My laptop folders were a mess so I decided to undertake the arduous task of organizing them. I started with my work folders and was stunned at the number of mangled powerpoints and excel files occupying prime real estate. The files had weird names. “<project name>_100112_edit1”, “share check”, “test markets”, “tools_v12”. Lots of head spinning happened. I thought I’d open some of them to figure out if they contained anything important to retain before I relegated the majority of this sad lot to the recycle bin.
As I opened a file, nostalgia hit me hard. In front of me was the vestige of what went on to become a solid piece of work, well appreciated by clients, responsible for a lot of revenue and goodwill. But two years ago it looked gawky and pitiful, making a sincere effort to be profound. Mean something to someone. It had meant well. It had been trashed and pissed on by the client. It had gathered the tatters of its and its creator’s self-respect before hobbling back to the drawing board for v56. Beaten up but never beaten. I had been around to help it develop into something worthy, learning a lot in the process. Others had stepped in when they saw I was getting overwhelmed and had provided valuable inputs. In the end v67 succeeded and passed on to a new stage of its life where it would be scrutinized for the next few months by a different group of people. Out of the eager hands of its creator and into a new world, at the whims and mercies of a powerful few who had commissioned it. Of course, v67 would change over time, as its new masters figured out new metrics to track, new analyses to add and we’d be there to help them with it.
As time went by, that WIP faded into oblivion. I didn’t really need it anymore. There were new things to be done and so life moved on as the file quietly hid away in a corner of an obscure folder.
Just like my past.
I’ve been a WIP for as long as I can remember. Each version getting better with time, and with the help of people. A lot of people who took the time and effort to shape me. This is about a few of them.
As an introvert, I’m averse to easily making friends. I thought I’d cherish close friendships over mere connections but even that seems to be sadly untrue. I’ve had close friends who taught me courage as I saw them dismiss personal tragedies with a smile and resilience on their faces. We learned much from each other and we couldn’t have been closer. Just like v67, we were sent our separate ways by education and then our careers. It turns out I’m also a cad apart from being an introvert. I let those people fade away as I allowed my appalling inertia to overpower my responsibility to stay in touch.
I emit pointless little whimpers from time to time in this great tapestry of bytes called the internet and they answer back with whimpers of their own. Not a single one of those communiques managing to capture the hours spent listening to a new album, discussing the merits of one song over the other, playing tennis in the evenings just so they could see me throw my racket in frustration, poring over books together to prevent exam disasters, cycling to our haunts to discuss girls and heartbreak. Or spending one such day making stupid jokes punctuated with nervous laughter as four suitcases lying in the corner of a room stared balefully at us. Trying hard to fight back tears as the hour approached when those suitcases would be loaded into a car and one of us would make his way to a better life on another continent, all the while trying not to interfere between the soft and tearful goodbyes between him and his parents.
Or holding hands as tragedy struck our little group. Trying hard to understand life’s vagaries and hiding our inability to say the right words of comfort. Watching one of us grow up too soon and marveling at the fact that he seemed to have no complaints. And here I find myself cursing the line at the coffee shop some mornings. Yes, I’m still a WIP.
Each of those experiences has made me what I am today. We were gawky, well-meaning and wanted to mean something to someone. It never occured to us that in this collective desire to evolve, we already meant something to each other.
Life’s hectic now, but there do appear moments of sunshine between ferocious cloudbursts. I need to use that time to go back to those gawky WIPs now hidden in an obscure memory somewhere, take a step in their direction and hope they’re doing the same somewhere in the distance. I curse the internet for reducing our friendship to meaningless chatter, but it is in the internet I’ve found catharsis and direction as I write this post.
For those precious few who saw me through the challenges of growing up and still tolerate this WIP, I’m going to leave this post unf
Update Sun Oct 16: So I did walk the talk. I dug up an old phone number, placed a call and it went to voicemail. He called me back shortly and after the first two minutes of cautious pleasantries, necessary to wipe away three-year old cobwebs, we spoke as if we had never lost touch. We discussed the songs we used to trip on. He reminded me of a few I’d totally forgotten.
He’s even driving down to meet us next week. I’m preparing a comprehensive 90s playlist in his honor.
Sometimes, simply writing down your problem leads to its solution.