Friday, April 04, 2008

The Unfulfilled Promise...

There will come a time when the sun eventually sets on you. During those last few days of mortality, you’d look back at your existence and wonder, if your life amounted to a legacy to be left behind. During those last few hours, the milestones of joy and the despair of regrets with preoccupy your mind. The micros and the macros will be out in equal force as your mind races at speeds from which your ailing body will never recover. This is all assuming that you’ll have the time to reflect at your deathbed. It is always been assumed that we will have normal deaths. But, in a world of many a premature death, what is the certainty?

The one thing that I’ve always been unafraid of is death. It doesn’t bother me that I’ll die one day. The one thing that I’m continuously afraid of is being branded a failure. From the most minute of situations to the grandest of responsibilities, I’ve always been this arrogantly cocky person whose bloody sure I’ll accomplish whatever is set before me. Alas, I’ve yet to come across any accomplishment that I value enough to be even satisfied. My consensus is that for all my ambition, my actions of time past are dwarfed by the standards that I continually set myself. Which translates to simply having not accomplished anything.

I find this surprising though, because in my youth I’ve participated and experienced things people my age can only dream of. I’ve always had opportunities so young that many would be envious of. Somehow, the big man’s been kind enough to present me with numerous opportunities to fulfill my enormous potential. I say enormous because, besides me, everyone seems to believe in me.

When I was younger, I was a rather introvert person but as I grew I became an extrovert. But because I was an introvert as a kid, I’ve always believed it’s either my way or the highway. Yep, I’ve arrogant since I was a kid! During my high school days, I developed a belief that nothing is impossible. During that period, I used to be synonymous with a sharp tongue, raging temper and a rather passionate persona. I’ve always refused to back down and have always been up for a confrontation, physical or otherwise. Irrespective of the consequences, I’d have to have my say or have it done my way. Looking back, I feel I was rather immature, selfish and outright stupid. But those days shape the person today.

In all that has been through all these years, I’ve been blessed with people who genuinely believed in me and continue to fight my corner without ever flinching. During my very early days, when I almost died from asthma, my mother believed I’ll make it. Not only did I, obviously, not die but was cured of asthma, through the sheer determination of that woman. At every turn, I’ve had people who’ve believed I could.

The only reason I wasn’t expelled from school was the fact that despite most teachers hating me, the disciplinary head and headmistress believed I’d come good though the verdict is still out. Thus they continually would find an excuse for a stay of execution. This ensured I didn’t end up sweeping roads like my mom always threatened if I didn’t study. I still didn’t and till today it’s a mystery that I didn’t flunk miserably. My dad, surprisingly, didn’t throw me out when my one year of engineering culminated in me failing miserably. He nudged me along a path of the creative arts. I must add that he was a vociferous critic of the arts, for like all good Indian families he felt the Sciences was the future. He somehow had the foresight to believe that despite having misgivings of the arts, I might actually make it in the scene. Thus, he spent his hard-earned money and set me on a path that I thoroughly enjoyed.

Then I started doing pro-bono work and this provided a wonderful avenue to learn my trade on an exponential experimental learning curve. Even here, I had the upper echelons of the organization put their reputations on the line to provide me with the freedom to work within my capabilities. They’ve always stood by me, despite my misgivings about their beliefs and my unpredictable ego. Eventually they provided me with probably the steepest learning curve I’ve ever been through via commercial work. Now the protection of the organization wasn’t there anymore but they still stood with me while risking their money by commissioning me on commercial projects. Eventually this led to graphic design, branding and culminated in video production where I single-handedly managed them all. Of course this was unheard of for someone so young and inexperienced. This was probably the beginning of my infant ability to multi-task and handle overbearing stress. I eventually won most battles, but I still lost a few but they never begrudged me. Eventually, partly due to my overbearing ego, we parted ways and I embarked on my journey into the employee world.

Here my boss, despite my rawness and naivety in both character and work, nurtured me without ever making me feel inferior. He is the closest person to a proper mentor I’ve ever had. He eventually left to pursue his career, but left me with a mindset and skills which would have taken others eons to assemble. This has nothing to do with my ability but rather with his ability to impart his monumental knowledge effectively. He, somehow, always trusted me to make the grade. Eventually my company, moved me onto bigger responsibilities in another department. Despite personally knowing that I let them down on occasions, they’ve never once allowed me to bear the brunt of criticism. They’ve always either absorbed it or refuse to bring it up. They’ve provided me a defensive shield that is almost virtually unheard of in this cut-throat industry. This is even more surprising given that they’ve never been too kind when others have failed them. The people I work with have become more like a family to me. I don’t think I’ll ever come across the fulfillment like I feel here. This comes from a man who constantly wants a change of environment or challenges.

In between these various periods, I have friends people can only dream of. I can’t emphasize this enough, I’m virtually impossible to put up with. The tantrums, mood swings, misgivings, public rebukes, stay-aways, silence, ignorance and plain ol bein an ass, I’ve done it all to every one of them. But, these people have always stood by me. Always there, irrespective of the damage I’ve caused. Through some sheer luck or odd karma, they are connected to me via a bond that’s far greater than the superficial relationships people have these days. These friends also include members of my family. Every uncle, aunty and cousin has nothing but praise for me despite my many flaws.

