A year ago I was in Germany (Berlin) and it was a beautiful Saturday evening. I was alone and feeling bored. Then I suddenly remembered about a book my friend recommended to me, specifically one particular story. I picked up the book and start reading the story my friend suggested.
After reading the story I had no words, no thoughts…nothing. I was just sitting there without any thoughts or emotions for few minutes. And then tears start rolling on my cheeks without even me realizing it.
Just imagine, how do you feel if I suggest you to read the story of a man who born and grew up a in a small village, get married, become old and died one day. That’s it. He is not some great visionary…he didn’t try to put a dent in the universe..he didn’t invent any life changing technology…he didn’t build any spaceships to move humans to a different planet once we screw up planet Earth. Nothing. As I said, it’s just the story of a man who grew up as an ordinary man, took care of his family, grew old and died one fine day in his sleep.
You may not find the story very interesting and most likely don’t bother to read it at all. But then why I moved by the story so much??!! What did I find so touching in that story?
The book name is Amaravati Kathalu written by Satyam Sankaramanchi and the story is ఒక రోజెళ్ళిపోయింది.
Life is really interesting. What you find very boring today may become the most interesting thing one day. What you find so exciting today may look like a stupid thing another day. As you grew up the way you look at things change, your perception towards others will change.
Let me tell you why I found that story so fascinating.
Once I completed my post-graduation I moved to Hyderabad in search of a job and fortunately I got a job with the help of few friends. Once I started working I find many things interesting and started learning more and more. Like everyone I also want to become successful in my career.
As a responsible 21st century citizen I asked Google how to become successful in career, then so many enlightened people suggested some amazing books which broadly categorized into Personality Development or Self Help books. I started reading them and oh man I started feeling more energetic, more mature and more knowledgeable.
Until few days ago I was just a normal guy who is working hard just to make a living. Not anymore. I am not a normal guy anymore and I just don’t want to be “Just another software engineer among the millions of software engineers across the globe”. I need to figure out why GOD brought me into this world, define my life goals and I should work hard to achieve them and fulfill my destiny. I was convinced that If I have strong will and be deterministic, nothing can stop me.
As if this is not sufficient, while watching movies when a father figure or a monk tell his disciple that Being born as a nobody is not your mistake, but dying as an unknown is your mistake, it feels like the Monk is directly talking to me :-)
After going through all this inspirational journey I am well on my way to achieve the greatness. Yes, I will become a master of what I do and let the world know about me.
I spent every minute of my free time to learn something. I think about how to apply the knowledge I just gained while taking shower, while driving to office and while coming back to home also. I keep on practicing what I learned everyday after work hours and on weekends as well. I have been blogging about the stuff I learned as well. People started reading my blog and thanking me for sharing my learnings. Wow…I am on my way to achieve the greatness.
I call all this excitement as Passion. Yes, I am a very Passionate Developer. I am obsessed with this Passion for what I do to an extent that if somebody calls Hey, passionate developer I would immediately turn my head and say Yes, what can I do for you?. Yes, Passionate Developer is my surname now.
After gaining this much of knowledge how can I control myself without sharing all my wisdom on Social Media!!! I shared my learnings, thoughts and my wisdom on Twitter and people started following me and they are even Likeing many things I say. The more they Like & Retweet the more I feel obligated to post my innovative thoughts and be a cool dude. Oh this is some tiresome job!!
After few years…
Waiting is not a pleasant thing. Especially waiting at hospital for health check up is definitely not a pleasant thing. On my ambitious journey of fulfilling my destiny I ignored few little things like Health, Family and Friends. As a token of appreciation to all my awesome work I have been doing so far, I was rewarded with back pain, neck pain and eyesight issues.
After a while I got some other health issue and I had to go through a minor surgery. The doctors did the surgery and I just need to take bed rest for a couple of weeks. During the surgery my wife stayed with me all the times supporting me in every possible way. My family members and a couple my friends who live in the same city are with me helping to get the medicine and arranging food, transportation etc. After couple of days under the doctor’s observation I got discharged. But I couldn’t get rid of one thought that has been lingering on my head.
The people who are really with me when I need help are not the people I am trying hard to impress. I was trying hard to impress the people who are 1000’s of miles away from me and most likely I may never meet them in person.
This very thought rises few questions How I am actually living my life?, How much time I am spending with my family?, How often I am spending some time with friends? and the answers are not something I am proud of :-(.
But what I am doing wrong?? What’s is wrong in being passionate about work? What is wrong in doing something that I love to do?
There is nothing wrong in being passionate about your work and you can spend time doing what you love todo. But what I haven’t realized is I missed to balance the things.
I am in my late 30’s now. I have been on this mission of “achieving greatness” since I was 28 years old. For a typical Indian software engineer who came from a middle class background age between 25 to 35 is the prime time. That is when they start earning decent money and can spend money on buying things, visiting the places etc. In that age they have money and energy to have fun in life.
If you are about to throw Age is just a number quotation, Wait. The reality could be a bit different than what you seen on those “Age is just a number” inspirational videos on YouTube. With years of working in IT there is a good chance of screwing up your health because of long sitting hours. You might not have that much energy to go around the world and see places. You might have kids and going for vacation with Kids is not that easy. Or, even if you have energy you might not want your kids to skip their classes or you might be busy when kids has holidays. With age lot of things comes up.
I spent all my prime time doing what??? Oh man…those countless hours of passion for programming poured into my laptop!!. I pat on my shoulder and said Well done dude…well done.
In those 2 weeks of bed rest time I started thinking Where it all started going wrong?. I was not like this when I started my job!! Then I realized what those amazing Personality Development and Self Help books did to me.
You may see people praising some Self Help books like How to Win Friends and Influence People saying they helped a lot in growing their career. But what people don’t realize is these smart ass sweet talking tricks may help in doing business, but they won’t help building long lasting relationships. The long lasting relationships form over the time with honesty, genuine bonding and sticking together in hard times.
It is wise to see who and what is more important in our life and cherish time with them rather than impressing the people across the globe.
Now coming back to the story, the man Pichaiah didn’t bother to impress the world. He lived in his small beautiful world. He took care of his family. He daily talked to his close friend. He enjoyed watching kids playing. He count the the number of flowers flourish in his home garden. He lived a simple, but fulfilling life.
When I read the last sentence in that story it felt like a tight slap on my face.
పిచ్చయ్య గారు ఏవీ సాధించలేదు. తగాదాలు తీర్చలేదు. సమస్యలు చర్చించలేదు. కానీ కాలానికి తెలియకుండా కాలంలో కలిసిపోయి బతికాడు. అది చాలదా ? చాలటం లేదు చాలా మందికి.
Rough translation for those who can’t understand Telugu:
Mr Pichaiah didn’t achieve anything. He didn’t resolve any fights. He didn’t discuss any problems. He lived a simple life. Isn’t it sufficient? It seems not sufficient for many.
You may think like if everyone settles for a simple life how the world will move forward?. Yes, if you are skilled enough and want to make a world better place to live you can do so. But in any case nothing is more important than being with family and friends. The sooner you realize the better 😄