Letters To My Mother: On Pursuing a Meaningful Career

Dear Mamu,

At this very moment, I’m working on trying to put the finishing touches to a presentation that is slated to start in a little over 3 hours time. This task, in particular, involves careful consideration of the font choice and backing it up with the perfect blend of illustration and color combination to make a mark. As I carefully weigh up the options as if it were life and death choices, you are quietly going about your work, which for now is making sure lunch is readied before I hurry up to be at the presentation venue 30 minutes prior. What I’m doing right now, about to do in the next 3 hours, and the intention that is tied to the presentation with the purpose I have decided for my life is perhaps alien to you. Font choices, color combinations, the need to be intentional with choices, living a purposeful life..what all is that? You have more pressing practical issues than that to deal with- sending me to work well fed, checking up on my sister’s college schedule, making sure the housemaid sets the house in order, the list goes on endlessly.

I understand that the nature of my work is incomprehensible to you. When friends and family alike ask you what your son is up to, you try to answer seriously but more often than not, end up saying that he is involved with ‘something called emotional matter’. Of course, that is far from a perfect explanation of what I really do. But all that stuff doesn’t really matter. What matters the most is that the impact you have on what I do does not go unappreciated.

You making sure that I have my lunch before I rush out of the house means that I don’t leave with an empty stomach. When I eat well, I’m focused and better able to curb the anxieties that naturally follow when delivering a presentation to a client who is expecting big immediate results post session. When I get to leave home on time (which wouldn’t be possible if it weren’t for you taking care of the basics), I get to reach the venue on time, and thereby mentally prepare myself for those feelings of anticipation.

The tiffin pack that you so gracefully send (I say gracefully because I have given up on trying to convince you not to take the extra burden of preparing tiffin- you have rejected the notion that it is burdensome) has helped create immense value on two fronts. Firstly, you’ve saved me from the burden of having to figure out how to budget for daily tiffin expenses (which can seem fairly innocuous at first but painful after a while for a co-founder of a startup). Secondly, by sending homely food, you’ve helped create a culture of lunch and learn in my team. Everyone looks forward to 1 pm. How can I not mention the extra effort you put in so that there’s variety on offer? If you came to take a peek at the office around 12.50, you’d see how the whole office is filled with feelings of excitement as to what could be in store for lunch.

Mother, as a housewife you may sometimes feel that your contribution is (wrongly) limited because there aren’t a whole lot of people around to appreciate the value you create in this lifetime. But when a participant comes over to me at the end of the session to express with joy that she had never thought of her life in the way she just did in the session, I always make it a point to remember the real hero behind the scenes who has allowed me to pursue a path that is meaningful to me. I’m not sure everyone gets to feel that way.

You may not understand what I’m up to with my career. The subsequent meaningful changes that the participants will perhaps go through will remain oblivious to you. But you keep making it possible for me to show up and keep showing up.

Mamu, honestly, I’m not sure what sort of financial success all this effort I’m putting in will yield. But if there’s one thing I can assure you, it is that I’m gaining on the emotional currency. And I sincerely believe that you deserve as much of it as I do.

My dear mother- I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for contributing to my life mission of cultivating the superpower of Emotional Intelligence in individuals. For empowering me to help people develop this superpower, you are a superwoman.

#NothingButGratitude.

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My mother doesn’t ask for much but a beautiful flower like this one here excites her like nothing else.

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