The Week Diaries
|| Into the unknown
You shall do foolish things, but do them with enthusiasm!
This is one of my favorite quotes that I’ve come across recently. ‘Foolish” sort of reminds me of the signing off quote that Steve Jobs used during his keynote speech at Stanford University: “Stay hungry. Stay foolish.”
I recall this because, right now, I’m on the verge of taking a leap into some unfamiliar territories, into things I’ve never done before, and I don’t even know if I’m capable of it. It may turn out to be a stupid move, a foolish step. But I’m eagerly looking forward to it.
I also have a conversation playing in my head, the one between my ex-colleague and ex-associate editor. They were talking about going with the flow and taking charge of where one is headed. At that point, I believed taking charge was too ambitious and going with the flow had worked excellently for me. Anyway, nothing in this unpredictable life will ever be at your reins. That was what I believed in.
I still believe in that. But I’m rethinking their conversation and delving deeper into the metaphors. How long do you really want to submit to the flow? Eventually, we all flow down to the inevitable end. The course is only as interesting as you make it.
It’s like, as times change, you change your interpretations of things you read to suit your existing situation. I seem to be doing the same. Now I want to believe that taking charge of where you’re headed to is a must.
I mean, when I arrive at the finish line, do I want to look back and say “That was a smooth ride!” or claim “That was rough, but I made it!”?
I’ll contradict myself here, and in times as these when you’re thinking and rethinking too much, it’s bound to happen. But I’ll say this: I know whatever turns I take, or whichever direction I steer to, I’ll be going with the flow of my life – an inevitable destiny that’s mine.
But I also know I’m not submitting to it that easily. I need my share of adventures, my share of risks, my highs and steep falls.
And it may be foolish. I’ll know only when I’ve done it and have a chance to look back. So here, I’m ready to take an enthusiastic dip into foolishness!
If you think relationships can make you happy, think again!
The past week, there’s been a lot of talk about relationships – of all kinds, and not just romantic associations. I have to admit that that has somehow always ended up being the focus of our discussions. When every break hour, every phone conversation invariably revolves around a particular issue, you inevitably end up thinking a lot about it. And that’s precisely what has happened with me.
I’ve ended up pondering over it, reading about it – basically doing everything that I shouldn’t be wasting my time on. But the more I thought about it, the more it was clear to me that because relationships are tricky and you never know how it’ll pan out, you have to think long and hard before you embark on one.
Call me naïve or conservative, but I think once you’ve made a commitment you have to work on it, no matter how difficult situations may turn out to be.
Relationships that have survived rocky conditions are most definitely rare stories these days. I don’t remember the last time I’ve heard someone say that they’ve overcome a rough patch in a relationship. What I’ve always heard are stories of breakups instead. The moment the “honeymoon period” in a relationship is over and issues start cropping up – and they definitely will because no two people are alike and so there will be differences of opinion – they choose to leave each other and move on individually.
For me, this was just plain stupid and such attitude portrayed people’s lack of integrity. But a very wise friend of mine thought differently. In the course of a single long phone conversation that kept us up till the wee hours, she reasoned out why all that I was touting as wrong, and to a certain extent sinful, was actually the way to go.
She’s of the view that to waste your time and energy over a relationship that you just can’t envisage in the long run is utter foolishness. And relationships are supposed to make you happy. But if it’s not doing that, then what’s the whole point of it? And if you aren’t sure about someone, why keep the painful process lingering? Instead of living the rest of your life hounded by issues and regrets, it’s sometimes just best to let go.
When I looked at things from that angle, it dawned on me that everyone of us strives to be happy and that’s what we look for in a relationship. And if that criterion isn’t being met, then it’s best to move on.
Over the next few days, I kept thinking about our conversation. A sudden thought hit me and I’ve never felt wiser. We’re always searching for someone to complete us and make us happy, and that leads to a series of failed relationships because while a partner can add sweet dimensions to our lives, at the end, we’re responsible for our own happiness. Nobody can make you happy, and to believe otherwise means eventual failure of every relationship we enter into.
