What seeds to sow in which soil?

[આજે મુંબઈ સમાચારના ફ્રન્ટ અને બેક પેજ પર બે ફુલ પેજ એડ છે એટલે ગુડ મૉર્નિંગ નથી. પેપરને જાહેરાતો મળે છે ત્યારે અમારા જેવા કેટલાયનાં ઘર ચાલે છે. આજે મારા એક જૂના અને જાણીતા લેખનું ઇંગ્લિશ ટ્રાન્સલેશન તમારા અભિપ્રાય અને સૂચનો માટે મૂક્યું છે. મારા એક યુવાન મિત્રે કર્યું છે. એનો મૂળ લેખ મારા બ્લૉગ પર છે પણ એની સાથે કમ્પેર કરવાને બદલે ઇન્ડીપેન્ડન્ટલી તમને એ વાંચવાની કેટલી મઝા આવે છે તે મને જણાવો. પ્લસ આ માટે કોઈ સૂચનો હોય તો લખજો. તમારી સગવડ પૂરતું આ અનુવાદને 100માંથી કેટલા માર્ક અપાય? (આ અનુવાદ એ જ વાચકોએ વાંચવો અને એ જ લોકોએ અભિપ્રાય વ્યક્ત કરવો જેમને અંગ્રેજી વાંચવાનો મહાવરો હોય). – સૌરભ શાહ]

What seeds to sow in which soil?*

Saurabh Shah (Translated by N.D.)

Had Shakespeare tried soldiering in a battlefield, he’d have probably met an early end by the unyielding edge of a sword. And had napoleon tried his hand at being a bard or a thespian, an unforgiving audience would have heckled him off stage in his first performance.

Knowing what to do with life is a fundamental task at hand. The difficulty or ease of the task is inconsequential. It must be done. And the earlier it is done, the better.

Understanding one’s own talents and capabilities isn’t as straightforward as one may presume. Career options, that even dreams couldn’t conjure, have become mainstream sources of work. One needs to streamline these options to make any sizable headway in this direction. Of course there are vocational streams that allow enough flexibility for a person to take on more than one task at a time. But when you are “playing the field” with a dozen options in your head, the laws of time and age require you to settle with one and put all your might behind that choice. This amount of clarity is a key ingredient for single minded concentration and sincerity. Having the clarity as to what you do not want to do in your life can also be effective in narrowing down the decision to this crucial life choice.

Even parents, who provide an environment for their child’s growth, find it difficult to identify what the child has grown to be. Capabilities and talents remain in hindsight. Being inducted as an adult member of the society and securing a job that provides a living is not always an indicator of having indentified one’s passion and zeal. The most reliable ammo in this quest is none other than the resonating vibe that comes from one’s gut. And the method of trial and error is the best weapon to discharge this ammo. And more often than not, this intuition is almost always right.

Amitabh Bhachchan’s flair for the performing arts was a treat for friends and family since his childhood days. He would perform at family gatherings as well as cultural programs for his school and college. He also won awards and accolades for his “extra-curricular” activities. But neither he, nor his parents had ever fathomed that amitabh would have the courage to forge a full-time career out of his part time craft. Amitabh’s younger brother ajitabh would be the catalyst for this transformation. While his parents had expressed hope that amitabh would enroll in the National Defence Academy, Amitabh was setting up ambitions to become an engineer. He eventually followed through with neither. He went on to complete his education as a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc) with second class grades and sought employment in Kolkata which he kept steady for another six years.

During this period, Harivanshrai Bachchan paid a customary visit to Russia as part of winning the Sovietland – Nehru award. Ajitabh beseeched his father to procure a movie camera from his foreign trip. The doting father spent all his remaining rubles on his son’s odd request while wondering “what does ajitabh intend to do with such an expensive camera?”

Ajitabh went to work with his camera, shooting videos featuring his elder brother. He helped him understand his advantages and limitations by comparing his performance with other prominent actors and then reshot the videos with improved performances. While he settled down with a job in Madras, he still managed to make trips to Bombay. He would go about showing headshots of his brother to any producer who would care to look. These headshots eventually found their way into the hands of director, Khwaja Ahmed Abbas. Upon seeing the portfolio it dawned upon Abbas that this man was a perfect fit in the role of one of his “Saat Hindustani”. The rest, as they say, is history.

Ajitabh, of course, knew where his talents lay hidden. Since boyhood, Ajitabh was known to be astute when it came to matters of money. He would often hoard his allowance to create some sort of a money-pool. He was teased with the moniker of “baniya” (a shylock-esque slur). So when it came to a career choice, Ajitabh slipped into the shoes of a businessman with aplomb. He raised an enviable business empire through his own merit and skill; this was apart from appraising the world with his elder sibling’s talent and managing the business end of Amitabh’s career in showbiz.

The case in point being that everyone needs that one person in their lives, who will drive you towards your true calling. There is nothing like figuring this out on your own. But, like Amitabh, if you realize that your choice of vocation is a state of compromise rather than embrace, then you will need an ajitabh to put you on a trajectory of brilliance.

Harivanshrai Bachchan has said rightly so, that “The true mark of a genius lies in his quality of self-realization”. Talented people would have an intimate understanding of their interests, their evolution, their tipping points, their nature, their capabilities, their capacity, the right direction for their growth and then they bank all their energy in this endeavor. And before they know it, they are mounting the summit of greatness.

Harivanshrai has admitted that not only amitabh but, as parents, even they had failed to recognize this side to their son early on. To characterize Harivanshrai’s adage with one additional point: the mark of being a genius also lies in being well aware of one’s limitations. They are aware of what they are capable or incapable of and when they go astray, they can trace their way back into grace with great speed and no hesitation. This is evident with Amitabh’s withdrawal from politics, which transpired almost as suddenly and quickly as he set foot into it. Good for amitabh, good for politics.

With reference to this, Harivanshrai Bachchan commented that Shakespeare indetified with himself as a bard; a story teller. And so he began writing plays and sonnets without an interval, becoming the world’s foremost playwright. Napolean could feel that the “little” soldier in him was capable of being a military leader. And hence began his fervent journey to the top job and to bring forth the military genius he is known for today. Had Shakespeare tried a hand at soldiering in a battlefield, he’d have probably met an early end by the unyielding edge of a sword. And had napoleon tried his hand at being a bard or a thespian, an unforgiving audience would have heckled him off stage during his first performance.

Majority of people have trouble understanding themselves. Harivanshrai Bachchan has said that attempting to write poetry with the mental capacity of clerk can only result in a string of rhyming lullabies. If you have the mind of a soldier but end up as a doctor, you would turn the staff of the infirmary into militia of an infantry, ready to wage a war on any and every ailment.

This habit of trying to fit a square peg in round hole or the vice versa ends with wasting many lives that would have otherwise been spent on nobler pursuits.

Even if you manage to get through life with half hearted attempts against your natural instincts, your old age will catch up with you with a biting question: Have I wasted my life away? And do we need to wait for our whole working life to pass by before asking ourselves this perturbing question? And even if you have answer on hand and your faculties in full capacity, you will lack one very important resource: Time.

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