Nearly two years ago when posting my very first blog, I started with the following couplet penned by the famous Urdu poet, Majrooh Sultanpuri:
“Main akela hi chalaa thaa jaanib-e-manzil magar
log saath aate gaye aur kaarwaan bantaa gayaa”
[I had started alone towards my destination, but
people continued to come forth and a caravan evolved]
What a journey life is!
As a schoolboy coming into youth, each time I was introduced to my parents’ circle of friends or acquaintances, these “uncles” and “aunts” would routinely ask what “do you want to become later in life.” Initially, my earnest answer varied according to the flavor-of-the-day-newsworthy person that impressed me or one that I thought would impress them. Accordingly, my stated aspirations ranged from becoming the Prime Minister of the country, an engineer, scientist, actor, a member of the Beatles band, a doctor and later, following the success of Neil Armstrong, an astronaut. Irrespective of my response, the inquirer would usually want to test my resolve further with the follow-up question, “And why not …?” suggesting some elusive profession that I had not touched on. This game of “naughts and crosses (tic-tac-toe)” carried on for many years until the first shadow of hairy growth started to sprout over my upper lip, marking my coming of age and now deemed to be capable of independent thinking. I had also learned to play the game and started to throw curveballs to confound my inquisitionists by stating that I wanted to be a Sitar player, comedian or dancer etc., simply because these were not considered “professions” worthy of the scion of a successful technocrat father.
On a more serious note though, quietly reflecting on my life journey it is easy to understand the law of Nature that for every action in nature there is an equal and opposite reaction, or that every action has a consequence. Picking out what I consider to be landmarks of my life, it is easy to identify ideation and outcomes that have put me where I stand today. What prompted me to think about something? What happened next? Was the result unexpected or could I have done things differently to arrive at my desired goal? Choices, considered deliberation and then taking action. Taking sole and complete ownership of my actions. No man is an island. At any moment in time each of us is a composite product, reflective of all previous personal interactions and circumstances. But, only I decide what I would like to do and must take full ownership and responsibility for my actions and their outcome.
I do not wish to argue for or against those who believe in luck, destiny or karma, choosing to stick to my personal life experiences. Only I had the power to deal with the road bumps that popped up sporadically through my life’s adventures. Not strangely though, as I took a step to move forward, people and resources always came together to assist and propel me.
As Eckhart Tolle says, “The only thing that is ultimately real about your journey is the step that you are taking at this moment. That’s all there ever is.”
Believe. In yourself. Choose to lead and the caravan forms. Remain grateful to all fellow-travellers.
3 Replies to “Believe”
Ah, the dreaded, age-old, and it would seem ageless “What do you want to be?” question! We have all faced it. I was watching (re-watching) the classic Anupama recently and there’s a scene in which Dharmendra is asked what he does. “I’m a writer,” he responds. “Yes, but what is it that you do?” asks an uncle equivalent. The movie was made in the 60s. Today, a niece who is interning with an NGO in Delhi that works for women’s rights is repeatedly asked when she is going to get a real job. Fortunately, she is blessed with parents who are not standing in the way as she charts her own course in life, guided by her beliefs.
So true; thanks. I too know a young DJ, who continues to be asked, Yes, but what work do you do?”
Belief is a useful navigation tool. It steadies the ship in the stormy, uncertain waters of life. In the safe harbour of a good home, kids don’t seem to need it – but belief comes handy when they start charting their course. However, one must be sure to turn off the built-in remote control option – before socio-political and economic interests out there gain control of it.