I completed a month of retirement today. Halfway during this month, my co founder and ex partner Debjani asked my 7 year old daughter – “so, are you happy mama is not going to office everyday”? Achchu said – well, yes and no. Its a bit annoying because she is always on my case about home work – but I looove the fact that she’s there to snuggle upto when I get home, and that she makes awesome snacks for us – I didn’t even know she could cook!” So much for the rules by which I lived my life for the past 8 1/2 – 9 years – that Children need quality not quantity time! (And brought back to me in sad detail a time when Riddhi asked me – “when I fell down and hurt my knee, where were you?”)
Interestingly, during this month, I saw two wistful, “wish I could” type facebook updates. One from my batch mate from B School George, and another, co-incidentally (or maybe not really) from a junior from B School Shalini.
George’s update (you may have seen this before):
The Mexican Fisherman
A boat docked in a tiny Mexican village. An American tourist complimented the Mexican fisherman on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took him to catch them.
“Not very long,” answered the Mexican.
“But then, why didn’t you stay out longer and catch more?” asked the American.
The Mexican explained that his small catch was sufficient to meet his needs and those of his family.
The American asked, “But what do you do with the rest of your time?”
“I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, and take a siesta with my wife. In the evenings, I go into the village to see my friends, have a few drinks, play the guitar, and sing a few songs…I have a full life.”
The American interrupted, “I have an MBA from Harvard and I can help you!
“You should start by fishing longer every day. You can then sell the extra fish you catch. With the extra revenue, you can buy a bigger boat. With the extra money the larger boat will bring, you can buy a second one and a third one and so on until you have an entire fleet of trawlers.
“Instead of selling your fish to a middleman, you can negotiate directly with the processing plants and maybe even open your own plant. You can then leave this little village and move to Mexico City, Los Angeles, or even New York City! From there you can direct your huge enterprise.”
“How long would that take?” asked the Mexican.
“Twenty, perhaps twenty-five years,” replied the American.
“And after that?”
“Afterwards? That’s when it gets really interesting,” answered the American, laughing. “When your business gets really big, you can start selling stocks and make millions!”
“Millions? Really? And after that?”
“After that you’ll be able to retire, live in a tiny village near the coast, sleep late, play with your children, catch a few fish, take a siesta, and spend your evenings drinking and enjoying your friends!”
“Getting dressed in clothes that you buy for work and driving through traffic in a car that you are still paying for — in order to get to the job you need to pay for the clothes and the car, and the house that you leave vacant all day so you can afford to live in it….”
At the same time I saw a mail on our community adda page that spoke about an organisation http://www.ccdc.in that conducts “Theatre of the Oppressed” – basically for education, relationships – and – retirement blues!
Huhhh? really? I googled “retirement blues” – got 8,420,000 results. Out of curiosity googled “stress management”. Guess how many? Yep, 10 times this – 85,600,000 results.
I think thats why so many of my friends are doing what used to be called “non traditional” jobs – kudos to all of you.
But, the point I am making is not so much change your job (coz many of you love what you are doing, I’m sure – and more importantly, have trained to do it well all your lives. Make no bones, I used to really like what I did too – the problem was, that was the ONLY thing I did!). But it is to really really make time to do stuff you like to do apart from work (my other co founder Shoma, while she ran the company, smartly signed herself up for vocal music classes and painted a score of paintings – she often claimed this was maybe the only thing that kept her sane!); to spend quantity – not merely quality – time with your family and friends and live your one life NOW rather than LATER! (remember the Clooney/ Pfieffer starrer One Fine Day – when in the midst of an important presentation she sees her kid making bubbles against the window?)
So, questions to which my answers changed in the last month:
Q1 Are you working?
A1 (I used to always contend that housewives work harder than “working” people do – but,) From “yeah, i run this company blah blah blah” to “Nope, Just Chillaxing”
Q2 So, how many hours do you workout?
A2 From “Workout duhh..?” to “hmm – 7 hours a week one way or the other”
Q3 What is your 2nd grader daughter doing in Math currently? What does Inventure teach?
A3 From “See, my kids are fairly independent in their studies he..he..he” (sheepish grin to hide the fact that i have NO idea!) to “5 figure into 2 figure multiplication” yayyyyyy…..
Q4 Didi, what should i make for dinner today? (asked sometimes in a bid to defer to “authority” by Tulasi, my girl friday)
A4 From “Do whatever the eff you feel like cooking – just DONT BOTHER me” to “OK, make rajma, rice, boondi rayta, julienne salad, methi sabzi” yummmmm
Q5 So, when should we meet for lunch? (My equally hard working/ perpetually harassed friends Nirupama and Asha asking their monthly question)
A5 From – “huh, lets see – traveling this week, caught up in offsite next week, have a tightish third week catching up…how abt next month 3rd Friday?” to “Hey, YOU tell me – I can do today, AND tomorrow, AND day after…(These friends have now dubbed me JJ – for jobless joshi! – should I be offended? nope, I’m LOVIN it!)
Q6 So, what do you do in the evenings typically
A6 From “Why is that even a question – calls, calls, calls, more calls, reviews, calls, reviews, calls, more calls….” to “drive kids to and from calsses, an hour of walking thrice a week, guitar class every thursday, music class every saturday, cooking sometimes”…:) jealous??
(By the way, question to which answer has NOT changed – wish it did, “how much do you weigh” :( )
I guess its easy to “preach” from the outside looking in; but I would exhort each and everyone of you who is really bound up in your work to the exclusion of everything else; is caught hard in the race to get the bigger house/ the bigger promotion/ the higher designation/ the bigger car/ even better grades for your kids – you have only one life to live. You owe it to yourself to live it well and be happy. The point is, the goals in your life are really really important, but the journey is really really important too. As Bruce Williamson said –
“Walk in the rain, smell flowers, stop along the way, build sandcastles, go on field trips, find out how things work, tell stories, say the magic words, trust the universe.”