As you may all well know, the UPSC Civil Service Mains results were announced on the 1st March. 2012 has been the year of changes, new beginning’s etc. But I’ve forgotten to mention that it’s turning out to be a year of certain disappointments as well – for every beginning, there must have been an ending right? So, am guessing some ending’s were a little painful and not really celebrated or heralded in joy as a ‘new beginning’.
Where am I going with this, one may ask? Ahem, like so many hopeful’s who knew they would either be in one of two categories with the Mains results, I too ended up in one of the two categories – the unsuccessful. It massively sucks when you keep scrolling the results to see if your number made it only to be greeted with its absence. Sigh.
So, another year, another attempt down the drain. The worst part is the reluctant hope that begins to grow within you as you contemplate the remote chances of success and begin to play out the various happy scenarios of receiving that news. Then when failure greets you, you curse the hope that had been swelling up inside. Which I thoroughly did. I reached a point with that news where I felt a little old and very tired. Tired of trying for something I’m not even sure I want or is meant for me. Tired of living like a flatting student (no steady source of income, no sense of security knowing you’re just renting the place you call home). Tired of being torn in two by an Mphil on one hand and a career-making examination on the other. Then comes the success stories you hear of others and the myriad of ways you find to try and bring a heartfelt smile to your lips and words of congratulations from your mouth when inside you feel like seeking refuge under a rock!
The only thing you can do when you find yourself in these kinds of situations is to drown in your misery willingly. Go ahead and indulge a little. Everyone needs a ‘day-off’ from keeping it together all the time. You might find refuge in travelling, being alone and for the majority, finding solace in friends. I found comfort in all three – I took a small trip to the next neighbourhood, prior to that had buried my face in my bed and thirdly, chatted to a friend/s about things unrelated to what was making me feel down. Before I knew it, I was good to go again, batteries recharged and feelings of failure and fatigue receding.
Somewhere deep down inside, I was afraid of the changes that were going to come if in case I did succeed. I do not like to leave things in the middle and I don’t think the regret of leaving my MPhil incomplete would have ever left me. Not to mention, I recently got a scholarship in connection with my MPhil which I would have had to forfeit if I decided to join the civil service. When I look at it objectively, we’ve been praying for success for these exams and asking of God to grant me success, success, success. We never once stopped to ask Him if this was His will for me? I do want to pass the exams at least once because I hate failing but at the same time, I hope and pray that this is what the Lord has willed for me. In some ways, He knows my heart better than anyone else and in His own way, I feel, I’ve been granted some breathing space and time to reflect and see exactly where I want to be and what I want to do with my life.
Thank you to everyone for helping me get over this ‘down-in-the-dumps’ moment of mine and just helping put things in perspective. To my family who were disheartened but gracious enough to acknowledge their respect and love of their children. And to God who knows me best and knows what my heart yearns for. I trust He has bigger things in store but I need to put in the effort too but thank Him from the bottom of my heart.
The mind is a curious place and I’m stuck often wondering how in the world we all seem to function. Considering the vast capacity of our minds to wander from one end to another, from one topic to another, from one time to another etc. etc. it is indeed a great wonder that we all haven’t already gone somewhat insane or a little cracked already! :p But then again, I think we all are a little ‘zany’ or ‘whacky’ and that helps keep us a little more sane?
