When I first started working at The Star almost 28 years ago, I loved coming in to the office. This was my dream job after all – I had always wanted to be a journalist and I was ever so lucky that after a relatively painless interview, which included questions about Monty Python, I was hired!
I was bursting with enthusiasm at the opportunities that came my way, which included travelling to far-off countries and interviewing celebrities whose posters once graced my walls. Through the years, I learnt many new skills, and I had wonderful mentors who moulded me into who I am today.
But I find, as I inch towards my 50th birthday – yes! I am turning 50, who’d have thought – I seem to have turned into a chronic complainer. Why do meetings drag on for so long? Why aren’t people shutting down their computers at day’s end? Why do people leave unwashed bowls and cups on their desks? Why are the toilets not flushed for crying out loud?
Could it be that I have just turned into a grumpy old coot? Almost everything seems to drive me nuts!
Worse, I have started viewing my job as a day prison of sorts. Somehow, somewhere, sometime, someone managed to brainwash me into giving up my freedom for a career! For three decades! And (no) thanks to technology, I feel like I am working seven days a week, 24/7, something many of you readers would empathise with too, I’m sure.
Someone pointed out that I have been taking work so seriously it is eating me up from the inside, sucking the soul out of me. And if I take a step back, I have to admit it’s not the job. I love my job, remember? So how exactly do I get out of this prison that I have built around myself? At the risk of sounding preachy (on a Sunday no less) I’ve come up with a plan with a handful of Ps, which I’ve gleaned through discussion, reading and observation. The plan involves: Prayer. Patience. Practice. People and their Passions.
Prayer, I reckon, is an opportunity to silence the noise around you and commune with God, whatever you perceive Him to be. I have found that prayer always helps so I have decided to make it a priority this year.
Patience is a tough one to habitualise. Often, things just take time, and the more we rush and race, the worse off we tend to be. Yet I always seem to be playing catch up or am thoroughly impatient for things to happen. I think the time has come for me to embrace patience more wholeheartedly this year.
Next up, practise. I have a little note on my computer’s monitor that asks, “What are you practising?” I remember having to practise my scales and arpeggios as a child and I would absolutely hate it. Ditto my times tables – mummy would rap my knuckles if I got them wrong, and I was forced to practise, practise, practise until I had committed them to memory.
Looking back, the results I reaped from that discipline have been nothing short of incredible. What you practise is what you will get good at. So why not practise the things that make you shine, and fill you with joy? It’s not rocket science.
Last but not least, I believe answers lie in the people around me. Aunt Annie finds so much peace in her garden – you can literally see it on her face and hear it in her voice when she talks about her potted petunias. Indra has rekindled a zest for life by baking and icing the most gorgeous cakes ever. Madhavan is happiest when he is solving riddles and vanquishing foes on his PlayStation 4. Becky seems to have discovered a shortcut to relaxation by crocheting in every spare second she has. She can become completely Zen in just a string of chain stitches and some double crotchets. Many senior couples I know who have been married for 40 or 50 years are happily spending their holidays travelling around the world together, visiting new places and embracing change.
I am, in fact, surrounded by people who have discovered secrets to healthy, happy living. They appear to have freed themselves from the shackles of drudgery by embracing their passions.
Sounds simple enough, right? I shall put my plan into action pronto. Here’s hoping that some positivity rubs off on me!