I have seldom asked myself, “Who am I? What is the purpose of existence? What is the purpose of life? Is everything happening for the better or worse?” Innumerable questions crawling all over like ants into crevices but no precise judgement cast to shore away the clouds mulling over my mind . But I never delved on them much until a few days ago.
I was waiting at the bus stop. The bus never arriving on time because of the dawdling Mumbai traffic had become a routine habit now, so naturally my eyes averted to the otherwise desolate street that had come to life and exuberated all the charm of business being a week day. Some people were occupied in getting to work on time while others were opening their shops to start the day’s business while some parents were rushing their kids to school. There were a group of teenagers standing by the corner intensely discussing the Stranger Things episode they saw last night. There was a man dapper in a suit complaining to his mother on the phone about how he was tired of his monotonous work and was looking for a respite from it. There was a small child of about five cribbing about not wanting to go to school and his father dragging him by the hand. There was an old lady standing with an umbrella on the ground, taking its support as a walking stick silently observing everyone. But what really caught my attention were the desires and wishes all around waiting to be fulfilled. Everyone around ceased to notice that they were caught up in this endless and sometimes viciously routine web of cravings.
In that locality, there may have been a young salesman going to work aiming to get a promotion while there was also a tea-seller who was aiming to be the best tea-seller of his locality. There may have been that child wanting to skip school and be in the solace of his house but there was also the child’s father who was working hard so that his son gets an education. I noticed a silent but steady mutiny between temptations and morals rising against each other around me.
Our wishes and desires have escalated so much so that we often allow our desires to define who we are. I asked myself, “Has our identity not become more of what we want to be and less of what we presently are?” And we seem to be just satiated with that. What happened to self-acceptance? Do we need to let our wants overrule us so much so that they become the driving factors for determining our peace and happiness?
What we seem to be forgetting is that a hundred years hence, (if not for some miracle in medical science), when we cease to exist , only the impact that we leave behind on the minds of people will remain.
Linda Ellis had rightly written,
“I read of a man who stood to speak
At the funeral of a friend
He referred to the dates on her tombstone
From the beginning to the end.
He noted that first came her date of birth
And spoke the following date with tears,
But he said what mattered most of all
Was the dash between those years.”
That delay in the arrival of the bus gave me time to realize that our identity is characterized by our values, our principles, the reverence others have for us, since these are the things that never weather away unlike a societal position that we may acquire today and lose tomorrow. The hustle and bustle of daily life seemed to award me with an alluring clarity. But the question that still remained was, how is it that we are ready to compromise our values, our identity to get to our dreams?
How I see it, dreams are of two kinds. They can either be materialistic or eternal. The materialistic dreams are the ones we wish to achieve in this life, like getting a job or buying a car. I call them the short-term dreams. And then we have the long-term dreams where we aim to achieve a character manned and highlighted by unbent willpower, peace, integrity and optimism even in the face of adversity.
As Rudyard Kipling says,
“If you can dream — and not make dreams your master;
If you can think — and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same”
And I personally believe it is much more required of us to focus on them long-term dreams. The short-term ones will eventually fall in place. Yes, of course, it may take more time but nothing long-lasting was built in a day. Rome wasn’t built in a day.
We are an ocean within ourselves. The “quest” to be more, to make a stronger impact should never be marred by the “cravings”. Only one of Van Gogh’s paintings was sold while he lived. Yet he went on to become one of the most famous artists to have graced the earth. Stephen King (more famously known as the author of ‘The Shining’), his first novel was rejected thirty times. Yet he did go on to make history because of his classical literary works. Often, it is about how famous a failure we become that our success becomes directly proportional to. Do not settle for less when all you need to do is believe in yourself to be more.
We need to have the power to challenge Fate himself. The day I realize that everything may not be going to my liking but the reigns of how I feel about it are still in my hand, that day I will be at one with my destiny. That day will I have truly found myself. It dawned on me that that day my quest will be over; as the bus finally rolled by.