The idea that I’m putting forward in this blog may seem absurd or even insanely mundane. Nevertheless, I was desperate to write about this for a long time.
I draw emotional cues from events, incidents or people before I start writing something. The spark came and completely set me ablaze during a drive from Kadambazhipuram to Palakkad. I can only wonder as to how one pair of human eyes and a single frame of vision can recreate some thing that spans continents, galaxies and most important of all…billions of hearts. Some things we see are so powerful that it can move us…forever. And for me the spark was nothing but a Banyan Tree.
That day and that drive changed things forever.
I stopped my car. Got out and walked towards the temple and sat down under the tree. It was always my wish to stop by a serene Kavu (temple) on a random summer afternoon. Sit over the concrete embankment, under centuries old Banyan tree and enjoy moments of utter isolation. Solitude.
There was not a soul in the vicinity and the only sound that seemed to exist was the leaves rustling and dancing in the fierce summer breeze. The mud was red and the sky was blue. Cloudless.
I strangely got this overwhelming feeling of being submerged in the moment called “LIFE”. I decided to lie down all the same. It always felt so nice to lie down under a banyan tree and gaze at thousands of restless leaves, merrily dancing and swaying above.
I wondered how powerful the creator is?
Those thousand beautiful leaves were amazingly similar yet surprisingly unique. I closed my eyes and my imagination extrapolated that fact over to a forest.
“Even a large forest with millions of trees could never manage to have two leaves exactly identical. Every creation is so unique.”
Being human is all about looking at things in a different way.
Under the cool shade of that Banyan tree I felt like dozing off for eternity. How wonderful it would be to slip into an everlasting slumber under that sweet shade? At that precise moment, the best option in the world seemed to be cuddling under that shade forever.
Is that shade a luxury in reality or a dark shadow in disguise? I started having some serious questions in my mind. I became restless as this question popped up in my mind.
“Why do we strive to live and die like any other person when we are all born unique?”
The following are the discussions that I had with myself.
What we idolize and imitate makes all the difference.
In short, what we perceive as shades are nothing but mere shadows.
The constant chase for assumed safe zones (SHADES) and the wrong perception of socially acceptable definition of success makes us just one among billions… and not ONE IN A BILLION.
An old story that I read during my school days floated down my memory like a feather.
Two young spectacle makers from Netherlands ( Hans Lippershey and Zacharias Janssen) in early 1600s arranged two convex lenses in two adjustable cylindrical moulds. They found it incredible since they could see far off things much closer. Immediately the toy industry in Europe found something amusing and hugely saleable. The miniature wonder toy was sold in thousands across the continent during fares. Everyone looked through the toy and were surprised to see their cattle grazing almost a mile away so close as if they could touch them. People would look through it and suddenly found everything on earth that surrounded them coming really close. children playing, cattle grazing, bridges, trees and what not everything was at arm’s-length. It was as if Earth simply moved closer to every man as he placed the toy over his eyes.
That’s when the toy came into the hands of an old Italian. He was shunned by the Church for his weird ideas and people thought he was crazy. The Italian immediately improved the primitive design of that toy and in a year, he had something scientifically workable. Well, what happened after that was crucial. He did not check out his cattle or his wife or his daughter playing in the courtyard. He just aimed it at the sky.
Galileo Galilei became the first human being to point that strange toy skyward and well, many still think that Galileo invented telescope. In fact, he did not. But he was the first man to observe the night sky and stars through a telescope. And yeah… that eventually changed the course of history and science forever.
All because he aimed the telescope far above the surface of Earth. When every man aimed for earth…he aimed for the sky.
It may seem trivial, but back then it was ground breaking. He broke the conventional norms and socially accepted standards to change the course of science. He paved the way for a new era.
We may have a billion things that everyone else has. But there is one spark…one source of infinite power hidden in us that belongs only to us. And just think…it has the potential to change the world.
Like the leaves of a tree in a huge forest, we are all unique. At a glance we look similar…But deep down we are unique in a zillion possible ways.
