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Monday, January 05, 2009

To have lived an essentially unplanned life

I'm reminded of a quote by Isaiah Berlin, which I've modified to serve as the title of this post. "Essentially, I have lived an unplanned life," is what Mr. Berlin said. And this takes on an unprecedented significance in my life. Having lived my life with hopes and dreams that I've crushed, or that have been crushed for me by people and circumstances, or simply by the changing times, I've often wondered about the purpose that I served by consuming all this oxygen and taking up all this space. Needless to say, this is something that I hear rattling around in my head when I find myself at a crossroads. Like in the picture. But, essentially, and no matter how much of my life I devote to thinking about how one day will merge into the next, I'm a spectator to my own life, with the best seat in the house.

Is this life to be lived for the journey or for the glory? Honestly, I don't know. For the longest time, I've debated the pros and cons of both. Well, if such things are possible. As a child, I had a very I've-got-special-powers phase, which was only further reinforced by the numerous comics that I happened to have access to. This gave way to visions of grandeur as presented to me through the lives of the rich, famous and otherwise blessed. And I carried over a little bit of the superhero syndrome to include a lower order of superpower -- a talent. Well, that's what I convinced myself of having as a teenager. To my credit, no one seemed to run away with arms flailing when I wanted to display this gift. Some even thought that I truly had what it took! But I've learned to recognize false encouragement of the pathetic when I see it.

Self-deprecating remarks aside, I spent the first couple of years of my adult life trying to fit my life's pattern onto another, more ambitiously lived life. Having no real idea about what I was doing or where I was headed, it seemed foolproof. Find a model, and replicate it exactly as possible, or as necessary; the only real effort seemed to lie in finding this diamond-in-the-rough of a model and to follow it like a set of instructions. Well, this obviously didn't work because it was a very lazy plan, and I found that any semblance in any aspect of my life to the other person's found me being led astray. By myself, no less! Thus, I decided that it was time to put an end to the 'aimless leech' strategy and come up with something more viable. Something a little above average.

In my late twenties now -- don't you just love the way I make my life sound like a never-ending saga -- I find that I've had to rediscover ambition. I've never considered myself motivated to do anything except a good job, when it comes to the task at hand, but my life has taught me that it needs to be more than just that. Ambition has to be something along the lines of wanting to rule the World, so that you may rule the nation, or even manage a team of five or fewer minions. It has to be visionary and ground-breaking in its own right. That's what I've spent the last couple of years trying to piece together. My visionary, ground-breaking sense of ambition. I've tried everything from saving the whales to building castles in the sky, with a strong mooring on old terra firma, of course. Oscillating between these extremes hasn't seen much progress, but with each swing of this life-altering pendulum, I find myself arriving at what I believe to be the answer. This year, it's time I made good on all the promises I've made to myself, and consistently failed to keep. It's time for the "memorable" this year. It's time to step out of the cocoon of comfort that I keep shrouding myself in and to get this show on the road!

So, which path have I decided to take? The one most travelled by. This is the here-and-now that I need to seize. And that's all I need to do. Here's to keeping it simple. Here's to putting an end to the annoying uncertainty that I've let rule my life. Time to grab life by the horns and to put an end to this bull!

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