Friday, September 7, 2012

On wanting to work

I sit here not sure about what to do, my mind scattered, shooting in different directions. Yesterday was a difficult day because of some emails I had to respond to, some seemed to be threatening, while others hopeful but needed a measured response. In the end I got it done, leaving the office near 7pm and going to the gym. Yesterday I missed certain appointments that I wanted to attend: a compulsory meeting and a racquet ball overview at the gym and felt bad about it. Nevertheless, I felt better after doing 30 minutes in the cross-trainer and a few minutes in the sauna. The exercise had invigorated me; earlier I did not want to go to the gym and exercise but was glad I did. I got home at past 8 pm; ate dinner of chili crab, rice and pork chop, a glass of wine and grapes.

This week is significant for me because it’s closing week, finalizing the transaction to complete a significant investment. I calculated the cash flow with a spreadsheet and planned a way to liquidate some investments in Singapore if cash is needed to keep me up. The fear is that one’s finances is being stretched, spending more than what one brings in. Luckily I have Excel and I think the spreadsheet tool is possibly one of the best things invented in modern life, with the financial planning that one needs to do to keep up. Going back to my story: I needed to call insurance agents, evaluate premiums, call the movers, and call the phone and cable company and so on so everything will be in place when the move is done in the coming weeks. My wife is not around so I had to do this preparation while doing a lot of housework.

Compounding the stress is the work on my 2 projects at the office, now kicking into gear as the year ends, plus the fact that I am attending 4 classes online: a creative writing class, gamefication, handling large data and model thinking. Stupidly I have increased my reading and watching movies, too. In Orhan Pamuk’s recent lectures, he wrote about his rush to read books, to find out about the secret center of the novel, like some hidden confidence provided by the author that will explain the meaning of life. I had that urge and I still have it now in my middle age but wasted in triviality; a constant urge to read the latest bestseller or some trivial Hollywood biography or Vanity Fair article or watch some obscure movie by a German auteur director. As Pamuk pointed out:  to be part of elite, to be able to have bragging rights that one is in the know – a cognoscente.

This is the rat race: a constant journey to be someone at least in one’s own eyes. What does one want really in life? For some it may not be more money, more houses and cars but maybe just being a cultural maven. This brings me back to work, where one is not motivated on the task at hand because one has no ambition to earn more. Instead the literary savant continues to read and find meaning from external things like books and movies and experiences. But recently, the writing exercises has made me realize that I am a long way from my goal – more work is needed but I see the way clear in my mind. It was interesting to see the documentary ‘New York’ last night. The episode featured F. Scott Fitzgerald – a writer I had not paid much attention, instead focusing on his friend Hemingway. Reading his short stories and life, perhaps he is much closer to my own than anyone else. I just missed the road that he had taken and instead indulged myself, following Hemingway’s clarion call.

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