We are forced and pushed through systems that attempts to make us all look same. We can put even Einstein’s theory of relativity to shame by our mundane sense of relativity. Just kidding… but just imagine we are all programmed to think in a relatively acceptable way. The system teaches us to look for safe zones.
For many getting a distinction in SSLC is a big safe-zone. We strive, struggle and yeah..get there (most of the times).
But are we happy?
Because someone out there is flaunting a rank and we crib about not getting there. The one who gets first class cribs about not getting a distinction. The one gets a just pass slaps himself for not getting first-class. The one who fails looks at the guy who gets a just-pass and idolizes him. And some one who cannot afford going to school silently sheds a tear or two looking at all this drama.
You can super impose this scenario across various arenas of our day-to-day life. Marriage, job, education, sports, politics, business, art, literature, what and what not.
My intention here is not to blame the system. But to point out that we are struggling hard to define our existence relative to millions out there. We cannot copy and many a times…we cannot cope up.
The answer will be a in fact a big relief for you. And the only explanation for the above dilemma is that we are all unique.
Every system that exist today is made by a group of individuals to suit their needs. Sometimes immensely talented people lose their fate, life and joy trying to comply with these systems.
Simple. What suits others may not suit you!!!
I get frequent phone calls these days from friends spread across various cities. Some of my blogs have been touching some nerves and many readers have started thinking beyond their daily routines. Good.
But is it good enough?
One of my very close friends wants to be a film maker. But he is trapped in his daily routines of life and he himself contradicts his own intentions to try his hand in film making. Pheewww…that’s confusing yeah??
I grilled him for long hours and found that the root cause for his frustration is his fear of failure. So after many lengthy telephone conversations, he comforted himself saying that he is safe under the shade of an MNC that gives him a salary good enough to comply with the so-called social norms.
Strange isn’t it?
So is there a way out?
Yes. Will come to that in some time!!!
Well, let me tell you the story of something we use on a daily basis:
In 1996, two PhD students from Stanford University, California developed a new kind of search engine that worked lot faster and showed more reliable search results. They used one of their dormitories and a set of commodity hardware (thrown away hard disks and computer hardware) to run the project.
They knocked the door of every company in silicon valley to sell their search engine but all in vain. They even went to big brands like Yahoo! and AOL to sell the algorithm for a few thousand dollars and a daily job. But every company turned them down saying:
“Internet search is working fine as of now…no need for any new armature stuff…”
They were disappointed but each rejection fuelled them up and their determination to prove their point became stronger by the day. And that is how Google was born.
The key is…they did not run behind brands after a point in time and neither did they give up. Yes, initially they failed. But they recovered and created a brand unlike any other. In short, Google became “The Brand”.
Well, none of us are here to recreate what Larry Page or Sergey Brin did. They are what they are because they worked towards what they believed in.
But we need to believe that we are all here to achieve something much more than mere existence.
The old saying goes :
“Survival of the fittest…”
But nowadays every one seem to survive and survive well… so now what?
We need to do more than just survive.
From the schools we study to the colleges we graduate… from to the companies we work to the girl we marry… from the food that we eat to the car that we drive…from the smart phones that we carry to the jaddi that we wear… we need brands to endorse us.
Years back when I was in my 10th standard or so, I remember attending a marriage reception. An elderly person introduced his son to my mom and some of our relatives:
“My son has finished Mechanical Engineering from MA College and has got placement in Wipro.” Poor son was already carrying his share of truck load of pride and was now squirming under his father’s words plus all the admiration from people around. He looked at me as if I was a cockroach that jumped in to his ice cream.
My Amma like always, pinched my hand and whispered:
“Kandu padikada…” (learn from the boy). She never misses a chance to say that…even today!!!
I idolised that guy. Wawooo… he must be a real genius…like Albert Einstein. I even spent clueless hours thinking about what his brain must be made of. Probably that was the first time I heard the name Wipro and thought that if that guy got in to this “Wipro”.. Wipro should be really great. I had the common sense back then to understand that big brains went big places.
