Give me a reason

No great war

“We’re the middle children of history…. no purpose or place. We have no Great War, no Great Depression. Our great war is a spiritual war. Our great depression is our lives.”

I’m generally not one of the ‘publicly introspective’ types. When you have a lot of time sitting semi-idle (semi can be attributed to angry birds) during daily commutes, or in the case of the last year, in class, you get a lot of time to introspect. However, 99% of this is not shared with any part of the universe. Thats why its called introspection. Not ‘outrospection’.

This is going to be one of those exceptions. The last few weeks, punctuated as they are by my return to working (and blogging) after a 1-year hiatus from both while at business school, has been filled with the ‘why’ and ‘what’s the point’ questions of an existential nature. The boiling-fishbowl atmosphere of a Business School is just enough out of sync with the rest of reality to make you question everything once back in the real world. This has led me to thinking about purpose, and its importance in life in its most prosaic form.

I make no bones of the fact that many things I did in the last half-decase, including starting and continuing this blog, were done with an eye on a future Business School application. Be it blogging to develop the ability to coherently argue a position, or various career choices, can all be viewed and justified through the lens of a Business School admission. This was purpose.

I’ve been getting steadily more and more sporty over time. Other than the immediate rush of playing, there’s an underlying purpose to deny both age and my genetic physical inheritance. This is purpose.

Everyone, without exception, has some driving purpose (or more than one) that kicks them out of bed every morning. The eponymous Macintosh ad of 1984, or the selfsame Orwellian book, are but vivid nightmares of a world without the freedom to give life purpose. Ayn Rand too. This is what free will is fundamentally about. Not about what clothes to wear or what to say, but setting the direction of days of future yet to pass.

For some, it may be earning a living, for some it may be raising a family. (Though I would posit that anyone driven by things to everyday is selling themselves short). Purpose will change over time, as they are met, or priorities and world-views change. There may be intermissions, but the show always goes on.

Philosophers would have us sitting and thinking about the deeper meanings of life and pondering fairly simple questions at a almost pointlessly existential level.

“Why am I here?” – Some answer, any answer that makes the heart beat a little faster is enough.

Mark Zuckerberg, to grab a handy example, wants to “give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected” . Ronaldo (the real one) wanted to score goals.

Such as it is, I stand now at a crossroads in life. The great wars and great depressions that gave me reasons are done. In terms of what I can do, I have little left to prove.

I will find my next great war. We all do. We may deny it, we may postpone it in the name of earning a living, but it’s there.

What is your great war? What makes you do things? Why are you here?

Ipads, College and Self-Fulfilling prophesies

I had a fairly interesting conversation with a friend yesterday. He was walking around with an Ipad.

Me: That’s an Ipad? Hmm…smaller than I remember it. (Aside: Ignoring the entire tablet product category is a patented personality trait. I’d last paid attention to any Ipad several months ago)

Friend: Yes. Yes it is.

Me: Smaller than I remember it. I thought the Galaxy Tab was this big. (Aside: I remembered them being ‘larger than a mobile’, and little more)

Friend: Nah, the Tab is smaller,

<other minor talk about the merits of Tabs and Pads. Apparently, they are different>

Friend: The Ipad is awesome, it’s designed at the perfect size for people to read digital magazines.

Me: (Confused) Who figured that out?

Friend: Steve Jobs said that its this size.

That got me thinking about the power of suggestion, especially when coupled to massive stature of the suggestor. The IPad may or may not be the perfect size for reading digital publications. Whether it is or isn’t is irrelevant. Steve Jobs, leveraging his (well-earned) stature as a technological prophet, said that it is so, and it is so. Would the other bald Steve (Ballmer) be able to pull off something like this? Probably not. Actually he’d probably ending ensuring the diametrical opposite of his prophecies.

Scene shift to college, both old and new. I’m studying at the Indian School of Business. The School prides itself on its intense, 1-year, “roller-coaster” program that compresses the value and learning of a full 2-year program into 12 months. This is true. The last 2 months have been a furious maelstrom of classes, parties, sports, assignments, projects, clubs, more parties and a chance to breathe every once in a while. However, I can’t help but wonder if maybe the schedule is suboptimal, and the powers-that-are have set up an intentionally roller-coaster schedule because the program is a roller-coaster? Or am I, under the power of potent suggestion, looking for ‘roller-coasteriness’ where it is no more than a normally hectic schedule? Previous college, which shall go unnamed, had built up, and was proud of, its reputation for being absurdly hard. Were things hard because they were hard or because they needed to live up to that reputation? I can’t answer that.

Uncomfortable flights, inertia-laden bureaucracy, wild-driving New York Cabs and rude new yorkers, stoned Jamaicans. Effect causes reputation or reputation causes effect?

Power of suggestions. Self-fulfilling prophecies. Directed willpower. Call it whatever, they certainly make the colors of reality a little more saturated.