Four months into the year already. How quickly is time running by us! One moment it was the first day of a new year and the next, we are onto the beginning of summer. Each year, I go through the April anxiety I have lived for the past decade. It is a divider between my to-do things in year and the ones I’ve accomplished. Somehow, the first three months always are terrible. I go through a lot of disappointments till March. Probably it is because I am always unsure of what I am supposed to do and I cannot get out of the ‘will fail’ mindset. But then April arrives and everything turns over, takes a new leaf over my messed tree of thoughts.
Something about time is so colloquially apt in our lives. Our race is not against time, but against ourselves. I don’t hint to the past or the future but the present in which we struggle so hard to establish our existence on the timepiece. My Dad always said to me after I failed at something that there’s always a next time. I never believed him. I was afraid to admit and tell him he was wrong. My child self was so unaware of the immense possibilities of the potential we all possess. My Dad knew it of course, and he said it, time and again, many times till it got drilled into my head. Now when I do incur failure, I say there is a next time but that is the last time I fail. It has never made me stop trying. And I make sure no one who comes to me with a failed approach goes back feeling dejected. We all deserve chances and opportunities, howsoever many times we fail. Because it’s not the end. These are all boundaries that we’ve invariably set up for ourselves. Imagine the world without boundaries, without destinations and without markers. What did Aristotle, Plato and Socrates understand that we don’t? How is it that the Buddha understood the key to escape suffering while we are still wallowing in our miseries over material happenings in our lives?
It’s amusing when I let go of these distractions and tend to see the clear bottom of the very waters I keep drowning myself in at times. It helps to look into the mirror and distance ourselves from the image we see staring back at us. Look deeper. Look into those eyes and the questions they ask. Is this person from the mirror really you? Physically, yes, but on another scale, it’s not you. It’s a stranger fixing back a vacant and distrusting stare. I remember this incidence from perhaps my third year of architecture education. A professor wanted us all to draw our self-portraits. He said, look into the mirror and sketch what you see on the paper. When I did and he saw the self-portrait I had drawn, he looked at me, the paper, then back to me and took me aside. He told me, perhaps I needed another sitting for the portrait. I failed to understand what he meant then. I went home and drew another. He looked at it again and said, I needed to be serious at what I was doing. I was surprised and also annoyed that the honest sketching of my mirror self was not a serious effort to him. I went home and stared into the mirror for such a long time. I wanted to see what he saw in the portrait. And I came away with a renewed understanding of my image. It was the first time I had looked beyond the image in the mirror and delved into my soul. A lot of questions started popping out. Was what I seeing really me? Will I always distrust that image so much? Was I anything more than that image? I surprised myself and started being ME, more from that moment onwards.
What did being ME meant to my 19 year old self? I started putting more trust into my work and the thinking that went into everything. Up till that point, I was influenced by ideologies and philosophies of people I had read about and met in books. I let my mind do the thinking, however irrelevant it seemed then to my friends and people with whom I interacted. Because we always tend to stick to the conventional we miss the original we have the capability to come up with. Today when I am writing this, I am fully aware of what it means to stick to my beliefs and carry them forward with an introspection about its moral outcome. Voice your dreams. Let them out. A dream is a conviction of our desires. Tell it out loud. Share it. Speak about feelings too. Today we don’t voice our feelings because it’s not in vogue to do so, but it never was. It’s more than relevant today to let our feelings be known since we have stopped talking to each other in the digital rat race. A friend told this lovely thought about how time comes for everyone differently. Each one of us has a distinctive mantle and the time we take to surpass it is our own and indefinitely unique, more or less, than everyone else. So, don’t judge yourself with respect to others or their time. Your time is yet to come and when it comes, you shall discover your purpose and the meaning of your life. Stay strong and unflinching!