It has been an awful season up until now - and make no mistakes about it, Manchester United haven’t looked like the Manchester United we know. We are at an unfamiliar altitude on the points table, and the manager needs to sit down and think about these losses to mid-table teams.
Since I don’t belong to the geography, supporting Manchester United has been a conscious choice. And it was easy - who doesn’t want to support a winning team? United’s winning ways ensured that I always had something to brag about on a Monday. And that has changed this year. Below par performances, jaded players… it hasn’t been pretty. But this tests you as a supporter. For every rival-club supporter who calls me a glory-hunter (Which is baffling, because by their definition, that is exactly who they are too. How many Hull City supporters do you see in India?), this is a test-by-fire for me to show them that supporting Manchester United is not just about the bragging rights. It is also about the history, what it stands for, and what it has endured.
I don’t want to get into a technical analysis of our losses and rant about a non-existent midfield, a porous defence and strangely, a complete lack of energy all around. It is very clear that we need to spend a little in the market, and I am sure that will happen.
Every great team has its lows - we’ve seen that with Arsenal, Juventus and Liverpool. And we’re seeing it with Milan and United. Even the young upstart in Chelsea had a bad Premier League in the year they won the Champions League. Does that mean that they are not great clubs? No.
We’ve been lucky to have a manager who took care of us for 26 years. But it is quite apparent now that there are deep issues with the squad that he managed to patch over temporarily. Unfortunately, Moyes is bearing the brunt of it.
Some of the players on the field don’t seem to realize what an absolute privilege it is for them to be playing for this club. There seem to be many players in this team who are at the club because it was easy to win trophies here. Justified as that motivation may be, Manchester United is a club built on other principles.
I always thought David Moyes was the man for United - even before Fergie called time on himself. And even if we go five seasons without silverware, I will never ask for Moyes to be shunted out. United is not about winning with swashbuckling coaches and explosive amounts of money. Moyes looks like the guy who can do the required patchwork - filling in the gaping holes left by Sir Alex and then start building his team for the next era of domination.
It is going to take a while - but I want to be a part of it. The more we lose, the more we understand what needs to be done. The more we get to see what we have, and what we are missing. And then we go through that rebuilding process. How can that not be exciting? To watch as your beloved club plans its next course of action? What is the point of winning all the time if you don’t know what losing is? Most of us will know that in May 2014.
Do I want to see United win? Yes. Do I want to see them dominate teams like we did last year? Yes. Am I enjoying this season? Not particularly. Am I missing Sir Alex? Yes. Do I feel like yelling at Moyes? Yes. Do I feel like yelling at our players? Yes. But will I stop supporting United just because we aren’t good enough? No.
I’ve been rather respectful towards most people who support rival clubs. Because I really don’t understand the geopolitics in play with club support, and I am not a part of it. I respect Liverpool a lot more than what a Manchester-based United supporter would. But I love this club just as much. If you want to take a swing at United because we are low, just know this. Sure - the bigger they are, the harder they fall. But also remember - the bigger they are, the harder they kick your ass.
Slate us all you want. You can engage in an assortment of vile abuse. Let all the pain of the last 20 years out. But there is one thing that you need to know about Manchester United - Your hate makes us stronger.
If you are a Manchester United supporter, and you are looking for something to hold onto, watch this - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wY4i80q5ZVA
This season might be a damp squib. But never stop believing in United. All it takes, is a little bit of faith.
Glory glory Man United!
I believe that a lot of what happens to you is driven by the circumstances you create for yourself - good or bad.
Once in a while, life throws up a surprise in the form of non-ideal circumstance. I realized today, that these circumstances serve as great teachers.
When the going gets tough, you begin to focus on what is really important to you. And that is when you begin to learn what you want from life, and what brings you true happiness. You see, in adversity(?), you begin to view your life minimalistically, bringing into stark focus, that, which is really important to you.
When I was forced into some thinking earlier today, I was surprised by what I realized was important to me. And in that realization, I found happiness and meaning.
Yep - I’ve come a long way. With a little help from my friends.
Dreams need to be tethered. They need to be tied down to an identity - a person or a thing. Dreams, by themselves, are not important. But the moment you tether them, and make an association, they begin to make more sense.
The universe is weaved with the fabric of your dreams with a backbone of your reality. A single thread, a single dream - is just that. But plug that dream into a pattern, and into perspective to your realities, and you have something special. It is what makes dreams worth chasing.
But then, there are those of us whose realities are themselves dreams. And when we wake up, we’re left with nothing but a backbone of fabric with stitches laid in. Because we chose to chase the dream.
We are also the ones who tend to be happy.
