Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Falling into a new routine

Well, work officially started and I have a lot on my plate already. But at least I can wake up each morning with some sense of purpose as opposed to "what do I want to do today?"

Before I talk about work, I'll briefly explain a couple things that have been going on. If you think about it, if I were to get up every morning and be able to choose what I want to do for the day... well I would say that sounds like freedom. Nothing impinges on your decisions, you can freely make a choice about what YOU want to do, not what others want you to do, or not what you need to do.

Being free sounds pretty nice, right?

Well I think we need to better define "free". Yeah, it was nice for sometime to be able to have that choice. But it can only take you so far.... Eventually you run out of things to do, or you begin to repeat things you've already done - but having to get up and choose everyday the tasks you want to accomplish; it takes a lot more out of you than people may realize. Well maybe just more out of me, but while I might be more "free" in doing exactly what I want to do, it doesn't always leave me happier, or in a better state of mind.

That is one thing I have been wrestling with. For most of our lives (hell, the life of America) we've been taught that freedom = happiness. Fight for your freedom so that you can be happy. What about those born into freedom... shouldn't they automatically be happy? Is that why so many American kids and teenagers (I'll use it again, but hell, most of America) are on anti-depressants?

Let's change that - fight oppression? That might make you happier, no one likes being oppressed. Fight for what you feel is right? Sure, we all try to be understood from time to time. But let's say you are fighting for your freedom. You'll never be free if that's the course you choose to take.

Let me explain... You fight for your freedom. You finally, after struggle, and hard-ship, obtain it. That deserves congratulations and some good ol' R&R. Now that you are free, to choose whatever you want to choose to do... that's it? That's the end? You can now lounge all day and wallow in freedom until you die?

Forgive my beating around the bush, I'll get to the point. You will never be free, because you've found something purposeful. To fight for something, to fight for a better way of life. Once you are free, you will surely be bored, and I would argue that many that begin such a task, could never divorce themselves from it. Once you obtain your own freedom, it almost seems inevitable that you are so used to fighting for what you think is right, it won't end there, and you will continue to fight.

So I argue a new way of thinking (if I can even do that) and that is the importance of finding purpose. Scratch that, finding purpose isn't new at all. But it doesn't have to be the grand purpose of the universe that burnt out traveling hippies are looking for. It doesn't even need to be biological as in what you do as a human that will best perpetuate our species - theres enough of us as it is. But find a purpose that YOU have chosen, and that you find some meaning from. Getting up everyday and having to think about what you want to do is just as impriosning as any other oppression (I feel thats a bit too strong of a word to use here, but I couldn't think of a better one). Instead, choose something that is purposeful, that gives you something to do everyday.

Going full circle and tying this back to work - what I am doing now for GCSD is by no means my life's dream. Nor is it going to be a life long career. But after going from a month and a half of solo travel, where I truly had the "freedom" of choosing what I want to do without anyone telling me otherwise, to getting up in the morning and knowing I have some tasks to complete.... it's a powerful feeling. And an important one at that. I feel more free in completing my tasks as a group than in choosing what I want to do on my lonesome.

And now that I DO have tasks, I'm falling into routine. And what a splendid routine it is! Here are how my days have been going.

Up at 6am for something small to eat. By 6:30 I meet up with some people from the local church and Living Hope Children's Home, just some ways down the road. We get together every morning and play soccer for an hour or two. Mostly it's John's brothers and some other people from the church that play. Either way it's a great way to get excercise in the morning, and wake up with the sun. After playing soccer (which I ride a cycle to get to), I cycle back home, picking up some milk along the way.

Then my day at home/the office begins. I heat up the milk, make some coffee and some breakfast, and relax on the balcony for some time. Shower, all that jazz and then work. Technically, the office time starts at 11am, but it is by no means strict. Since I am up early anyways, I usually begin working before that, while the house is still quiet. It's nice to be alone and work, listen to music, and complete smaller tasks without distractions.

Like I said, office time begins at 11 and usually goes until 6 or so. Since there are only three of us working though, those times are always shifting. It's not strange if we're still at our computers at 8 or 9 o'clock. And not cursing the work, or saying "Damn, I wish I was doing this." But just because things need to get done, so we do them. No huffing or puffing, no angry words... if you don't feel like working anymore, than stop.

