People think they know me but they don’t. Not really. Actually, I am one of the loneliest people on this earth. I cry sometimes, because it hurts. It does. To be honest, I guess you could say that it hurts to be me.
It is sometimes interesting to see yourself through another’s perspective. For many who have known me since my childhood, the graph of my life would appear to have taken a downhill course. From being an unfaltering rank student, from being a stage figure and a public speaker, from a pedestal of popularity and fame, from being a role-model and reference, how is it that I am a ‘nobody’ today? This is a question that lingers in the minds of many of my school friends.
“It was you we aspired to be. But today, everybody who was a nobody then, is somebody. The graph of their life is on an uphill course, while yours is going in the opposite direction. It is a paradox. This is certainly not where you should have been!”, they say.
I suppress a smile. I can relate to what they mean. They painted my future in their minds a long time ago. A future, bright and promising. Like my friend pointed out to me, I never had to work hard. Where my friends put in their hundred percent, I only had to put in half that effort to succeed. For the rest of the time, I could afford to be mischievous and light-hearted, because success came so easily to me. How is it then that today, I am so far away from success? This intrigues them.
It wouldn’t be wrong to say that I too had dreamt of such a future for myself. In those years, we were so young and naive that we were ignorant of the currents of life or of the hunger of the soul. Our definitions of success were based on conventional moulds. Like my friends, I too believed that I would become a doctor or engineer, travel the world, collect achievements, live a comfortable life, and earn the status of ‘elite’. Though disguised under degrees and lifestyles, these aspirations translated into money and power. But back then, I did not know that money and power could not buy happiness by themselves.
However, unlike my friends who only saw my external embellishments, I was aware of my limitations and failures. I was aware of those aspects of my personality that would interfere with success. I was aware of my emotional intensity, my inability to commit to paths that could not capture my interest or imagination, and my inclination towards fantasy. I was always lost in the magic of the world, and that interfered with my ability to focus. Perhaps this awareness helped me accept failures and enabled me to expect less from myself.
All through my medical college, I was an average student. My primary motivation came not from my scores, but from the magic that some of my textbooks and teachers fed into my mind. I could sense the extraordinary element in the ordinary, and this thrilled me. I am grateful to those teachers who made me feel that there was something extraordinary about my perceptions and thoughts. If not for that, my self-esteem might have suffered terribly. Likewise, when I worked abroad, I was lost to the stimulation and novelty of my world. I failed to travel along defined paths, and collected very little in terms of external embellishment. But internally, I could feel the transformation. My consciousness had finally awakened enough to connect to the hunger of my soul.
It had been difficult for me to leave London, but when I found myself in Kerala, it may have been this element of instinct and consciousness that steered me towards the true purpose of my life.
“Why do you build small towers in infinite places? Why can’t you build one tower, and then build upon that?”
It is a question of significance. Any day, it is easier to build one tower. Imagine if I were to do so now. It would be so easy. I would only have to continue with whatever I do now. Live in Kerala forever. Continue with the current job. Get promoted. Some day, I would be Professor and HOD. I might enhance my CV through ‘research’, publications and presentations. On paper, I might narrate the story of my ‘professional growth’ with pride. Internally, my soul might just die. A little every day.
You see, my heart is not in this image of perfection we create for the world to see, acknowledge and approve. I like the kind of research I do every day. I am addicted to the joy of toying with perceptions and thoughts. They come to me at the most unexpected moments, like when I am walking on the street. I like experimenting with them on a serious note, and finding the real answers. That is how my first book was conceived. It was a book that arose from the questions I had asked myself when I had found myself drawn to diversity of personality. There is more truth in that exploration than the research papers we publish in most institutions in India. I don’t want a high from a prize for a paper or poster; I want a high from the paths of discovery I take.
I watch the Bee Gees sing. I watch Michael Jackson perform. I read Sylvia Plath’s letters to her mother, Vincent van Gogh’s letters to his brother. I watch the humming bird drinking nectar from the flower. What I see in all of them is their ability to lose themselves to the moment. To the joy of perception.
I don’t care for long years; I care for richness of experience. How much of life penetrated us while we lived? That is the question that matters to me. I have to be in love. Every day, every moment. With the world. With myself. And I would do anything that it takes to be in love. This principle has been the driving force in my life. If I built one big tower, I would have fallen out of love with myself a long time ago.
I have captured enough magic from this world within me. Enough to touch others with its spell. Every soul who crosses my path, carries a little bit of this magic in his heart when he leaves. That has been my highest high. I can make anybody fall in love with themselves. With the world. And for this reason, I am loved the most.
Beautiful moments with my mother, savouring the uniqueness of the relationship we share. Beautiful moments with all the people in my life, strangers included, breathing life into those moments. Beautiful moments in the lap of nature, cherishing this joy of being alive. Beautiful moments of endless conversations with myself, through which I discover the world and fall in love with it. Beautiful moments of exploring myself through work, reveling in what I discover of myself. This perpetual romance has been my greatest achievement.
Invisible to the world, but very much palpable…