Making Peace With My Past – III

July 2020

I remember sitting in front of my french glass window overlooking the sea, listening to Gravity by John Mayer at 8:20 am on a Sunday, after a long year living in the mountains.

While I was enjoying the view, a thought popped up in my mind. I couldn’t seem to grapple with the question I just asked myself.“If I didn’t enjoy the job why didn’t I leave? What was holding me back ?

Then I thought to myself usually when I come back from working in the mountains, I am content with the work along with the people I worked with. Yes, most definitely I was exhausted but never upset or anxious.

However, this time I came back after after four months due to COVID with an organsation and people I didn’t get along with. So having a blank mind in this case, was looked at with turbulently. The question I had asked myself that day was only half answered.

Also Read: Making peace with my Past: College Edition

August 2020

This month I read Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari. It’s a brief history of how mankind would proceed forward in the future using new technologies such as genetic engineering and artificial intelligence. I came across this statement that resonated much with me :

“Our narrating self would much prefer to continue suffering in the future, just so it won’t have to admit that our past suffering was devoid of all meaning.”

By Yuval Noah Harari

Yuval Harari Noah explained that we are not individual but ‘dividuals.’ He further went on to explain that the human brain has two hemispheres that control different sides of the body.

So the right hemisphere controls the left and vice versa. So basically he says that it exposes that there are two different selves within us – narrative and experiencing self.

The narrating self is what we remember once we have experienced something, it gives meaning to our experiences. While the experiencing self I quote, “is our moment to moment consciousness,” as per Mr Harari.

We can think about it as our New Year Resolution. A week before New Years, the narrating self has created a story around why we must hit the gym. However, when the times comes to hit the gym, the experiencing sense steps in, and says, “Nah buddy, I am good, let’s just Netflix and chill.”So this is exactly what happened to me.

My Dilemma

I joined in July 2019, I was okay with the work till mid-October, then I went home for leave. I thought it would make all the difference after a break. I was sadly mistaken. I spent two months in the blithering cold. My experiencing self was hella pissed off with me.

My intention for joining the fellowship was to do Vipassana, a ten-day silent retreat along with acquiring entrepreneurial skills and being trained as a leader. So my narrating self was like, “Yo leave in Jan after Vipassana .”

Through Vipassana I learnt to be at peace with myself, however, I was dissatisfied with work since I didn’t feel it was making any impact on the main stakeholder – the child.

At this point, my experiencing and narrating self conflicted.

Narrating self – “Wait till Mid March, do the assignments and then leave.” Experiencing self – “But I don’t enjoy the whole process of working in schools , so why.”

February was the time headmasters were trying to complete their syllabus as exams were to be held in March. At the same time, my organisation has their assignment that assesses the student learning outcome with the different interventions we did in schools over the past year. which were to be held within late Feb and early March thereby conflicting with the traditional examination system.

We were told to intervene in schools through activity-based learning, which usually involves students getting up from their seat and playing around, learn through fun activities, sometimes involving music and showing them videos. All in all, it was noisy and chaotic. But it was in progress to prove that fun can also be an efficient learning style.

This only further aggravated the headmasters since in traditional setting such as a remote rural school having a silent, obedient student was the sign of success and learning. However, what we were doing in schools was the opposite of what the traditional setting expected.

Along with that, the people around me thought I couldn’t complete a year since they thought I was a pampered city breed girl. I wanted to prove them wrong.

Now having read ‘Homo Deus’ by Mr Harari it has put my mind to rest. knowing exactly what held me back.

It was my narrating self that was hopeful for a better tomorrow (which sadly never arrived,)that made me feel all the work I had put in shouldn’t go to waste by leaving. This has also taught me a valuable lesson in life, no matter what life throws at Payal, she most definitely can handle it.

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