Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Happiness Of Pursuit

Two years ago, my life took an unexpected turn. I set out to explore new paths, to scale new peaks. The journey hasn't ended. I don't know how it will end. Actually, I don't even want the journey to end.

The future remains uncertain and unknown. Am I worried? Not really. Am I happy? Yes. For, to me, life is not just about the pursuit of happiness. Life's also about the happiness of pursuit.

The American Dream - Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness

Where I Am Now, Where I Am Going

I'm in a good place, and going places.

I'm working in a reputable multinational company, that's reputed to take care of its employees well. I have fortuitous opportunities to travel for work all over the world. I'm in more control of my working hours, as compared to my days as a young lawyer toiling at the mercy of demanding clients and bosses. I earn a decent remuneration package.

People keep coming up to me asking for advice, as if I've meticulously plotted my career path from the start. They're probably asking the wrong person, because I didn't. If someone had told me I'd be where I am today five years ago when I graduated from law school, I would have laughed: "In-house counsel? Get out of here! I wanna be a court lawyer!"

I didn't expect to end up this way. Then again, neither am I surprised. I'm actually the fickle type who makes it up as I go along. I didn't even plan on studying law until I was around eighteen.

Where am I going? Don't know, don't care. I don't have a fixed destination in life. I don't know where I'll be in five years' time. I'm just enjoying the journey. I'm just walking down paths and scaling peaks that nourishes my soul, one day at a time, one step at a time.

And being armed with such a mindset - believe it or not - is why I'm going places.

This dream is over. For now.

Doing It My Way

Many people see me as a rebel and trouble-maker. Maybe I am. I care little for titles, anyway. I am who I am, and not who people expect me to be. I do things because I want to, and not because people tell me to.

By conventional standards, I was a rather bad student in law school. I regularly skipped lectures, to save time and energy to study at night when my brain is most alert. I detest analysing and doing past-year questions before examinations. I spurn the recommended reading materials, and instead turn to dusty books in the library to read on topics outside the syllabus. Jurisprudence was my favourite subject - I scored a C+ in my finals. 

Want to be a First-Class student? Then don't do any of the things I just mentioned.

The spirit of inquisition - that's what drives me. I was never a top scorer, only a dreamy explorer perhaps. I wasn't satisfied with knowing what the law is. I wanted to know why the law is the way it is, and whether it ought to stay the way it is. I stumbled through graduation on a windy, rocky path. No regrets, except for one - not exploring, expanding, experimenting and essentially stumbling around even more

Each stumble sharpened my sight and strengthened my resolve. By taking a circuitous route to reach from Point A to Point B, I got to learn more than two alphabets.

My state of preparedness before tutorials

Practising law didn't seem very different from studying law. Senior lawyers inundated me with precious precedents, just like how lecturers and senior students had inundated me with lecture notes and examination tips. 

Screw that shit. I take a dim view on poor templates replete with poor drafting, Hence I went on ahead to create my own templates for witness statements and legal submissions. Not just a single 'one-size-fits-all' template, but a few different templates, depending on the needs of each case. To the extent that some former colleagues would complain to me (half-jokingly): "Can you stop making new templates? I started drafting based on the one my boss gave me the last time, and then later he tells me to use a newer one that you just created!".

I take joy not only from my end work product and the rewards it bring, but also from the arduous process of working itself. I take joy from the head-scratching, hair-tearing, feet-pacing, hand-shaking and heart-thumping moments. I wouldn't want to live my life any other way.

Happiness of Pursuit

What keeps me going in life - and not just in work - is the happiness derived from the pursuit for happiness itself. If the journey isn't fun and fulfilling, then the destination is not worth aiming for.

I vividly remember a short play I witnessed at a Christian camp many, many years ago:
A man is in a room. He plays chess and checkers with a woman. He wins each game. He is hungry for food. He is served exactly what he craves for. He doesn't need to work. He spends all his time chillaxing. When he gets randy, the woman obliges his every hormonal desire (okay, I'm probably embellishing this part). Finally, one day, the man exclaims: "Look, I'm sick of all this. It's so boring! Heaven sucks!" The woman smiles sweetly and replies: "Whoever said this was heaven?"

Life is all about the dreaming and striving. Life shouldn't be easy. Life is all about pushing ourselves to reach new heights. Life should be challenging.

Pursuit of Happiness (Project X Style): Heaven Or Hell?

Many among us might not mind leading a sedentary and sybaritic lifestyle without breaking a sweat, if given a choice. Retirement is the ultimate destination, after all.

But here's the thing about climbing peaks. How much time do you spend climbing, how much time do you spend standing on the peak? Definitely the climbing takes a longer time. If you don't enjoy the climbing, then you won't be enjoying the majority of your lifetime.

Then there are those lucky sods who can afford a helicopter to fly them straight onto any peak. Sure, the joy of standing on the peak is absolutely euphoric. But you know what? Climbing can be equally, if not more, euphoric. And if you miss the climb, you're missing out on a whole facet of life. The feeling of reaping the fruits from the seeds that you've sown cannot be artificially manufactured. People all want short-cuts to success. But I don't. To me, reaching a peak is not a success if I've not made the climb myself. 

Choose your path wisely. Otherwise, you'll won't enjoy the journey. Work your passion. No amount of money, food and material objects can nourish your soul. Only passion can. Passion is its own prize.

Take John Legend. Most know him as a Grammy Award-winning singer and songwriter. Few may know that he previously worked as a management consultant for 3 years at a top management firm, Bolton Consulting Group (BCG), juggling gigs between long working hours churning out Power Point slides and Excel sheets. Presently, he's a social activist serving in various NGOs dedicated to 'break the cycle of poverty through education', and the host of TED Talks Education. What's the secret of his success? Perhaps the answer may be found in his stirring live performance on the TED stage, where he soulfully croons: "Don't be afraid... to let them show... your true colours..."

Right Here, Right Now

Till today, I still don't know what I'm looking for in life. I'm still searching for the light.

That's fine. Pursuing is living. Pursuing makes me happy.

No comments :

Post a Comment