Friday, March 31, 2006

Sounds Like a plan ?

"Hum apne iradon ko mehdood nahin karte,
Us raah par kya chalna jis raah par manzil ho"

To translate it with the obvious loss in translation -

" I do not constrain my plans -
Why walk on a path that leads to a destination"

An uncle of mine was quizzing me on what my plans for the future are and I could only manage a non commital - "I am not sure, maybe I will do this or maybe that". On this he quoted this beautiful sher (Urdu Couplet), and thereby made answering such questions a lot easier. Here it would not be amiss to explain that I am no kid just getting out of college ( though in these days I notice thats the kids getting out of college often have pretty concrete plans) . I am approaching 30 and have been married for four years, an age at which most people are at least in the initial stages of the execution of their plan for life; and I don't have one.

And what is perhaps more important is- I don't want to have one. In many late night discussions with my wife Ashi and in many introspections I have tried to understand why I can't decide on what I want to do in my life. An obvious candidate is weak will and indecisiveness but I would like to rule that out as I am, in quite a few respects - a fairly confident person and do not have any insecurities about my self worth etc.( ah... how much I have to force myself to be modest!).

So that brings us to the second candidate, which had for long been the leading explanation- I don't have a plan because I don't desire anything sufficiently strongly. I have met people who admire a CEO and his business acumen to an extent of almost worshipping her- and are fairly content in planning their life to become like her. If this admiration/worship is not directed toward a person it is directed at least to the abilities that an ideal CEO would possess. Similarly this admiration could be directed toward a mathematician/physicist/social worker/model/actor etc. My friend Chaitanya Swamy -a PhD in Theoretical Computer Science from Cornell University, says(in some of his moods), if it were not for Theoretical Computer Science - he does not know what he would have done with his life. Maybe whatever TCS's equivalent in my life could have been-does not exist, and so I am left with desiring nothing.

But further analysis reveals that I am not really a person without desire, I desire Air Conditioning , I desire good music, movies, food, good conversation, humour- the list goes on. Indeed if I were so much without desire I would by on my way to nirvana. So why do I not have a plan? The current leading explanation is this - the execution of a plan takes much effort and dedication, and if it fails it brings sadness. But, if it suceeds it doesn't bring happiness(or very momentary happiness), it just throws one back to the void. So why plan?
On the other hand quick execution of a thought brings quite a thrill- planning a vacation a month in advance takes away half the pleasure from it. However finding a good deal on Thursday and leaving for Vegas on Friday doubles the pleasure.

So what is true of a vacation is true of life. Saying, lets go and live in another country and getting there in a couple of months is exciting. On the contrary planning in a cold blooded manner to move to another country and taking years to make the move is pretty dull.

And why is the quick move exciting and the slow move dull ? Well rest and uniform motion, as Newton told us, are the same thing. And what is true of the physical world is true of the mental world. Staying in the same place and doing the same thing - no matter how good the place is, and no matter how good the work is - is moving at uniform speed. There is a name for this phenomemon - boredom. Once you settle down to a planned life and move at uniform speed you stop to feel the speed and feel only the jerks(which should get lesser and lesser as your plan works correctly).

Now, there are two ways in which one can get out of the trap of planning. One, don't plan. Two, plan too much. First is obvious but slightly more difficult in practice- for it kills many potentially interesting conversations. The second - go wild with planning, make a new plan every week , execute a few steps, change it, replace it, run two conflicting plans simultaneously- now that can be pretty exciting.

Of course there is a flipside and there are great pragmatic advantages of planning, but I would leave it to my father to discuss in his blog(and don't expect his blog to spring up tomorrow, because the last I talked to him it wasn't on his plan).

6 comments:

  1. Somethings gotta give - I think there is an additional piece to not having a plan or not executing one that you have an outline of. I think one has to barter away with some degree of freedom and time from one's life in order to accomplish or engage (reversi ;-) ) in such endeavors. I am of an opinion that many flashes of brilliance take place, some simultaneously, but in the end deep down inside the core of a human being just decides not to pursue. I would classify myself very close to your situation. I for one do not have a plan nor do I have an intent of making one. Does that imply my life is haywire or messy or uninteresting or very interesting? Naah neither it is at any end of an extreme nor does it seem to be going that way. And guess what I am fine with it. At one moment I can be talking about the beauty of the Prancing Horse (wake up piston heads) as if my life would be incomplete without one but then another moment I am content that I don't have a plan for the bigger picture. Sometimes I think life day to day with its subtle ups and downs is the big picture.

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  2. somethings are easier said than done.Planning is essential depending on circumstances.shows maturity and responsibility

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  3. Very good blog. some very interesting points. and this has inspired me to put my first ever entry on a blog...

    i feel that a planless life can be led only by those who are extremely confident and fearless. Only those who are ready to take life as it comes and can enjoy it irrespective of how it seems from perspectives of others around.

    For others who are not so strong or self confident, having a goal and a plan to that goal is important. This plan then becomes a journey to that goal and person enjoys each struggle en route as a an achievement to small small milestones. this sense of achievement and inching towards to final goal give people satisfaction, happiness, confidence to move on... so for some it is important to have plans in place.. even plans can be source of happiness.. provided people enjoy the entire process and not just final outcome...

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  4. Very well said Misam; don't worry there are others like you who don't seem to be well underway to their plan for life :). Vacations are usually another story, though.

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