“You are what exists before all stories. You are what remains when the story is understood.”
Byron Katie, American speaker & author of “The Work”
I muse about this Coaching question asked me.
So what is my story? As I think of this, I see its tentacles going into the past.
The year is 1911. A lowly placed accounts clerk of the British Accounts Service in India boards the Kalka Mail train from Calcutta with his family. He is shifting home to Delhi in accordance with the British colonial Government’s decision to shift the administrative capital of the Indian subcontinent there. He is following his work, the only thing he knows that sustains him and his family. He is my grandfather.
Fast forward fifty years and it is my father in the midst of a career in the Indian Audit and Accounts service. Now settled in Delhi, the capital of independent India. Content with a middle class lifestyle. So grooved in his office work that he feels insecure to take up an exciting consular opportunity in the US. He regrets it citing family constraints.
Fast forward another fifty years and it is I sitting at the desk in my office wondering what next. Having been on a sometimes exciting, sometimes lacklustre roller coaster ride through diverse business areas for three decades, I can claim fair knowledge of the nuts and bolts of corporate working. But like my grandfather and father, I see my work primarily as the means to provide a comfortable life to me and my family.
My story. The story in which working at an office desk equates to life comfort and sustenance. The story which I accept as me. And as I accept, I see it gaining power and dictating what I do. I see it protecting me in a ‘safe box’. As it allows me to peep through my perception coloured lenses and read meaning about the world at large. But as it protects, do I also see it confining and preventing me from setting forth, taking risks and achieving my true potential?
What is it that has embedded this ‘office work’ DNA in me thus? What is it that has made it such an integral part of my story? As I muse, I sense that in my office work DNA resides a gene harking back to the industrial revolution. A gene that through generations has altered my value system. And made me shift towards valuing business growth, productivity and profits over beauty, compassion, love and community ties. Over generations, the gene has also lured me away from simplicity and frugality and towards materialism. An attachment to materialistic possessions which has fuelled insecurity. And has manifested in my life through frantic work schedules, technology tying me down 24X7, scarcely any time to “stop by the woods” or “wander lonely as a cloud”.
So, who would I be without my story? Who would I be if I could shed the above DNA and gene? Would I have that glorious opportunity to start from a place where I am no longer confined and am free to define and implement what I think is important? What do I see?
I see myself slowing down, without the pressures of societal expectations of wealth and ownership. As I take personal responsibility to do that which is meaningful, creative and liberating to me.
I see myself effortlessly crossing those artificial barriers created by economic, social and racial compulsions.
I see in me the birth of a great willingness to learn. From all corners of the world. Unfettered and unhampered by beliefs of my education and experience.
Like the return of the Jedi, I see in me the comeback of the human heart. As I acknowledge intrinsic qualities like Empathy, Faith, Creativity and Interconnectedness and bring them centre stage.
I see how work would look like for me. Passion…. Art…… the pulse of the environment.
Who would I be without my stories?
Like a tree
Without the rustle of the leaves
To the Inside
Inside the inside
A space so wide
It has no centre
Because it is centre
From Caitlin Frost’s Web log
In learning………………… Shakti Ghosal