You Knew Best...
How was it that even as unruly children we were disciplined enough to find the time to do things we liked to do?
Whether it was painting or playing a game of hide-and-seek or simply drawing mustaches on people in the newspaper, we went with the flow, immersing ourselves in the moment and giving it our all. We never missed a day’s fun, no matter how little time we had to spare.
Then there was that one special thing that turned into a mania. For some of us it was reading, for some it was dancing, and for some others it was cricket or some other sport. Whatever it was, it kept us engrossed and happy.
Even the dual threats of homework and exams couldn’t deter us from our most favorite thing to do.
For me, it was drawing that took center stage. My drawings were comically bizarre. In every picture I sketched, the characters had their torsos and limbs rearranged to defy the laws of physics. I once drew a human pyramid depicting the Indian festival of Janmashtami, and guess what? The pyramid consisted of one man hanging in the air (not holding onto anything) midway between the ground and the dahi handi. What I mean to say is, my lack of skill never stopped me from attempting something or deriving satisfaction from it.
When you were a kid, adults encouraged you to take part in every extracurricular activity there was. You were taught to aspire to being an all-rounder. Participation for the sake of enjoyment and learning something new was seen as a good thing.
You reveled in the freedom that came with experimenting constantly and pursuing activities with abandon.
...but then you grew up
Just like your parents and grandparents before you, you went from being an open hearted child to being a wary adult.
Somewhere along the way, you became conditioned to take up only those pursuits that answered in the affirmative to the question “Will this make me any money?"
You’re now subconsciously ready to take this cycle forward with your own kids. As for your own self-expression, you have probably buried its tools in the attic of your home and mind.
Focusing on earning a living is without a doubt important, but your definition of what constitutes a living has to change if you want to live a rich life.
Life’s comfort may come from the money you have stashed away, but its richness comes from the experiences you embrace and learn from. Such experiences are usually found when you’re being led by curiosity, not by the promise of money.
The next time you debate whether an activity is worth your time and effort, calculate the dividends not just in terms of the number of bills you’ll gain, but also in terms of the excitement you’ll feel and the satisfaction you’ll earn.
What I really want to say through all this rambling is that you should take a cue from your childhood self and earmark time to do things that you love. So what if they don’t further your career or earn you money? If they revitalize you and warm a long-forgotten corner of your heart, they’re not something to be taken lightly.
Give those uneconomic, yet gratifying activities the attention they deserve and see how they reward you in unexpected ways.
- December 9th, 2013