In my last blog, I wrote of a transitory ‘limbo’ period in my life. I only wanted to post once I had made some progress in my thinking. This week I have gained a greater sense of direction, certainly in finding clarity. I have started to work constructively on scoping out some ideas I have for the future. In this post, I want to share the process of how I found this clarity.
I draw on another one of Charlotte Reed’s thought-provoking illustrations. It sums up, quite simply, how I recently found answers to some of my troubling questions. For me, Charlotte’s quote signifies the importance of knowing not only what one wants to achieve, but also of how to make a particular goal achievable. I think the principle of then finding ‘answers’ comes from bridging the gap between a dream and reality. By mapping out the details of a goal, it then becomes tangible in one’s mind, bringing the idea to life.
The above analogy describes my visit home last weekend. I am close to my family, and they sensed that I was itching for some direction so that I could put some ideas of mine into action. My dad offered his wise services and suggested spending some time with me to mind-map the ideas on paper. I was quick to take up the offer- excited at the prospect of talking through my ideas with an experienced, self-made man. On Sunday morning after mum’s desi parantha breakfast, dad and I took some flip chart pens and papers out into our gazebo. We discussed different areas of my ideas systematically. My dad was the scribe, and began by asking me some potent questions which drew out simple, but key answers. Very quickly, I saw my key ideas being channelled into manageable chunks of information. This mind-mapping process helped me to bridge the gap between ideas and reality- I could visualise how I was going to put my ideas into action.
The way in which one focusses their idea or goal is of course, personal- whether it’s through speaking to a friend as a sounding board, writing down ideas, or meditation. In light of gaining clarity, I would love to hear your thoughts on meditation and want to take some space to explore this idea. I don’t know about you, and I know it’s not for everyone- but I’ve always been attracted to the practice of meditation, particularly the idea of looking inwards for inner peace, balance and focus. I believe that our commercial surroundings teach us to look outwards for validation of ourselves, which is natural of course, but I see great value and virtue in looking inwards. I found a great meditation video on YouTube last week, a fifteen-minute guided meditation, and was surprised at the perspective and stillness I felt after this short space of time. As a result of the positive impact, I continued throughout the week.
The need for clarity and direction resonates with my second year at university. I sought clarity during my selection of a year abroad destination, and the choice as to how to spend that time. I had my heart set on South America- Mexico or Cuba, where I would teach English to school students. I spent a lot of time researching, speaking to people, budgeting for travel to these countries and preparing to be away from my loved ones. After a holiday to Madrid, I was reminded of my end goal; to select an experience which would enable native-level Spanish language proficiency. Spain was a practical and financially sensible option at the time, and offered a perfect opportunity at university to further my language skills and cultural awareness in a challenging context. It was through making this journey to Madrid that I realised that my decision need not have been so complicated- this reminded me of reading The Alchemist. I found comfort in the fact that I could save money and travel South America in the future (this forms a part of my vision board!).
I have shared the above example from the past, but this week I have had to dedicate a greater proportion of time to future thinking in order to seek clarity, both in terms of my career and personal life. I do see some truth in the words of Socrates: ‘the secret of change is to focus all of your energy not fighting the old, but building the new’. However, I do see beauty in reflection upon the past, as far as those memories serve as enablers to creating one’s future. In my previous two blogs, I emphasised the intrinsic relationship between the past, present and future and will continue to draw on the past in future blogs.
Perhaps my heightened awareness of future-thinking was triggered when I turned twenty-four last week. I know I’m still young- nonetheless, I now feel more in tune to conversations around me on the importance of being able to support myself financially, mentally and physically, in order to enhance my ‘quality of life’ in the future. I always look to my my grandparents as a reference point for wisdom and experience, as they have lived through challenging times. Only the other day my Dadima (grandmother) and I spoke briefly about physical ailments and stress over a cup of masala chai. It did make me smile when she nonchalantly dismissed a few of her ailments with a swing of the hand, and in Punjabi, told me that certain things in life were just not worth worrying about! This ‘big picture’ viewpoint prompted a memory of her advice to me when I was immersed in exam mode at university. She had told me to perform to my 100% ability, and that the rest would take care of itself. My Dadima always advises with a calmness in her voice, which makes me believe that her words will ring true in the future.
I’m sure many of you can relate to the wisdom of your elders. Any conversations I have had with my grandparents regarding the future have one common characteristic: an awareness of those elements of the present which can and cannot be controlled, and most importantly, the wisdom to know the difference.