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Life's Detours

Ishan Sharma
June 4th, 2023 · 6 min read


This blog post is fueled by two recent experiences that I had last month.

First up is an epic road trip I embarked on across the vibrant landscapes of South India. Picture this: cruising through Bangalore, exploring the breathtaking beauty of Kodaikanal and Munnar, soaking in the cultural vibes of Madurai, and finally reaching the southern tip of Kanyakumari. A mind-blowing adventure spanning over 1700 kilometers, giving me plenty of time to ponder, soul-search, and discover hidden truths about life. (literally)

Additionally, the adrenaline-fueled experience of watching the latest Fast and Furious movie in 4DX for the first time, injected a renewed sense of excitement and reflection into my thoughts.

Ever since I first acquired the skill of driving at the age of 14, I have been captivated by the feeling of taking command of a powerful machine and effortlessly maneuvering it to my will. It just makes me feel so empowered. This is one of the reasons why I am equally drawn to software engineering as well.

Interestingly, I learned the art of driving primarily through observation, observing others behind the wheel and then applying the fundamental principles when I finally took control myself.

In many ways, life mirrors this process. As we grow up, we observe the adults around us, learning from their actions and experiences, and gradually forge our own path. The distinction, however, lies in the level of control. While driving a car grants us a sense of mastery, navigating through life offers a far more complex and unpredictable journey.

Nevertheless, an uncanny resemblance exists between the act of driving and the mysterious journey of “living,” if I may use that term.

Surprisingly, it was not until a recent epiphany during my extensive road trip in South India, that I began to appreciate the profound lessons hidden within these intertwined experiences.

Here are a few of these observations, in no particular order : )

1. Getting started demands a spark of motivation

Let’s take a quick dive into Automobile Engineering 101. When we turn that key or press that fancy button on our car remote, we’re essentially activating the spark plug, which sets our engine in motion.

Well, guess what? Just like our trusty automobile, we need a little spark to get us going too. It could be as simple as that first cup of morning coffee that jumpstarts our day or a figurative kick in the rear to give our lives a bigger purpose.

Maybe it’s the alarm clock we reluctantly set to jolt us out of bed, or perhaps it’s a long-term vision or goal that fuels our motivation day in and day out?

Spark Plug | @ishandeveloper | Ishan Sharma

For me, finding that spark has happened multiple times.

I vividly recall being frustrated by the excessive cost of wifi sharing in Srinagar, which propelled me to learn Visual C# and develop my own software. To my surprise, that software went on to exceed 5.5 million downloads.

Similarly, not being able to secure admission into an IIT and facing constant judgment from relatives and people in my social circle served as a powerful motivator to prove them wrong.

And one impactful chat with my mentor, Aakansha Ma’am, pushed me to write and submit a call for papers (CFP) and ultimately become a sort of public speaker.

So, when we wake up to a morning that lacks motivation or when we experience a general sense of demotivation in life, it’s important to pause and reflect on whether our spark is missing. If we find ourselves in that state, let’s not despair or give up.

Instead, let’s embark on a journey of self-discovery, seeking out the activities, interests, or goals that truly ignite our passion and fuel our drive. By exploring new avenues, pursuing our curiosities, and embracing challenges, we can rediscover our spark and infuse our lives with renewed energy and purpose.

2. You Need to Go Through the Motions Before You Hit Full Speed

If you’re anything like me, you might feel bored or disappointed when you’re not constantly driving at full speed, effortlessly conquering every task you set your mind to. But here’s the truth: anything worthwhile takes time to unfold.

Sure, you may have heard claims of going from 0 to 100 km/h in a matter of seconds, but that only happens under perfect driving conditions, which, let’s face it, exist more in fantasy than in real life.

Gear Shifter | @ishandeveloper | Ishan Sharma

Instead of getting frustrated about not instantly reaching your peak performance, it’s essential to recognize that progress requires a gradual build-up. Just like shifting gears in a car, you need to work your way up, one step at a time. You cannot directly go from Neutral to 5th gear, instantly :)    [Ofc, this metaphor is only valid for cars with manual transmission and not automatic]

Trust the process, and as you navigate through each gear, you’ll eventually find yourself in top gear, cruising towards your goals. Patience and persistence will be your allies, and the rewards will undoubtedly be worth the journey.

