Have you ever thought about yourself, really thought about yourself?
I am not talking about the whys: Why am I so awesome? Why not? Why always me? No. I am talking about the whos. Who am I really beneath all the noise, the reflections, the lies? Who am I really?
Yesterday I did an interesting exercise. I was asked to draw something that represented me: a place, an object, anything. Afterwards, when my colleagues spoke, I wasn’t surprised. I was partly expecting what they said. But more on that later.
Like always, I spent the better part of the exercise looking at the empty sheet of paper. Who was I really? I hadn’t thought about it previously. I mean I had thought about certain aspects; the situations I found myself in repeatedly were one, but never as a whole had I tried to analyze myself. I was too busy looking at others, their stories. And so I kept looking at the blank page.
When nothing came to me, I thought about doing stick figures. I used to be good at drawing stuff, but four years of engineering had dulled the instincts. What I drew first was a tree, and a figure under the tree reading a book. After all, I liked reading, and writing, so it looked logical; but then, it wasn’t all I was. It just did not seem right, incomplete somehow. Then I drew another figure, a person with a balloon, a kid with a balloon rather. I am a kid at heart still, I reasoned. Then a car, a remote controlled one, with a kid controlling it; this I argued was because I always wanted one, but chose the Goofy teddy when I had the chance.
The picture, was almost done, the story almost ready, when I realized I wasn’t any of these people. Not really, not wholly. Instead, I was the guy drawing the picture. I was the guy looking for the extraordinary in the mundane, the guy connecting the dots.
The weird thing about us is, when we’re thinking about ourselves, we mostly, or atleast at first, think about the positives only, or maybe when we are asked to talk about it. But when it comes to others, mostly its the negativity.
I wrote four names at the back of the picture; four people whose pictures, or what they said afterwards was interesting to me. Four people out of a total of thirty. As I already said, I was expecting what they said. I was expecting the use of words like hard-working, adjusting, optimistic, etcetera. So, I wasn’t surprised. They had either not understood what they were supposed to do, or were too afraid. Either way, they were no interesting. I guess in the end, that is all that matters: being interesting.
Why the process becomes interesting at this juncture is not just because of this exercise. It’s also because at the end of this exercise, I sat for a test. A test in which I scored exceptionally low. Again, I found myself staring at emptiness, struggling to answer who I was; even though I had just answered that question. I was an observer more than anything else. But this, this was different. It was a practical situation, and it demanded a practical answer.
Who was I?
Would I take the easier way out, if most of the population was doing it? Or, would I buckle up, and walk through a mile long river of shit?
Maybe I am overreacting; or, maybe this is about values, values so strong, so unshakable, that it’s almost a religion.
Oh, and Happy Diwali!