I’ve always said, I don’t deserve the people around me. Family, friends or colleagues, I’ve been blessed with fortune beyond the realms of mankind. Despite never ever mentioning it, I’m deeply indebted to all of them for being there. I believe there isn’t a season for loyalty. You can’t be loyal and disloyal as and when it suits you. You are either loyal or disloyal, there isn’t a grey area neither is there switching sides to suit your whims. Thus, my gratitude will always ensure, despite the circumstances, that I’ll always stand amongst you on your side immaterial of the odds.

Herein lies my greatest fear. When you have so many people rooting for you and continually believing in you, is there room for failure? Being a perfectionist, I’m usually my worst critic but far worse than letting myself down, I absolutely dread letting them down. I’ve accomplished nothing yet they feel I will succeed to the extent of resulting a paradigm shift.

Maybe where I’m getting at is that how is it possible for one man to lead such a charmed life. How can a man have the perfect parents, siblings, cousins, aunties, uncles, friends, colleagues all in one lifetime? Everybody’s looking over your shoulder for you and never really expecting anything in return! How can so many angels continually protect you when all around you the world experiences otherwise. What can one man possibly have to be so well sheltered? Of course, I know it’s a good thing, but why? I guess only time will tell…

Being abashedly confident of achieving anything and everything, might have consequences far greater than the fall of just my ego. My one outstanding quality is fearlessness. I’ve always adopted the “live by the sword, die by the sword” mantra. Over the years, I’ve become more conservative in my ambitions and less passionate of achieving them. I’m slowly losing the fire that has always raged within me. As age and laziness sets in, will my inability to fulfill my potential harm much more than just my pride. Is fear beginning to make me ordinary?

For all the talk of being extraordinary, I’m actually very average. But for an average man, I have extraordinary standards. I pick various outstanding qualities in different people and set them as personal standards for me. Of course, it’s impossible to be perfect, but you must always strive and why not strive for the very best. I’ve always been told that I set my standards too high, but to lower them would defeat the purpose because I can’t do average! For an ordinary fellow, I’m definitely over-ambitious and maybe flawed in that respect. Flawed because there isn’t a single extraordinary quality about the man to even contemplate aspiring beyond ordinary.

I’ve learnt a few things along all these years though. I’ve learnt no matter how hard you try and control destiny, you absolutely cannot win them all. You must learn to accept defeat, even if it feels like the end of the world. Sometimes, you must understand that this is the end. You cannot expect everyone in the team to fight or strive as hard as you do. Everyone has, at least, one flaw and the trick is to work around it, not point it out. No matter how right you are, people will always act within their best judgments. Most of them have poor judgment, but you must afford them time to learn. However, you must remember, not everyone has the same timeframe for a learning curve. Not everyone understands the bigger picture. Patience is of paramount importance when the path seems completely futile. Actions must always be your marching line, for words will only inspire armchair fools. Don’t ever do something because it’s easier, the harder is it the more worthwhile the result. Not every door of opportunity is your door of opportunity.

Despite the profound lessons, I’ve never ever really felt I have much to offer. Yet I’ve always claimed to have it all and continue to brag that I will achieve it all. I do honestly believe that I will be super successful because my ego wouldn’t agree otherwise. Many know the extraordinary standards I use as yardsticks, thus success can only be something beyond ordinary. But will this grand a pursuit come at a price?

Maybe this grand pursuit is why many believe I lead every chap’s dream lifestyle, maybe because of the advertising. Allow me to pour cold water on many myths that carry my name. Firstly, I’m not the player the world makes me out to be. Not the entire female population is falling head over heels for me. And women don’t find me good-looking or suavely charming. I don’t randomly sleep with women as is so very popularly advertised. I know, many men would be ecstatic to be linked with bedding countless hot women, but I’m not exactly too enthusiastic about it because they are all lies. I don’t go home because there’s some sultry woman waiting to meet me there! I’m the exact opposite of it all in fact, a lazy, rude, egoistic, arrogant, beer-bellied male chauvinistic pig! Most women can vouch for this!

Secondly, I’m not the boss at my workplace! I have to go into work in all sorts of hours as and when the job demands it. My odd work hours are due to actual work and not an office affair. I don’t have a secretary and don’t have the power to fire people! I’m an ordinary employee who has the same responsibilities as anyone else. I’m also not as talented as the world makes it out to be. I’m as good at my job as any other average Joe. There are nothing extraordinary about my creative abilities, they are very much average by international or even national standards.

Thirdly, my alcohol tolerance isn’t exactly non-existent. My housemates can vouch for this because there have been times I’ve come home and puked. What is true is the fact that, I tend to look very sober even when I’m completely wasted. And, very much contradictory to popular belief, I certainly don’t drink everyday!

There are no strengths in lies, strength only lies in the truth. People have always been given a frank point of view from me, no matter how painful. One day I might turn and be honest with you, which might either send you away or bring you closer. Alas, the risk-taker in me fears not the consequences, even if it goes all the way to bruising my ego. The man’s conscience takes precedence over his mammoth ego, it must. One day you might turn up dead, it’s better to be honest today than have a regretful soul tomorrow.

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