Tuesday, August 14, 2018

What Next?

I am privileged. I was born into a higher middle class family in Kerala. I have not been discriminated against based on my family's religion/caste/colour/whatever. I am male. My parents are both alive and work in public sector. I even had access to internet at a very early age. I was allowed and assisted to dream.

Precious copy of my life plan (written after 10th standard)
My father is a doctor. I became a doctor. Natural. It was not incredibly difficult. I did not have to fight unfair situations. I had plenty of help.

I think it is because of my excellent background that I am able to even recognize these privileges.

Consciously or not, much of my life's philosophy is influenced by this. My obsession with free knowledge, is a good example. I may not be able to erase the advantages I already have, but I try to avoid relying on them.

There is no point in beating myself too much either. I am not responsible for my privileges. But I am accountable. Having had all this, if I do not make the best out of them, I am wasting them. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. But what if life gives you apples?

I have a few straightforward options.
  • Become a specialist/super-specialist doctor. Work in one or two hospital(s). Make a lot of money. Help a lot of people.
  • Go back to SVYM. Help build a resurgent India.
  • Join some other organization/hospital/research project which can benefit from a clinical doctor.
None of these are mutually exclusive options either.

Yesterday I was coincidentally discussing with dad a verse from Gita which has many different interpretations.

karmaṇyēvādhikārastē mā phalēṣu kadācana.
mā karmaphalahēturbhūrmā tē saṅgō.stvakarmaṇi৷৷2.47৷৷

Specifically, it is the last part we concentrated on. "You should not not do your duties." How do you know what your duties are, though?

Every person plays multiple roles in their lives. They would have multiple roles each inside family, work, society, and any other sphere of their life. There are duties in each of these. Is there any way you can prioritize one above the other?

I have never been good at prioritizing things in the past. I usually get distracted by the most visible task and forget rest of my duties. I sometimes am able to note them down and come back to them. But this is fixable.

24 hours is what everyone has per day, on Earth. There are indeed people who get a lot accomplished in that 24 hours. If they can, so can I. I will have to organize my time well and get disciplined. And more importantly, I will have to choose the right commitments.

That is what we are coming to, aren't we? Commitments. What are the right commitments for me now? What should I do next?

I keep reading "A Guide for Young People: What to Do With Your Life By Leo Babauta" now and then. The gist is this:

The idea behind all of this is that you can’t know what you’re going to do with your life right now, because you don’t know who you’re going to be, what you’ll be able to do, what you’ll be passionate about, who you’ll meet, what opportunities will come up, or what the world will be like. But you do know this: if you are prepared, you can do anything you want.
Prepare yourself by learning about your mind, becoming trustworthy, building things, overcoming procrastination, getting good at discomfort and uncertainty.
You can put all this off and live a life of safety and boringness. Or you can start today, and see what life has to offer you.
Lastly, what do you do when your parents and teachers pressure you to figure things out? Tell them you’re going to be an entrepreneur, start your own business, and take over the world. If you prepare for that, you’ll actually be prepared for any career.
Is this advice for me? Am I already at that point where I should be knowing what I'll be doing and who I am? At the end of my final MBBS, I thought the one year of internship will be the time when I finally understand what I will do with my life. But I was wrong. During FHM, I got a few ideas on the kind of life I do want to pursue. I am sure I will not be going back to a university in a few years. And then there are a few preferences.

I sort of want to do things that create massive impact. That is why I got bored of clinical work. It was the same thing happening every day. Sick patients, some diagnosis, some treatment, some outcome. At the end of the day, not much has changed in the way things are.

I want to do creative things as well. I do not want to be remembered for things I did. I want to be remembered when people use things I built.

I love internet. It is a technology that has immense potential. I want to utilize it.

I love computers. Computers (including the small ones called smartphones) are all over the world. Sooner or later they will take over the world. I definitely want to be a part of this take-over.

I love teaching and learning. I want to help people learn all they want to. Knowledge should not become monopolized. 

I believe I am good at a few different skills - programming, writing, clinical care, teaching. I want to do things that utilize all my skills. If I do not utilize all the skills I have, I am wasting those skills. That would be running away from "duty".

In fact, I have a few ideas in my mind which are aligned with all these preferences. I want to build free software (free as in freedom) that bring the power of internet and data science to healthcare. I want to enable people (especially the ones in healthcare) to achieve more through the use of technology. I want to make sure this immense power (of technology) does not get accumulated in a few hands. And I want more people like me - I want to ensure there are hundreds of thousands of people with me who do things like me (or better!).

These can't happen if I am alone. I need to connect with people. I need to build on collective strength. I already know a few people I would love to work with. Almost all of them are in the Silicon Valley of India. What makes perfect sense for me to do next is - move to Bangalore and start talking to people. That's what I am going to do as well.

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