Sunday, February 09, 2014

The idea of success

There is always talk of success getting into your head.  But then, there is this fundamental question of what exactly is success.  It varies from people to people, and also, you have short term and long term successes.  Honestly, I have never pondered as to where I want to be twenty years from now or for that matter, even five years from now.  There is a goal lurking in somewhere, but I don't think about it day and night.  I want to live in the present, and that is perhaps as hard as not thinking about the future.  It's not easy.

You meet the person you like, you decide to spend the rest of your life together.  Then, there is children, education and what not.  These things happen over time.  As for wealth, anybody who works in any industry for thirty years is going to accumulate more than he or his family needs.  

There are ways to spend your life, and each is governed by his ambition and desire to do things that he thinks will impact his life in the long run.  There are few things in life that can match travel.  It teaches you a lot of things, and you walk away with experiences that can change you forever.  I can definitely say that I was a different person before I came to the United States.  The confidence of surviving in a place all alone with the bare minimum without the comforts of things back home, which you have taken for granted, is something to be experienced.  The transformation is well and truly worth it.  You meet different kinds of people in the process and you learn to appreciate different perspectives.  I want to travel as much as possible.  There are so many beautiful places in the world, and maybe, even a whole lifetime is not enough to explore them.  At least, for me, when I think about my life till date, the first thing that pops up in my head are the places that I have visited.

I was in the Church of Notre Dame in Paris.  It's a beautiful place.  I still remember the day clearly.  It was 3rd April, 2005.  A day earlier, Pope John Paul II had passed away.  The church was filled with people, and everyone was involved in prayers.  He meant so much to the people gathered there, and I could see a sea of emotions.  Somehow, I can never forget that when the Pope passed away, I was in Paris.  I don't know much about his successors with respect to dates, but this somehow stands out, because of the place and the setting.

And, that was also the year when Paris was bidding for the Olympics, which they eventually lost to London by a single vote.  There were posters all around the city about them being the Olympics candidate for 2012.

The fear of being chased by a bear cub in Alaska at the Harding trail, as also trying to avoid a grizzly bear on the Tundra Alpine trail are experiences that will stand out for the rest of my life.  These are just a couple of travel experiences, but it's easy to put a context to every experience.

So, for me, I'd say that I would like to see as many places as possible, and walk away with as many experiences.  They are well and truly worth it.

Anyway, last weekend, we had a team outing, and I was talking to a colleague.  I asked him,

"What are you going to do when you retire in a few years? Will you move out of the bay area?"

He said, "You know, Praveen.  My wife is from the south east Asia.  All her life, she has dreamt to lead a life in the Silicon Valley.  If we move out of Silicon Valley, it would mean that we didn't make it.  She is very ambitious, and we want to be way more successful in our retirement than during the working years.  So, for her, success is being successful at the bay area, and sustaining this lifestyle, which includes us traveling to different places every year."

I am not sure if I would see success the same way, save for the travel part.  But then, success means different things to different people.  And when you talk to different people and exchange views, it feels like magic, because it makes you think, and you always walk away with a thing or two to add to your thoughts.  For now, success to me is deviating from the routine and collecting experiences.

Also, success differs at different points in life.  So, maybe ten years down the line, when I write another blog post on the same topic, maybe I would have undergone a huge transformation, and my goals may get redefined. 

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