A Journey called Life


Every one has dreams, ambitions. I am no different. If an ambition can be likened to reaching the peak of a mountain, then yes, there were times when I wanted to climb atop a mountain that would have brought me glory, and may be, also given me satisfaction. But then, that was the past. I used to see the mountain through my limited vision. It is only the peak that was visible. Not visible was the path that led to that top – or rather, what I thought to be the path. When we are young with equally narrow visions, we think straight. We think it is simple – start walking in the direction of the peak, climb where the turf is steep, and don’t stop.

As I “grew up” I realized that it is not only me who wished to reach the mountain top, and however hard one tries, one’s path is going to be crisscrossed by others’ paths. What was unknown to me was the fact that what our limited vision shows us is only the mountain top, and many times not even where we are standing at that time. Even if a lucky few among us can make out where they are standing, it does not guarantee that they could see THAT path that could actually lead them to the top.

Somehow it is so incorporated in the ways of the world, that what others can see is: from where a (successful) person starts, and where is he now (that is, the top of the mountain), but not how he got there. Maybe he might have pushed a few people down on his way to the top. May be, a few people who could not make it were equally or more capable, but tried to climb from the wrong side of the mountain as their vision did not give them a panoramic view; may be they would have reached had it not been for bad weather which no one could predict; may be they missed it all because of one wrong footing; may be they reached there when that mountain was not discovered and no one attached glory to actually “conquer” it; may be when they reached, no one actually saw them reach there and so no praises were sung; may be… And then, a few very lucky ones could take a chopper up there. No such luck with me.

With realization of a few of these facts I began to ponder what is the fun in trying to climb atop a mountain where factors other than sheer talent and determination could play major roles? Is it really worth? I have a limited life; is it really worth climbing up and to be remembered for a day or two, in highly amnestic public memory? No. Does it mean I will never climb up a mountain? No, I will, if situation demands, but the mountain would have to be a “check point” to reach somewhere; that “somewhere”, which would be more interesting, irrespective of whether or not reaching there would be a matter of pride, or if laurels would be showered upon me on reaching there.

I realized that “success” as we know it, is different for everyone. Just because climbing atop a mountain is difficult, does not mean I have to try reaching there. Neither just because everyone thinks that those who are able to reach there are “successful”. Eventually success, just like life, has to be a journey. One should feel content at the end. If a lake with scenic beauty impresses me more, there is nothing wrong in sitting there, taking in all the beauty that its environs have to offer. Who knows if the mountain peak could be quite barren! To make sure one would have to climb up to the top. So, why take chances…

Alas! Even when was I decided I liked the lake more than the mountain peak, I was still young, with a wider vision, but yet not wide enough. To simply survive is not life, but definitely to be alive one needs to survive. The demands of life extend beyond where one wants to reach at the end. To tread the path also one requires “resources” – food, clothing, shelter, and what not. Unfortunately, like fruits hung on trees, these resources are not always available on the path we take – at least not on the trees that border the path we wish to take. You may have to go a bit deep into the wilderness that flanks your path. And, even there you realize it is not only you who wants those fruits. Others have already plucked quite a few of them. You end up spending most of the time plucking fruits rather than walking on your path.

And then there are some, who choose a path that has fruit-laden trees everywhere – not really thinking where the path leads. Rather, it is not some, but the majority.

Well, that is what life is like. I think the happiest are those, who, as is obviously stated by many, are able to enjoy the journey, pluck fruits when needed, and not try to hoard too much out of their paranoia, or sadistic pleasure of not letting others have them; nor are those happy who totally forget about the fruits they have to collect, and get lost in their way, and perish – unknown to any one…

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13 thoughts on “A Journey called Life

  1. Ok very well written apart from a few minor errors. But that is over shadowed by your thoughts which is more important! I would say, if you have set your goals, be it reaching the top of the mountain or anything, don’t ever give up. Don’t ever let anything come your way of achieving your goals. Yes there are so many things in life which may seem better than what you want or what you have. As they say, the grass is always greener on the other side. Its normal to have goals when one is young. But sometimes achieving a childhood dream is an amazing feeling! Try not analogize [I just made that word up !:P] life too much. You may end up being more confused than you already are! Set your goals and set forth toward it. Be it a childhood dream or a mature aspiration!

