This one is based on a conversation that seems to keep popping up of late every time I meet someone. Interestingly, it is happening with new people that I meet and older acquaintances that I meet after a gap. The former wants to know – So what do you do? The latter wants to know – What are you up to these days? My answer to the former question generally is ‘I enjoy’ and the latter is ‘nothing’.
The answer that I give seems to be unacceptable to them. They think I am joking and then demand another more serious answer to the same question. When I don’t comply automatically, the question is put back to me again after a little while in the conversation. I don’t blame these people for not being able to accept my answer as a serious one. After all, I have been an ambitious workaholic for many years and then a busy freelancer for the better part of my life.
Targets and Achievements
I have had my share of targets and achievements. In fact, I cannot remember a time when I did not have a target set for myself in almost every area. At every stage in my life, I had another book that I wanted to read and finish, a specific percentage that I wanted to get in my exams, the next make and model of car I wanted to buy, the next vacation destination I wanted to visit.
If one has been doing this for long enough and if one is lucky with a break, one may realize that there is never an end to any of these. There will always be another book to read (thank heavens for that!). There will always be a better make and model of a car to buy. There will always be another level in the company to achieve. We don’t really stop to think of what the ultimate goal is.
I was blessed with a situation in life where it became difficult to manage all targets that I had for myself. This happened when I added being a good mom to my list. I decided to quit my corporate job and focus on other things that seemed more important. Life, as I knew it seemed to change drastically. However, that was not really the case.
Targets of a Different Kind
So, I stopped thinking of the next raise and promotion. But I did not stop setting targets. The targets changed from regular corporate style ones to personal ones. Getting my son Aryan to join a specific sports class or start reading certain books entered the core set. In addition to that, the number of projects I completed every month in my freelance work was another target I did not let go of.
It takes some unachievable targets for me to understand that there are various kinds of targets that are not really in our control. Revenue targets, attrition targets and the like had been relatively easy for me to achieve in life. A sense of power, confidence and invincibility was obvious. The thrill of achieving targets one after another is quite enough to make you go in circles all your life. But when things start to go out of control, is when you probably start thinking about the significance of these targets in your life anyway.
What is ‘Just Being’?
I have not achieved everything I wanted to. It is not as if my current car is the best there can be. Neither have I explored many cities across the world. So why would I talk about ‘just being’? Is it not a waste of this beautiful life that one has gotten to just sit and not want to do anything more? When there are so many productive years of life remaining, is it not sacrilegious to waste the skill that one has by ‘just being’?
The concept of just being does not mean that one stops to do anything. It does not mean that one should go in the Himalayas and forsake society. It does not mean that one does not take measures to achieve a specific goal. It also does not mean that you stop to do your ‘karma’.
Just being is a state of mind where you are not consumed by the next target or objective that you have. It is a mental space that you can choose to exist where you do not make these superficial things mean more than life itself. Think of the workaholic that puts his corporate job before everything else or the travel enthusiast that only earns to save up for the next holiday destination.
Why Just BE!
When you can be in a mental space where you understand that the life inside you itself is beautiful and needs to be given the paramount importance, you will probably understand what I mean. Such a state of mind allows you to live each moment to the fullest without fretting about how you will achieve the next goal you have set yourself – be it to get the next promotion, your next travel destination or how you want to raise your child. And while you are enjoying every moment of your life, you will also do the things that you need to do to survive in this society, satiate your desires and wishes (without letting them take control over you) and perform your own personal ‘dharma’ in the world.
Passionate people would argue that there is nothing worth living for if you do not have a passion. Their premise is that when you have a passion then life gets a purpose. My opposition to these passionate people is just that – when you have a passion in life, it consumes you in such a way that there is nothing else that is more important. While following this passion (which is a creation of your own mind) you pass life by without even realizing what it is!
Build a heritage for yourself to be remembered by, travel the world and see all cultures, ace the corporate ladder and become the top executive, buy the best car that there is to buy – but do all this without letting it get in the way of ‘life’!
Is it better to have a passion worth living for or is ‘just being’ a better way to live? What do you think?