Published: August 5th 2009July 21st 2009
Every Sunday night I go to sleep dreading the morning to come. I get into the office after snoozing too many times, turn on the monitor, and begin my usual routine of professional slackerdom. I read up on news and music reviews from several different sources. Then proceed to get intimately acquainted with what my friends are up to through Facebook: funny articles they are reading, youtube videos they're watching, the content of their breakfast, which Lord of the Rings character they resemble the most. I even go out of my way to get an update on those "friends" that I've barely even met. You know, that person who sold you a bike on Craigslist who you had a particularly pleasant transaction with, or your ex-girlfriend's friend who wore that short skirt on halloween, or that dude who has exactly the same last name as yours! Imagine that. By this time it's around 10:30 a.m. and I'm getting hungry. Time to rinse off the coffee cup and start contemplating if I want to try that hot cocoa that nobody in the office seems to touch as the number of packets seems to stay more reliably constant than that of Planck. Getting back to my cubicle I check the calendar. But wait, I must see what those pirates are up to on BBC again. By now, I'm too hungry to get into serious analytics. My brain needs some fuel for this insane data query. As I wait for a socially acceptable time to break open the lunch (at the first ring of the microwave), I drift off into thoughts...
What am I doing here? Why do I toil at these useless tasks? Is this what I was destined for from early childhood? That I was raised expressly for the purpose of occupying this space..that's a thought. My parents sacrificed and fretted to get me into that school. I stayed up nights for accounting and chemistry. I stuttered and sweated during interviews. Sometimes I even prettified my sentences with a "sir" at the end. And now I'm here. Sitting in a meeting I look at the color of the wall, thinking how many colors went into making it. White, yellow, beige, pink--that's incredible, such a pleasant corner to lay my eyes on. Then, out the corner of my ear I dimly hear the COO, who is trying to get his son admitted to my alma matter by dispersing party-favors, say "...er rubber meets the road, Sabir...insight into this development..". As heads turn toward me, I know this is my time to rise to the occasion but all I can think is "that's hilarious, only in midwest people use phrases like 'where the rubber meets the road' or 'when we cross that bridge' or 'drinking the cool-aid', whatever that last one means." I pick up my mug of hot cocoa to buy some time and try to guess what the hell they are asking me about.
"Well, there is a dual aspect to this project, the analytic component must feed-in seamlessly into the resulting reporting, otherwise we have a disconnect, so I'll take some time to look into this", I blurt out.
"Good, let's circle back on this later", says the COO. And the meeting continues.
"Shit", I think, "that was close."
And so the days go on. Monday through Thursday gone in a blink of an eye. On Fridays, I usually feel bubbling of energy in my chest. I can't sit. I can't even stand. I pace. I blabber. I scheme. And then, the realization comes "It's Friday!" If, for some odd reason, I'm in the office on this day I bolt out before the clock strikes 3. This is what I work for. This freedom. Yet somehow, in an uncontainable rush to squeeze every ounce out of the day Friday flies by before I know it. At 4 am I lean on my couch looking out of the window, overlooking the park, into the buildings of downtown. This is it--what I work for: panoramic views and such. The remaining couple of days are spent enjoying the laurels of my work. I order drinks, plates, watch movies, concerts. Eat, drink, dance, sing, be merry. This is why I work. Finally, now I get it! Somehow, Sunday night sneaks up and I lie in bed thinking. Dread imposes itself like the shadows of the night.
For a long time now I've thought that there must be more to life than this. The zenith of the current trajectory is hardly worth all this self-sacrifice, limitations, and just plane old repetitiveness.
Several weeks ago, after much consideration, I quit my job. I quit in order to become a full time world traveler. I'm taking a year long sabbatical. Yeah. Take a moment to register this. I'm still reeling from this myself even though I try to write it off as mere manifestation of Stockholm syndrome.
So why travel? For one, it's a challenge. Travel is the most practical and challenging exercise in self development one can undertake. But more so, I'm looking to expand my horizons--escape this dire drabness--not only in the cultural sense but also within the confines of inner self. Allow me to get a little Jungian on you here. I feel like my conscience has ran out of space to roam in, explore, occupy. This is not just a mere metaphor for geographical space. I read somewhere recently that a person finally succumbs to big changes when pain exceeds the fear of the change itself. Well, pain might be a word a bit too clinical, but I do keenly feel the everyday dross of mediocrity. Enough, at least, to overcome this fear of the unknown. For me there is no other choice and therefore the decision is simple, uncomplicated, natural. The only weight comes after the fact. From this monolith called the society. But I won't dwell on it. My regard for it comes simply out of sense of decency and nothing else. Society is like the elderly on a crowded train, I get up to give my seat and then exit at my station.
I've waited long enough for this and I'm not getting any younger. Life is full of obstacles, yes, but it's even fuller of ones we store away for ourselves. Perhaps too many times I've told myself "just wait a little longer" or "the timing isn't right". Let me tell you, the time is never right--it never works for us. We just use it to keep the present at bay with some sort of fantom promise of tomorrow. What does "right timing" even look like? The best time to do anything is now. Today is the youngest you'll ever be.
I have a long process of planning ahead of me. I will try to keep things loose. The idea after all is to slow down time, face fears, breakdown barriers, all of which will contribute not only to self-discovery but to the greatest yearnings of them all--self-actualization.
Till next update. Meanwhile...I'll try to catch my stride. Did I really just quit my job? Shit.