The year is coming to an end!!
It was almost a year back that on Oct 1, I commenced my year off from work to explore life. For the fourth time. Every time has been better than the previous time. The structure is always the same – do a few new things for myself, do a few things with the family and do a few things for the community.
The report card for the whole year, looking back, has a few hits and a few misses.
The following are of the category “When was the last time you did something for the first time?”
🙂 Learnt how to motorbike!! At the age of 52!! Have already posted nearly 4,500 miles (7,200km) under my belt. A long ways to go to be super confident (those dratted right turns around mountain corners 🙂 ) but I will get there some day, I hope!
🙂 That amazing Mongolia trip with Roger. It is a hard life they live but what a once-in-a-lifetime experience!! Those blank boarding passes, the sleeping in a new “ger” (nomad’s tent) every night, the alcohol made from mare’s milk, the sanddune-as-your-bathroom routine, the eagle on your hand, the experience of vast nothingness…. I do not think too many things can top that for me.
🙂 Some of the best family times – those international trips to countries we visited for the first time – Indonesia, Thailand, Aruba, Cancun (Mexico). Those 10 days of completely destination-less road trip with Sharmila. That Hilton Head beach vacation for just the two of us! Those trips to see Natasha in New York!
🙂 That character-building experience of spending a year in hospice units. Especially the memory care unit. Watching palliative care unit patients come in and then go away. Setting a perspective in life. And making every moment with them so momentous
🙂 Tried to push the minimalism curve. The closet now has literally one third of the clothes I used to have. The shoe closet? Reduced 90%!! (Have to admit – I am one step away from my dry cleaner missing their promised date from having a wardrobe disaster!)
The following belong to “It is all about human relationships” category
🙂 Continued with that old habit of running from my second time of year off. Ran in over half a dozen countries. Ran into a hostel mate in Cancun. But the best part? Running with Nikita – the latest runner in our family. She is faster than me. My slow speed never bothered her as much as my insistence on taking a picture together did!
🙂 Speaking of proud moments with daughter, watching Natasha grow up. Just in the last six months, she went to Germany and then Czech Republic by herself. And then went to Ghana. She is there now even as we speak for the next six months. To put this in perspective, first time I got a passport was when I was 10 years older than she is. And nobody in our entire family has ever set their foot on to that dark continent called Africa. Now she has!
🙂 Met so many unique people – remember finding that domestic help from the seventies in that remote village? or finding that farmer – who came in a ragged jacket – no less – who would put me up on his shoulder so that I could pick a tamarind or a mango from the trees in our village when I was not even five years old? finding Steve Martin’s birth place and sending a picture of that house to his mom? so many parents of my friends that I grew up with… that young entrepreneur from Colombia, those security guards and Uber drivers from Ghana and Burkina Faso… what a tapestry of people weaved my life!
And then there was the category of “Keep up with the habits”
🙂 Kept up with the learning cycles – new puzzles, new words, new word origins and lately everything about Africa!
🙂 Finished writing about 42 different gins from 1 different countries. Way too many cocktails. And now on to learning everything about mezcals. Read 6 different books on these subjects.
🙂 Almost completed finding all my elementary, middle school and high school teachers and visiting them. The last one was during Sharmila and my aimless road drive.
🙂 Got lot more disciplined on food and sleep habits.
🙂 Called 3000 people to wish them happy birthday!
🙂 Called my mom and brother daily!
🙂 Played tabla – mostly to our dog Jay Jay, who is not exactly known for his high standards in music!!
🙂 Now, have readers from 132 countries reading my blog!
But there were things I wish I had done better
(o) I ran a lot but not how much I used to run before. Frankly, for the third time in my running career, I find I need some inspiration or goal to push myself.
(o) I never could get myself into mediation. I wanted to. I gave the time. But I have not yet learnt the trick how to control my mind.
(o) I helped a few Year Up students and mentored them. I wish I could spend more time with them. I know they wanted to. And that is a regret I will have.
(o) Similarly, five budding entrepreneurs let me advise them as they built their companies. But I could not spend as much time as I wanted to. Or, as I understand, they wanted me to either. That is another regret I will have.
Nothing was more frustrating than the ones that I missed miserably
🙁 I always wanted to take Sharmila and Nikita for a couple of boat rides in local lakes this summer. Never got even one of them done.
🙁 I tried my best to see how to be a teacher in a high school or an university. I was even willing to do it for free. In spite of my best intentions and a lot of effort, I came to the conclusion that the bureaucracy of the process to do so was so high that I will never be able to get myself there.
🙁 And then there were the life changing events of my dad having a brain stroke and losing his right side of the body and then fighting back to get most of it back. Only to see my very healthy father in law who I was close to move on from this world.
Something good from my failures did come at the end though…
I was very frustrated that I could not get myself in a position to teach high school kids. I wanted to teach Math and Physics.
But I have been able to take that failure and pivot it to the next best thing. I will now be able to combine my wanting to help K-12 kids in school and a little professional ability to run businesses as I move to my next career move. I will join my new set of team mates who are focused not only helping the common student but also in identifying the specially talented ones as well as the ones who have special needs so that every one can have the best education and life for themselves.
Further, my new team mates are focusing on helping detect early signs of dementia, Alzheimer’s and other mental degeneration … you know like the ones I was spending my hospice hours with.
The year off could not have gotten any better!
The year off could not have ended any better either!!
Please accept my sincere gratitude to all of you who have spent time with me in the last year or encouraged me in my journey in large and small ways (you will be surprised how small things like encouraging comments in Facebook or my blog mean a big thing to me when I read them later).
And wish me luck as I start another new chapter in life with another incredible team.