Now, years later sitting in the lecture hall of MA College I realise that there is nothing great about working in an MNC and studying in that very same college. They are just brands and I’m an infinitesimally small roach trying to get my bit of shade.
The charm is all gone once we are there. Dreaming of a job in Google is fine. But that job makes sense if and only if that drive with which you joined the company stays with you through out. You are a born software engineer or banker or author or singer iff the passion sustains irrespective of the company you are working for. If that is not there…even a million $ job in NASA sucks…eventually.
This SHADE in fact is a SHADOW. And this shadow is what is killing us all. We need to come out of shadows to unleash our true self.
Do not cuddle under the brands. Do not run behind them, spending all our vital energy and accepting every shitty stuff they throw at us just to be accepted by them.
Do not teach your child that getting a BTech degree, a placement in XYZ MNC and grabbing a visa to US or settling down in Germany is the greatest achievement they can have. Instead, tell them that:
“Keep doing what you are good at son… success will come…the world will come looking for you…”
And it will.
If you cannot change yourself and believe that your story is done, you can change one thing. And that is the future of your child. Let him/her do what they love and strive for excellence in that. By now you would have understood that society is just a piece of bull shit and the system really helps no one.
Money is again an important factor. What is more important is how much you enjoy earning that.
“What is the point in making money if you neither enjoy making it nor spending it?”
We all have something unique. If worked up on and guided properly, it can make us outgrow beyond the so-called brands and money would simply be counted as a by-product of our passion.
I will give you a more recent example.
One of my friends, Mary Antony Pallan has written a book- Vodka Sambar. She, like millions of authors out there sent her manuscript one after the other to publishers. She did face rejections, but finally decided to go ahead and publish the book herself. She started “Blue Fin”, her own publishing house. From editing the manuscript to designing the cover, she did everything on her own. And with some help from her friends and family, she is out with her first novel. Brave girl!!! Hats off.
Because she did not wait for a brand to come and endorse her talent as a writer. Today Mary is a Brand. She has carved a niche for herself.
It is not success or failure that matters….what matters is our attitude.
Remember, we do not need a Penguin or a Harper Collins to take our words to the world.
Mary has come out of those shades & shadows. She is all sunshine now.
Something as simple as a WordPress blog is all that you need to take your ideas to the world. As you are reading this blog it will be crossing the 6000 views mark from almost 70 countries. All this and more in just three months. To be blunt…a span of just 90 days.
Many say that:
“I need to do this job for my survival.”
I believe that what defines us as human beings is what we do beyond mere survival.
Than what are the options in front of us? We need to survive and we need to invent and innovate.
Work at night??
Wawooo that seems to be a great option right?
Take time off guys. Take an year or two off. You are not gonna loose anything by not working for an year. Financials may be an issue…but hey who does not have problems?
Either you can live your dream or live somebody else’s dream. The choice is yours.
Plan your start up…pen down your next book…hum down the tune of the first song of your maiden album… pack the bag for your dream destination… take the camera that you dumped some where and go on a clicking spree… Who knows..that one idea…one song…one word…and that CLICK may be the next big thing?
It is you who can define your purpose of life…only you..you and you can decide your destiny.
I woke up from under the tree. I had no clue how much time had elapsed between then and now. But all I know is that I gotta go friend. Destinations are all unknown…but all I know is that I need to continue this journey.
It’s time to say good-bye. I have always wanted to write and words seem to be the only thing that does not exhaust me. God has always been great and showered happiness beyond wildest of all dreams. But true happiness is when an unknown reader from some remote corner of this earth sends a message and says:
“That’s a good one man…”.
Do not hide under the safety of shades… come out of the shadows and enjoy the bliss and beauty of sunshine. Feel restless…and never settle down.
You are not here to prove that you can merely survive. We are all beyond that.
– by Srinath Krishnamoorthy
Author’s click by Dr. Vivek Vaidyanathan