So what has been going on inside my head lately? I remember having somewhat of an epiphany but nowhere near as clear and crystallized as a REAL epiphany. How about we call is a quasi-epiphany? I was sitting in church and I wish I could remember what the sermon was about but it must have had something to do with God’s love and grace or His saving power because that’s when the quasi-epiphany struck me. I’ve had friends who jokingly or seriously, depending on your perception of them, have said that they marvel at how they haven’t already lost their minds or gone crazy. Usually, this outburst or comment is followed by jovial laughter and ribbing and remarks such as ‘but you’re already crazy’ and ‘you’re already wahhh’ etc. etc. I think in my case, it was that Sunday morning in church when it hit me…I could have very well ended up mentally unbalanced. Or forever stuck in my own private fantasy land where I’m the hero, have superpowers, save the world and all-in-all am considered a highly special person. Somewhere deep down inside, the make-believe world is so much more inviting and comforting than reality. I have found myself, many a times, wondering how in the world time has flown so quickly only to be greeted with the fact that I’ve been standing still in one place for the past hour or so, lost in my own head, lost in my own make-believe world, oblivious to actual time in the real world. When I wake myself up from my ‘sleep’, it does unsettles you to realize that not too long back, it felt like you were in some different reality all together and how easily you got yourself lost in it. It’s like that Chinese thinker, Zhuangzi, who said that once he dreamt he was a butterfly but couldn’t help but wonder if in fact, he was a butterfly who dreamt that he was a man. So many movies have dealt with similar themes of an altered reality or false reality and perception i.e. The Matrix, The 13th Floor, Inception, Shutter Island etc. etc. The concept is old but the unsettling effect can never be. I feel there must be a countless number of people who just ‘opt’ out of life and the world because sometimes the world in their own minds is kinder and better than what lies ahead of them. People may read this and scoff but it does happen and there are people who experience this sensation and can’t help but wonder and wish that an alternate reality existed and preferably it should be the one they’ve created in their own minds. So question – Why have I not completely lost myself already? Answer – I give credit to the Big Man Upstairs for that. Everyone needs their anchors in life. I have my family but more importantly, there is the Big Man Upstairs and for some unknown reason, I keep coming back to Him sometimes kicking and screaming. When I feel like I’m slipping away there comes a voice from somewhere that tells me to wake and snap out of it and like a powerful lens, things snap back into focus with clarity. It often feels like a veil has been lifted and suddenly you’ve got 20/20 vision. That clarity doesn’t always happen but the ‘lifting of the veil’ or the feeling that the ‘curtain of sleep’ has been drawn does occur.
I am not quite sure what inspired me to start typing about this whole issue of the mind and multiple perceptions and realities. But I guess knowing that the mind is at once both fragile and frighteningly powerful, kind of served as the inspiration. I’m watching a series right now and though fictitious, it deals with a lot of issues which can cause doubt and a distortion of one’s beliefs because we are so susceptible to suggestion and ideas. Yet at the same time, much like the series time and time again states, much of what can be done, does lie in your own hands – even the simple act of faith is completely your choice. That is strangely comforting to know we choose to do what we can do with our lives and hope and pray that there are others who choose to help us along as well. Hmmmm….
So regarding this post’s title, what has been going on inside my head? Firstly, my head right now is full of questions – will I pass the mains, will I complete my MPhil. with good marks, will I master Mandarin, will I find a good house, will I be able to keep my pets, will I be able to do and be all that I want to do and be etc. etc. Like I said, my head is full of QUESTIONS!!!!! The saddest part is? I don’t even know the answer to any of them! Other times, I feel like it’ll all be ok and fall into place. Therefore, along with questions, there is also the resolve to tackle them. These questions are accompanied by the thought of BOOKS – books that need to be read, books that need to be returned, books that need to be photocopied and books that I wish I could own. Somewhere with books, thoughts of HOME keeping popping up – how much I miss home, how much I miss my family, how much I wish I could spend more time with my mum and dad and really soak up those precious moments of being together, how much I wish I could establish a good base to push off from at home etc. etc. With home, books and questions, my head takes time to dwell on FAITH and GOD – how I wish to strengthen my faith, how I wish to walk closer with God and how I feel disappointed with myself for not being more devoted etc. etc. But then my heart strings tug and my mind becomes filled with worries over ACADEMICS – can I really do this MPhil, can I really offer something new in a dissertation, can I even compile a dissertation, can I study different disciplines or is this it for me, is there really an age bar to learning etc. etc. Sure enough, as if all the previous mentioned issue weren’t enough, LOVE factors in to the whole scheme of things – will I find love, is he/she out there for me, will it work, who will it be etc. etc. Then when all the worries of your own world come tumbling down, your mind becomes filled with DREAMS – what is my dream, will I fulfill it, can i push these boundaries and reshape them, why does everything have to be constrained by convention, can’t I do it differently, can’t things work differently, am I killing my original dream and child-like wonder for something, am I really on the right path?
