In a way that I find quite typical though, I managed - with some effort mind you - to shrug off my tormentors so to speak and was sitting in my room sipping the vodka when it suddenly struck me that it could surely not be that bad an idea to watch, or should I say re-watch a movie called The Graduate. I settled down therefore, comfortable in the absence of the newly-removed plaster and watched a movie that quite frankly, I expected to bore the wits out of me.
When I first watched the movie, it left me quite untouched. It struck me more as a movie that may have been relevant in parts to the audience of the 60s, feeding on their anti-establishment feelings and their rebelliousness, but one that with the passage of time had not just been eroded in the connection that it could establish, but also one that was retrograde and quite comical in its attempt to be a mature movie-watchers feed.
Watching it tonight though was a quite different experience to the time almost a decade ago when I viewed it for the first time. For starters of course, I no longer had that adolescent thrill at the prospect of watching a movie that was ostensibly all about sex and attaining sexual maturity. What started a couple of hours ago as a mere exercise to prove the veracity of my aversion to movie-watching turned quite quickly into an absorbing exercise that made me think even after it was, for all practical purposes, at an end.
How many people in my batch or the next truly know what they aspire to become – apart of course from the time-honoured ‘successful career’ myths? How many truly understand the life that faces them? How many are equipped mentally and emotionally to handle all that life will inevitably throw their way? Why them, a vast majority of even the supposedly mature adults I meet, despite their decades of working life, seem to be quite at a loss when confronted with these questions.
Most people would prefer to flow with the tide, so to speak. Few, if any, of us have ever contemplated the ramifications that our actions at this age, or any before this, will have or have had on the lives that we shall lead in the future. The emptiness and desolation that oft seem to accompany middle-age are perhaps a direct consequence of this. Then again, when have we ever been granted the time to think of such things?
As things stand, a few days prior to this post, I found myself staring at a list of company names. A number of them – and I am not ashamed to say this – were names that I had never heard prior to setting my eyes upon the list. My task was to rank these in order of my preference – were I to be offered a job in each of them. This task that seemed so infinitely easy did not really take me a short while to complete mind you, despite the fact that I only ended up ranking around 10 of the companies in that entire list of well over a hundred. And trust me when I say that the number of applications I have made falls well short of even that number, which when compared with my colleagues seems so paltry.
When have any of us really had the time to ponder over those myriad questions that confront us in the forms? ‘What are you short-term and long-term aims?’, ‘Where do you see yourself five years from now?’ Quite frankly, while a few may have found the time to contemplate these, the vast majority are, at least in my opinion quite clueless about the true answers that they hold to these questions.
When thought about at even the slightest depth, we have never really made the choices that we seem to have made. As a high-schooler, it was ingrained in me that the intelligent and the performers chose to do Engineering or Medicine by default rather than design. Little wonder then that I, like the vast majority, ‘chose’ one of those disciplines. Post-Engineering, it was quite clear to me that my heart did not lie there and once again like the majority of the populace confronted with such a situation, I chose to pursue an education in Management.
I truly believed that the two years thus spent would give me the opportunity to not just look at who I was but also give me the time to evaluate where I stood and where I really wanted to head in life. Most people in my position do the same and quite frankly they are hardly to blame – if at all. Asked myself, I too would advise a person facing that crisis in life to do exactly as I did.
And yet, as I stand today, I feel that most around me are truly lost – too caught up in what we are doing to ever thing properly about exactly what we are doing and what ramifications our actions hold for ourselves. Aversion to taking risks has become so deep a part of us that we rarely seem to be able to tune into ourselves. The truth about us becomes a part of the great unknown and like the leaf in autumn winds, we too get swept with the tide…moving towards our destiny with scarcely a thought about what that destiny is.
I can hardly boast of being a thinker or even one who knows the answer to any of the questions that haunt my existence. However that is hardly an excuse for being who I am. Will I ever have the courage to pursue the dream that I saw emerge today? I know not. I have no idea quite frankly about what direction I will ‘choose’ to take at the end of this phase of my life…and yet, that one phone call today wherein I stated what I believe in and met with an empathetic response seems to console me that the path I choose will not really be as tough as things have seemed thus far.
My aim is neither of chastising, nor of demeaning those that surround me. I merely say what I do because I am perhaps more clueless than most…because I know just how clueless man can become. Dustin Hoffman, take a bow… Truly, the sounds of silence are deafening.