Digital deck chairs and the illusion of control

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I spent an inordinate amount of time this week installing iOS7, playing with the settings and updating apps. After a while I began to realise that whilst there is practical aspect to this (utilising fast, reliable wifi whilst it’s available) the real reason behind my obsessive compulsion to get the order of icons just right on my home screen was something more internal. Control. Or at least the illusion of control.

As first time visitors to India I’ve heard countless tales from those who have been about the intensity of the place. As someone who is more at home with quiet, minimalist order and a heavily defined personal space India seems, by all accounts, the absolute antithesis of comfort for me.

Over the weeks of preparation the idea of India in my head has started to become some clamouring, chaotic monster of near mythic proportions – and it’s stampeding towards me.

And so in the face of impending chaos I’ve found myself reaching for control of what aspects I can and what I’m familiar with. Packing and repacking my bag and rearranging the virtual deck chairs on my digital ship.

Whilst I appreciate stressing about what music to put on your iPod is a ridiculous first world problem. I also see it as just a natural reaction to stressful changes – a kind of over preening – like stressed birds are prone to do. I think in terms of setting off travelling it is also part of a process of ‘definition’. I’m creating a nest of familiarity so as to make some personal physical/interior space that I can carry with me.

Hopefully my carefully organised bag and iPod will provide some stillness within the chaos – and with it enough confidence to embrace the changes and be present in the whirlwind. However, I’m also conscious that it must not become a bubble to avoid contact with the messy reality. Mindful preparation is one thing, obsessive worrying is another.

So we’ll see. I’m sure that Indian is both more chaotic than I imagine and peaceful in ways I can’t comprehend. And I’m sure my preparations will be staggeringly useless and surprisingly useful in equal measure.

All in all I think there is something to be said for careful preparation – I may be more in the mould of a boy scout before a weekend from home but I like to see the hours spent setting up IFTTT recipes and backup twitter accounts more akin to the care taken by Samurai in preparing their armour and sword before a battle! 🙂

I like this Spanish saying I read recently and it sums it up the whole idea of preparedness pretty well.

“VĂ­steme despacio que tengo prisa” – Dress me slowly, I’m in a hurry!

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