I have been on a break and taking the time to examine the life I lead. Between quiet times, copious notes and filter coffee, unvarnished truths strut around. I hope to write and post some thoughts, ideas and “notes to myself” here. This post ‘Arrivals and departures’ is based on some notes I scribbled sitting at a roadside coffee shop.
Many moons ago, English August by Upmanyu Chatterjee gave me an unforgettable line. A line that I have used many times over now about arrivals and departures. It goes like this.
“The excitement of the arrival never compensates for the emptiness of the departure.”
Arrivals are filled with joy and celebration. A birth in the family. Joining a new organisation. Starting a new account. Buying a new car. Or a phone. Arrivals are joyous. Departures in contrast are quiet affairs. Sometimes, happening without a trace with a hint of “let’s get done with this quickly’. At other times, they are solemn. With a muffled tear, a hint of sadness or a full throated wail.
The ceremony of the arrival and departure obscures the time in between.
Arrivals and departures through the lens of learning and change
I view every new learning is an arrival of sorts. There is an aha moment and a flicker of bright lights. A new piece of information or skill brings a heightened moment of possibility filled emotion. There is a genuine happy emotion of discovery. An arrival that is filled with excitement.
But change is a different matter altogether. Change requires a ‘departure’ of a way of living or working or being. It requires a letting go for the letting in to happen. That is not an easy act. The excitement of picking up a new skill does not automatically translate to change happening. That is a long boring process by itself.
Every departure is its own arrival. And every arrival, a departure. To learn hard things quickly, you must focus intensely without distraction. To learn, in other words, is an act of deep work. If you’re comfortable going deep, you’ll not only win now, you will also develop the foundations for future victories.
If you instead remain one of the many who skim the surface, for whom depth is uncomfortable, life will be on the hamster wheel.
My current challenge levels at work have gotten me to stare at a new horizon. A horizon that spans newer geographies, greater scale and an incessant complexity that redraws the ‘Normal’. It’s a good problem to have for it reveals areas that I am out of depth in!
To discover new depths I have to depart from my old ways that have brought me success (and comfort). And for that, I have to depart from where I have been.
Arrivals and departures are inevitable part of our lives. When we live our lives consciously, we chart a plan to live by. In more than one way, it makes the journey worthwhile!