Good old songs
After a very long time, my dad and I were listening to Deep Shrestha’s songs in the most unlikely place we would – his car. When he started the tape and the familiar voice flowed out inside the vehicle, I couldn’t help my mind drift to the time when I used to hear it a lot more often.
Shrestha’s songs were always my dad’s songs for me. He wouldn’t just listen to the songs but more often sang along; and he liked to repeat the lyrics mostly while he was driving. So, maybe I could say that Shrestha’s songs were my dad’s car songs.
And I have yet another reason to have felt so. Whenever he had to take me to the doctor, dentist or my friend’s place, he always used to squeeze one or two meetings before dropping me or after picking me up. And there I would be a “gyani chhori,” a good daughter, and wait in the car until he finished his jobs. The only thing that could keep me company was those songs.
Undoubtedly, I knew most of the songs by heart. And sometimes, I used to sing along with my dad. But those were never the ones I sang with my friends or even hum while I was alone. Bollywood and English songs were the “in” things and that was all I was interested in.
Distance between Nepali songs and I grew further with time. I traveled less with my dad in his car.
It was later when I joined college and was luckily friends with people who had a strong interest in Nepali music that I regained my relationship. In their playlist of many Nepali singers like Tara Devi, Narayan Gopal, Faatteman, Bhaktaraj Acharya and so many others, there were those songs of Deep Shrestha, too.
My friends found it surprising that I, who knew most of Deep Shrestha’s songs by heart, would know nothing about other singers. And as I explained my dad’s influence in that matter, they nodded approvingly. I felt they approved of my early influence in music and that it wasn’t anymore surprising that I came around to what I had been listening to in my childhood.
I had a huge collection of those songs then. And at one point, I even boasted about having a larger collection of dad’s favorite songs than my dad did.
But that, too, didn’t last long. All the soft copies got deleted, lost and disappeared somehow in time. And when the college was over, the songs weren’t fun anymore.
And this very day, when my dad and I were listening to the Deep Shrestha songs from his old tape, I smiled at him and said, “Good old songs!”
He took some time in between his singing to repeat the words of a famous German poet Berthold Auerbach, “Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.”
Learning from their stories
In my line of work, I get asked a lot, “What’s your next story on?” I’m always ready to answer my inquisitive friends. And then, it also makes me wonder about how every single story that I get to work on allows me to interview so many different people from different backgrounds which otherwise wouldn’t have been possible.
Traveling and reading books can give you so much of exposure but meeting diverse people can equally create impressions in your life in so many different ways. By its very nature that the field of journalism requires, it makes us question the interviewees and delve deeply into what they have to say.
In that way, by writing a story about someone, you get to see her side of the world for a time. But her positive influence can last forever. Observing real-life experiences indeed can be very enriching as you get to collect whole lot of new perspectives.
If I look back and try to recollect, there are people from varied fields that have left quite an impact on me. There was this old porter who, despite his advancing age, was still striving hard to sustain his life. His frail body had almost given up on him but his old age hadn’t deterred his determination to move on. Having seen so much of life, his life was a tale of struggles. But his positive vigor was something to learn from.
Then I met a doctor from Solukhumbu who could’ve easily lived in the city. But he chose to give so much back to his native hometown. By starting an organization to help the needy people there by opening a health clinic, schools and other vocational training programs, he is changing the lives of many in his community for the better.
I also met a person who lived for trekking. It was his way of life, and after completing one of the longest and the highest-altitude trekking trails in the world, he’s still out there to explore more of it.
Then there was a woman who talked about how she had to face a lot of harassments for just being a female guard. A job which she said many wouldn’t choose to take, she was already doing it so that she could take care of her family. Though she expressed that it made her sad that there’s no dignity of labor in the country, she was determined to break all the odds and face any challenge that came her way.
There are many such inspiring stories I’ve collected though it’s not possible to list all of them. Everyday in some parts of the country, there are people who are changing lives and it’s their passion for their work that makes them stand out. I’m still eager to learn more of them as I look forward for another story.
||FROM THE DESK
This news item is printed from myrepublica.com - a sister publication of Republica national daily.
© Nepal Republic Media Pvt. Ltd. Kathmandu Nepal.