Excursions by Amit Gawande

Reflecting on the last 10 years

I recently came across the #10YearChallenge that was all the rage among the netizens. And, as is often the case with the memes on social media, it made no sense to me at all. Of course, how you look would change drastically over the decade. What’s so special about that?

But as he very often does, Sameer Vasta caught the spirit of the challenge perfectly. He posted an account of how his life and the world around has changed in the last decade. It’s a must read (and while you are there, may be you should also subscribe to his wonderful blog). His post inspired me to #retrospect on how the last decade has been for me.

I hit my archives right away to see what I was thinking about, was writing about a decade ago. I was in my early to mid twenties then and I had a guess I was busy being a crazy teen. I noticed I was writing my heart out, not thinking too seriously about anything. I wrote very poorly, but at the same time, freely. The immaturity in my thoughts and in my reading of the events around is pretty apparent in the posts.

However, I also came across this post about ambitions that I wrote in January of 2009. This observation of mine caught my attention (I couldn’t stop myself from fixing the prose to some extent).

If an ardent desire is what an ambition is all about, then yes, I must have had hundreds of ambitions by now. And the list has possibly grown to a thousands now with passing age. With each ambition I achieve, I have added a few more in the list. I know and still remember the whole gyan that a life lived without an ambition is like an arrow fired without an aim. But practically speaking, I feel it is impossible to lay the path for one’s whole life right at his or her birth.

It doesn’t matter how immature I sounded in most of the posts, one thing I appreciate about the decade-younger me was how free he was. He had a lot more to say and often said it in a manner that even the older, supposedly more mature me can’t disagree with.

I have held a lot of ardent desires, ambitions - some that have been fulfilled, many that haven’t been yet. But deep within, I had hoped that I will someday live a calm, peaceful life. Live amongst my loved ones. Gain respect in society, among colleagues, friends and acquaintances.

As I reflect today on an important decade gone by, I realize I have managed to work towards that ambition through many tricky, life-altering decisions. I am closer to my loved ones than I was a decade ago. I have married the love of my life. We are blessed with a lovely daughter who has become the center of our universe. Professionally, I have better clarity on where I want to be. I have found a circle of friends I can rely on during times of stress.

Sure the world around looks to be in shambles. There’s a definite lack of trust for the democratic structures, lack of trust between one another. The past few years have heightened the noise in our lives. No wonder then, people are losing faith. So it is tempting to give up to the pessimism around and stay grumpy.

But I also realized it was healthier to reflect inwards and seek optimism by working on things I can control. So, the fidgety teen from 10 years back has given way to the calmer, saner, thoughtful self of today. I feel content within and that is the most important thing.

Satisfaction. Yes, even the #10Year younger me would have, with pleasure, chosen that as an ambition.

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