Thursday, May 08, 2008

Free will

Ever since I knew about the international post graduate work permit being extended to 3 years and the removal of the necessity that the work that you do is connected to your degree, I have been thinking about the freedom that gives me. If I do want to stay here, I don't need to work as a software engineer. Not that I don't want to, but thats what I have been doing till now and it probably would be what I end up doing till I dodder and die. So maybe this is an opportunity to exercise my freedom.

A couple of things that came to mind which I would like to do is to be a cross country truck driver and to be a deck hand or something on one of the ships that are anchored in the Burrad Inlet. I actually ran these ideas by a few friends over lunch and they were almost unanimously met with ridicule. Yeah I probably won't have the guts to actually do something like that, but I definitely do think it would be a fresh experience. Fresh is the key word. A deck hand's job is hard labour and truck driving will get boring. But then I have never sailed before and I would definitely love it if I could drive across Canada. Maybe for 6 months. Doesn't require much qualification, a minimum commitment and quite an experience for sure. And I guess right now would be the time I do it, before I start having other commitments.

Free will is definitely something to be exercised. I haven't done that much till now. Did my high school, did my engineering and got a job. The next thing would have been working for a while, saving money, and getting settled. Like a buffalo in a herd, money being grass. Every buffalo mostly does what the other buffaloes do (yeah, yeah - Jonathan Livingstone Seagull spin off). The first good thing I did is decide to do my Masters here. It opens you up a lot, living in a different country. And I do think the choices that students have here are much more than back in India. I know a guy who researches the relation between old people and their gardening practices as his Masters or this other guy who is trying to find out patterns in duck movement - he researches duck swarming in water. Choices and free will go together and are two sides of a baboon's red bottom.

The choices that I had in my high school were Computer Science, Biology and Commerce. You could probably get the gardening practices Masters as an off shoot of Biology and maybe the duckies too. The fact is I hadn't even tried to find out if there are other options that I might have liked - I do believe I wasn't exposed enough to the things that I could do. Not that I have regrets in choosing Computer Science. In fact, I think if I hadn't liked what I have been learning for the past 6 years, I would have explored other stuff. But there is so much else! Maybe I should have done a dual major or something - Forestry and Computer Science? A park ranger who can write a program to track down say each and every squirrel in the park. More features would be to also track when squirrels mate (when two squirrelly markers intersect for say X minutes - X being set after researching how long and hard the critters can keep at it), to tag the female and automatically tag the babies when they are born - yes this definitely has scope. So maybe I made a good choice, but maybe I also could have done better.

Exercising free will comes at a cost. I vaguely remember something I read/heard about free will existing only when you are at peace and when you can actually pay (and have the courage to pay) that cost, say with money or with time or with your social life. For e.g. we all need money, some of us to a greater extent than others. Money to send back home to family, money for medical treatment, money for food, for housing. You probably can't make much money out of tracking squirrels. But suppose you have enough money and have no other commitments, then you are quite lucky and probably at peace to get down to some free willing.

So the thing to do is be the buffalo who had a shot at flying off a cliff. Maybe there was a lake down below, maybe there were rocks. Maybe around half way through, the wind shot up the buffalo's ass and it ballooned and floated away into the blue yonder. In the end it would be a buffalo that exercised its free will.

1 comment:

thamarai said...

I am sure as Indians we are getting there..the next generation at least will have more choices!!