The Alchemist was, indeed, the epitome of Paulo Coelho’s witty and crafty genius. One particular reason why this book is hailed as a modern classic, “The face of contemporary literature” according to Vir Sanghvi, is that it is based on the aspirations of the human soul. Santiago’s arduous journey in search of treasure is portrayed as the journey of one’s life, which can be a very arousing and touching sentiment, spiritually as well as physically.
All lovers of the Indian cinema, or let’s say SRK in particular, must be aware of the famous dialogue from the silver screen catastrophe Om Shanti Om – “इतनी शिद्दत से मैंने तुम्हे पाने की कोशिश की है, की हर ज़र्रे ने मुझे तुमसे मिलाने की साज़िश की है”. To my greatest surprise (actually, not really), this dialogue has been ‘inspired’ by the converging idea of The Alchemist – “When you really want something to happen, the whole universe conspires so that your wish comes true”. But I often wonder if that were the case, why doesn’t everyone gets what they want? Does the son not cry loud enough for his dying mother to be saved? Does the heartbroken romantic not wail hard enough to be reunited with his love? Or does the derelict not pray urgently enough for a couple of meals for his family to get through just one more day? They do. We all do, to fulfill our basic needs and desires. Although, I don’t really differentiate between the two terms unlike some who associate needs with sustenance and desires with indulgence. Nonetheless enters the villain to the party – destiny. I often feel that the universe does conspire when you really want something. But until you get that thing, you always feel that the conspiracy is versus you. Desire against destiny is one battle that has been going on since biblical times. Both are hailed and both are cursed. What we derive is finally the net result of an intricate balance between the former two. What is denied is often discarded as something that was not meant to be. However, we don’t understand the need for denial until we’ve derived our benefits. Well… how can else we differentiate a man from a saint!
There’s this wonderful movie I saw again recently – 500 Days of Summer. One of its soundtracks just touched my heart for its sheer simplicity and honesty. Yes, an honest song. Hard to find… huh! I dug a little deeper and found that the song was composed by The Smiths… a very popular English rock band of the yesteryear. The lyrics are so piercing that they just grab your jugular vein and stir you from within…. which in the context of this post I find very relevant! Here they go….
Good times for a change,
Can make a good man turn bad
See, the luck I’ve had,
So please please please,
Let me, let me, let me,
Let me get what I want…. This time!
Haven’t had a dream in a long time,
See, the life I’ve had,
Can make a good man bad.
So for once in my life,
Let me get what I want,
Lord knows, it would be the first time!
I want to share a fantastic story that I read a couple of days back in a book by Rev. Dr. Robert H. Schuller named “TOUGH TIMES NEVER LAST, BUT TOUGH PEOPLE DO!” The name was inspiring enough. A story about life, our triumphs, our struggles and the way we overcome it. A story that, though derived from a thing as minuscule and innocuous as a potato, really forces us to reassess our approach towards life. Here it goes:
The potato farmers of the US state of Idaho sort them out according to their sizes – big, medium or small, after they have been harvested. This helps them to get the maximum market dollar over their product. Its only after these potatoes are sorted, that they are bagged and loaded onto the trucks. This method has been followed for generations by all the farmers – all but one.One farmer never bothered to sort the potatoes at all and still he seemed to making the most of the money. A perplexed neighbor finally asked him, “What is your secret?” He said, “It’s simple. I just load up all the potatoes onto the truck and take the roughest road to town. During the 8-mile trip, the small potatoes fall to the bottom, the medium ones land in the middle and the big potatoes rise to the top”.
This is not only true for potatoes. Its a law of life. Tough people rise to the top in rough times, on rough roads.
“When the going gets tough, only the tough gets going.” ~ Knute Rockne
Tough people bring out their best under adverse situations. They fight. They survive. They win. They come out on top. You’ll never win a battle that you did not fight. You will never hit the bull’s eye, if you never take the shot. Life’s a struggle but giving up is never an option. Accept it. Fight for it. Win it.
“I have been a rich man. And I have been a poor man. And I choose rich every fucking day.”
~ Jordan Belfort (The Wolf of Wall Street)
I’ve always been fascinated by studies of the human psyche and how people react in different situations. And of course, I’m not a behavioral expert even in the slightest. But I do believe I have a keen sense of observation. And interestingly, from all my interactions with various people under various situations, I have found (empirically) that the true measure of a person’s character is how he/she reacts when encountered with failure. In fact, I would go as far as to say, that failure is not an event rather an emotion. I mean, we see very commonly that negative emotions trump positive ones in both, longevity and impact. So, when it comes to dealing with failure one’s mind can be occupied for a much longer time period reeling in the thought of “What could have been”. And each one of us tackles it in a different ways. After all, our individuality is a function of our response(s) to all these emotions, including failure.
So, here’s my take. I believe that when faced with failure, there are only two routes that we can take. One – go into hibernation and hide in our shells. Take refuge of the oblivion until the damaging effects of our failures are allayed from “people’s” minds. This part of your personality is called a “Runway”. Two – we can go back into the wilderness and not give a fuck about what “people” think. We can get up, dust ourselves and fight our way back into the light. This alter ego of yours is called the “Fighter”. Now, like every other person, I have also faced quite a few failures in my life. Sometimes it was a decision gone wrong and sometimes it was not enough effort put on my part and well, sometimes Murphy just came out of nowhere (as he usually does) and kick me in the nuts and went away whistling.
What did I do? Well, I have taken both routes. I have gone dark and I have fought. Both are extremely hard. Both are justified. But mimicking Belfort’s quote that I mentioned at the top, I have been a runaway and I’ve been a fighter. I have hated myself and I have pissed off people. And I would choose ‘Fighter’ every fucking day. Why? Well, let’s think about it. If you start hiding from the world, if you stop going to the college or your office, if you stop going to parties – how long do you think “people” are going to miss you? My dad always says, “People” does not have any identity. “People” does not have a name. And hence, they are not important than your own happiness.The memory of the masses is quite weak. And they cannot be satiated. In fact, honestly, they don’t give tiny rat’s ass to your problems. But, by taking the second route, you might make at least one person happy. You.
Your choice. Choose wisely!