Lost and Found
All who wander are not lost!
I reflect on this simple statement and think how it reflects the essence of my life journey. Sometimes I have wandered to explore the unknown because I was curious, I have wandered to experience something different, I have wandered because I was confused, I wandered sometimes because I wanted to find! – All who wander are not lost!
Let me share with you, how I wandered and lost myself at times and how I found myself again! This is a true story of Lost and found 🙂
The uninformed optimism – I still remember the “me” that was very naïve and uninformed, – came along with that the uninformed optimism. An optimism that comes because you don’t know that you can’t. Like the bumble bee does not know that it cannot fly scientifically given its body construct. I believed I was cut out to do something big ……. how, doing what, when? – No clue, but it did not matter. This served me well as a little girl and a teenager – I would challenge the status quo because I did not know the implications of the alternatives, I would push the boundary because I did not know what it takes to get to the other side of the boundary – many times I felt alone in this journey and have wondered should I just fall in line, will that be easy for me, my parents and others……? Every time I was unsure and confused and was wandering, my mother will tell me to follow my heart in her own naive Indian way. All the approval I needed was hers and the rest of the world did not matter to me – anyways they were not in agreement with me – some saw me as a rebel, some saw me as confused, adamant, some saw me as difficult – but it did not matter I was wandering to find not the obvious but the unknown – I had a license to do that granted by my mother. She held the container for me to evolve at my own pace, without constraining me which means she had to evolve herself too to keep up to my pace – now when I turn back and look at that ability of her to evolve to support her daughter who is refusing to be bound by the limits of the society – I admire her courage, love and authenticity with which she did that for me. I learnt two life lessons –
- The power of the “uninformed optimism” – sometimes just the belief will do, rest will follow with efforts and conviction.
- Love really liberates you – my mother’s love for me did that. She allowed me be confused, argumentative, questioning, adamant , firm , fragile and all of this she did without judging me but truly unconditionally loving – that’ a huge source of confidence and optimism that I still count on – one has to experience that magic to believe in it.
The Power of “And “
I grew up and the realities stared at me, my optimism had to be grounded upon information, possibilities, and probabilities and suddenly I felt life was happening at a pace that my dream cannot keep up to……falling in love, having children , career etc etc……….. I was wandering again now – do I want to have a normal life with all its components – a husband , children , career, dream house , a job…… OR do I want to drop them all and chase my dream …… after wandering for a while – I found there was something not right with my framing – I decided to replace the OR with AND . That gave me an inner strength that was priceless ….. Again uninformed optimism, it felt good for a while ….. But then I wandered again ……. can I really do it all?
Not AS YET
Can I really do it all ?- There were not many women around me at that point who were a proof to that belief I held that I can do it all – I saw they made tradeoffs all the time to get one over the other. As I saw and heard them it became hard to hold onto my optimism- tear and fear engulfed me. I am wandering now again….. hoping to see not the obvious but the unknown . I read a lot too during those days of late teens – my favorite was Bharathiyar Kavithaigal – a great source of inspiration and confidence – I recited few of his lines every night before going to bed – sometimes in my mind, sometimes loud enough that I disturbed my brothers ( no jokes every single day I did this ) –
நல்லதோர் வீணைசெய்தே, அதை நலங்கெடப் புழுதியில் எறிவதுண்டோ?
சொல்லடி சிவசக்தி! எனைச் சுடர்மிகும் அறிவுடன் படைத்து விட்டாய்.
வல்லமை தாராயோ, இந்த மாநிலம் பயனுற வாழ்வதற்கே………
Translation:(After making a good Veena, Is it thrown away to deteriorate in dust? Tell me Sivasakthi ( goddess ) You created me with intelligence like burning flames. Won’t you give me the ability , to live usefully to this great land. )
The song goes for another few more lines asking for clarity of mind, power of the will, a body that acts in accordance with the hearts will , longevity and so on …… I was wandering asking for that magical wand – I had an unquenchable urge but no means! After all I was a little girl with big dreams.
My mother and my grandmother always spoke about the need to be patient with ourselves – way too many times that I looked at patience as a sign of weakness, an excuse, and euphemism for inability. Little I knew I will discover the power of it through my own life experience.
You hear things , you read things , you reflect on and suddenly one day everything starts making sense – yes that happened when I was in my late 20s/ early 30s – after all that wandering I found the comfort to say : “No, I have not reached where I need to , Not as yet ! “ I am going to enjoy this journey with an unshakeable belief that I will get there with time! I learnt to say – No, not as yet with pride, not as an excuse, but as a source of reassurance.
The power of unpacking
We all pack so much ….. Just in case if we need it for the future journey – Only to realize we use very little of what we packed but we carry them around everywhere, the journey is heavy, undesirable and tiring. I am not one of those who had it easy in life – some experiences brings tears in my eyes even today – I found over these experiences sometimes I had grown to feel bitter, angry, wronged and that festers hatred . That made relating difficulty at many levels. When I became the mother the second time I found the power to unpack my life journey bag and weed out those negative emotions that was holding me back – I learnt to thank the people who gave me the strength, gave me the resilience, who continuously challenged me through their criticism and who through their strong believe that I will fail – actually encouraged me to prove them wrong. Without them I would not have become who I am. It was important for me to unpack my bag and declutter the negative feelings, so I can walk with an inner peace. Even now I may tear up when I think of my difficult days but I tear up with a smile now and not bitterness – The pain is real but so is forgiveness. Once I unpacked my bag – the wandering became much easier, so were the future discoveries…….. 🙂
One last thing – I worked and continue to work in a male dominant work world like many other successful women I know. Contrary to my early career beliefs, I do not believe it is difficult for us because we are women, it becomes difficult when we do not belong. This in my view was a break through evolution for me – once I realized it was very much in my hands to replace competition with collaboration, feminism with collectivism, acting tough with just being you, aggression with authenticity – the gender boundaries become blurry. Everyone wants to have place – if we do not offer one they assume one – it’s up to us to give them one – either beside us or against us. I chose to put everyone besides me and no one against me.
As I finish this writing and I get up look into the mirror and think – I love who I see, for everything she has gone through, she is still standing on her feet strong, with a smile on her face and hope in her eyes and believing in the power of uninformed optimism, the AND, Unpacking and continuing to wander…..knowing all who wander are not lost!
Kamali Rajesh, Head of Human Resources, Asia Pacific, Syngenta. With over 20 years of experience in different parts of the world she enjoys her role as a mother , wife and a successful leader. A proud mother of 2 children she says – that’s the role she enjoys and learns the most from 🙂
The views of the author are her personal views and does not reflect the views of the organization or its associates she is employed with.