I think Elon Musk is very cool. Not just because his name sounds like an expensive cologne, or because he has only taken 2 weeks of vacation in the past 10 years. And certainly not because he is rich. That even the Ambanis and Trump are.
He is cool because he pursues his passion with everything, and puts his money where his mouth is. It is not everyone who at 31 earns 180 million dollars – mainly from selling his business (Paypal), and then starts two hugely dreamy, hugely dicey businesses : one to make battery powered, self-driven cars, and the other to make reusable rockets. And he then invests so much in his dreams that he has to mortgage his house after the 180 million were consumed.
Fundamentally he is trying to change the world for the better – make it safer and eco-friendlier and expand human horizons.
I can see many great examples of similar, driven individuals around me – whether it be Ramya with Centa-TPO or Jo & Ramakant with Touchkin or Kavita with Adhyayan. Each of them, in their own way, is trying to change the status quo and make a difference.
When I look at such people it invariably makes me wonder – what am I doing? How am I changing my world?
And my answers are much smaller. Sure, I am helping a few individuals become better writers and published authors. And a few of my consulting clients succeed in their start-up ventures / businesses. And one day I will write my Magnum Opus. But something else has changed that makes me feel “successful”.
To explain my success, I have to rewind to 2014. Back then I was never home. I used to work long hours, travel a lot, and even when home I used to spend a lot of time on the phone or on the computer. But I wasn’t changing the world. I was just earning an income and paying EMIs. My kids missed me a bit when I was gone, but not much. They were largely indifferent to my presence or absence as I was hardly ever there anyway.
Then last week I left home for a 4 day work trip to Chennai from here (Satkhol Village).
My wife called and said my son A was feeling really sad. But he said he felt better by remembering some lines of a poem he recently learnt.
“Prithvi Kehti Dhairya na chodo, jitna bhi ho sar par bhar.”
(The earth says don’t lose hope, whatever be the pressures on your head.)
Evidently that made him feel better. Sniffle. She also said that when I travel my daughter R counts down the number of days to my return.
So while I am not changing the whole wide world, I have changed something in theirs – and mine – and that sure is satisfying.
When I get very emotional and soggy eyed I write poetry. I think I am a terrible poet, and my poetry should be banned, but since this is my blog I will burden you with some of it. Although it might be in your interest to sign off here.
The first card – Gold. Then Platinum. Titanium.
From what precious metal will the next rung come?
The carrot. The bait? the next level will entice
We dutifully pursue it. That is our choice.
Wharton. Kellogg. Stanford. Yale.
Same version of the exact same tale.
Economy Class. Business. First. Private jet.
No, that isn’t the end of it yet.
Full price from Nordstrom? Or cheap end of season sale?
Will tell your worth – that one small tale.
We bow to the scale, the glitter measure.
A few pursue a different treasure.
How many smiles from the little child?
How many sunsets in the wild?
How many deep green miles did we walk?
How much more silence? How much less talk?
Give up the abject slavery of time.
Enjoy writing poems that barely rhyme.
Go from Titanium to home-baked bread.
Fight the glitter tongues in our heads.
Then he turns up and looks down his nose
At all my choices – school, car, clothes
Retiree. Slacker. Runaway. The label.
How about Real? Conscious? Able?
My friend, if your choices I don’t grudge
Don’t wield your gavel. Don’t be my judge.
You won’t get it, I can’t explain
birdsong can’t enter the pressurized plane.
The attempt to explain my belief is futile
Can you hear your footsteps in the carpeted aisle?
(Dont tell me I didnt warn you)
*The guy who wrote this post, along with his friend Roy Abraham are hosting the Himalayan Writing Retreat next month at a gorgeous Himalayan locale. He thinks he can help people write books (Can you believe that? Thank god for Roy!). You can learn more at https://uncityblog.wordpress.com/retreat/ .