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Life’s dynamic canvas

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By: Mahfooz Ahmad Bakshi

I have been contemplating my high school mindset, and it’s the only thing that has been on my mind lately. Everybody has had memorable thoughts back in childhood, I guess. Our dreams, our goals—everything changes, and that’s how our perspectives evolve over time. Sometimes my own thoughts would obfuscate me, and sometimes I would have ineffable ideas.

Today, I have become the opposite of what I wanted to be, and it’s great. I do not regret it because I have kind of found my hidden skills. Some people dream of specific pursuits in life, but everything else is planned, and it’s planned really well. Your job is to realize, to discover that plan. It’s not about what you want to be; it’s about what humanity needs from you.

So, don’t get excited or furious when your students answer the question ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’ For instance, my first dream was to become an astronaut. Literally, it was my first wish. Before having that dream, I would just stay silent whenever someone asked me what I wanted to be when I grow up.

Then, I started saying ‘I want to become an astronaut.’ I fell so in love with space and all that I would borrow the smartphone of my relatives just to watch videos related to space. I would only use notebooks that had images of astronauts or celestial bodies on their covers. During lunch breaks, instead of playing, I used to compel my friends to listen to whatever I knew about space technology.

The story of Kalpana Chawla and other crew members, the tale of Apollo 11 and Apollo 15. I even memorised the biography of Yuri Gagarin and all the astronauts. I was so obsessed with all these things that I would often miss meals because I used to be busy reading, listening, watching stuff like that.

Everyone around me was sure that I would be a space scientist, and I was so proud of that, but life had different plans. Steadily, I began to realize that I wasn’t good enough in science [especially, physics wasn’t my cup of tea]. Then one day, I read about Anne Frank, and that’s where I got my Plan B from. It was not enough to get me started, though it did inspire me to write, yet I found it kind of boring! Until I read a play by William Shakespeare, specifically “The Tempest,” that compelled me to take a pen and start imagining beyond the stars. The spark is still there.

The reason for writing this is only to let those people who have lost hope, as their life isn’t going as planned, know that if Plan A fails, start working on Plan B, and if it fails too, then focus on Plan C. Remember there are 26 alphabets, and you know what that means? That means you have got to keep planning and keep striving until you move forward.

Today, I asked my students what they want to be when they grow up, and I wasn’t impressed because what they want now may be against what they need when they grow up. However, there was a student whose answer was very shocking to everybody. Well, he said he wants to be a singer, he wants to sing!

If you are living outside Kashmir, then it may be normal to you, but here in Kashmir, it’s really shocking, and it may have angered his parents if he had said this in front of them. Anyway, I encouraged him the way I encouraged all the other students and advised them to always keep Plans B, C, D, and beyond in their pockets because they might need them anytime soon.

You see, life often takes unexpected turns, so we must have the ability to adapt and discover new passions. You should always encourage your students or children to embrace flexibility in their aspirations. It’s not just about what one wants to be but understanding what contribution they can make to society, to the whole world. I personally believe that life’s alphabet offers endless possibilities. Our struggles start when we are born and end when we die. Living and struggles always go together.

One more thing that stops us all from achieving our goals is the concept of aging. Let me tell you that age is just a number. We are always young enough to take action unless and until we feel physically weak. It doesn’t matter whether you are 30, 40, 50, or beyond. What matters is your strength.

I have observed many people unwilling to take action just because they are over 25, and I’ve also witnessed individuals aged 50 and older working hard without complaining. In a nutshell, you are young until you are physically fit and mentally sound. I know the surrounding crowd may suggest you are confused, sometimes wanting to become this and sometimes that, but I’m telling you that you are not lost; you are in the process of self-discovery and uncovering the goal that the Creator has set for you.

That’s it, I believe that a hint is enough for the wise. I would like to conclude this with a stanza from my poem;

Onto the lap of the comfort zone, don’t you lay?

Pay attention to me; here is what I want to say.

Your dreams evolve like shifting sands,

Life is but a car, the control is always in your hands.

Complaining about age, though it’s just a fleeting number,

Always remember, your life is a tale of endless wonder.

(The author has co-authored more than ten books. His columns often appear in leading English newspapers of the valley)








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