    Cheers,
    Vishwas

  2. Hi Vishwas!

    Well, you’re the first to comment on this post. 🙂 Welcome to the blog and thanks for the compliment and encouragement!

    Yes, you’re very right about how one should not give up on one’s dreams, but in the post I’ve wondered, what if the basis of our setting a particular goal turns out wrong?

    Like say, you’re a good singer, and participate in a singing competition because you want to prove yourself (to others) as the competition will challenge your abilities, and also to see others enjoy what you’ve to offer (that is, your singing). So, winning that competition becomes your goal (say, for next two months). But when you actually participate, you realize that people are not sincere in listening to music. They don’t understand music. In fact, winner is decided by voting, and people vote for the one who looks best (people are carried away by looks) despite the fact that it was a music competition! You get disappointed, no doubt. When you reach back home, you’ve two options–prepare for next year’s competition, exercising in the gym, taking care of your hair, skin, etc., basically trying to look good. Or the second option is–stop thinking about the competition. Not because you can’t look good on trying, but because that WAS NOT THE PURPOSE! You’d wanted people to enjoy your singing, not your looks. You wanted your singing to get challenged, not your ability to slog it in the gym. Yes, that’s what we overlook when we get this feeling of ‘why am I doing what I’d set out to do?’ And it’s a good idea to try to make out what were the original reasons that had made you decide on a particular goal (say singing)? And if those goals are still relevant?

    Also, for some reason, it’s very difficult to do things one truly enjoys along with earning decent livelihood.

    TC.

  3. Hi Ketan,

    I’ll get to the point straight away. On a poignant note, do you think Lata Mangeshkar or Asha Bhosle were winners at Indian Idol? Or if Luciano Pavarotti won the American Idol? Did Shakespeare coin twenty thousand odd words in his plays to win the Spelling Bee competition? They all have one thing in common. It was their dream. They achieved their goals not because they wanted to impress someone or to become famous. You want to do something because its your dream. You want to achieve a goal because you want to achieve it. Its like your precious little baby. When a person wants to sing, its probably because he loves to sing. Not because he wants to win a competition, although these days singing and several other talents have become very commercialized. But again, it has its own pros and cons. Anyway, fame and fortune comes along with achieving your goals.

  4. Thanks Vishwas, again for an elaborate and encouraging response!

    It’s not that I’m too disappointed to work hard towards my goals, but now doing that’d be more for reasons like survival and livelihood, rather than because I’d be passionate about them. Lata Mangeshkar must have sung many songs against her convictions, more so early on in her career. It’s only later that when she became famous (not everyone in their respective field can even on possessing appropriate amount of talent) that she could decide uninhibitedly what she would like to sing. And look around, if Lata Mangeshkar were to sing today, a bhangra-pop or a garish remix (not in less parts because of the music video) would sell more!

    I’ve very much come to terms with these facts, and am going to lead my life on terms set by the society, just that had to chronicle how my view of the world had evolved.

    Thanks, again and take care.

  5. She became famous for singing songs beautifully, even songs which she didn’t like. She gave it her best though she may not have liked singing particular songs. She saw an opportunity to grow as a singer. She took those songs as a challenge and succeeded. That spirit made her famous. It took her to great heights. Sir Richard Branson wanted to fly around the world in a hot air balloon only because he wanted to. Not because he wanted to make a living out of it. It was sheer determination. He was almost killed a few times if I’m not wrong. He did crazy things when he was young. Today he is the co-owner of an F1 team! He is passionate about adventure. He broke the record for the fastest Atlantic Ocean crossing in a hot air balloon. Its just a constant reminder for us dreamers. Its a clear message. Never give up!

  6. Dear Ketan, Thanks a lot for going through some of my postings on my blog. Indeed your views on many issues are shared by me.
    After much thought, I have realised that the pleasure of the moment is all that is, be it in the journey or the destination (in fact there are no destinations, nor are there any peaks).A fall after a so called peak is inevitable, if not today surely tomorrow.(who would have believed just a decade ago that General Motors would declare bankruptcy). And the lesser said offame the better.(Remeber the song “Mai pal do pal ka shayar hunh”).
    You have a very analytical mind do continue writing.

