If you don’t build your dreams, someone else will hire you to build theirs
My parents always told, “You need to be independent, you need to work, you need to study hard, you need to learn science, and you need to earn bucks.”
My dreams were different. I loved to dance, loved to sing, I devoured on books and also I loved classic rocks. My parents played guitar and I used to think “I too can be a pop queen, if nothing than a danseuse, or I can just sit and read in solitude, or maybe I can just be a human being”.
Things turned otherwise; given to my good scores in engineering I bagged my first job at a tender age of twenty. I had to leave the city where I had spent my childhood and was transposed to a megacity with the job and a fat pay. My parents were content but little did they realize my heart ached for my friends, my dance classes, my books, and my city. The corporate world is jarring and my case was also similar. I was denied leave for two long years. I could not visit the city where I grew.
In the meantime, my only focuses were work, fight out CET (Common Entrance Test), and grab an MBA degree. I also got married at a tender age; it was a love marriage where there was no love which I failed to realize, so after being stuck in that unhappy marriage for eleven years I bid a farewell to that loveless marriage. Here my father supported.
In the meantime lot more happened, my CV improved and I turned into a vassal. I climbed the corporate ladder, my pay improved so were my nominations. I worked on holidays, I was asked to fire my subordinates and when I pleaded “Sir, his mother is in ICU, please be kind”, I was stopped “If you know to hire someone, you should learn to fire as well”. My boss also made sure the next day by checking if I had fired my subordinate that broken man; who begged me asking for few more days till he gets a better job. All I did was to look away, run in the cafeteria, bang my head and weep. I didn’t have the guts to see him leave. The case was also similar to another young female colleague of mine. She didn’t have money for her mother’s hospital bills but still, I fired her. She too cried, I made a stony face in front of her and back in the ladies washroom I screamed, I cried.
There were no holidays for me. On weekends I was burdened by work; the days I took a leave I spent my time worrying about my work. The next day I received the remark “It’s not fair, you know there is so much work, you could have come half day”. Oh yes, a half day when I am unwell. During my short trips to native, all I did was to open my laptop and answer emails.
It gradually took a toll on my health. I bloated since I didn’t exercise, I forgot my books, I forgot my songs, my dances, my monthly periods were irregular, I developed blood pressure and I forgot to live my life.
I was returning home from my work late at night, stopped at the mobile recharge center when that owner of the shop said: “I love your English, can you teach my Children that subject?” I agreed but only on weekends.
There was one more thing which happened. I met someone who changed my life. I always wanted to write. It was my destiny that I loved literature but became an engineer. I asked people to help me in writing, no one helped me, but except one. It was a Sunday I rang her doorbell, she took me in. I broke down to her, weeping I told her “I want to write, no one is helping me, can you help me?” To which she replied “Look for inner wisdom, do not look for outside favor from random people. And why are you crying? For whom are you crying? Why are you troubled? Look at me, I am self-made, I had no GODFATHER, I was mocked, hated, ridiculed, so face the challenge and embrace love and spread kindness. Do you wish to embrace Buddhism?”
I was desperate, tears streaming my face I said: “Yes, teach me Buddhism, will that help me to write?”
She replied, “No, it will teach you to be compassionate, writing you know and that you need to do yourself, you will have no help, and if I hear you asking for help then just know I will never forgive you.”
My first session on Buddhism turned otherwise. There were people, praying, singing, and chanting. The room was lit by candles and the fragrance of the incense sticks had a mesmerizing effect. And then it happened. One by one stood and narrated their experience. The most harrowing experience was shared. In that room were celebrities, doctors, engineers, teens who had a mask of happy face to the world but deep within there were scars which hadn’t healed. I broke down myself, it was traumatic for me. I am a single woman with no one to hear my sorrows and these people had so many members in their families who professed they cared for them, while those members really didn’t.
On my way back I met a wise man, HE whispered to me “Lady, it’s time you follow your true calling. Do not chase for money, no need, reach out, help people, you are doing very good, and I am saying that to you, my brave girl, don’t be a slave, break the shackles and forge ahead”.
I hated that wise man for his wisdom but I also knew I loved him.
Two weeks later, I wrote my resignation, it was ignored, so I ignored the demands of those corporates. The wise man again came that night “Lady, good job, so take a plunge, look in you”. “How will I survive, I worked, I earned, now what next? I am single”. The wise man smiled “Figure out ways, there are lots of fishes in the ocean but almighty has provided food for all of them, you have a home, you have clothes, you have your savings, you eat thrice a day, so what more you need?”
I listened to that wise man. I reached out to those orphans; I reached out to those children who had parents but still were ignored, I reached out to those broken souls, I heard their stories, they opened up to me, I spoke with them. Those children I taught gifted me drawings, my sketch which they made with a note “Our beautiful teacher”, they sat on my lap hugging me and kissed me as well. Those broken men/women blessed me, they hugged me. I did break down listening to their heart-tugging narrations but it also gave me the courage to heal them.
I refused to be a serf; I started my new career as a teacher, as a counselor, as a dancer, as a writer and also as a preacher. Though I still live in that fear “Money”. The wise man returns “Lady, look in you, figure out ways.”
The quality of speech determines the quality of life. Be an artist of your art. A child forged and hardened by suffering and pain can accomplish what a privileged adult cannot. Every artist needs to be that child.
I stopped being a slave in my late thirties, here’s my sincere wish, do not wait that long. Four nights spend on footpath can teach you more lessons on life than four years in engineering schools. You got to face the day; there is no other way to clear the fog in your mind. The driver’s seat of a luxury sedan doesn’t allow you the view that the window seat of a bus does. Billionaires, paupers, and all in between, we feel the same pain. Deep inside, we bleed just the same. REPLACE HOSTILITY WITH KINDNESS. Never apologize for being passionate. Follow your true calling and beat yourself blind towards perfection. Do not compromise on what you love and also don't apologize to follow your dream. The roads look scary, but always know you CAN GO THAT EXTRA MILE TO REACH THAT OPEN SKY.