Today

Today is Facebook’s 10th birthday.
Today is Saraswati Puja.
Today is World Cancer Day.
Today, Microsoft got a new CEO.
Today, the AAP completed a month in office.
Today, many people celebrated their birthdays along with Facebook.
Today, many people celebrated anniversaries. Just like Facebook I guess.

Today I spent most of my time on Facebook. I found out all these things through it. I had the same epiphany that I’ve been having for the past many years that none of this made any difference to my life, except for pushing me further into a spiral of boredom and procrastination. It’s not like I have nothing to do and have not been doing anything. I have, but it is with the same enthusiasm a bureaucrat employs while moving a file from one place to another.

Throughout the day, I have been wishing for circumstances that would make me work better. I wished for being left alone to my devices so that I could think and write. I wished to be spared the duty of stuffing myself with healthy wholesome lunch that has a crippling effect on productivity. I wished for having people like me to work with. I wished and wished and the day went by.

I read an awful number of things on the web and (realized, not very surprisingly, that I am a huge consumer, but a very meager producer) two pieces that stood out to me. One was about marriage. I have no intentions or inklings about it in my life right now, but I found the article very fascinating. The other was about an application deadline to the Fellowship programme that I was part of and for which I work now.  Thinking about both of these, I found something common and my mind wandered to this quote I had read once and found amusing enough to stick with me.

  Dreaming about being an actress, is more exciting then being one.download (4)
― Marilyn Monroe

I have nothing against dreams and dreaming. I think those are excellent ways to use our time and provide ourselves amusement, inspiration, thrills and whatnot. But it is the only dreaming part which I see often and often. We aspire and dream for ideals. We have very lofty ideas and noble intentions. We believe, with the honest to god innocence of children, that believing in ideals would bring about reality. But we are so blinded by the light from the shimmering surface, we never get to see the deep murky churning underneath.

Take marriage. It is the ultimate fantasy, the dreamland, the utopia of togetherness. I don’t for a second believe that it can never be all those amazing things that it seems to be in print and celluloid (and rare anecdotal evidence). But I also think that there’s lots of hard work, boring moments, disturbing revelations and undignified fights behind the pretty picture.  I know of many many people who have had their “dream wedding” thought out since they were an embryo or something and I don’t understand how. Popular culture leads me to believe this is a girly thing. Sure. I’d like to have a nice wedding day where I can wear a pretty dress and eat cake and be the centre of attention for a sustained period of time. But am I willing to go through the days after that? Probably not. And if I can get the same deal of wearing a dress, having cake and endless showering of attention any day, then I’m set for life.  Hence I am truly confused by this pursuit of togetherness. I am sure there are individuals who strike a good enough deal and are comfortable with such state of being, but considering the number of unhappy twosomes I see, I am more convinced than ever that people love the dream of being married than the actual state of being a married couple voluntarily joined for life.

This brings me to the other bit of news. The application deadline. The Fellowship is a tough programme. It is a full-time teaching position in an under-resourced, low income school that mostly caters to children from disadvantaged communities. And it sounds like such a noble thing to do. It seems so challenging and inspiring. All those pictures and videos of children and teachers, so happy despite the odds. What a truly wonderful thing! And that is what sticks. The big dream. That awe-inspiring ambition to change the country and the lives of million children. But I wonder if many dig deeper to see the hardships behind that dream.

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Having gone through it I know that is a very fulfilling and motivating experience. It has given me some of the proudest moments of my life. I have experienced the thrill of enthralling a bunch of kids with ideas and information. I have learned things about myself and others that I hadn’t before. Forgive the cheesiness, but this has been the most challenging and inspiring experience of my life. But I have also learned that teaching can be very thankless job. It is not just singing songs and correcting few papers and having many vacations. I have had the most cruelly lonely, frustrating and defeating moments within those two years.  I have crumbled under self-doubt seeing a child not learn for months. I have cursed and railed against the “system” while handling endless paperwork. I have stayed up nights researching and making worksheets. Almost every teacher I know in the Fellowship has at some point or the other has strayed too close to starvation and sleep deprivation. For the children? Of course for them. But also to do the job well. Being a teacher is not the easiest thing and being a teacher in the Fellowship ups the challenge a few notches more.

Being part of this to do something good necessitates giving up on life as you know it.

That is a harsh truth to share. But that is unfortunately the truth. Just as being married can change your life, doing this means you are married to your work, your kids and your commitment to make a difference. If having a life means getting a good 10 hours of sleep every day, meeting friends every day to chill and hang or whatever it is that cool people do, watching movies and relaxing and all that, then having a “life” doesn’t always co-exist well with these aims.

We dream very beautiful dreams, wonderful ideals fill our dreamscape. We aim to do what we love. But doing what we want and love, involves doing things that are not always fun, or easy or even interesting. But we forget that in our passion and ambition. Aspiring is more exciting than acting upon things.

Am I saying we shouldn’t dream of an utopia? No. I think we all want to work towards an utopia. But it might serve us well to acknowledge that there is work to be done before we reach Arcadia.

This post serves as a reminder to myself to just get down to work without waiting for my ideal home-office to materialize.

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