is the unknown, so we like to worry about it and plan for it sometimes even forgetting to live today.
For example, at work, we are always talking about our last company, last manager, last assignment, fondly reminiscing or worrying about what will happen after this assignment or if this manager is transferred!
Let me recount a very clichéd saying (I hate it, but this does explain it well). ‘The past is history, the future is a mystery, but today is a gift and so we call it the present.’ I couldn’t have said it better.
Can we live for today? Can’t we just enjoy the busy schedule, the pressure of deadlines, the mad rush through the week and the tons of emails that deluge our inbox? I know it sounds crazy! But you must talk to my parents who recently retired to put this in perspective. I was complaining to them of how insane it was and that I sometimes did not find time to go to the wash room. To which, their response was, “Enjoy it as long as it lasts. Before you know you would have retired and wishing you were busy all over. Now, we only have the rose plants and the gardener to keep us busy. Our biggest event is your call and the “busy” is planning the meals for the day!”
I laughed and actually mentally ticked them off for still treating me like a child. But the full impact of it hit me when there were no mails in my inbox for a few days after the surgery, because everybody knew I was out of office. It just didn’t feel nice! I had withdrawal symptoms for the same mail deluge I was complaining of. Suddenly, I missed being busy, running from one meeting to another.
I know this is very different from the many columns I have written. But if you reflect - is it? Living in today, enjoying the ordinariness of everyday and relishing being busy – aren’t these ways of busting the stress? Think of it another way: Don’t we enjoy the weekend better when the week has been crazy?
Whatever your perspective, close your eyes a moment before you sign off. Make a commitment to live in the present, lest you miss today reminiscing of yesterday and worrying about tomorrow. There you are: The long afternoon schedule already doesn’t look all that bad!
BTW, the next time you sling your camera along for your vacation, think about this. Don’t get so busy clicking the pictures and getting the right pose. You are missing the now for the later. Most of us won’t even download the pictures after the holiday. Instead, have a blast watching other ordinary mortals frenetically clicking, posing and missing the now.
Elango R, is the Chief Human Resources Officer at MphasiS. You can follow him on twitter@ agastyasays and read his blogs on www.agastyaelango.com