But I digress
Streams of consciousness … or just too much coffee
I’m in good old Fontainebleau and as I whiz past the dense forest trees, almost inevitably over the speed limit, a thought pops into my head. Well, two actually. At this moment I am also incredibly weary of the possibility that I might have missed my exit.
But I digress.
The predominant thought that I am preoccupied with, concerns my professional ambition or rather the lack thereof.
My daddy wisest
As is customary with any root cause analysis, let’s begin with my parents. By almost any standard, I had, what can safely be called, a happy childhood. Therein lies the problem I think. I clearly have daddy issues, albeit of the unconventional ilk.
My father enjoyed a long professional career, and from everything I saw also a successful one. He worked 9 to 5, spent the better half of his career in upper middle management and played tennis and golf on the weekends. He taught us the value of playing sports, having interests in books and music, and most importantly the ability to make interesting casual conversation. He also taught us never to trust a man who refuses a glass of good scotch or worse still, adds aerated beverages to the same. Actually — scratch that one, he said realizing that his father-in-law is a teetotaler. Oh wait.
But it’s the casual conversation that I want to focus on — mostly because I’ve been taught that focusing on things is a good attribute to exhibit. Focus is typically associated with most successful individuals and successful pursuits. It’s the type of word which lends an optimistic and positive note to most sentences unless one is describing a serial killer in which case it’s just creepy. So here it goes — time to focus.
Conversations vs. Narratives
Life, as per my dad, is a series of interesting conversations loosely tied together by a narrative. Most people, mistakenly I might add, often refer to this narrative as their ‘lives’ thereby missing the point entirely. “Why does this completely arbitrary and potentially useless distinction matter?” you ask. Good question.
My best guess is that a narrative requires direction and a form. The much abused phrase ‘narrative-arc’ comes to mind. This confusion is what sometimes forces us to have plans and goals and dreams and plans (yes we really do love plans).
Conversations on the other hand require only additional interested parties. For those of us with lower standards, still-somewhat-warm corpses qualify as well. Yes, I detect the morbid theme repetition as well, but being Indian treating lives as somewhat of a vast commoditized fungible resource is dangerously acceptable (unintentional obscure tangential political reference notwithstanding).
I am cheating slightly of course, because interesting casual conversation might exclude a few people from consideration. Political speech writers for example. And also bureaucrats in the fisheries department. But by and large, one should be able to find a lively chat almost anywhere with almost anyone. My little arbitrage tip — immigrant taxi drivers are often a great resource to tap into. Some of my favorites include learning about a sub-species of gentlemen from south east Asia possessing “dupatta cards” or “long head-scarf cards” for the non-desi audience (yes, it’s a terrible translation — in case you’re wondering). “Dupatta cards” essentially being green cards which have been acquired by virtue of marrying women who already have citizenship. Maybe the patriarchal disdain embedded in that phrase doesn’t translate well, but till date, this cracks me up every time.
In search of a pop culture mantra
This meandering thread seems to be over-meandering. So, back to the original dilemma. What should one aspire to accomplish on a day to day basis?
I think I know what I want from life — actually i’m pretty sure. Famous last words? Death of the confused millennial? My issue (one of my many, many issues) is how best to articulate what I want from life so as to hope to achieve it. Don’t ask me why this matters.It just does. Perhaps only to make it more interesting.
Quite obviously, stating my ambition in terms of a job/vocation/profession is too specific and mundane. Perhaps I should restrict my new mantra in life to pop-culture-coffee-mug-length. Something like ‘chat-me-up’ or ‘talk-to-me-Scotty’ or for the Sorkin fans out there the ‘walk-and-talk?’ Note to self: Must buy new coffee mug for office.
Ok. You’re right. This is pointless. It’s difficult to summarize succinctly what I’ve been trying to say for about three minutes now. So what exactly am I saying? Maybe let’s try to define what I’m not saying.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think I’m advocating not doing anything with your life except grabbing people of the street and talking to them. That’s what we have TV journalists for. But an action which cannot be translated into material for drink-time chatter is not worth undertaking or at the very least reconsidering.
Simply put — a conversation not worth repeating is not worth having to begin with.
Well what do you know. Think we might have a winner here.