Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Finding You

Finding out who you are is a cliched expression. So much so that one doesn't really know the exact sense of direction that this sermon might have been intended to convey. What exactly are you supposed to find? If we were all created equal, isn't it going to be tough to determine whatever is one's natural inclination? If one thing is burdensome for some, wouldn't it be burdensome for others too? How come some people enjoy doing something while the others detest it? Is it nature or is it nurture that guides who you truly are? Aren't you supposed to be affected by the worldview that is sold most effectively to you be means of your surroundings, media, films or people around you?

A daily wage labourer cannot aspire to be a published author one day and a convent educated girl cannot aspire to find a menial day job one day. How are people supposed to find their true calling if there is no real calling as such and everything just depends on how the jigsaw pieces fall at the time of their birth and upbringing. I used to ponder such questions and recently became aware that I was not alone in this. The question of "calling" has been a bone of contention in theological studies for quite a while now. It was Calvinists who I think stressed that there is something known as true calling of one's life. The phrase has acquired a common expression these days and people use it to describe what they love doing or what they have found to be their natural talent.

Natural talent seems to be an oxymoron to me in the light of the questions that come to mind. How can something be natural when you're not born with it. I am good at cartooning and even I know that it is not a talent and more like an interest which was piqued by my initial exposure to comic books and children's magazines which led to repeated attempts to replicate those drawings and all the positive reinforcement that I received in the form of accolades and prizes took to the place where I am now. Published my cartoons in a national newspaper, drawn a few things for money here and there. It was all more like coincidences leading from one to other than some inherent natural skill of mine. There was no sword that only answered my call, there was no hammer that only Thor could pick up; it was just good fortune and favourable conditions.

What if I was born in a family of choreographers or had been shown a lot of dance as a kid? Wouldn't then my natural talent have been dancing? How much of it is natural and how much of it is destiny? I am sure neuroscientists have better explanations for this and yes, there are facts showing how one can inherit certain talents from his/ her parents and also how come anomalies can cause one part of the brain to be more developed than the rest. In that limited sense, yes, there is a natural instinct of a human toward a certain activity but brain does not deal in specifics. An artistic mind can be a wordsmith, a sketch artist, a cartoonist, a detective or a sculptor, it is just the senses that are heightened and your true calling is more dependent on what you consider is cool.

So much for the intellectual part of it, emotionally it is really fulfilling to do what you love doing. It would be great to love everything and do everything with equal zeal but then we'd not have any specialists and the performing world would lose a huge chunk of its audience world. If everyone could do everything, how would you hope to bedazzle an audience with your talent?

On the basis of empirical data, we know that 'performers' are very limited in comparison to the 'audience' and the world is balance. Not all of us can be "GOOD" surgeons, mathematicians, scientists or dancers; which is beautiful and also helps conclude that there is such a thing as natural inclination and it needs to be nurtured. The world owes its beauty to the variety of talents it produces and no matter how much ugliness mankind brings to the world in the form of war, hatred, jealousy etc, humans continue to be beautiful in their own special way.

I am sure you are half asleep reading this meaningless self-contradictory rant but, if you have reached this far and are still interested, let me paint a small word picture for you about the beauty of uniqueness. Have you ever woken up in the morning and looked at your disheveled hair, your puffy eyes and thought how ordinary and common you look? Now imagine that you are not you. As in, you are out of your body and watching yourself wake up in the morning, scratch your bum and start your daily activity. If you can correctly perform this simple imagination, you'll realize that all that is ordinary to you is interesting to a voyeur or any innocent observer who has some interest in you. You are unique, you are special and all your mannerisms and habits are adorable to someone. If you cannot picture yourself, picture someone you love; look at all your wonderful friends and family members who don't know how special they are because they are too busy being themselves to realize that they are more than just who they are. They are also people you think they are, they are also people their other friends think they are and everyone is a rockstar in someone else's eyes. (I hope you're still with me).

Anyway, as of now, you might have no idea where I was going with all this so, let me just put this all into perspective. When someone asks you to find your true calling, an invisible precondition is to know yourself from a transcendental third person perspective and love yourself in all your ordinariness. Yes, your true calling might not be something you're born with but if it makes you happy, it is the only thing that matters. I don't believe that if you don't enjoy being the way you are right now or if you think you're making compromises in your life; you have no option to change it because you do not feel passionately about anything. We are all interesting people and sometimes a degree or a job cannot define you. To define yourself, all you need is to cling to those small chunks of your identity that your friends and family associate with you. We are all social animals and love to be appreciated. On that note, I end this rant about acceptance and the eternal quest to the deepest mystery that is 'you'.

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