“You aren’t concentrating in class, you know what this means, right? You’ll end up failing the year and then your friends will move on to the next class and you will be stuck here. Do you want that?” wails the irritated math teacher at the boy. As the young kid controls his overwhelming urge to sob, he has been hurt on the inside. Many of us have faced a similar predicament in our lifetime; an education system that is meant to make us do what earlier generations have done – line up at morning assembly in our similar outfits, worry about hair too long or short, give our attention to a series of lessons that are all about theories and beyond.
I have been there and done all of that. As time passed, I have realized that my future did not exist solely in books advocated by educational boards. I turned to reading books outside the curriculum and started gaining insights, knowledge and inspirations from them. I took to different kind of books to become my mentors, the ones that did not define syllabi but left everything open to me creating newer perspectives and learning about the world.
Much inspiration and reinforcement came from Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers where he placed emphasis on ‘putting in the time’, 10,000 hour of practice and others concepts, which idolized hard work and dedication above everything else.
No one has restored the transcendence of the written word more beautifully than Nobel-winning writer and painter Hermann Hesse:
“Among the many worlds that man did not receive as a gift from nature but created out of his own mind, the world of books is the greatest… Without the word, without the writing of books, there is no history, there is no concept of humanity. And if anyone wants to try to enclose in a small space, in a single house or a single room, the history of the human spirit and to make it his own, he can only do this in the form of a collection of books.”
Hesse may be addressing his audience using the example of books, but it can be perceived that just like books, many tiny worlds of wisdom and learning exist all around us. If we ignore them only to live a life of convention and norms, we miss out on being the best version of ourselves, but end up being too busy trying to be the best version of what we’re told we can be.
I write this keeping in mind my unique situation but the idea that I want to get across is that we don’t let the world and its contradictions weigh us down. If we wish to soar, we need to want to do it and display resilience towards it. The aim should be to always help yourself become the best you can and try to inspire a community of people to the best of your ability. All we can do is try to do our part to make the world a better, meaningful and open place for all of us.