This is a form of running which the mind does, restlessly, impatiently and partially. The mind can run, and it can run for miles to no end, draining the body and the person of energy, leaving the person consumed, if not more or less harmed. My mind has been running on such a track for the last few days, and as I reflect upon this running, it is very, very interesting and insightful. I care to share some of my musings here, at the cost of baring my utmost fears and vulnerabilities, and shedding myself of myself to move towards some lightness in being …
Of late, I have been interacting with contractors, plumbers, carpenters, fabricators, my watchman, painters, a great deal, to get some maintenance and repair works done. I have thoroughly enjoyed interacting with each one of them because there is a very mundane and intimate connection that I feel with each one of them. Before each of them, I have had to wear no pretense or garb or robe – I have been more than my natural self with them, talking about painting, where they live, their room rents, and discussing their craft and the work that has to be done. Come to think of it, there is something very soothing and light that I feel when I talk to them. Our discussions do not border on problematics or intellect – the mundaneness of these discussions is itself such a liberating and fascinating experience that literal-ness and words can barely, if at all, capture the wonderfulness of these feelings and the overall experience!
In the process of these interactions and getting works done, my writing has been suffering. I have just about managed to attend to academic and research writing and whenever I have managed to write, the flow is broken because the next few days after the writing are consumed in running around to get works done! While I have been going through this situation, each time I check twitter or email or facebook, I start to think that the world is passing by so rapidly and I am the only one who is stuck with managing everyday situations. This feeling of “being stuck” is what has been sapping me and perhaps crafting the viscous cycle where “being stuck” appears to perpetuate itself, like a snake eating its own tail!
As I have waded through these apprehensions and anxieties, some interesting insights have dawned on me. I study and analyze the relationships that exist and get created between people and between people, administrators and institutions. My own thesis research attempts to examine the relationships that develop around occupation, use and other kinds of transactions around land and property and how these relationships change, from time to time, through disputes, speculation, urban change, etc. I have understood and internalized politics also as the dynamics in relationships. And politics continues to be the art of working through relationships – melting down some, getting frozen or hit by some others, negotiating with some, accepting some, regulating some relationships, managing relationships that are regulated by others, etc. Such an understanding of politics may appear to be very mundane, but it is most basic and it is as radical as radical can be. In the last few days, I have been indulging in this mundaneness and radicalness and perhaps, if perhaps, these interactions have generated goodwill and security for me whose value is invaluable, if one understands relationships at all. I can recognize this value now, as I write, but in the state that I was in in the last few days, I belittled and ignored these very interactions for wanting to achieve more prestige and status by writing my research and analytical stuff. I strove for prestige and recognition at the cost of realizing that the value of the experiences of the last few days has perhaps made me abler in sustaining myself and my life in the longer run!
I have often met and interacted with bureaucrats and IAS officers who strive to get PhD degrees. Intellectually, I can understand their striving for prestige. But when I found myself in the state that I was in the last few days – where I was struggling to achieve prestige, status and legitimacy by writing in journals, magazines, etc at the cost of not recognizing the value that was getting created through the interactions and relationships I was going through – I realized why IAS officers strive to attain PhD degrees. They also do not recognize the value of their everyday interactions and negotiations, and instead strive for something they feel will give them greater legitimacy and value!
It is very often that we strive for greatness at the cost of ignoring or belittling the everyday experiences, insights, pragmatism and wisdom. Running – like training for marathons and ultras – is one way of recognizing the value and wisdom of the everyday. But, at the same time, it is important to be aware of the tracks and the running that we do consciously and unconsciously and how these tracks and the nature and form of running that our mind does shapes who we are and who we become. Perhaps change lies here, in very basic, rooted ways. And such change, which takes place where the roots are involved and addressed, is what is called radical change.
This blog post, I fondly dedicate to Chintan Girish Modi – happy birthday to you! I could not have said it better than what I have done by writing this post!
Dedicated also to Kiran Jonnalagadda who is the epitome of rootedness for me!
Dedicated also to Anand V. and jackass-ness!
And, dedicated to Deeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee and deeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee-toxing!