Friday, March 10, 2006

The awakening...

Life always seems to me a never-ending race. What makes it difficult is not the constant running, but the fact that its a 100-meter sprint and a 15-km marathon all combined into one. Juggling between our varied priorities,we struggle to maintain that ideal balance between short-term happiness and long-term success. Some of us become masters at the sprint, while others focus on the marathon, albeit not knowing when it would come or whether they would be able to cross the line.

I had a pretty lacklustre start to my race- a pretty ordinary childhood laced with the occasional flash of brilliance. Despite blessed with an utter lack of sporting skills, I ambled about playing cricket all day long in the backyard. Books were considered a taboo among the crass kids in my locality, and creativity in music or the arts was a virtue I never knew existed in me. Hobbies were as permanent as a Casanova's keep: they came as fast as they went.

VJTI marked the turning point in my life and my attitude. Shrugging off my inept social skills and confidence, I exploited to the hilt my biggest virtue at that time-my boundless energy. All along I had plodded along life akin to a two teams meandering away to a Test match draw. Now life had got a purpose. I realized that organizing events in college provided me with self-worth and a recognition, an identity. It was a positive spiral. The enthusiasm grew. For two months in 2003, I practically lived in the VJTI quadrangle, not even stepping into a class and going home at 12 am. I'd achieved a lot. Life was good.

And then IIM happened. And the first rays of reality simply burnt my sleepy eyes. Superhumans confronted me at every step, people who had academic distinctions all their life, were also great sportsmen. Music afficionados who could speak about Led Zeppelin's history and Statistics with equal ease. The list was endless.

My natural reaction was to struggle to come to terms with my relative ineptitude, and then to rationalize. Obviously if I had been backed at an early age, I would have learnt sports. Oh, I never had the money to buy a CD, how could I ever develop a taste in music? But, try as I might, I was increasingly accepting the truth: Despite my talents in certain areas, I had just wasted 22 WHOLE YEARS of my life. As I looked back over the years, I could see nothing constructive except my financial independence at a young age.

Beautifully captured by Pink Floyd (probably lyrically the most superior band ever) in their single Time from Pulse(1995):

Tired of lying in the sunshine staying home to watch the rain
You are young and life is long and there is time to kill today
And then one day you find ten years have got behind you
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun

And you run and you run to catch up with the sun, but it's sinking
And racing around to come up behind you again
The sun is the same in the relative way, but you're older
Shorter of breath and one day closer to death

The reality shock did however jolt me into action. A lacklustre summer internship at Britannia which I so completely hated was a blessing in disguise: it provided me with ample time to make a new beginning. I started reading extensively, from fiction to current affairs. I was an utter simpleton when I entered IIM- reading a daily newspaper used to take me 5 hours simply because every news was news to me: I knew absolutely nothing. But I read and I read in the 2nd year of MBA- magazines, google, I just fed myself with every kind of information, not caring whether it was important or not. It was just the hors d'oeuvre I needed to drum up the hunger for knowledge.

Pure genius is an utterly useless virtue by itself, and yet such a potent weapon when applied to every aspect of life. Brain-dead for 22 years, its almost like my mind is growing up now. Theres a restless curiosity that drives me every moment in every direction. Like a dear friend once wrote about me "..a kid in a toy shop, who likes evrything he sees...". And as I scurry around trying to savor every second of life, Im finding things in myself that I never knew existed.

Its been a false start to the race, but Im gearing myself for a photo-finish. And Im happy running, as long as I keep changing lanes :)


Srini said...

Tat was soo very true for so many young ppl out here dude..Life at every step is a competition...n things said by gr8 ppl..which i thot to b too philosophical seems like so very much true...they say
"live Every moment of your d max" ...hope we imbibe d next this fromd very nxt moment v realize this fact..m startg now:)))

Harish said...

Simply Brilliant Man!!!!
This article is something I not only identified a lot with but also was blown away by the way the pace is relentlessly kept throughout...kudos!!!