‘What’s the world’s greatest lie?’ The boy asked, completely surprised.
‘It’s this: that at the certain point in our lives, we feel we lose control of what’s happening to us, and our life becomes controlled by fate. That’s the world’s greatest lie.’
– An extract from The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho.
On my flight from Mumbai to Delhi, I was reading this enchanting fable by Paulo Coelho, a soulful journey of a Shepard who decides to make his own fate. Leafing through the pages of Coelho’s magnum opus, I came across the line I just mentioned. It got me. It was one of those feelings when my heart sank into the void of an existential crisis. I began to question what I was doing in life, what I was going to do in life, what will things be like after I have done what I’m about to do? Had I lost control over myself?
As a young child, I was always told that I would grow up to become a kickass lawyer. My parents are lawyers. I guess most of the initial inclination towards Law fuelled from there. But I never really envisaged myself in a black coat. This essay will be sent to Mom and Dad along with a PowerPoint presentation that will hopefully convince them to withdraw my admission from the Law school I got into. Here goes:
When I was six, I wanted to be an astronaut – set out on a cosmic journey, swirling and dancing in the eddies and whirlpools of infinity. Something about the night sky fascinated me. Maybe it was curiosity of an entirely new world I was yet to see. When I was nine, I wanted to be a dancer – expressing my happiness to my heart’s content. By eleven I could write thought provoking essays that baffled my teachers and by sixteen I could paint canvases so beautifully – it baffled me. At that point in my life, everything was clear and everything was possible. I was not afraid to dream, and to yearn for the possibility of every dream becoming a reality. In school, my mother used to receive constant complaints from my teachers that I was ‘lost in my own world’ thus not paying attention in class. But how could I possibly tell them that my mind was preoccupied, wondering why Alice jumped down the rabbit hole and I had no interest in knowing that mitochondria is the powerhouse of the cell. I excelled in Literature. Every time I read a book, or saw a movie I would imagine myself as the protagonist. So hypothetically, I could afford to travel everywhere – from Hogwarts and Narnia and Willy Wonka’s magnificent chocolate factory to the war stricken places of Germany, the hustling Rialtos in Venice and the lofty Himalayan mountains that enlightened even the most ignorant souls. I could afford to be anywhere in the world, while sitting anchored to the cosiest chair at home.
As time passed, a mysterious force began to convince me that my dreams were unrealistic. I was conditioned into believing that doctors, lawyers, engineers were more important people and deserved more respect than anyone else. In the long run, I began to think that what people thought about doctors, lawyers, engineers was more important than what I thought about myself. When I chose to become a lawyer, it was this same feeling that had driven me to a conclusion. Law = more money, more power, more respect. I wasn’t unhappy with this decision. I still feel that I can be a pretty good lawyer, but I know for a fact that I can’t be the best.
I strongly feel that taking this flight to Delhi was the turning point of my life. Because it was in that moment, that I had an epiphany. I realised that pursuing Law would be doing injustice to my imagination – which like a tamed bird would’ve been forced to live in a cage, than fly. I feel like it would be an injustice to my younger self, the girl who achieved so much because of thinking creatively, the girl who could bring a blank white canvas to life. Why should I narrow myself down to black and white when I’m full of colours? All those creative writing, drawing and painting, drama competitions I won should be more than a childhood memory – they should be the impetus that makes me pursue a field I can excel in.
Media studies and communication is a diverse field with endless possibilities. I can be a writer, a director, an actor, a film maker, a travel show host, an author – the opportunities are countless. I feel that if I follow my passion, money and respect are bound to come. I am a creator. I have the gift of seeing beauty in everything. I feel like I have something I can offer to the world – which is only possible if I feed my head and feed my passion. I feel like I have treasures in my own mind which are waiting patiently, to be explored.
This is the moment I stand up for myself, and be the kickass defending attorney for my heart, giving justice to my heart and grant it the permission to move freely.