I don’t think what goes on inside my head is any different from others. Perhaps certain items might be prioritized differently or there maybe other pending issues and concerns. But it’s crazy how the mind works, isn’t it? How it can be your greatest source of strength and inspiration or your biggest weakness and cause of your downfall…
Our house is always a ‘den’ of activity with the two pups we have. A few things have struck me over the last day or two. While clearing up the place, saw an old newspaper lying on the floor and the front page article caught my attention; the world premier of the final installment of Harry Potter in Trafalgar Square. I realized that even something as magical as Harry Potter has come to an end. I do not claim to be a fanatical or avid Harry Potter fan (I use to read the books to my younger brother and sister as a bedtime story) but I did enjoy the series immensely and I am a bit of a sap for this genre of movies. I’m half afraid to watch the movie because when it ends, it really ends; it’s all over. At the end of the day, Harry Potter was all about good vs. evil and the struggle that ‘good’ had to endure to continue it’s long war against evil. Many ‘magical’ stories have this as their theme: Lord of the Rings and the Chronicles of Narnia come to mind. And maybe that’s why I love them so much because at heart, I think I’ll always believe that good shall triumph over evil and that’s what I hope for in our world today – poverty will be eradicated, diseases will be cured, compassion and kindness will prevail amongst man, man for animals and man for the environment. I won’t even call myself an idealist because I don’t consider myself to be; I know what the ground realities are. But I’m an eternal ‘hoper’ and that’s what movies and books like Harry Potter mean to me – hope.
Harry Potter also meant family and that’s something else that’s been on my mind since this afternoon. I had a much needed conversation with my sister and I came to realize how important family is in one’s life; how they shape you, mould you and sometimes dictate how your life will turn out. For those who find their families lacking, they resort to their friends and their friends become their family. For Harry, he had none, so Hermoine and Ron were his family and his all. Guess he also knew how important family was. Some families can seem beyond redemption but most families are in a grey zone and often the mistakes our parents make can dictate our lives unfairly. It takes a lot to come out of that and make a fresh start; to not be shackled by the past…guess Harry Potter knows a thing or two about that. Not that his parents made the mistake but his past often meant the danger ever lurking in his present and future and how he fought never to succumb to it….Lol. Am enjoying the comparisons that are being drawn. I guess, J.K. Rowling really did create an incredible masterpiece after all!
Lastly, we all need ‘anchors’ in our lives. The things that, no matter what happens, root us in place and keep us from being shaken and blown away. I’ve thought that family was one but like I said before, not all families are perfect or ideal. In highschool and college, I thought having a ‘best friend’ or a bunch of friends was another anchor. But honestly, human beings are so flawed that you have to be willing to trust and love someone knowing that they’re going to let you down and fall short of your expectations…not very good anchor material? You’ll get shaken every single time and there’s no guarantee at all. Religion? Let’s not even get started…institutionalized religion has ruined faith for everyone especially when it’s been done wrong and it gets done wrong every time. But that’s the catch with being human…nothing we do is perfect and sooner or later we fall and mess it up. For me, personally, it’s faith in God. Take it whichever way you want to. But strip away all the hypocrisy, controversy, ideology, legalism, denominationalism, gender issues, historic inaccuracies etc. etc. etc. and what do you get? This being above who tells you simply this – I love you, flaws and all, just the way you are and will never stop…and it’s been true for me, even if I forget it every so often.
So, what is your anchor in life? The thing that keeps you grounded when the world around you is shaken all the time? Would like to hear what people have to say, after all, even Harry Potter had his….Good will triumph over Evil.