Friday, 23 November 2018

When Your Plans Don't Work Out


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"What do you really want to do in life?"
I raised my eyebrows. It wasn’t an uncommon question, especially to a teenager who is in the most confused phase of her life. Here it was again, on a normal afternoon and in the middle of a casual conversation; the dreaded question. You think of dodging it by simply giving away an answer, but to some of them, it’s never enough.
 "I told you. I want to be a writer."
"That's not what I meant." He continued, "Say, what are you going to write about? What are you going to do with your writing? What is it that you want to do with your life before you die?"
My forehead creased as I tried to come up with a fancy answer to his fancy question. Why did he have to ask rhetorical questions I did not know the answers to? We were all of sixteen, what did we know about the world and life anyway?
"I guess, that's what I'm trying to figure out with my writing." I reply, reminded of the bucket list I had made after my last conversation with him. I knew what was coming next.
"Have you ticked off anything from your bucket list yet, or have you been simply adding to it?" What was he trying to do? Make me feel bad about my life? The bucket list was meant to make us look forward to live, not kill ourselves for not being able to do what we want just yet.

I got up and opened my little green box of chits. "Meet JKR" read the first. Totally. "Get a tattoo." read the next. "Go for a road trip."  Sigh. I knew what the others were, none of which were achievable at the moment. Had I not done anything worthwhile until then? That wasn’t true. What of the things that I had already done but weren't ever in the bucket list?

Like that time I got to hold a wild cobra? Like the time I went rock rappelling? Like the time I got started with my personal blog? Like the time I made it to the state championship? Was I to not celebrate these moments so dear to me? Maybe it was time to make a new list. Not of the what-could-be's, rather the what-have-beens.

"I'm gonna go places while I try to figure things out. And I'm gonna add to this list of mine on the go." I told him a year later when we stumbled upon the same conversation.
"Oh yeah? How many places have you gone to so far?" There it was again. The condescending tone that made me swallow my confidence. I’d decided to do away with the wish-list and stick to the whatever-comes-on-the-way list instead. I was determined to prove to myself and to this condescending one that I could do this. It will take time, but it will happen, and during the course of time my list would grow and prosper.

Strong on my resolve, at eighteen I embarked onto college, only to be subjected to strict restrictions as a fresher. So, I waited with (im)patience for a year. And then I found myself searching desperately for a group to travel with. Thank you for that, introversion.

There’s nobody asking me rhetorical questions now other than myself, so the pressure to keep up has fallen. But the impatience has not. I wish and whine for adventures, for dreamy stories and blissful moments that hardly pay a visit. And sometimes I’m scorned at for wanting so. I’m scorned at for being selfish and wanting to travel and explore. Wishing to put away my life in leisure rather than take up the noble pursuits acceptable by society? Despicable, wasn’t I?

But to me, this was the definition of life. I live for that time when I’m floating peacefully in crystal cold water under the falls. I live for the time when I feel the biting wind in my arms from the backseat of the bike. I live for the time I stare up at the night sky from the beach lying beside my loved one. I live for the time I sing aloud from the car as I drive through an empty road.

Speaking of which I realize that there’s plenty to add to the list, after all. Once again, blinded by the thoughts of all that did not happen, I had overlooked all the good things that did. Sure, life doesn’t work out according to our plan. But what it does do is shower us with little things of joy that we miss out to notice.

If ever he shows up again to ask me the same question, I’d tell him that I’m making progress, that I’m slowly figuring it out. That this very journey in search of the meaning of it all was turning out to be exciting on its own. Perhaps the answer was a lot simpler than I’d imagined.

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Linking with #FridayReflections




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