Happy New Year

There was a resolve to write for the New Year. And perhaps, write more during the year. After close to a week of putting it away for whatever reasons, here I am. In that sense, this is a resolution broken, and yet a resolution kept too. Did not someone say it is better late than never?

In this post, a good friend speaks about wanting to relinquish control. He wanted to ‘go with the flow’ so to speak. He has subsequently written about the experience too. Knowing what little I may know of him, this caused in me a lot of surprise. There was also mild amusement, followed by, I must confess, skepticism. My skeptical self wouldn’t believe that *he* would actually do it.

The narrative though, triggered me to reminisce about myself and look back at life. In a few days, I am likely to have lived roughly half the lifespan one may expect to under normal circumstances. Given my own lifestyle, I expect it to be a much larger proportion that half. Those things, only time will decide. That though isn’t the point I was reflecting upon, but the aspect of ‘control’.

When I look back at myself, I find myself to be wanting to be in control a lot of times, when it comes to every day affairs. For instance, I am averse to going with the flow when it comes to say, what I may eat for dinner tonight or which movie I may watch. When it comes to the seeming trivialities, I am usually unable to just let things be and accept what comes my way. So much so that when I have friends & companions who want to do things other than those that interest me, I would rather forego their company, than say, engage in something I am not interested in, for the sake of keeping company. People usually find this trait unacceptable, as there seems to be a greater emphasis on companionship, doing things together, than on exactly what is being done & the quality of one’s engagement with it. All this has meant that over the years, I have ended up spending more time alone than in the company of anyone. I do not complain; I am learning to accept it as a consequence of my own actions.

Yet, when I look beyond these seemingly mundane details, things seem different too. So much so, that I wonder if I do in fact obsess about control, as it may seem to the reader who has come thus far. Indeed, some of the more significant events, milestones, so to speak, seem otherwise to me.

  • I graduated in a subject that I quickly lost interest in. I did not even ‘choose’ the subject. I just had to go to college. When I discovered my dislike for the particular pursuit, I did not drop out, nor did I do the slightest justice to the course of study. Whiling away most of the time that I had back then, I now look back and shudder at some of the most ridiculous, even dangerous things that I did.
  • People around have called me a workaholic, and I do not deny it as I expend a lot of time & effort at work. Yet, the thought of ‘building a career’ is one thing I have never seriously considered. I find myself having just taken what came my way and tried my best to do it well.
  • I fell in love, married the person I supposedly was in love with, and a few years later, got divorced too. I had not imagined that I would ever marry. Having married, I hadn’t the faintest idea that I would break my marriage. Yet that’s just what happened.

If you consider education, work and family as the significant parts of one’s life, I seem to have just ‘gone with the flow’ in at least some senses. As I look back and think about things now, it seems paradoxical to me that when it comes to the ‘lesser’ of things, I have been obsessed with being in control and when it came to the ‘more important’ of things, it has been just the other way round. Some would say that this goes to show my priorities, though I am not even sure if I have been conscious of such things.

So as we begin another year, it came to making resolutions, starting afresh and so on. To renew our hopes so that we may carry on with enthusiasm. And when it came to ‘taking control’, I wondered where I stood. I discovered that I do not have an answer, and that perhaps, in this respect (as in many others), I may be a person full of contradictions and extremes. I start this year with the one thing that has been a constant – the seeking. And I wish you all the best of seeking, in 2016 and beyond.

 

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12 thoughts on “Happy New Year

      • I loved the entire post; I see now, that it wasn’t clear, with that two-word phrase-of-a-sentence.

        I loved everything in it, and about it. To start with, I loved that you referenced my post. 😀 Actually, even before that, I loved your New Year resolution. Because I love reading what you write. I loved it that you have been following my post before and after the new year. And how that made you feel about me.

