This happened a few months back.
I am in a train, around 6.30 in the morning, traveling from Palakkad to Chennai. An elderly gentleman is giving vent to his feelings about the deplorable state of governance. He is talking to me, so I join in feebly in support of his train of thoughts.
One of the co-passengers butts in espousing the need for citizens to remember their responsibilities rather than only their rights. I let the co-passenger steal my space in the conversation because I go silent suddenly. The elderly gentleman is in no mood to give in and the discussion rambles on for some time, till it fizzles out.
I am shy about holding a conversation in Malayalam before a group of people, I console myself.
That is nonsense, I am equally tongue tied and self conscious when I am speaking to people in English, a language I am more at home in.
I have seen people put forth their views in public as if their life depended on it, even when their arguments have very little substance.
It has been my belief that when I argue over a stream of thought, I do it at the expense of truth. The goal then is more to win the argument than to understand. It is more sensible to engage with people, encouraging them to look at differing views dispassionately so as to understand them in their many dimensions.
This is a stray idea that wafted in a long time ago and it has overstayed with me all these years, muffling my voice.
Coming to terms with the many nuances of issues is wonderful, yet the tendency of see-sawing among all shades of grey is the time tested route to a no man’s land.
I must rediscover my voice.
I see people of little merit carve an enviable place in the hearts of millions of people with their strongly and loudly articulated views preying on the fears and insecurities of the gullible multitudes.
Some even fake their convictions convincingly, endowing them with a life of their own. The strength they lend to their beliefs create an energy of its own. What catches the attention of the outside world is really not the substance behind words, but the strength and confidence with which they are uttered.
The strength of ideas broadcast to the world with regularity create company brands. That is also how a human being creates his or her brand – by standing out with something fresh and strong to say. Or, speaking out about work that he or she is passionate about.
I have definite views about various things and events. But I bottle them up because I am afraid to reveal myself as I am. The need to fit in makes me forget who I am and what I am here for. At the end, I settle on playing to someone else’s music, and so a sense of heaviness hangs over me like dark clouds.
It reminds me, my facebook and linkedin pages are devoid of any substance or personality. My written communication is good, but I refuse to write there. I do more than enough to challenge myself with marathon runs, but I am adamant not to be seen as showing off my wares or of being defined by one particular activity, into a mould.
There is a lot that I can write home about. But.
In the process, the world around me only gets to see a shadow of myself. I also reveal myself as a downsized version of myself. Even to myself.
There is definitely a difference between tipsily gloating about my achievements and staring them in the face, as if to say – here’s me.
Expressing myself as I am and as I feel, is a need I must embrace to reclaim my forgotten territories. There is eternal beauty in fondly recognizing myself as I am and declaring them to the circle around me, never mind their approval or disapproval.
Telling my world about me is an important means I employ to find myself. This telling also makes it easier for people around me to know me better. That may turn out to be my gift – for some of them.
A little while ago, I saw this message in Telegram, from a friend of mine.” Don’t climb a mountain with an intention that the world should see you, climb the mountain with the intention to see the world.”
So it makes sense to tell myself, don’t express to impress. I express more to know and appreciate my world better. And, don’t ever shy away from being myself and flaunting what I am.
In the glow of that understanding, the world outside will change for me. And, the world will see a different me.
Looking for an image to accompany this blog, I saw this quote from an actor. “I am an artisan. I only become an artist when people watch what I do. That is when it becomes art.”
I am scared of publishing this post. But I have been cocooned in my comfort zone for too long. Let me see how life is on the other side.