As an engineering student at my beloved REC Silchar, I expected with a resounding certainty to be oozing profoundness these many years after leaving the college. Passage of years, I thought, would transform me into a Master Oogway of some sort (the venerable turtle from the Movie Kung-Fu Panda), pottering around saying things that no one quite understood but were too awestruck to question. However the truth is that I still feel as unsure, as inquisitive and as hungry to learn and do new stuff as I did when I was stepping out of the college. Instead of Oogway, I identify more with Po the Panda, who is still trying to figure out what it is to be the Dragon Warrior.
While I tried in vain to find a treasure chest filled with profoundness to suddenly come into my possession; life took me along for an amazing journey filled with every conceivable emotion, soul touching experiences and life altering lessons. Only recently I realized that this journey itself is my treasure chest where I would find the profoundness I was seeking. And the best salutation to my alma mater would be share a few leaves from this journey as my humble offering.
I yam what I yam
The first lesson that I have learnt is that there is no point in any of us trying to be Gates or Jobs.
It is because you are you, a unique individual with your own identify, skill, interest and destiny which you yourself craft. The biggest mistake I see young people (actually even old people) make is to try to lead someone else’s life. You just can’t - because your life is yours and that’s the path you have to follow. It is critical to hold ideals of great people and be inspired by them but it only counts if you are blend those inspirations into your own path to become the original you and not the duplicate Gates or Jobs.
Follow your head, heart or kidney, but be the best and resplendent original you that you can be. For me a tech job made the most sense and so even today I remain a technologist who builds systems. Along the way I acquired two masters in management and for a short period even moved slightly away from technology, but I soon realized that what made me happiest was building solutions that run business. Creating stuff to me is life affirming and I worked hard to get to a place where I could do so again – R&D! You have to find what makes you tick, what you are naturally gifted at and strive to find a position in world that allows you to practice that gift. And when you do, work ceases to be work it becomes a celebration of your inborn abilities.
If you could lay your hands on the college magazine of 1989 or 1990 (I forget which), you would read a funny article called “Le Femme Fatale” that I had written. It was a barely disguised admission of my undying affection to the cutest girl in my class. The moment I had seen her I thought I had met my soulmate. The problem was a troop of other people also had the same notion about her simultaneously! It even included seniors and juniors. J With such competition obviously no one had much of a chance of winning her affections and in that fact was a great life lesson that we all learnt.
The gifts that life gives your come in two flavors –a) the Gifts of personal achievement – good marks, good job, money and b) the Gift of acceptance by others – friends, life-partners, popularity and fame. For both forms of Gifts you have to strive to be worthy but there is one fundamental difference. The old adage of try until you succeed works only for Type a. For Type b, you have to respect the decisions that life and the other individuals take on the matter. If someone you like doesn’t return the feeling or friend-zones you, just ask yourself this simple question – how likely is that so early in life you would meet your life partner? Seriously not very likely. Just Chill, offer respects and move on. Your partner may just be waiting for you a little further down your path. Same goes for friends and popularity. I have seen people who have been wall flowers in colleges become super popular in life beyond college.
Accept, wait and have faith.
In my case destiny has been kind. Despite there being a whole army of worthy suitors, my friend and classmate did me the great honor of becoming my wife. Neither of us can really explain why or how it happened. It is just that destiny wanted us to be together and for this I will be eternally grateful. It has been years now and today, expectedly, our main focus is our son; but whenever we remember days of college and my bumbling attempts at wooing, it does bring a smile to our lips and twinkle in our eyes.
Work, Love, Pray
It is sometimes difficult to admit to what you truly believe in life, because it somehow leaves you vulnerable. But it is human to be vulnerable. I will go out on a limb here and tell you my core belief.
I think we humans are genetically wired to seek happiness. Each of us go about seeking happiness in multiple different ways every single day in our life. Yes, even preparing for those semester exams that we subject ourselves to or the parties that follow thereafter are aimed at either short term or longer term happiness. While everyone needs to find their own recipe, my experience has been that actions that bestow the greatest happiness are work without desire for fruits, love which is selfless and Prayer which is aimed at expressing gratitude to the almighty and understanding ones true self. It is tough but if we make focused effort towards making progress every day, we have made the required investment.
Leading the Dragon Warrior Life
The Kung-Fu Panda movies are great fun to watch. The biggest thing that I see about Po, the Panda, is that he is always learning, always exploring newer ways. Despite the fact that he proves on multiple occasions that he is indeed the Dragon Warrior, he doesn’t become a teacher like Shifu but remains eternally a student with a self-deprecating sense of humor. That’s what allows him to reach heights of achievement beyond what either Oogway or Shifu were able to reach. And that is the biggest lesson I have learnt – You are never too old to learn new things. A famous quote goes - Growing old is mandatory, but growing up is optional. If you choose to remain young at heart – Just keep learning, stay a seeker.
Well folks there you have it. Aspect of my life and experience that I felt like sharing in time for Reunion. I am looking forward to all of you to do great things and pray for each one of you, a wonderful life.
***This write-up was recently published in my college souvenir magazine published commemorating a reunion. Though I wasn't able to join, my wife did. After all it is her college too.