        I loved how you have looked at the entire concept of letting go, from the point of view of important and trivial things. That you have put what’s important and trivial to a test, by seeking to know from the reader, the definition of important and trivial, not for yourself, perhaps, but for the sake of the reader. I loved the three bullet points, where you took education, career, and love – as important (at least, by general social standards) and mirrored your own life to ask the reader to take a deep look within, of where we have tried to exercise control, and where we have let go – and if – this has any correlation to what we consider as important and trivial. I loved that the question was posed by you, perhaps for yourself, but also to the reader to explore these, apparently, insignificant obsessions we have with control. The sense of control is a myth, because more often than not, we aren’t able to exercise it, and that causes much despair. Interestingly it becomes a cycle, the more we despair, the more we seek to control – as if – that would cure a previous despair. The effect is usually the opposite.

        I loved the post because it also opened up a question for me about companionship; in respect of what you said:

        “…when I have friends & companions who want to do things other than those that interest me, I would rather forego their company, than say, engage in something I am not interested in, for the sake of keeping company.”

        Of the things I did, in this New Year’s sojourn, was to become the person I would have expected another to be. It wasn’t as troubling as I thought it would be; but I was in an experimental mode, perhaps not being completely free; there was an observer within; a researcher, who was making notes, so to speak. Now that I have experienced it, however, I discovered that it is possible to do uninteresting things for interesting people. Which did bring me to the effect — as you have said at the end of the fourth paragraph of your post — loneliness. Would loneliness be a factor of doing things that we want to do, while completely disregarding companionship for the sake of company? Is loneliness the same as being alone? Is loneliness an inherent trait or attribute for some people? Further, is there a confusion between loneliness and solitude? I had recently seen a social-share poster that explained the difference, but since I wasn’t convinced, I don’t recall it. Needless to say, there is a difference – beyond the dictionary definition.

        On the loneliness part, I would agree with Leslie-Parrish Bach; she said, “The opposite of loneliness, Richard, is not togetherness; it is intimacy.” (Or something to that effect). I loved that, once again, I was confronted with this concept. I have written a lot about loneliness; in fact I have a category dedicated to it, on my blog, which of course, I am sure, you are aware.

        Finally, I loved your wish for 2016. Instantly it reminded me of Baz Luhrman’s ‘Sunscreen’

        “Don’t feel guilty if you don’t know what you want to do with your life.
        The most interesting people I know didn’t know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives
        Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don’t”

        That we are seekers, rings so true. I am just about getting my head above water in the sea of complacency that I had drowned in, long ago. And this year is about that: escaping the cold dark waters. I loved that you put words to that feeling.

        There’s more, that I loved about the post. At this time, I am unable (or unwilling, because it is quite personal to be put up in public space) to express it in words. I will however, when I do find the words, tell you what I loved. And what I did love about whatever I loved.

        Best! 🙂

        • I am in tears as I read this. Not for the first time. I have no doubt that this is perhaps the longest comment ever on this blog. I am grateful for that, and through that long comment, for having triggered many many thoughts.
          I do believe loneliness and being alone are very different. The former is a feeling; the latter a statement of fact. Yet, I do remember reading some posts from you in the past. I was, as I wrote this, tempted to get deeper but refrained as I felt it would be too much of a diversion. Very deliberately though, I did not use the word ‘loneliness’.
          Quite honestly, your comment has made me read and ‘see’ my own post in ways I had not imagined it even as I wrote it. And isn’t that one of the fascinating things about this medium? Thank you for everything, including the lovely quotes.
          PS: the parts that you are unwilling to put here, shall be the ‘ice breaker’ for our next meeting perhaps 😀

  1. The ‘more important’ things are far more difficult to control than the ‘lesser’ important. Is it the inability to control that forces us to go with flow or is it a willful and conscious decision to not control and go by the flow? A reaction or an action? Just a thought. 🙂

    • Hello, vagabondspirit. I wonder if we’ve met before? That’s an interesting thought and I don’t think I have an immediate answer. I do see your point. From what I see and experience around me, I do see people put in a lot of thought into the ‘more important’ things. One’s career, for instance. It is in that sense that I speak of going with the flow.

  2. “I would rather forego their company, than say, engage in something I am not interested in, for the sake of keeping company. ” seems like that’s exactly what you have done for the major things in life as well don’t u see. It just took long to realise that u can do away with engineering and short to realise that you can do away with ur marriage. U r still in control.

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