If like me, you aren’t a believer of God, or luck/destiny, let me share a new principle I learnt. You may choose to consider it and may-be, call it a belief later. It’s called the principle of the hiding hand. Remember, how as a kid, you sat on a bicycle without even knowing if you’d be able to balance on it? Let’s just say an invisible hand provided the support. It did its magic and there you were not just riding but also showing off those zigzag movements with hands in the air.
What went wrong while growing up? Why did you stop taking risks? Why walking on a rope as an adult was suddenly not just about maintaining balance but a lot more. Fear of failure, of damaging your reputation and underestimating your own capabilities. Finding faults somehow became easier than following your heart. No, I’m not blaming you. We are taught to be safe than sorry. But how would you know what lies behind a mountain unless you cross it?
Last year, this time, I had taken a thought-out decision to quit my job as a tax consultant. It used to pay enough to afford decent rented accommodation, visit overpriced eateries often and pay hefty bills. Moreover, I could invest a part of the earnings for a secure future and still save almost one-third of it.
But the long hours, repetitive nature of work and gloomy Gurgaon days had totally fatigued me out. So, I took a long leap of faith and got out of ‘wake up-go to office-come back and sleep’ loop. The lure of owning four wheels and four walls was never my thing, anyway. Parting ways with a five year old committed relationship with the desk went smoothly. What next? I had no idea. The three tentative goals at this point were:
- A lot of me-time. To read, explore, write, sip coffee and go on long walks.
- Focus on choosing experiences over money-making.
- Looking for alternative and interesting yet meaningful ways to meet expenses.
Initially, the romanticism of travelling took over. So, in the first six months of this newly carved way of life, I gave chance to a lot of firsts. I signed up for a Himalayan trek, managed to successfully execute a couple of solo trips around Kerala, Maharashtra & Goa, interned with a small start-up working on rural tourism and even spent a couple of weeks in Bhutan. When not on-the-go, I was usually found in Delhi, cribbing about the city and dreaming of owning a book café in the mountains.
But, this surely wasn’t it. The intention to go back to the desk was non-existent. I was continuously looking for opportunities that involved relocating from Delhi, writing great content, frequent travel and/or making a significant difference in others’ lives. Any possibility of a combination of these would create enough anxiety to lose sleep.
The things I had initially worried about never happened. For example, the fear of being mugged on the dark streets of Varkala got replaced by a newfound faith in humanity of strangers on the road. The immediate urge to write for travel magazines & websites became a more controlled ambition now, to be achieved gradually without losing its essence.
Similarly, some unexpected occurrences followed. A few writing assignments that came my way were neither enough to gain financial stability nor to feed the soul. The short term volunteer projects weren’t helping anyone. The bank balance had hit an all-time low, and even the apartment’s rent was being paid out of savings.
With time and effort, complexities unfolded themselves. I found myself working with brands and people I believed in, on my own terms and conditions. My options and means to overcome obstacles were visible now. As much as I hate planned surprises, I began to love ones that take their natural course, and just show up.
So when Shahrukh Khan said, “Hamari filmo ki tarah, hamari zindagi mein bhi sab theek ho jaata hai“, may-be it wasn’t such a Bollywood thing at all. Perhaps it was derived from Albert O. Hirschman’s theory of the hiding hand I mentioned in the beginning of this article.
India Fellow already seems like a huge extension to my experimental phase of life. On the 10th day of fellowship, I’ve surprisingly landed in Harda, Madhya Pradesh, a town that was unknown and unheard to me, will most likely be home now. As per the instructions, I’ll be responsible for tasks ranging from setting up the office to filling in the management roles.
O the invisible & invincible! Get a hint.
Can think of any instances when this hand came to your rescue? I’m sure you do. Mind sharing in the comments below?
Nice post… I like it.. & I would like to join here. May I??
Thanks Sanchari. Do you mean you want to join India Fellow?
Really love the work you are doing Swati . It takes guts to leave a job and explore something new
Thanks Prajakta. And the way I see it, this is also a job, more interesting than the last one though 🙂
Hiding hand needed!!!!!
By the end of the fellowship, you’ll be saying, “the (invisible) hand that gives, gathers”. 🙂
Yashaswini (Batch of 2012)
Thanks for reading Yashaswini. Too early to think of the end but I suppose you’re right 🙂
A refreshing read Swati. You do have a flair for writing.
Glad to hear that. Thanks!