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Published: October 25th 2006
“Invest in your future” I’ve been told, over and over…Well, last night I may have defied that biblical and all-inspiring adage…but man, do I feel emancipated!
There comes a time in everyone’s life when he or she has to look deep inside and act according to one’s inner feelings. I don’t care how many times we are taught to think rationally and do what’s best in terms of our future; sometimes all it takes is a simple gut check and a realization that what makes us happy is our visceral well being at this very moment.
Well…actually at this very moment, I find myself on the streets of Taiwan, homeless, broke, job-less and indisputably happy.
The lead up:
So the project here in Taiwan is a complete and utter mess. The thing is, OBG, the company that I joined, has been operating in over 25 different countries all over the world for over 12 years. The central notion here is to come back every year to each country to revise the information and update analysis on each sector of these emerging markets. Here’s where it gets a little tricky. This is their first year in Taiwan
View from the top
Kenting - Southern tip of the island
- a pilot project and as such, there is absolutely no infrastructure, no partnership and this country intelligence concept seems outlandishly foreign to the Taiwanese community. As a result, I have spent the last 3 weeks trying to establish a somewhat legitimate structure, pretending to know exactly what I am doing (which in and of itself is a complete fallacy). To add to the confusion and the overall feeling of despair, the regional director (aka the Devil) has come over and has burned any and every bridge and relationship we had built thus far. She is demanding, authoritative and has no time and patience for people - Complete lack of cultural sensitivity. Everyone is literally scared shitless of her and consequently, they are all very apprehensive about doing business with us. I became so fed up with her aggressive and selfish demeanor that I took it upon myself to separate her from Karolien (my colleague) and I when conducting any conversations with the locals since we would effectively be the people that will be here for the duration of the project. Yet, day after day, the woman drives everyone nuts and nothing gets done. I’m losing motivation and faith in
the company and realize, after all, that this is really not what I want to be doing.
So after a period of reflection (albeit brief, but thorough nonetheless), I had a moment of clarity. I thought to myself…If I’m not into this 100%, then I should pull out early before getting too involved, at which point it would make it much harder to leave, halfway through the project. The thing is, I really don’t want to screw over OBG and I know that if I don’t do this now, not only would I regret it later but I would also not be fully committed to the project; something that you have to be in this industry. I’ve also learned that this is not a job; it’s a lifestyle. Many people in the industry who work in have repeatedly told me that once you get into it, you get sucked into this cycle and you can never get out of it and lead a “normal life.” Now, I don’t have a fervent desire to strive for mediocrity or settle for normalcy, but I certainly know that I do not want to get stuck into a disillusioned
Was it worth it? You bet...
circle where I find myself floating around with no concrete base to fall back on. So, for all intents and purposes, I decided to follow my gut feeling and alert the devil that I did not feel that this was the right match for me and that I thought it would be best that I get out sooner rather than later…She agreed.
How it went down:
About 30 minutes later, she comes back, fuming and orders me to pack up all my shit and get out NOW…This was straight out of a bad TV reality show. I have to literally pack up all my bags, hand in my computer and my phone and get out within the hour. I just look at her, dumbfounded and then an overwhelming feeling of impulsive freedom takes over…I go up, put on some uplifting tunes and pack up all my stuff. Sure enough, about an hour later, I find myself, officially on the streets of Taiwan…The world is my oyster…
The ensuing introspective reflection:
One of the best statements ever made - 'The only thing in life that will always remain the same is change', and in our life we have the power to make the necessary changes if we want to. Even if we find ourselves in an unbearable situation we can always find solace in the knowledge that it too would change.
Social networks or relationships, I’ve learned are essential to my happiness. Happiness is actually found in everyone, increasing it is a way to make a life more powerful and also healthier. I remember reading James Redfield's words about being careful with love. No, not LOVE but something about the “one pointed attention” towards ONE person. We risk weakening ourselves instead of becoming stronger. As far as I’m concerned, that is utter bullshit and a stark paradox. Well, maybe it's not a paradox when we realize how much we change all the time. We actually never really know what exactly we want. Or maybe we do, but that can change from one minute to another.
The biggest lesson I have learned; however trite and hackneyed it may be is to enjoy and appreciate what you have now. It is okay to have aspirations and goals, but learn to value what you have now.
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar, the founder of The Art of Living Foundation, says there are two causes of unhappiness - regret over the past and the apprehension about the future. Right on! Our mind (okay, my mind) is always vacillating between the past and the future. We are either crying over spilt milk or trying to cross the bridge before we come to it. By unnecessarily breaking our heads over what has already happened and fretting over what is likely to happen, we spoil the present. Today's moment is sacrificed at the altar of yesterday's regret and tomorrow's anxiety.
So really, there are no regrets…I mean, hell, I discovered a beautiful island:
It may not have worked out on the job front, but I think I’ve grown as a person (a giant by Asian standards). Not sure where I’ll go next or what I’ll be doing, but from now on, I’m investing in NOW.
In the immortal words of Omar Khayyam :
'Unborn tomorrow and dead yesterday
Why fret about them if today be sweet...
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