I am trying to get into better balance during trips to the US, adopting the Dutch habit of working during work hours and cultivating life during off hours. So, over the past week, i branched out a bit and returned with a few recommendations.
Movie: Slumdog Millionaire:
I had avoided this one based on the previews, but a friend assured me that it would be transformative viewing. After viewing, I’m of two minds about it.
It seems to be a very honest and visual portrayal of lower class life in India. The people, the cityscapes, the situations are compellingly portrayed, and the entire narrative leaves me feeling like I’ve seen life from a very different perspective. I can’t tell how much truth there is in it, but it makes me think hard about my assumption of what is important and meaningful in life.
At the same time, I get sympathetic pains during surgical videos in physiology class. The unflinching portrayals of children being maimed to become beggars were very difficult for me to watch, and I had to stop the movie and disconnect on more than one occasion. I’m don’t classify these experiences as entertainment, but I do think it is a significant work.
A Steven Sondheim musical loosely based on artist Paul Seurat’s creation of the pointillist painting Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte , this turns out to be a meditation on the tension between work and life. Seurat relentlessly pursues his vision of artistic harmony while his girlfriend Dot alternately accommodates, opposes, and finally rejects his obsession with painting.
Its fascinating to watch Seurat withdraw into his work, elevating his passionate pursuit of ideals above critical disdain, human relationships, and finally his own nascent family. He scribbles notes about balance, tension, light into the back of a book, later annotated by a baffled Dot, to be read later by his grandchildren.
I recognize too much of my own obsessive pursuit of creative product at the expense of human relationships…it’s a good caution.
Book: Escape from Cubicle Nation:
My business school professor recommended this one, and I found a fresh copy at the airport. Far from being another “Dilbert” reflection on corporate life and bromides for dealing with it, it is surprisingly practical advice on breaking free. It’s filled with Plan B thinking and sound ideas to force you through the steps of making a new business into a reality.
She’s anticipated a lot of my scribbled notes about what I need to do if I were to start a consultancy, and what I have to consider saving or replacing if I leave the corporate cradle.
Which, it increasingly appears, I am…