I’ve found Occam’s Razor to be a powerful philosophical tool. Having increasingly adopted it into the way I go about living my life, it has given me surprisingly good pay-offs.
For a long time, I have stressed on the importance of long-term stability. I have focussed on building frameworks and routines that will last a lifetime. In the process, I realized that I began losing out heavily in the short-term. When I realized that most of my ambitions were in the short term, I needed a drastic change in approach.
So I began focussing on the smaller steps. Winning the little things at each step, and stringing them together. And that is when I realized that I began making excellent progress.
The direction and stability that one expects from life is a myth. The concept of sacrificing the short-term for the long-term is a dangerous one. Because you end up hedging everything on the long term, and the collateral always tends to be higher on long term failures.
Of late, I’ve stopped worrying about the importance of discipline, routine and approach. I’ve taken a random approach to how I do things, and while it increases the entropy around me, its letting me do what I want, albeit without structure. But it is potent, and effective.
The principal concept here is to sweat the small stuff. Take smaller steps, better steps. Do what is right for you in the short term. The long term will automatically take care of itself. At the very core, it is a matter of courage. We’re a society that looks at happiness as an undesirable emotion. We believe misery is the ONLY motivator. It is a powerful one, but people like me thrive on happiness.
We pile pressure on ourselves without a real need for it. We put a timeline for everything. We measure, evaluate and correct. Move on from that need to control every aspect of your life. Take the hand reaching out for you. Be vulnerable. Open yourself up. The smaller steps, the little progress you make each time you take a step is what life is about.
It is going to be easy to blame circumstance, but I won’t do that.
I’m going to fight. This fight is for a worthy cause - and there is no way I’m whimpering away from this.
My grandfather used to tell me - “When you’re in your twenties, you should have the heart of a communist, and the head of a capitalist. Or, you’ll end up like me”. Back then, he drew me this image of him being a short-tempered, underpaid, overworked person who stood for far too much more than what was convenient for his employers. That was 8 years ago.
Back then, I was 15 with reality ahead of me. When I could dream of whatever I wanted without having to bother about the flip side. Back then, I understood why he told me what he did. It was easy to believe that tangibles were all that mattered in ones life. My grandfather could have definitely done better had he been more focussed on the tangibles.
(I just want to point out here that I want to differentiate between materialism and focussing on the tangibles).
But the more I spend time pretending to be an adult, the more I realize how difficult it is for me to be focussed on the tangibles. For better or for worse, it looks like I have indeed turned out like my grandfather. I live my life pretending a lot of things matter to me - this job, the money, the car, the luxuries I enjoy.They don’t. I know where I’ve come from. I know where my family has come from. And I now find myself alien to my own life.
Give a 15 year old me one guess, and he’d tell you I’d end up right where I am right now. 15 year old me would be moderately happy - but 23 year old me is not. I’ve lost my identity. What I stand for. At this moment, I feel completely lost.
I’ve spent the last couple of months spending an awful lot of time by myself - while I have cribbed about it, it was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. It gave me time to think. And think. And think. And learn a lot about myself. And what I realized, is that I am never going to be truly happy if I continue travelling on this road. That although this road represents direction, it really doesn’t. It is far too random. Far too much entropy that I can’t control.
I found an amazing woman, who I probably cannot be with. I found my happy place, which I can’t have either. And I figured what I really have to be doing in the next couple of months - thankfully, that is something I can have. In short, I can have all the tangibles I want, but none of the intangibles. And it is never going to work for me. Worse, I don’t want it to.
So, your life is going to be measured by what you can have. What you let yourself have - the tangibles and the intangibles. And my grandfather possibly gave me a piece of really bad advice that I took seriously.
Because deep down, I’m a communist in my head, and a capitalist at heart.
Spend a little time out there on social media platforms, and you will realize how similar you are in your thought process to a lot of people out there.
The very concept of Twitter trends stems from the fact that a lot of people create content that is extremely similar in nature. And with the volumes involved, especially around public spectacles (like a football/cricket/tennis match), or events like elections, there is a good chance that people think of content that is similar in style and delivery.
So who does the Intellectual Property of that content belong to? Does it merely belong to the one that posted the content earlier? What is the guarantee that every subsequent quantum of content that is similar to the first appearance is plagiarized?
Personally, I make it a point to provide credit to the creator of the content I find worthy of sharing. It is something I stick to religiously. And I take offence when it is suggested that I have “stolen” content without providing adequate credit. Among the things that disturb me greatly, this ranks pretty high up there.
On a tangent, I think it takes misplaced levels of self-importance to claim rights over content that you have created, when you see it in a different form somewhere else. And claiming a few seconds of a head-start is quite possibly, the shallowest defence you can make of your accusations.