3. Embrace a Slower Pace When the Road Gets Rough

Speed is undeniably thrilling, no doubt about it. There’s nothing quite like that exhilarating feeling of being in cruise control, zooming along at top speeds, overtaking every single car on the way.

But let’s be real here, those perfect patches of smooth road are just that—patches. The majority of our drives, and let’s face it, our lives, are spent tackling the rough patches and dealing with the ups and downs thrown our way.

Bumpy Road | @ishandeveloper | Ishan Sharma

When confronted with these challenging times, it’s crucial to exercise caution and decelerate. We cannot anticipate maintaining maximum speed and preserving your stability on a rough path.

By gradually reducing our pace and embracing a more cautious strategy, we can enhance your likelihood of emerging intact from the obstacles life presents.

It’s during these slower moments that we gain the opportunity to reflect, learn, and grow. It allows us to navigate the twists and turns with greater resilience and adaptability. So, take a deep breath, ease off the accelerator, and embrace a steadier pace.

Remember: it’s not about how fast you go, but how well you handle the bumps along the way.

4. Recharge to Avoid Burnout

Imagine running a car engine non-stop without giving it a break every now and then. Sooner or later, it’s bound to break down. The timing of that breakdown depends on various factors like maintenance, oiling, coolants, and overall care.

Well, guess what? Life works in a similar way, and your body is your own machinery. If you don’t provide it with enough rest, such as quality sleep every day or taking occasional breaks and vacations from work, you run the risk of burning out.

Broken Car | @ishandeveloper | Ishan Sharma

We live in a fast-paced world that glorifies constant productivity and busyness, giving one talk after the another, boarding too many flights, working on a lot of projects parallelly etc., but it’s essential to recognize that we’re not machines. Our bodies and minds need time to recharge and rejuvenate.

Some of us learn the importance of this maintenance and self-care the hard way, often after experiencing health issues. However, by making small efforts every day, you can save yourself the trouble of a major overhaul that could come at a much higher cost.

Remember, taking care of ourselves is not a selfish act but a necessary one. Just as a vintage car owner knows the importance of consistent maintenance for the longevity of their prized possession, we too must prioritize self-care to lead fulfilling and sustainable lives. So, let’s give ourselves permission to slow down, refuel, and recharge, knowing that it’s an essential part of the journey.

5. Difficulties become effortless over time

The first time I got in the driver’s seat, it was all very overwhelming. I learned the traditional way on a car with manual transmission, so the mere complexity of multi-tasking and focusing on releasing the clutch pedal just right, shifting gears while also handling the steering, and focusing not just on the road ahead but also the rearview mirror — it all seemed humanly impossible.

But here’s the beauty of it: with enough practice and dedication, the seemingly impossible becomes second nature. Life itself follows a similar pattern—whether it’s taking our first steps, uttering our first words, or navigating the complexities of adulthood, everything feels difficult until we become familiar with it.

I still remember creating my first pull request on github just a few years back, reading all of these tutorials on the internet was an overwhelming experience and now I can do it even with a blindfold :)

The secret lies in investing time and effort, allowing the task to become ingrained in our muscle memory. Eventually, we reach a point where it almost becomes automatic, effortlessly executed with ease.

Furthermore, this level of mastery can become so intuitive that you might find yourself effortlessly grooving to music with your friends on a road trip, completely oblivious to the fact that you’re cruising along at a speed of 140 km/h.

Upon deeper reflection, you’ll come to realize that driving and life share numerous similarities, waiting to be unveiled through contemplation. And before I wrap up, here’s one final reminder: always strive to maintain control, both on the road and in your life.

However, there’s a crucial caveat—never doze off behind the wheel and avoid using both feet while driving an automatic car :)

Happy cruising! 🛣️

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