a conversation with NIRUPA UMAPATHY
Galen: I’ve long been fascinated with the shifting arc of the spirit’s journey. Was there a specific and potent event, Nirupa, in your mid-career that deflected your trajectory? Or was the change subtler, something slowly and finally coming into focus?
Nirupa: Only looking back, is it evident that my preparation for change had started over a decade ago. I worked in the heart of the financial markets and got to witness the financial crisis in 2008 as a middling salesperson. The systemic devastation that followed was mirrored by a deep sense of personal displacement, even if I benefited tremendously from the professional success that followed. This contradiction never sat well within. I felt like I was sleepwalking for much of 2008 and 2009, and a brief but precipitous fall into depression was my first wake-up call. The journey of self-healing began with a more earnest practice of mind-body work through Pilates and then yoga, and 8-9 years of therapy that was more spiritual counseling. This revelation emboldened me to leave many known paths of security in 2015—a well-worn relationship that had been my anchor for 17.5 years, half my life back then, and a well-established career on the sell-side of finance. I took a risk and joined a smaller firm, and that job prematurely came to an end in 2016. I now knew the cycle of my career in finance was over, and I was being prompted to be bolder and take even bigger risks. In 2017, after weeks of insomnia, I woke up one day, finally present to an unknown voice within; I will never forget this day. Under white ceilings and fans slowly spinning, I heard, “take your time back.”
I thought I was delirious. And for a few minutes, I did not know what this could mean. But I soon realized it was a clarion call to take my autonomy back, to be the keeper of my own time, and to see what follows. And thus, a magical, exhilarating, and wondrous journey began: Of being a student of change. And to be an average student of change, you must study time and the space in which such change takes place.
And this is where I am. Puzzling, wrestling with the thrumming pulse of the unseeable but so ever-present—the song at the atomic level