Wilderness

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I sometimes wonder if it is good be structured and perfect in everything we do in life. Or is it it a great idea to be wild and crazy in life. The truth may lie somewhere in between these two extremes. In my early career and life I always believed that systems and processes can solve everything in life. This belief continued till I read a book that challenged all my assumptions in life and work.

This book made me realize that if we have the courage to break all the rules, we may not only survive but we may even be able to thrive. This turned my belief systems upside down. I started challenging my own mindset and started experimenting. This led to new pathways and new insights in my life and work. I was more flexible and open to newer ideas.

Life became more exciting. I did not give up my belief in systems or processes. However, I started believing that systems were not an end in themselves. They were only a means to an end. As long as one is able to make this distinction, systems and processes do play a role to improve your efficiency and effectiveness in life. If a system or a process does not serve a purpose, we should have the courage to challenge the same or even give it up without a second thought.

On the other hand, to explore wilderness without an end in mind might be a wild goose chase. We need to balance the creative and analytical part of our being. The left and right brain of ours have to find a mid way in dealing with issues. It may be a good idea to be structured in all our problem solving methods but willing to give up structure if the need arises and the problem never gets resolved with that system or process.

While structure provides direction, wilderness creates the space for creativity. I remember once leaving my home with my spouse for a holiday. Normally, we would plan everything from the place to stay, the route to take and even the stops on the way. This time we decided to leave home without a destination in mind. We drove the car through the city and decided to drive on to the highway which was empty that day.

We landed in a temple town around 300 kms from Bangalore, which we had not visited earlier. On reaching this place, we did not get any accommodation since it was a festival day. We could not even visit the main temple in that city. So, we took a diversion and tried to stay on some small motel on the highway. It was adventurous but fun. Then we visited another temple city, which is in the midst of a beautiful forest. This was one of the best drives in our lives so far.

So, structure may be desirable in most situations. But structure may be the barrier to solve some problems in our lives. We need to be flexible to adopt a structural approach or be willing to explore in wilderness. Either way a solution may not be guaranteed. However, our ability to be willing to experiment makes our chances of success better.

Life is journey. We may define our goals in life and pursue them. We may succeed at most times if we are willing to work hard and go about systematically. However, if there are some unforeseen events or stops on the way, let us not get bewildered. It’s fun to be deal with the wild and crazy part of our lives. We have to believe that we are not alone and many others would have faced such situations.

It may be fun to take the road in the forest, ( as in the photo above) sometimes even without knowing your ultimate destination.

Let us enjoy the wilderness.

S Ramesh Shankar

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