My computer hard drive crashed. Somewhere inside that drive rests another version of this note. I called the computer engineer and after hearing me out said, “Looks like it’s going to be a while”. He said that with a reasonably sad tone, that I can attest I have never heard from him before. I had planned it well to go live on Tuesday, as always. Alas! Realisation dawned that crafting new beginnings in the midst of mayhem is not a choice but a survival strategy, I realise. The next few paragraphs are proof.
V.S.Naipaul, the acclaimed author kept in a box much of what he wrote and including unpublished manuscripts. Letters he had written at different points in his life in an era were computers didn’t exist and saving a document meant keeping it in a box! He deposited the box at Ely’s, a London warehouse for safekeeping. The box was labelled ‘NAIPAUL’.
At some point in time, when Ely’s was destroying boxes named “NITRATE”, Naipaul’s box got destroyed too! Crafted words that just went away into nothingness. No retrieval was possible. The discovery of the destruction was in 1992.
V.S.Naipaul went on to win the Nobel Prize in 2001. There are several examples of people amongst us being able to plough on and climb high from wherever they were pushed down to.
Crafting new beginnings
The world is still counting it’s fallen even as more continue to fall. We are accosted by the scale of loss and the depth of change. Lurking somewhere there, are the shadows of bad habits that the human race has picked up over time. We were hurtling down the highway in great speed only to hit a boulder in the middle of the road.
Beginning all over again involves asking a few basic questions. Some reflection. Now that fancy accelerator on the fast car is of little use, we might as well ponder on the road that we took. Would there be a better way to get to where we wanted to go to? And by the way, where do we want to go and why?
A senior business leader I work is at a crossroad. He built his career in the travel industry. A meticulous career plan was laid out for him. He recently helped acquire another firm and was all set to lead it too. But then, the virus has got the travel industry get to places beyond imagination. Making a mockery of thought through plans and meticulous deal-making! He is examining his options of starting out in the NGO space, helping people resettle.
Corporates who swore they could not work from home are giving up office space and crafting policies on changing the way they work.
Event management consultant friends, whose revenue streams these days resemble the sands of the Sahara, are at work. They are busy learning the ropes of holograms and virtual technology to host online events.
A friend who is seriously reconsidering where he will live in the future. “I don’t see why I should live in a big city”.
And there are so many more examples!
Questions are answers
The old world is crumbling taking with the good, its inefficiencies, quirks and problems. Dead habit cannot hold water as a good excuse for not making a change. The time to make the change is now.
Crafting new beginnings is default now. The choice that opens up before is how well we design the new beginnings. Do we go with what was or do we have a fresh set of questions to ask ourselves? As Scott Galloway says, “Time has slowed, for the moment, and we are given the opportunity to repair and strengthen in weeks what can take decades.”
Asking some fundamental questions and pondering deeply over the answers are important now. Questions provide us with the capability to lift ourselves beyond the obscurity of events. They ratchet up our growth and deserve more space in our lives than we offered it in January.
What gives me real happiness?
How much (of what all) do I really need to be happy? Why? Are there other ways of living?
These, I realise, are questions that privilege offers. For millions of people, the question of where the next meal will come from has been central. Perhaps one way of recognising our privilege and living responsibly is to redesign our lives. That’s that about crafting new beginnings and living tall.
The OWL Despatch
As always, I present to you five reads for The OWL Despatch. This is edition number 56. Stuff that I think you will be better off with. The one trouble that I have had this fortnight is to the number that I would have included were I not to stick to the self-imposed restriction of five pieces!
First off, some science. 43% of the human body is not made by human cells but by bacteria, virus, fungi etc. 43%! And of course, a tantalising prospect of the future where the potty seat can reveal what’s going on. Read here.
Next is a story of a Chinese live-streaming star, Nai Nai. I found it unusual and fascinating at several levels. What happens when you have thousands of followers online? What are their expectations? And how does one cope? Is this a line of work?
That story took me to another story that I had saved up earlier. A particular line in the essay held it all together for me. “Loose lips bring pink slips”. Employees, employers and social media form a neat Bermuda triangle where careers have disappeared! And so, what can an employee say on Social media?
Speaking of employees and employers, here is a lovely piece in The Correspondent. An excerpt: ” In the new world, employers will need to be ready for employees demanding to be seen as messy, complex individuals who live messy, complex lives – not as machines who can leave their unproductive or inconvenient parts at home, or stop themselves from bringing up “awkward” topics at work because doing so is not “professional”.”
Behavioural economics and nudge is under the spotlight for a while now. This particular piece was fascinating. “If governments want to keep their citizens home, they’ll need to rely on traditional economic solutions — fines and penalties for adverse behaviours — to accomplish it. But if they want insights on how to best get the public to buy in, well, behavioural science has a lot to say about that.”
Readers Corner: Manu Prasad shares his post. He writes, “But increasingly, I have felt that education is the new caste. ”
That’s that for this edition. Take care of your computers. My computer engineer tells me that “The hard drive the computer ‘has to come from China’. Until then, I am going to rely on the drive within me to help in the crafting of new beginnings. Wish me luck.
Image credits PIxabay
PS: Deepak Arora, a friend drew and shared this image after reading the post. I think I should share it here.