Nobody will ever let you know when you ask the reasons why…
They just tell you that you’re on your own till your head all full of lies!
– Sabbath Bloody Sabbath
Hindsight is a powerful tool when it comes to adjudicating one’s personal worth. When I look back now, standing smack in the middle of 2011, I can finally see the last decade for what it’s really been: living out each moment since 2001 has been a tiring task, speckled generously with situations that have driven me to want to kill myself. However, the vision from 2011 is breathtaking. I feel like a long river that has wound its course through a whole mountain range and now, taking a moment of pause, sees the Grand Canyon in its erosive wake.
My school years leading up to graduation from high school were all bland: the person they birthed at the end of 2006 was not even half-formed and had no ambitions that he was willing to really fight for (mistake #1). Then, the next few months in the same year crystallized that half-formed being into an adult who, without tools, was expected to fight. Looking back at that moment through these hindsight-lenses, I see a lot of things I now regret doing (or not doing).
Then came college. If you’ve read Viktor E. Frankl’s ‘Man’s Search for Meaning‘, you’ll known what I mean when I say college is where the indecisive soul’s journey ends and a period of enjoyable decision-making begins, a period within which all the old socks are not discarded but simple washed, repainted and worn – like food porn (which is not what you think it is)! It’s a life from which we emerge reoriented and nothing else.
During all those hours I spent in my various rooms (318-B, C-226 and B-530) writing and editing and proofreading and reading, I’ve received so much praise as well as criticism for different things. If I hadn’t shown up in class, the first thing I was told was I spent too much time in my room doing counterproductive stuff. If I did show up in class (as analogous to scoring high in a test, etc.), I was told I was seeing the errors in my ways too late. I’ve since realized people say all kinds of things.
Sure, it sounds hollow to you, but you’ll someday get to the point in life when you seem within reach of your dreams and, right then, you’ll realize all that’s mattered till then is the yardstick by which you measured yourself. It stands the test for all kinds of things. Don’t tell me you’re not laughing at your past-you who refused to carry an umbrella to school just because you thought it was a measure of your “coolness”. Peer pressure is one thing, but like Eleanor Roosevelt says, “no one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
Life is a lesson…
You learn it when you’re through.
– Take A Look Around
If you say so, but there’s a supple silver lining to that saying. Not all of life’s lessons are applicable all the time, so I divided my life into certain periods: learning, dreaming, preparing, living, and thinking. When I’m “dreaming”, I find the lessons from the period of “learning” applicable; when I’m “preparing”, I find the lessons form the period of “dreaming” applicable; so forth. Another thing is that I’ve been a considerably different person for the first three phases (I’d like to think I’m nearing the beginning of “living”). While any other person would find that unsettling, I don’t.
What I choose to take from that observation is that, in each period, I’ve committed enough mistakes to change myself by that much. I don’t mind mistakes – I like committing them; the hatred of them sinks in when I’ve been deliberate somewhere in the process. The thrill of the uphill charge after each mistake is unmistakable, and the rewarding victory is that and that alone. Even if I don’t clear the interview I have on Monday to join a niche journalism institute in Madras, I’m going to move on so fast my parents are going to think my moral compass is broken.
Nothing is going to stop me from writing. Nothing is going to stop me from thinking. I’m still going to annoy my friends in argument, I’m still going to bring up numbers that conjure frowns on local MLAs, I’m still going to possess and preserve the ambition in me to, one day, be called one of the greatest writers of this century. The yardstick I measure myself with has been, is and will always be the man I was yesterday. That way, I know I’m only going up.
Thought is free.
– The Tempest; Act III, scene 2