But, (back to freedom), given that freedom that if you really can't take it, or it's just one of those days you are allowed to stop - I would say promotes us to work harder and longer. When you know you have that kind of freedom, it's like some weight is lifted off your shoulders, and strangely, through whatever reason, we work harder.

Take Apple for an example. Despite being retail, it was one of the best jobs I have ever worked. The people were great, the company was as understanding as possible for a huge corporation to be, and I was overall happy in the job. But when you have to push yourself to work sometimes, and you have to take your lunch at a certain hour (whether you are hungry or not) and things are strict and regulated, it takes a toll. It made me overall more lethargic towards my job.

Apple however, would not be able to operate as the three of us here at GCSD would be able to operate. And this is the part (for me) that requires a little foresight. This mentality of working here is a great way to work. However, it is very easy to say "I'll do it later" or "Right after this"... always one more excuse and things never get done. So as long as I keep my wits about me and get things done when they are presented to me, the three of us working here will all be a lot happier.

But enough of the stuff that's going on in my mind... let's get down to the meat of it.

What the heck am I doing anyways??

Here are a couple of my tasks - Writing grant proposals for our WE BUILD Program next summer. Although even if it doesn't get started up next summer, we are constantly building on materials and different avenues for when we're ready to get it rolling. I am also redesigning one of the websites as a test run - and if that's adequate, will hopefully be able to redesign the maine GCSD website. That's my biggest qualm - for serious awareness from other people, we're going to need a much more informative, interactive website.

Quick homework for you guys - click this link for our website: www.globalcitizens.org.in . Here's the question - what would you want to see on this website? What would keep you interested and clicking on our links?

You can either post the answer in the comments below, or e-mail me. All comments are appreciated.

Other than proposals and writing things, I am doing a lot of research as to how we can register GCSD in America or Europe. So a lot of writing, editing, research, a whole mess of things. And in a couple weeks we are co-organizing the 4th International Student Peace Festival in Chandigarh. Which is in the state of Punjab. We're specifically organizing Water Conservation day, which includes a bunch of films, open discussions, and lectures from some famous guest speakers. There will be people from all over the world at this festival so it will be good to connect with many different NGOs.

Before that though, I am pleased to announce my first solo business trip that I will be going on next week. Just to be safe, I can't describe the specifics of it, but my job is this: I'm going to Mysore on Friday, specifically H.D. Kote to observe a new program that a foundation is trying to get underway. They have just hired someone new to work with village children - and since children is a concern of ours, GCSD wants to partner with them.

However, we've never seen what they're doing, only been given their plan on paper. So I have to go an observe what they are doing, how they are doing, how well they are doing it etc. This new hire of theirs is also important, because if GCSD is going to partner with them, we want to make sure that he is good enough for the job. Especially in how he interacts with the children.

So Friday I go to Mysore (about a 3.5 hour bus ride) to observe the program, take pictures, ask a lot of questions and then compile a report about my impression of the program. If it feels good and they are doing their job well, then great, and we will more seriously consider parterning with them.

I'm just happy that I have been entrusted with this task alone, being very new to the GCSD culture.

On a final note, and back to doing something that gives you a sense of purpose - I want to make a note of why this NGO in paticular is giving me that feeling. There are many NGOs with hundreds or even a couple thousand employees and volunteers. It's nice to work for an NGO, and helping others, but in larger situations, voices get muffled and lost.

Since there are only three of us working in this office, everyone is heard, evaluated, and every comment considered. Figure it this way - I'm writing a proposal for a grant. Sure we will go back, delete stuff, edit it, re-word it, and in the end it might not even sound like my writing. But when we get the funds from that donor - something I have done inevitably made a difference. Even if it's something small - since it's a small company, every where we put our energy, counts.

And that is a gratifying feeling. To know that you made some sort of difference no matter how small or insignificant it may seem. We're all trying to change the world in someway, but you can't save people by one swing of your hand. It takes small changes over a long period of time.

So get cracking people! Everyone is waiting for you!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Norm,
    We will be following your efforts with alot of interest.
    At some point in time I'd like to see your organization chart. Is it on your web site now?