Any human you bump into inevitably changes you in some way. Some do it more so than others. And some, an even smaller number of people, open up worlds and possibilities that you didn't know existed, changing the course of your life in positive ways. The amount of time you spend with them doesn't matter as much as you would think. The capacity for change that brief moments hold is staggering. Although I think that the growth that happens in you flows across the boundaries of work and personal life, the consequences of the change are different along the various dimensions. I recently read in a book the stages a team goes through – forming, storming, norming and performing. I think that's true for any relationship. In fact, the storming phase of it, as I've come to realize, seems almost like a rite of passage to enjoying deeper bonds.
I've been told by my close ones that I tend to see the negative in things, that I criticize more than I appreciate. I knew that about myself, but my wife has shown me the extent to which I do that. I'm amazed at my ability to see gaps in seemingly perfect, good, and beautiful things, and I don't say that with pride. But I've also realized that that seems to be my innate type, something psychologists call the core personality traits that stay largely fixed through life. I'm high on introversion and neuroticism. At any given moment, there's at least one voice in my mind telling me what's not right. As I'm writing this, for example, I'm telling myself all the different reasons for why this post is badly written. Having said that, what I can do, with a little bit of introspection and intentionality, is get myself to appreciate people and things in my life every now and then. And today seems like as good a day as any other to do that.
The last five or so years have been transformative for me in various ways. So I thought I'd take some time today to name a few people who have changed the direction my life was headed in, for good. This is by no means an exhaustive list. I'm probably not even thinking straight, in the perpetual sleep deprived state I'm in lately.
The obvious ones, my family – Sahana, Anna, Madhuri, and the parents. Thank you for weathering and continuing to weather the storming phase that never ceases to exist with me! There are two more humans now, tiny humans, that I'm sure will shape my life immensely and in ways I can't imagine. They all keep me grounded to my roots and help me see and do things that I'm not particularly good at.
Brandon, Lohit, Ta, Joyce, Niven, Mai, Megan and Jie – They are all widely different people but we share commonalities in the way of curiosity, a growth-mindset and a sense of wonder, especially in the outdoors. They have inspired me in different ways – some by giving me the opportunity to tag along with them in their adventures, some through the conversations we've had, and some by just being who they are. They have helped me get on a journey of health, fitness, and pushing myself to do hard things, hard being relative.
Arnab and Shawn– It'd be an understatement to say that they have helped me professionally, because working with them and the conversations we have had have helped me in more ways. We think alike about different things, and are alike in different aspects.
There's a huge list of strangers I feel thankful towards, Scott Jurek, and Rich Roll, especially, but also all the authors whose books have given me constant food for thought, and have helped me question myself and everything around me. It's astonishing how much influence and impact strangers can have. Like it's said that we are what we eat, I think we are also the books we read.
There have also been people who have have left a bitter taste in my mouth from during the encounter but have shaped me in a good way, at least in hindsight. I'd rather not bump into them again, but I'm grateful nonetheless.
Finally, I can't thank California enough. It's well-known that the environment that you live in plays a huge role in what you do and who you become. This place opens up minds with its sunshine, mountains, deserts, oceans, people and culture.