Monday, November 23, 2015

Getting back to being "Me"

A normal winter afternoon at 2 pm. Yes, Swedish winters can be dark and dreary. Taken with an iPhone 6

Maybe the me is good. Maybe he is just an intolerable, talkative paranoid wretch. I am not aware of all the perceptions, but I like the journey back.

Recently when I was still caught up in the obsessive corporate whirlpool, I had a critical senior exec meeting coming up. The meeting would decide whether the deal I had worked on for the last 6 months would get a green flag to go to the next phase, or be shelved. My boss loves to say this "In sales there are no runners-up. You either come first, or you come last, there is no in between" It sums up things pretty accurately. You either win the deal or you don't. And when you don't it does not matter how many months you worked on it, or how well you managed the deal. So essentially, this was a critical meeting that would decide the fate of all the sleepless nights I had put in. And I was a bit edgy. Had gone through my slides multiple times, and incorporated those last minute changes. 

So with a few minutes to spare before I took a cab to the client office, I decided to grab some lunch. As I must have stated before on this blog, I suffer from infrequent migraine attacks, and going empty stomach to a meeting does not help. So I strolled down to the food court a block away to grab a quick lunch. I ordered a Pad Thai at the counter and stood there waiting for it to be served. I was lost. There were a million thoughts going through my mind, passing by at the speed of light. I was pensive. To the point of  philosophically pondering on what life would mean if the deal was shelved. I saw the plate kept on the counter, and I paid and walked off, and remembered that I usually like some Sambal to spice things up. So I turned around and looked for the Sambal and that is when I heard her.

"Haven't I seen you somewhere before?"

I swear, her face had not even registered in my brain till that point. And then I looked. The daze broke. I was back on earth. And I drew a blank. There was no recollection, absolutely nothing. I smiled like an idiot trying to think what would be a polite comeback.

She tried to help "I used to work earlier at the Kista food court, and you had asked me where I was from, and you did not know where exactly Georgia was, you are the one with weak geography, you said you wanted to go to Moldova, you don't remember?". Yes that seemed like me, asking people where they are from. And discussing geography. And discussing how close I have been to that place or where I would want to go. But I had no recollection.

And then it hit me. I pictured myself, cheerful and talkative, striking up conversations with strangers in a country where people did not talk to their spouse unless absolutely necessary. That was me, then. And this was me, now. The guy in the grey suit with a grey look in his eyes. Mechanically doling out the required "Ursäkta" (excuse me) and "Tack" (Thank You) to be polite, but with the most impolite detachment that one can have. And the difference just hit me. I stood there, the plate in my hands, a bit baffled. The girl must have thought I was cranked up. 

I did eventually manage to have my lunch. I also said a polite "hejdå" (good bye) to the girl and walked out. I was able to grab a cab and made it to the meeting just in time. But the thought stayed in my head. And it was the beginning of the change. The beginning of getting back to being who I was. The intolerable, talkative paranoid wretch.Thank you girl-from-Georgia.

Friday, November 20, 2015

The Clean Up

A chilly autumn afternoon: The last barbecue of the year 2015. Clicked with an iPhone 6 in the midst of barbecue fever

I was not bluffing. I am back for real! Sometimes one gets carried away, off into the oblivion and it takes a jarring punch in the gut to get one back to reality. So I am back, wincing in pain, but with my feet on the ground, more in touch with reality and hopefully a better person.

It has been 2 years of absence. There have been those half written posts in my drafts but nothing really made it out. There have been numerous messages, extremely flattering, asking me to get back to writing, especially as my last post before I took the sabbatical, was, ironically, about writing.

I like to think (like everyone else) that my life is not the usual humdrum of lives I see around me. To each individual, his life is special. But really, I do believe that my life is kinda extra-ordinary. To the extent that I sometimes yearn for the ordinary. I have been told by many, jokingly and sometimes not so jokingly, that I have a narcissistic streak in me. And maybe that drives me to think that I have an extra-ordinary life. But to be honest, I do not take credit for it. It somehow always veers off from the ordinary. My life can be extremely happy, with massive successes and conquests, or extremely painful, with heart-shattering set backs, but one thing I can tell you it certainly isn't, it is never ever monotonous.

So what I am trying to say that a lot has happened since January of 2014. A complete new chapter. Like turning the whole life upside down. In the end it is all about two things. Whether you had fun during the roller coaster ride. And whether you came out of it for better, or for worse. I certainly had the most titillating ride, but obviously. And I think I came out a better person.

A result of all these changes were the people in my life. I have always talked about how your life is the sum of the experiences you have and the people who join you in those experiences. A lot of them left. For reasons sometimes inexplicable. When someone cannot find joy in the reasons that bring you joy, then perhaps it is best for those people to leave. I was hurt initially, but eventually came around to the realization that these were the people who prioritized their own feelings of jealousy and negativity above my feelings of happiness and achievement. They were the ones who were upset when I was having some of the happiest moments of my life. And so, I realized, it was best that they left.

Some people just disappeared because I was obsessively busy with things I am passionate about. Perhaps I am at fault, and they made a wise decision. But you gotta do what you gotta do. There is this "knock knock" joke about how it cannot be opportunity knocking, because opportunity knocks only once. I opened the door without waiting for the second knock. And got sucked into what I think were the two most exciting years of my professional life. In the process I lost a lot of friends. I will be lying if I say I do not miss them. I would be lying if I say that I never wish they were still around. I never thought it would be an "either-or" option. I wish it was an "and" option. But if I had to go back in time I know I will make the same choice again. I believe in that proverb that in life, you always regret what you did not do, and rarely regret what you have done. I am not happy that I lost those friends. But I am happy that I have had the 3 most passionate and amazing years in my professional life.

Life has a way of cleaning itself up eventually. Cleaning up the intricacies, the complexities, the worries plaguing the mind, and sometimes the people you are better off without. And I am happy that clean up happened in my life. I am left with lesser friends, but they are the ones who passed the test of being there with me when I was at my worst behavior. And they were the ones who understood that the nasty ill-tempered guy who never had the time to catch up with his friends and family, is not who I really am, they are the ones who waited, and knew that it was a phase, it would pass. They are the ones who valued me enough to stick it out.

So I am back in more ways than one. Back to being more humble. Back to appreciating friends. Back to trying to pause and appreciate the things I have. And yes, back to blogging.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

The Next Chapter

Stockholm colors of fall: Clicked with an iPhone 6 on an introspective evening

It did not exactly start today. But it has started, in the blurry timeline of decades, the month does not really matter. What matters is that it is a happier chapter, and a better one. And what matters is I am back in the blogging world!

The path has been long, the battles have been gruesome. But in the end all that matters is that you came out alive, albeit a bit scarred.

As the season of fall gets rid of the old to make way for the new, so shall I get rid of all the old memories. And start afresh. I shall see more of you soon blogosphere!