“Is that what they call a vocation -
what you do with joy as if you had fire in your heart, the devil in your body?”
― Josephine Baker
― Josephine Baker
When I look at my own life ( I will be 59 this year) and when I look at the lives of thousands of young-ones who I was privileged to come in contact with (through teaching, training, guiding, mentoring etc), I strongly feel, that one of the greatest blessings in life is - the clarity on one’s vocation… That is, what one wants to do in life… His career choice… His calling in life.
To me, what is perplexing and heart-breaking is this: In a city like Mumbai, where kids are born in decently educated and affluent families, where kids are sent to the so-called ‘best schools’… where kids are exposed to dozens of extra-curricular skills and famed academies, and, above all, where personal and career counseling - and also the options to choose from are like an endless galaxy - yes, in an atmosphere like this one, to see young-kids being clueless about what they want to ‘do’… is heart-breaking!
“It is okay if you are confused at this point of time,” I console our young-ones, “But, sit alone for long, long hours and look within you… at your deepest aspirations, your talents, skills, strengths and weaknesses… Find what is that makes you the happiest, what is that you would do without being told or forced… what is that you would do without caring for time, money and even recognition… what is that you think you can do better than most around you… what is that you are ready to do remaining ‘hungry and foolish’, against all odds… Learn to get in touch with that… learn to articulate about it before your parents, learn to negotiate with them… For, they trust you when they see you ‘clear, disciplined and ready’… Parents love you, care for you and, hence, will support you all the way, provided you make yourself trustworthy… Show them you are trustworthy, show them you are ‘clear, disciplined and ready to give what it takes…”
I myself am a ‘late-bloomer’ in life. But, what I chose was what I wanted to do with all my heart and soul… I discovered my talent of teaching, training and writing on my own… I trusted in my choice… I had the discipline to go about it… I was ready to give what it took… and, above all, I was prepared to remain ‘hungry and foolish’ all the way!
“Look within you and listen to your heart,” I repeatedly tell our young-ones, “and look up to your icons in life… they are your Pole Stars… They inspire you, ‘call’ you!”
As part of our P.D. programme, THE DAWN CLUB has been holding a Workshop on ‘Decision Making’ for nearly three decades now. Shri Uday Acharya, the facilitator, has been conducting this Workshop, during which, he has unfailingly told the story of ‘Tantalus’. I had blogged about it, last summer, the day after the Workshop. Here it is…
In Greek mythology, there was a king by the name Tantalus. For one of his gruesome acts of cruelty, the Gods cursed him with a strange punishment. For rest of his life, he was to stand in a pool of water beneath a fruit tree with low branches!
When hungry, Tantalus tried to reach for the tempting fruits, just over his head… But, alas! The branches turned away from the hungry king’s reach! On the other side, when thirst made him reach for the water, right under his hands, oh Fate! The water receded and the king suffered with unquenched thirst!
This was the Fate of Tantalus, once a mighty king! Imagine this: he seemed to be blessed with everything that could satisfy his hunger or quench his thirst. Delicious fruits hung right over his head… and, crystal-clear water lay right below his hands! Yet, he was eternally deprived from getting hold of them… yes, when he needed them the most!
Last evening, our young-ones were told this story by Sheri Day Chary, who was conducting the session on ‘Decision Making’. It was very interesting!
In Life, we have options to choose from. We have options as to what to eat when we are hungry… And, we have options as to what to drink when we are thirsty. We have options to waste our time and fail in the exams, or study hard and excel… We have options to make loads of money by foul means and bring disrepute in our lives, or earn enough with dignity and respect and feel proud and happy… We have options to eat sensibly and keep good health or abuse it by our sheer indulgence…
Yes, there are always options before us… We just need that simple wisdom to choose… A heart that feels right and a mind that thinks right… That’s all…
Decision-making becomes easy,
when we weigh various options
laid out before us…
When hungry, our hands can easily pluck those ‘tantalizing’ delicious-fruits over our heads… and, when thirsty, our hands can easily reach for water which is there below at arm’s length… No Gods have been angry with us and cursed us with the fate of Tantalus… Yes, yes, our Gods have, always, been merciful… very, very benevolent!
Last evening, perhaps, our young-ones did not ask this question: "And, still?"
But, I did…
And, still, why is this hunger, despite such lovely fruits? And, why is this thirst, despite standing knee-deep in water?
Why is this Tantalus’ Punishment?
Exactly after one year, last evening, in the Workshop on ‘Decision making’, Shri Uday Acharya recounted the story of Tantalus, once more, depicting the painful plight of the Greek king…
“How many more summers do our young-ones have to wait?” I wonder, thinking about it.
Pic.: Avinash Mantri