When we are young, we just can’t wait to grow up. I used to scan through my mother’s cupboard and admire her collection of sarees. My sister used to try out my aunt’s high-heel sandals. She even sprained her ankle once while walking in them. Sometimes we imitated the behaviour of grown-ups during role play.
Today, after leaving childhood far behind, I miss those days. My cousins and I reminisce about those wonderful times and unforgettable anecdotes with great pleasure. It is ironic that when we were actually going through those early years we never paid attention to the present, our sights were set on the future. We never thought that we would miss those times. Future seemed rosier than the present.
Childhood is the age of innocence. We laughed and smiled as easily as we cried and threw tantrums. Bitterness was forgotten as soon as we saw something sweet. Even a false compliment took us sky high and perched our spirit on the treetop. If we had friends to play with and treats to fill our pockets with, then we were rich. Back then, we felt quite powerless and looked up to the older folk and envied their authority.
With age came understanding. My company of friends is now filled with wise-brained adults. Something as simple as a smile can be interpreted in numerous ways, depending on the facts and circumstances. We seldom cry, at least not as often as in childhood. Compliments are dissected to see what’s behind the words. False compliments are now called ‘flattery’. We exercise authority over the children in our house yet we envy their carefree life. This is the irony of life.
The age of innocence was filled with curiosity about every aspect of being an adult. Our heads were filled with “Why?, How? When?”. As all queries met their answers, curiosity died. Life turned into one big chore. Today, excitement is not a feeling we experience often. For this, we were desperate to grow up!
Now as our legs are racing to the future, our heads turn back to see what we are leaving behind. The heart still longs for that beautiful world of innocence. Now we try to bring back to life the little child inside us that we left ignored for decades. This is the greatest irony of life.
Most conversations with elders and senior citizens, neighbours or relatives winds down to the statement,” back in my days, things were…..” I always took that statement as an indicator of the age of the person I am speaking to. This made me feel young, however, I recently used this statement while speaking to an office colleague. You can imagine my horror, I was suddenly faced with the reality that I am ageing as well. I did not want to accept that reality, so I tried to explain away my statement as a slip of tongue.
Excuses apart, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that the statement is more about hope or the lack of it than it is about the age of the speaker.
When we are young, we are full of hope and belief in a better future. We may face bad times, corrupt officials, inflation, economic downturns and more, but our hope that tomorrow will be better is what keeps us going. We believe that this too shall pass. This hope and positivity will keep us from looking back at the past with sadness. We have faith in our hard work and hope that tomorrow our luck will turn around.
Once we begin to lose hope of a better future, we start to use statements like, back in my times. We accept defeat in the face of hardships, or when we throw in the towels and say, ‘this is it, I’m done’. It is a way of accepting that nothing good can happen anymore, Our rosy picture of the future suddenly seems out of reach or impossible. This phase has more to do with losing hope and faith rather than age.
Just as one loses hope, one can also find hope and rebuild faith too. Be it through planning, God, family support or a simple change is luck. Once we start to turn things around for ourselves, we automatically stop looking back in sadness.
“It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation.”
I have recently come across this quote from the American novelist, by the name Herman Melville that said, ” It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation”. He is basically saying that it is better to be an original loser than to be a successful copycat.
I know it sounds severe when I put it that way. But, when you ponder upon it, it makes sense. Though being unsuccessful is bad, you can at least take credit for your original thought. This unique thought will further act as the foundation that you can build upon until you are successful.
The same cannot be said for imitations. When you pick up someone else’s idea, you are automatically limiting the scope, to what the original thinker foresaw. Please remember that imitation is different from using the inventions or ideas of others to create new products or utilities of a product.
In today’s world, plagiarism is a real concern in literature, music, arts and even scientific research. The creativity, innovation and intellect of a person are being taken away from him/her. It is almost like stealing the person’s individuality because our thoughts and ideas are what distinguish us in a group. To imitate one’s ideas and pass them off as our own is an insult to our intelligence. It is a way of accepting that I am not smart enough to think on my own.
I remember, my aunt used to let us off easy, when we gave her original and innovative excuses. Not that she did not detect a lie, in fact, she would point out the flaw in the story and laugh it off as a joke. We were made to feel sufficiently embarrassed so that we did not repeat the mistake.
The sad thing in the world is, success is given more emphasis than originality. Copycats are running the world and unless we start valuing diversity and uniqueness, the situation may not improve.