  7. Hello Deepak sir!

    Welcome to the blog!

    As by your own affirmation, we share many ideas on life, so nothing to comment there 🙂

    Thanks for the encouragement, and wish to see more blogs from you.

    Take care.

  8. Hi Ketan!

    I actually HAVE read this post and loved it completely. This actually may be the first post, where I didn’t disagree with you on any line!

    So first of all, I will clap for you.
    Because I think its written reallyyyyy well, and whats written in it, is according to me, totally true.

    The real mazaa is more often than not, in the journey. 🙂
    For example, in 9th, our school took us for a trip in Parliment Museum…and Parliment Museum for Malls-and-Adventure Parks-and-clothes-loving teenagers?
    Not the best choice.
    But we had soooo much fun in the bus. The Museum sucked, but the journey was awesome.

    While climbing the mountain, if I enjoy going up and actually seeing and observing the mountain at ALL heights, I’d have gained much more than just hurrying past the main body of the mountain to just get to the top.
    There, I think, you’ve raised a very valid point.
    Kudos to you! 🙂

  9. Hey I have read this post before, but I guess I shud have commented on it, too..

    anyways, here goes. You’re right. Its prolly not worth climbing atop a mountain and then fretting forever about whether you can maintain this position, and worrying about how many others are just waiting out there to make you fall..

    Its a difficult journey, and for many it doesnt really hold much satisfaction in the end.

    It is perhaps the easiest and best thing to do to choose an easy “fruit-laden” path..

    It is life’s journey that one remembers..and not its highest point..

    Success is meaningless if it doesnt come with happiness or the company of friends..

    all that I’m looking for is contentment, and as much happiness for as long as I can muster..

    and Ketan, a bit of advice,

    please make better paragraphs..

    this makes it much harder to read, you know, the post looks formidable..almost a solid wall of words..

    I’d thought it the first time I’d read it to..I kinda had to brace myself to begin reading it..

  10. you should climb the mountains.know why its worth it?then you can see plateaus,deccan and the lake.you come to see what a low normal life you have led.you simply have admired the a fraction of the melted mountain ice in the lake.big fish in the little pond mr.ketan.

  11. diaboli,

    Here, the altitude is quite relative. What has been talked of as ‘high’ in the post, has been determined to be the same by others.

    To whatever little degree I have experienced popularity/glory/fame, it has never given me the satisfaction of accomplishment. It would be a different matter if what I anyway would want to do, brings me glory. But to seek glory, and sacrifice my personal aspirations in the process has not seemed appealing to me, at least up till now. 🙂

    TC.

  12. I personally like trying out various paths to enjoy each scenery. I’m a late bloomer so I tend to take my time reaching the top. Better late than never has been my motto 🙂

    Carrie

    • Hi, Carrie!

      Welcome to the blog! You happen to be the first commentator after I shifted my blog from Blogger, so that makes your comment all the more special. 🙂

      In this post I have tried to highlight the struggle between urge to enjoy the beauty found in plains, or instead try to reach the top only because it seems elusive. We tend to value less what is immediately accessible. As a corollary we covet whatever is apparently out of reach or difficult to attain. This connection between ‘difficult to get’ and hence ‘worthy of attaining/gaining’ is made quite automatically by the mind, but is a fallacious one, and perhaps is drilled into the psyche by social conditioning. While I cannot be sure, but it seems it is more so in India [have never traveled abroad 🙂 ].

      But yes, “top” need not be as defined by the society – it can also mean things defined by the self, e.g., trying to gain clearer understanding of the world as one ages, or to sharpen one’s skill at certain activity with practice. While one might not reach the proverbial “top” for no such acme would be defined objectively, one would know that with passage of time one is gaining ‘elevation’ in the said area of life.

      So, in my post I was talking of the first kind of ‘top’ – those tasks that are dictated by the society, and which consequently become coveted from our perspective owing to lack of introspection. I was not talking of the second kind of ‘top’ trying to reach where has its own pleasures (“but the mountain would have to be a “check point” to reach somewhere; that “somewhere”, which would be more interesting”). 🙂

      Thanks very much for reading and commenting!

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