Tuesday, March 04, 2008
What Drives You in Life?
“What drives you in life?” asked a friend a few years ago.
It was so difficult for me to answer that question.
I started talking about my hobbies, what I like to do in my spare time, my ambition, etc. Today when I look back, I realize that I gave him an answer that must have revealed to him a glimpse of my ignorance or a complete absence of self discovery.
When I look back at the years in retrospection, I observe (much to my regret) that for several years of my life, I was not driven. I did not even know what it meant to be driven.
Of course I had an “ambition” like all others; to get a job in Infosys (or an equally good software company).
I had desires. I wanted money, friends, a good husband, a rank in the university.
I had a few accomplishments in life. I was a successful debater; I had won the 1st place in a national level essay writing competition. I had also won a few personality contests.
I had talent too. I was artistic. I used to paint. I used to write poems.
But I was not driven. In spite of all the above. Why? Of course, there had been a few disappointments in life; but they are always there…for all of us. Isn’t it?
How do you decide whether you are driven in life or not?
After a lot of thinking, I came to the following conclusion.
I was not driven because there was no spring in my step as I walked the path of life.
I simply stood and life passed me by.
And what was I doing standing there?
Sometimes, I was regretting my past, wishing that I had a time machine so I could go back in time and correct certain things.
At other times, I was day dreaming, doing wishful thinking.
Sometimes I was blaming people around me and circumstances, for things that went wrong and other times, I was planning my strategy for my battle with life, carefully deciding what my next move should be.
I was certainly not driven.
After a few years, things changed. Cynicism faded away. Pessimism retreated. Life had improved in general. My ambition had realized. Some of my desires had found fulfillment. But I was neither too happy nor too sad. Life merely went on. What kept me going was a hope of a better tomorrow. But I was still not driven. I took longer strides than before, but somehow the spring in my step was not there. I was passively waiting for certain things to happen.
And today, nothing has changed drastically in life. But I feel as if I just awakened from a slumber. I feel driven. How?
I wonder if the hundreds of thousands of people around me are driven or they merely stand as life passes them by.
If you ask what is essential to being driven in life, you may get a variety of answers from different people.
Someone may say “Interesting Hobbies!” True to an extent. The image of a person who has no hobbies and has nothing to do in spare time does not quite occur to the mind as driven.
But I had more hobbies in life at a time when I was not driven than now!
And what about busy people who have no spare time? Are they not driven?
Someone may say “Ambition!” This is also true to an extent.
Wait a minute! What about the multitude of homemakers having no ambition who are happy to take care of husband or children? Are they not driven?
“Desires!” said another. So what about all those swamis/yogis who have no desires? Would you say they are not driven? Oh common, they are probably the most driven people!
Is a person driven because he is sociable and has a lot of friends and parties a lot? What about those introverted quiet people? Men of a few words? Would you declare that they are all not driven?
“Hope!” Sounds good to me. But what about those who live in today, who are very content and don’t need to hope for a better tomorrow?
While all the answers are correct, none of them is complete.
So what exactly is being driven in liven in life?? And why do I suddenly feel driven in life?
As I introspect, I see that I have most of what I want in life(as I almost always did). I also do not have some things that are important. But regardless of anything, there is gratitude in my heart, like never before. I have started to count my blessings.
There are a hundred reminders all around me of all the misery in the world. But I still think life is beautiful. There is positive thinking. I find myself saying “Chill! Life is unfolding itself as it should, whether or not you like it.”
There are no “high” ambitions. No desire for bungalow, motor car nor gold nor diamonds. But there is a zest for life. I am so excited about little things in life. A song that I heard, an ice cream that I am going to have….
I see that apart from things that I do out of sheer necessity, there are also other things I do because I enjoy doing them. I suddenly know what I want in life. I want to learn Music, Painting and Sanskrit. I want to read. I want to write. I want to read a lot. I want to travel the world. No confusion.
Therefore (perhaps), there is spring in my step!
Now I know.
Different people could be driven by different things.
You may take long strides. You may take short strides. You may be walking at a slow/steady pace or you may be marching forward. But only if there is spring in your step, you are driven in life. Most of them are merely standing or staggering or tottering as life passes them by.
Generalizations are difficult to make and more difficult to sell.
But for now, I shall be content with the simple generalization that,.............. "if you know what you want in life and you are walking towards it with a spring in your step, then you are driven".