The Pain and Joy of Running and Again Rotary?

Today ever since I got up, I have been at the computer writing letters and now writing to myself. Though I know I am writing to myself, I know one or two people will read my thoughts and I become self-conscious. At times, it feels like playing to the gallery. That can’t be helped, I must continue writing and do everything possible to be true to myself and not write to impress others.

Today I did not go for my run in Defence Colony. Yesterday I did. I ran non-stop for about 7 km, though my ankle hurt quite a bit. (The rubber ice pack device which I bought in the evening, should ease things for me).

It feels good to run. Yesterday as I ran, I resisted the temptation to succumb to the weakness of the mind that egged me on to stop and relax. I carried on despite those pleasant invitations to be easy on myself. Once I completed the run, there was that satisfaction that I did not yield. I know I have it in me to do 21 km within a fortnight. I must explore that possibility.

Running on when you want to stop and relax is fighting the good fight. I wish it permeated other things I do. These days, after I wake up to the sound of the alarm, I laze on the bed and at times I go back to sleep. I lose the good fight most of the time. There is nothing like waking up with a spring as the alarm goes off, banishing those evil fears that besiege me and getting ready in fast motion instead of slow motion. Yesterday morning I got ready quite fast unlike how it was the day before yesterday.

As I run, I sometimes remember to see the world around me. I hear the birds chirping. And I hear the silences of empty spaces. I see the trees with their green foliage. And, it is beautiful when I do that. But being present in the NOW is a rare occurrence. Sad memories and fears are my usual companions as I run.

Here’s where I need to fight the good fight. To remind myself again and again to be quiet, listen and be aware. Gratefulness is a step away from awareness. The present is always beautiful, it is only the unreal past and the phantoms of the future that look very menacing when I pay attention to them.

I also need to fight the good fight even when I focus on my work. Being fully present as I work and deal consciously with one issue after another instead of skirting them will make me come alive. I ignore many pressing issues at office because they are more comfortable when they remain unattended, away from my focus and eyesight.

I remember taking two foreigners to my home through a short-cut when I was in class 9 or 10. On the way there was our cow-shed which did not really look terribly impressive. I did not want them to see the mess there. So, I avoided looking towards the mess in the cow shed. I convinced myself that they did not set their eyes on the place from which I had averted my sight. What an ostrich I was and in many ways I have not changed my ways.

Every time I shelve any important work, I am creating phantoms that will come to haunt me some day. Catching the bull by the horn is always a painful decision, but the rewards are more gratifying in the long run .

Joining Rotary Again?

On Monday, 15th July, I went for the installation of Desiga Cholan and Vijay as the President and Secretary of the Rotary Club of Madras Cosmos. I had to honour them as they had come home personally to invite me. I also promised them that during their tenure I would join the club again.

I had left this club about two years back in frustration, seeing the politics and the lack of ethics and principles. This movement is supposed to be governed by strong values and ethics. Yet, especially at the top level these are conspicuous by their absence. Elections to top positions in the District are decided by a coterie determined not by how much of a visionary and leader a contestant is, but by how he or she will sway to their tune once the election is over. So, very often people with dubious antecedents get elected. People with character and merit stay away from the mess.

Perhaps this is the case with most clubs and organizations. Merits do not rise to the top because the emphasis is on the lowest common factor rather than on the highest common factor.

Rotary installation meetings are usually bland affairs. There are tall claims of achievements, lot of pious words and platitudes. Every one knows that it is all a show. Perceptions matter more than performance and solid work. The emphasis is more on awards and beating one’s own drums and very little about all members rising together to contribute something of value to the society.

As I went to bid bye to my friends where the fellowship was happening, I was introduced to the chief guest and the incoming governor for the next year, Mr.C.R Raju. I was surprised that he knew my name and the circumstances behind my leaving the club. He told the other Rotarians of the club that people like me should not be outside the club. It was gratifying to reflect that a small fry like me was in the mind of someone big in the movement.

Does it make sense to be in a place where there is a huge chasm between the ideals and the way they are practiced? What difference can a person like me make to restore some semblance of sanity and adherence to the principles of the movement? Is the justification of meeting and getting to know a lot of people enough to be part of the gang?

No man is an island. May be I should learn to integrate into the society without wallowing in muck. There is some small chance what I say make some sense to a few people. Probably, in the event of my joining, I will make motions of getting involved and get myself heard. Yet I will remain an outsider, a fish out of water.

I am not a fish out of water in some groups. Being with groups which fuel my dreams and give me more energy will make a lot of sense. I should think a few times before deciding to be part of groups that drain energy.

To join or not to join the Rotary is a question I should weigh – despite my promise.


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