“Normal is an illusion. What is normal to a spider is chaos to the fly.”
I had a very unproductive evening in the library that day. It was empty, mostly because of the long weekend that lay ahead. Many students at Kasturba Medical College, Manipal were whisking themselves away to Bangalore or Goa for a much-needed mid-semester break. I had to stay back, the main reason being that I would be getting my fair share of mid-semester break at Autumn Muse in St. John’s, Bangalore later that month.
Coming back to my dreary evening at the library, I saw no one on the lawn outside, where students normally gather to talk anything unrelated to their studies. I couldn’t take any more of this humdrum, ho-hum atmosphere inside the library. I had to leave the monotony of the library and do something fun. I ventured outside in search of this ‘FUN’. It was a suitable time for foraging if you were searching for a tranquil, serene place to introspect and lose yourself in your thoughts. Lost deep in my thoughts, I walked past throngs of people to the most serene place on campus during that time of the evening, the fabled KMC Greens.
As I sat down on one of the steps at the edge of the Greens, I went into a state of introspection and brooding. My thoughts started sprinting through the dark, dreary labyrinth of my over-analyzing, over-thinking brain. I wondered in awe at the magnitude of change that one single person has created over just a few decades. What must have started as a couple of small, bijou buildings has evolved into one sprawling campus, a city sprouting around it, and a multitude of associated educational facilities all over the world. His foresight, ambition, courage, wisdom, and tenacity led to all of these achievements.
Suddenly, unbidden, thoughts started crowding into my head–what am I but a mere diminutive amoeba in comparison to him and so many other influential persons? What am I doing with my life other than scraping through somehow in medical school? How will I fare in the world which is so cruel and vicious? Will I be able to do something remarkable, anything significant? Will I be able to influence the life of at least one person?
I lost track of how long I’d sat there. My muddled and murky thoughts continued to dampen my spirit and muffle my inspiration for the next–was it minutes? hours? But then, somewhere in the deepest, darkest corner of the labyrinth in my brain, a warm thought arose like a warrior fighting for his last breath, like a philosopher departing with one last iota of wisdom. I wondered again: if this man, the founder of such a monumental effort, had only thought of future failures at the start of his journey, he would never have breathed life into such a change. Instead, he focused on making that change.
Even if that change is small, a minuscule quantum of what you perceived when you started the work, what truly matters is your perseverance and paradoxical desire to succeed in spite of all obstacles. It doesn’t matter if your last test didn’t go well, or if you are falling behind in your course work, or if you have not completed even a single research paper as of yet. What matters is this: do you have the courage to change that? Do you have the wisdom to understand the necessity of reversing that stalemate? And, do you have the heart to follow this newfound wisdom and much-necessitated courage? If you do, then half the work is done. Take your time and start working, start building your persona and what will follow will follow.
Even if that change is small, a minuscule quantum of what you perceived when you started the work, what truly matters is your perseverance and paradoxical desire to succeed in spite of all obstacles.
Life ain’t sunshine and rainbows, I muse. It’ll hit you and hit you hard if you are not careful. There is a child who is dying of malnutrition in a village of Bihar, fighting to see his first birthday. There is an entrepreneur burning the midnight oil to turn his startup into a company. There is a mother in Somalia who just lost her child to a disease that has already taken root in her. There is a father who lost his son on some far away battlefield and did not even get a chance to see him for one last time.
These are individuals you will see. These are people you will help on the long road of healing. You are not alone. So get up and get going.
I jolted back into reality. The sun had set completely, leaving me in the twilight. There was no one in the vicinity except for what sounded like a couple having a passionate tryst just out of view. Life continues, and my trailing thoughts will wander on into perpetuity like the rains of Manipal. In the meantime, I’ve reasoned this out: change is change, large or small, whether it creates cities or treats one child. How will you shape it?