The Only One

Image

Image Courtesy: http://www.jucoolimages.com/stand_alone_photography.php

More often than not, we humans have a tendency to compare our position and circumstances to those around us. Also, taking into consideration the fact that the grass always seems to be greener on the other side, whenever we face a tough situation or a setback, thoughts like- “This is not what I deserve!” or “The world is just too harsh upon me”-instantaneously flash in our mind. The era of self pity thus begins; the mind starts to ponder upon how unfair the world is. Consequently, as a step to allay that grievance, we become soft on ourselves. Efforts die down, and the ship to destination dream is pushed back by a self-created wind.

This is one of the greatest ironies that exist in human life. We dream to reach the stars and aim to be just the tallest among the grove. Our efforts, our determination are all focused on achieving our “aim”, though, in our heads, we think that we are working on the greater goal. We even expect to actually touch the star. Disappointment, then, seems quite inevitable. This in turn prompts self-pity, and we end up being caught in its vicious cycle. We forget that there are many others stuck in the same scenario.

Whenever we self-pity, our focus unconsciously shifts from working to wailing.  All the time that could actually have been utilized to better the situation is wasted on fussing upon it. Self-pity is like an analgesic-it soothes the pain, but numbs the nerves from taking action. The moment the self-pity triggers, a “perceived limit” is set. And that kills our true potential.

As grave as the obstacle may appear, it can actually be molded to function as our greatest strength.

Looking beyond the grove we live in, we will soon realize that there are millions out there waging tougher wars every day- the disabled trying to live a normal life; the cancer patients fighting off the disease with all their might; the single mom working to her last limits just to ensure a good life for her child. There are numerous examples.  Some readily accept their defeat; others are not a bit daunted by it. They accept what comes their way, remove it or make the best use of it. Without a single utter of complain. They toil every moment, every day, not even stopping to give a thought to the injustice of fate. They eventually manage to reach their desired destination.

Even in the grove, there might be people who are silently handling much more difficult situations. We need to stop gauging our hard-work in relative terms, and clear out the notion that we alone are subjected to hard times.  Let our ideals set the standards. A setback implies that the bar must be raised. The extra mile must be done. If we are dreaming about stars, we need to aim for the stars as well.

So, the next time, when the devil self-pity creeps us our back, all we have to remember are those inspiring examples.

As Evanescence puts it right, “You know you’re not the only one.

This blog post is inspired by http://ajaytao2010.wordpress.com/

Advertisements

Failure is a Friend

Still-life-photography-black-and-white-with-color-01_2

Image Courtesy: http://black-and-whitephotos.blogspot.in/2013/01/still-life-black-and-white-photography.html

Fingers set on the alphabets of the keyboard; the screen glaring back with a blank page. A definite invitation to write. Some thoughts dispersed in the corners of the mind were deftly collected, then framed into sentences, very creatively.  And word by word, enthusiastically, the page was adorned with lines of a lovely legend. The writer paused for a moment, browsed the article and frowned. Next moment, the backspace key came into action. The cursor blinked wildly, as wildly as the emotion that had overpowered everything else going on in his mind.

The Fear of failure. Afraid that the piece will not make the mark.

He leaned back on his chair and gulped down water. Sitting dejected, he wondered if he will ever accomplish what he had set out to do. He looked at the blank screen again, swivelled his chair, crossed his fingers and closed his eyes. He started to search his mind for various things he could write upon. Possible topics that would make his book an instant hit. Stardom? Not good. Vampires? The market is overflowing with vampire tales. Self-Help? It’s you who need it right now. Frustrated, he gave up on thinking as well, and sat staring at the ceiling.

Are you so scared that you will give up trying? Said a voice in his mind.
No, I am not giving up on trying, the writer justified, I am just looking for something….

…That would please everyone? And then, you would write things that others like. After a while, even your life will be defined by others. The voice completed, brusquely.
It’s not like that, he argued back. I just want to write something good.

And what is good? Asked the voice.
Anything well written, and has a decent story, and is liked by many, he replied, unsure.

Did you notice the “liked” in your sentence? The voice taunted. Why do you want to write something good?
I want my book to be a success, the writer shrugged.

Without even trying? The voice asked back.
No, I am trying, he said, I write every day for at least an hour.

