I have worked non-stop (literally — working during all my waking hours) since two weeks ago. I can’t even find time to do the important things — make important follow-up phonecalls, do bunch of overdue work for lot.my, and proposals for ArdentEdu — let alone the non-important things. I arrive home often very late, skip dinner, and go straight to bed and then set my alarm at 11pm, 12.01 am (I still can’t figure out midnight is 12AM or 12PM), 1am, 2am, 3am, 4am, 5am, in the hope that I will wake up at one of those times fully refreshed and do some work in the early morning. What usually happened is that I snoozed all the alarms, and wake up at 5am. It is wishful thinking to think that the alarms will wake me up in the early morning to work — all they do is disturbing my sleep every hour.
I know, I should get more organized. The reason I am not organized is because I only work alone. I am terrible at working in a team, so I avoid group work almost entirely (if I can help it). Not only do I work alone, but I work in privacy. Nobody in my house knows what I am doing for a living except some vague idea about Ardent and lot.my. This is by design; I strictly separate my family life and professional life. My life motto is: don’t bother people, and do whatever you want with your life. I don’t go around asking about my sisters’ work, so I expect them to not ask about mine. My family understand my pathologically fierce need for privacy and they never brought up the topic at home during dinner or other times. I’d rather they be totally ignorant about my work life. My family knows very well that I do not appreciate any interference with my professional or personal life.
My need for privacy goes beyond delineating my work and personal life. I do my work privately; very rarely do I get into colloborative work. I dislike editing work others have made, and hate having my own work butchered here and there by others until it’s not recognizable as mine anymore. I know, it’s bad for society, but that’s how I function. I am ok with people checking spelling and grammar and formatting in my work, but it grates my nerves when people pick and choose my work, snip it here and there, adding and removing at will, and change it completely. I prefer a shitjob document which is 100% mine, than a good document which is garbled beyond recognition by others. Old habits die hard.
How I do work: I take on work, I do it myself, often late at night, and I have it ready on my own sweet time. There are very few deadlines I have to adhere to nowadays, so I rarely feel deadline-related stress anymore. I usually push deadlines aside anyway. That’s one of the perks of working for your own company.
Not only work, but I keep all my activities private. I don’t share books I read or music I listen to, I don’t talk to people about movies, websites or personal matters, and I write only public thoughts in my website (a cursory glance would convince you that I have never written my personal thoughts in this website — except, ironically, this entry. Privacy is too valuable an animal to be sacrificed on the altar of publicity). And people who are close to me know that I dislike publicity. Living low-profile is the way I choose to live. I have gotten over the phase where I need to be constantly showered with attention, and always in need for people’s validation. Only when you break the wall of other people’s expectation, that you are truly free to live your own life, on your own terms.
I always pray: O ALlah let me die in obscurity.
I do not care about legacy, about having children who will be world-changers or world-famous, or about leaving my mark in this world. All that are illusory — nothing will survive after 50 years. You may be the richest, most influential, most admired person in this decade, but a century from now, nobody will give a damn and everything you touched will turn to dust. All legacies, all wealth, all knowledge, all contributions, all ideas, all offspring, all loved-ones, all words and thoughts and everything that matters to you know, will be absolutely nothing in a century. Name the three richest people in the world 100 years ago, and see where they are now.
I am not a nihilist (I can’t be a nihilist even if I wanted to. I believe in divine retribution, which is as anti-nihilism as you can be). But I am a nihilist with respect to this Earth, a planet which all of us have lived on for millions of years, which one day will be annihilated to sheer nothingness (by the universe heat death if you’re an atheist, or by God if you are a believer). All the good things you do, your legacy, your contributions, are not going to matter an iota on this planet. Everything here is fleeting and temporary, and the earlier we recognize it the better.
It is ok to pursue wealth and fame and knowledge and publicity and comfort and happiness and whatever good things human beings are supposed to pursue. But bear in mind that in the long run, we are all dead (paraphrasing J.M. Keynes). Many people like to imagine that when they die, crowds will come and pay their last respects, and to think that they will be missed by many. I don’t care what happens after I die — I hope my family has enough money left, that is all. I don’t care about legacy or leaving my mark or being missed by anyone in this world. I hope that when I die, less than 5 people actually grieve, the rest will be concerned neighbors. I don’t really care if I die anywhere on Earth, as long as it’s not too inconveniencing to others. O Allah, please let me die in obscurity, and erase my memory from this Earth as soon as possible after that.
Aren’t we all just passers-by?