Mar 21, 2013

Chasing an outlandish dream


There's one last hoop in my hand. The stationary fixed rod stands a couple of metres away. I have landed the previous three hoops right onto it and know I can do it again. In front of me are two marks in chalk, the number '10' at my feet and '5' a few paces ahead. Behind me, the next two numbers in the sequence are marked in white as well on the floor. I am 14 years old. It is a character development program for students organised at a rotary club. You score points (based on the mark you stand on) for each successful attempt to land the hoop. Five attempts. I have 30 points from four attempts. One more from this familiar spot and I am assured of second place with 40 points. The present leader has 45 points, I know. 

Part of the process was to make your own decisions and to this day I don't regret my choice. I take two steps back onto the '20' line. I spend a few extra seconds sizing up the new distance between me and the vertical rod and toss the final hoop in the air. I watched it swirl in the air as it heads towards it's destination.


“You are never given a wish without also being given the power to make it true. 
You may have to work for it however.” 
― Richard Bach, Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah






I have always been a dreamer. By nature, I am an introvert and pacifist, but against the expected norm, that never stopped me from chasing the impossible. To have a goal in life is normal for us all. But it is the outlandish goal that I speak of here. The one which is surely out of reach... the one in a million shot. I speak of it today because I have one such outlandish dream. 

By logic, I have no right to even hope for it. The odds against me succeeding are not even worth mentioning. I neither know the path to my dream, nor can I be certain that the dream won't die at any given instant. If you knew what I was up against and the obstacles that stood before me, depending on our relationship, you would either openly mock me or you would try to let me down gently, knowing fully well that I have no right to succeed.

And yet, I find that I must try. Because it means that much to me, I have realized. I must strive for a goal which will take a minimum period of a year, if not two or more. I need to risk something I hold very dear with no guarantee that I will win in the end. I must risk the heartbreak of a really painful loss at the end of it all just for the faint possibility of success which would be life-altering. 

Have I any experience in jumping off a cliff on a blind leap of faith? Plenty, my own history would conclude. I know I have attempted the ridiculous/ the insane/ the impossible on many an occasion. I have reached for the stars and fallen before, scraping a knee or two. I have reached for the stars and even caught a few only to be burned by them and left permanently scarred. But you know what? I have also reached for the stars and caught a few which have brightened my life forever. 

I was a guy who spent his twenties living inside either a medical college hostel or a hospital itself. I would enter the operation theatre as the sun rose and watch it set as I left, missing it altogether on more occasions that not. I have slept in operation theatres, pre operative beds and post operative beds as I waited for patients at all hours that a clock can conjure up and worked 42 hours shifts with 6 hours of broken sleep before the next shift for more than a year. I didn't even have time to see the city I lived in during those days... yet somewhere the childhood dream to write and have it found worthy of publication endured. Sitting inside an operation theatre for 16 hours as I watched surgeons fix ruptured intestines, gynaceologists deliver precious babies and neurosurgeons remove deadly tumours, I didn't have the right to dream of sitting down after work and typing out prose when I should have been sleeping, let alone hope that people would like it or say it was anything more than garbage.  
And against all logic, that dream came true and I got published finally in 2011. And 2012. And now in 2013And no one can take that sense of satisfaction away from me.

Now the dream is different. It is more unlikely, more impossible. There are no backers, supporters or cheerleaders to egg me on. Just me. And I honestly don't know if that will be enough. There are external circumstances beyond my control that could stop the dream abruptly at any moment, right now or even a year from now. I am aware of it but I can't allow myself to focus on that part. I want to pray for a little help and luck but whenever I have asked for help for myself, the big guy upstairs has redirected my prayers to his spam box, we all know. Yet, he listens. I know he does. He has always listened when I have prayed for others, I know. Through giving friends strength to grieve when they lost their parents or children, through faceless patients who cried for their misfortune and just wanted their bodies healed, through broken hearts and tear stained pillows of friends, he has heard my prayers for helping people survive and find silver linings.

If the dream comes true, maybe 13 months or more from now, I will share the hidden pieces of this puzzle with you all. If not, like many moments of my life, it will remain consigned to a diary of tears I keep hidden within myself. 

Did I win all those years ago with my final throw ? 
The question I want to ask is, does it matter ? It was a test of character and personality. I know where the final hoop landed. I know the lesson it taught me. Today, decades later, I am back in that room again. I am still that same little boy with a final hoop in his hand and a target that is again farther away than any he has dared dream of before. 
And once more, I say a silent prayer... only it isn't for my happiness now. Praying for myself has been my mistake before. This time the prayer is different - it is for what matters the most to me. It is for the goodwill of the goal at the end. My being there at the end is my dream but the happiness and smiles for the goal... that is my victory. 

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't 
do than by the ones you did do. 
So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. 
Explore. Dream. Discover."
- Mark Twain.