And delete the contents. The voice added. You don’t go forth with it because you are scared that you might fail.
No one wants to fail, said the writer.

But failure isn’t as bad as you think, stated the voice.
I know how bad it is, he admitted. Every time I fail, a part of me loses faith in myself. I want to live up to my expectations.

There was silence for a while. You take it too harsh on yourself, my dear, consoled the voice. The feeling associated with failure is almost psychological. People celebrate success and mourn failures all because of the outcomes. The positive consequences of failure are often neglected. Failure is seen as a devil come to ruin your lives, but in reality it is a harsh and wise teacher. Harsh, because of its ways and wise because it is going to teach you things that you’ll remember for life.
The writer nodded, pensively.

Failure is a guide to your success, continued the voice.  By making you confront your own follies; failure crafts a surer path, and slowly eliminates the diversions. It equips you well with the knowledge that you would need to reach where you want to be. And thus, every failure is a cause to be grateful, for you’ve learned things that you might never know otherwise. And those things are important.
Therefore, you must keep trying. Even if you fail, that tiny “try” would take you a milestone nearer to your goal.
True, he said, very true.

Great people you revere today weren’t always successful. The difference was that they embraced their failures heartily, learned from it, and continued on to their paths to success. They are great, because they made use of their learnings, and learnt a lot.
“Why didn’t I think about this?”, he said out loud, smiling at his own folly.

But you are thinking, my dear, replied the voice. Yes I am, he thought. He swivelled back the chair, set his fingers on the keyboard again. As his fingers typed out all that was in his mind again, he promised himself that he would learn from his mistakes. There was beauty even in failing.

Of Books and Cooks

Image

Image Courtesy: https://fbcdn-sphotos-a-a.akamaihd.net/hphotos-ak-ash4/388135_292255567548490_2098372228_n.jpg

I was reading A Clash of Kings (a commendable book I must say!), when this strange analogy struck my mind. How much this would suit your opinion, I cannot say, but I found it really apt. In a way, well, everything shares a common streak with everything else, if you look at it from the right angle. This one, though, was a little extraordinary. It bluntly pointed out the mistakes that we budding writers commit!

A book is quite like a recipe. The characters function as the major ingredients—veggies, let’s say, the things we can see from the very beginning; and most of it is identified when we open the dish (the book). The lesser-featured characters are also seen, a little later though, as we stir the dish. The plot is the minor ingredient—or the spices, which we realize about through our course of reading. How these two (the veggies and the spices) have been cooked completely depends on the writing style of the author.

Millions out there dream making a recipe that will one day be the most coveted one. Think day and night about a marvelous plot, brilliant characters, and plan to write it. Which remains a plan for a long while. Spotted: Flaw # 1. The recipe that you were talking about, have you ever tried cooking it? Listing down the procedure and cooking it are two very different things. Only after cooking will one see the overlying flaws. You need to write it down, not just plan. Write it down to the end. And once you get it done, you’ve many chances to re-do it, to make the appropriate changes. This time, you will be heading in a specific direction.

If you do not know much about cooking, then how do you plan to do it? Spotted: Flaw # 2. Knowledge of a field is of prime importance when you are going to do something new in that field. If you are not well-versed in the styles, how would you get about the variations? The recipe that you are trying, someone might have done it before. Despite all those hours you put in, you may not be credited for your own genuine work. So therefore, read. Read all the time that you are not writing. You will not only learn about new styles or plots, it is quite likely that you might get an idea. One that has a potential of #1 bestseller.

The book is brewed, the lines well set. But before it can hit the bookstores, a gourmet must give in his approval. The publisher, tired and frustrated, is not very impressed by your work. And there goes your rejection letter, which has you so dejected that you stop believing in the publishing industry. Spotted: Flaw # 3. Taste is a very subjective matter. The gourmet, in this case, is looking for specific things in your dish (just like the one in Ratatouille 🙂 ). So your job is to be optimistic and find the publisher who is looking for you kind of work. Well, you may make some alterations to your work, but this is a minor task. The major task is to keep trying.

Still Thinking? Don’t! Boil down the characters, flavor it with your perfect plot–baste, stew, fry or bake– then garnish it with the right ending. And your book is ready to be served!