Sure, I’d be lying if I said that I haven’t stolen an idea from here and there. We all have. And nobody is a holy cow. But they’ve mostly been instances of deliberate trolling involving mild banter. I’ve even deliberately stolen content from this one person just to rile him up during the 2011 World Cup. Of course, it was a different matter that he fully knew about it at the time.
You really think your content was stolen? Stand up for it. But do not do so until you are absolutely sure of what you’re talking about. Its a matter of propriety. A lot of us are victims of time, really.
I’ve been looking back at some of the decisions I have taken for myself, and trying to figure out where I’ve gone right and wrong. Didn’t take me much to realize that I’ve placed a lot of importance on having a strong Plan B in place before shooting at Plan A. And it explains a lot about why I haven’t been able to deliver on my Plan A’s and why I’ve always ended up with safe options.
Sometime yesterday, I was planning my next set of important decisions, when I started kicking myself for a lot of the safe routes I chose to take. I was overcome with this strong urge to put all my eggs in one basket and go all in. And that’s when I realized what was happening.
Our decisions are circumstantial. The dynamics of the situation at the time drive our decision making process. And invariably, situations are never black and white. There are a million shades of grey in between that alter your approach. The problem of retrospectively analysing a decision is that you tend to look at it from a purely black or white perspective, completely ignoring the grey areas. And that is when your decisions start looking absurd.
I’ve done a reasonable job at keeping things sane and safe at a time when the tide wasn’t going well for me. And I deserve credit for not letting myself spiral out of control - and the safe decisions I made, are a result of my conviction to hold on to fight another day. Now, when things aren’t so dire or grey anymore, these decisions start looking as being poor and mediocre. In reality, I was only hedging myself against losing too heavily if I veered off course. That I didn’t, is a different story altogether.
But a rule of thumb I’m going to apply from now on, is to minimize the grey areas as much as possible when factoring in my options. I sense that a black-and-white approach is perhaps the one that will give me the best chance at executing my Plan A instead of repeatedly falling back on my Plan B.
The last time I spent an entire day in office was way back in the second week of May. Given the nature of my work, and the hours of work, I invariably end up having to work from home. Add to that the fact that my parents are both travelling for long durations, I find myself spending excessive amounts of time by myself - at home.
Over the last year, I alternated between working from office and home every two weeks. And it worked - because it gave me sufficient time to spend with civilization. The work from home was a welcome break that let me focus on what I want to - but this new project of mine forces me to work from home for 3 weeks out of 4. And this excess is a problem.
I’ve noticed how my thoughts and behaviour have changed over the past month or so - I’m annoyed easily, extremely pensive, on an edge most of the time, and clingy. The gloomy Bangalore weather hasn’t helped much, either.
Although I’m a creature of habit, because of the routine, I increasingly find myself with low levels of energy and motivation - this, despite spending a good couple of hours at the gym. This is really inconvenient for me at this point of time.
The work I am currently doing doesn’t excite me either - and I’ve consistently maintained that a well trained monkey could perhaps better me at this. And its not even like I need a break - I just had one in April. I need a change. In environment, and work.
I sometimes debate about doing the right thing v/s doing what makes you happy. Of late, I’ve realized the only right thing is that which makes you happy. They are not different.
I just want normalcy. I want the ordinary - a 9 to 5 job. And Star World to air something other than emo teen dramas.
It is not news to me that I have trouble acknowledging defeat. I’m a sore loser. Which is quite ironic, because I lose quite a bit.
The writing is on the wall. It is, to be honest. But I persist. Because for some reason, I keep convincing myself that the longer the battle lasts, the higher the chances are that I will win. That I will be the last man standing. Little do I realize that I’ve long lost. And my going down kicking, is just a little bit of amusement thrown in.
I’ve fought one of my battles for 7 years now. And I realized this - its been 7 years. That is a long, long time. And I know that if I wanted to, I would fight for more. But maybe I should not. Because maybe, I can’t.
A wise man jousts with the right people. You pick the right opponents, and fight the right battles. Maybe I should do that. I’m fighting another battle right now, which as much as I wish, I fear might not end well for me.
But every now and again, I start asking myself - Do you, or do you not want to stand up for what you want? Because, what I do know is that the battle I am fighting now… what I want to fight for right now… deserves nothing less than my all. I don’t fight often. But I fight long. And I want this to be the last one I’ll ever fight.
So when do I draw the line? How do I know if the battle I am fighting now is even a battle at all? How do I know when the last punch has been thrown in vain?
And if I ever get an answer to these questions, what do I do with the answers?