Thursday, 10 May 2012

Ambition and Aspirations

I am content with my mediocrity.

When I observe people around me wanting to be the best, wanting to be someone special in a world which says that one just has to excel, has to be noticed, has to leave their stamp, I wonder if I am a complete misfit.
There world's population has reached to the point where after a while we may be treading on each others toes while we standing. Most people are born live their lives and then die unsung, remembered by a few of their dear ones for a few years. That has been the case for eons, for every Ceaser there were thousands of the citizens of Rome, for every Gandhi they were the freedom fighters who gave up their lives but have been lost to time.We remember those that made a difference, who shaped history,but the common people who were as necessary for history to be made are long forgotten.

I see my maids cooking or cleaning for me, their lives have relevance and if I can make them smile or laugh, give some respite to their hard lives, I feel a sense of achievement, if not that then at least momentary fulfillment. I see people walking on the streets on the way to their work, a part of the multitude who have to labor just for the preservation of their family and their lives. There are children who beg on the roads and are seemingly happy with their lives, they must be as happy or sad as anyone else. They do not seem to have any other aspirations. Its not the same with the maids though.They earn a living and definitely have ambitions, not so much for themselves as much as for their children, they are not literate but want the next generation to do better than them. As people go higher up the economic ladder, ambitions and aspirations are bound to rise too.

A comfortable childhood would necessarily lead to the same in adulthood or then even better under some circumstances. I had one. There was no reason for any discontent but then there was never pressure for being excellent like there is nowadays.If I was within the first ten in my class of forty plus I was happy, if among the first five it felt better. There was only one time when I dipped to thirteenth and that was the bluest day of my life. Then there was one time when I came first and my happiness knew no bounds.But again there was never any innate need to repeat this.

Much later as a young adult, I wanted to change the world, which  now I see was nothing extraordinary, youth have this kind conviction and we really think we can make a difference at that stage. It is only when we start working and get caught up in our family lives and just get on with living, that these convictions take a back seat and personal ambitions take over. It was the same with me, but about that a bit later.

Just as an aside, on weekends sometimes we used to go as a family to visit temples. I remember visits to Mumbadevi, Mahalakshmi and Babulnath clearly. The crowds of people praying and the asking for some wish fulfillment, I would stand there bemused seeing all those people, what and why were they asking all the time? And for quite a while after that I became an atheist, could not understand we had to always beg for mercy pray for favors. It changed much later.

So to get back to my personal ambitions I did see quite soon that I quite keen in my grasp, maybe a trifle more compared to my peers, could get to the crux of many issues and find solutions quite easily, the logical part of my brain helped a lot. I also realized that I was ambitious, and wanted to get somewhere. Soon enough it dawned on me that it was not up to me at all.People don't like other people who may be a bit more intelligent specially if they are competing for the first place.And then I also understood that what I lacked was the killer instinct, and the lack of interest to make a dedicated effort toward excellence. If I had had that perhaps it would have been different. I still strive for perfection and when I see that I have not done as well as I could it bothers me. Over the years I have come to terms with the fact that I will not be going any further. Perhaps that has resulted in looking at the younger generation and giving them some tips, and it has given me even greater satisfaction when they go ahead. If I have played a negligible role in someones progress that is enough for me. A compromise perhaps but worth the effort.

I also know now that I am just another person among millions, not among the top ten percent of the achievers but the ninety who live their lives their lives simply and die quietly. What amuses me is that there are so many in this category who in their little groups or cliques still want to be noticed looked at and generally be 'top dog',have some power over the few people that they know and revel in it. Another expression of ambition perhaps and of the self definitely, because we consider ourselves important to ourselves and therefore to others so we MUST have some way to have a hold over them and make ourselves feel better.

Right now all I aspire for is someone to come and help me clean my cupboard.Don't really want to make an effort.


Lakshmi said...

Hello Nandita
You do make a mark..I remember the day outside the restaurant when you reached out to that little girl, took her inside and fed her, while thousands of people like me walked by her. You are ambitious when it comes to putting smiles on hungry faces and making your mark

Nandita said...

Lakshmi, I am trying hard to remember the incident, but it seems to have been erased from my memory sick. It must be true if you say it happened. One hungry child fed once.. is leaving a mark?