Saturday, July 01, 2006

Who are you?

"What do you do?" someone asks.

"I…," is my standard first answer. And then I spend a few seconds fabricating my reply, while thoroughly evaluating the expectations of the questioner. I give them the answer they want to hear so they will not persist with foolish meddlesome persistent curiosity. To those who can understand, however, I tell the truth.

"I get up everyday, and answer the question: what is the most important thing in the world to do, and how can I contribute towards doing it? Then I do it, and educate others about it." In short, I am a philosopher to the best of my curiosity. I am an entrepreneur to the best of my ability. I am a teacher to the best of my knowledge.

To the ordinary questioner, I give any of these answers: I work for a TV channel (I no longer do). I teach MBA students (also, no longer). I have my own business – if they ask what, I give a detailed plan and function of any business my mind chooses to create at that moment – after all, I teach entrepreneurship and it's fun to create a business on the fly. What's the use of imagination if it's not used to amuse?

The truth is, I do all these three, and then some. And I do not wish to be known by any of these identities, because one firing or resignation or business failure or success can terminate these identities or promote me from them, and I have no long-lasting love for temporary things.

It's like racing in the Monte Carlo Grand Prix and saying that I am driving to a pit stop. I need the pit stop, but I don't want it to define my eternal track.

In answering with temporary questions to people who have no sense of purpose and destination – people who I see stationed firmly at a place in time and believing that they are moving just because everything else around them is – I do not wish to etch on their minds a fixed notion of me, because it will, through the collective wisdom and knowledge of the world, somehow travel back and etch that description on my mind too. After all, there is no one-way force in the world and we all influence one other.

Yet this is a lower level of self-identification and courage for me. It is true that it is much better to just tell them, "I am a philosopher, I undertake enterprise, and I teach. I have substance, and assume any form using the capacity-to-choose that mankind is endowed with. Above all, I understand it's ultimately not my choice, but my calling. I wake up everyday, and answer the call."

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