The Crossroads

As I read my previous post again, I think back on the various unusual people I met…in the same 60  days.

A close friend’s husband, Brian, who is also a practicing architect and a piano virtuoso, has played this grand instrument since he was 5. He came over one afternoon, filled my room with a variety of  emotions and melodies, left me spell bound and only one thought. Parul, to play the piano well I practice for a minimum of an hour a day. I must do the same.

Hyun Joon (my swimming friend) reiterated a similar commitment. Parul, you have worked so hard on your swimming for that last 2 months, you possibly cannot stop once your running picks up. You will forget the finer points of your stroke. Yes, I agree. Hence, I must continue.

I meet a writer friend who patiently explains, that to excel at anything one needs to put in 10,000 hours. What am I doing to better my writing? Like I’m working on everything else… Good question. Nothing much. Life has a way of passing me by, right from under my nose! (the TV magically turns on after dinner and soothes me to sleep!) But I will break out of it. I must write. Everyday. At a designated time.

And running, well, running has now been ingrained into my being and despite whatever else I may add to my life, running will always remain. In some form or the other. As an integral part. Right now, I am in the speed mode, looking to better my pace, in each race. Thus strength training and tempo running is my staple diet. I must kill myself on the track.

Hard work, endurance and commitment is what we need to convert a hobby into a passion, into a skill. Else, it will remain superficial.

What defines us are our passions. Yes, we have careers, relationships and titles. Several. And we should fulfill them with complete honesty and dedication. But what drives us, what we long to do, what we dream of while we work, what we read about on Facebook during meetings, things we will remember in our twilight years, are those, which we must do.

Should is how other people want us to live our lives. It’s all of the expectations that others layer upon us.

When we choose Should, we’re choosing to live our life for someone or something other than ourselves. The journey to Should can be smooth, the rewards can seem clear, and the options are often plentiful.

Must is different. Must is who we are, what we believe, and what we do when we are alone with our truest, most authentic self. It’s that which calls to us most deeply. It’s our convictions, our passions, our deepest held urges and desires – unavoidable, undeniable, and inexplicable. Unlike Should, Must does not accept compromises.

Must is when we stop conforming to other people’s ideals and start connecting to our own – and this allows us to cultivate our full potential as individuals. To choose Must is to say yes to hard work and constant effort, to say yes to a journey without a road map or guarantees, and in so doing, to say yes to what Joseph Campbell called “the experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonance within our innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.”

Choosing Must is the greatest thing we can do with our lives.

images“Does what goes on inside show on the outside?,” young Vincent van Gogh despaired, in a moving letter to his brother, while floundering to find his purpose.”Someone has a great fire in his soul and nobody ever comes to warm themselves at it, and passers-by see nothing but a little smoke at the top of the chimney.” A century later, Joseph Campbell wrote, every day, countless hearths and hearts grow ashen in cubicles around the world as we succumb to the all too human tendency toward choosing what we should be doing in order to make a living over what we must do in order to feel alive.







6 thoughts on “The Crossroads

  • Loved it.. Thoughts come and go but what you have written is going to stay forever. Beautifully explained !! There is one more word for all your writings I.e. ‘mast’ (Read in Hindi).

  • So thoughtful!!! Now I “must”read all your previous articles and waite for the upcoming ones.

  • Simply profound !!
    Touched me at various levels and resonated deeply.
    You are a no ordinary writer. But to merely describe your writing as beautiful is to describe the chimney smoke and miss out on the deep fire inside you that reflects and contemplates on the very purpose of life and examines the journey in all its hues and shades.
    To me you are more than a skilled writer, you are a most wonderful human being !! I want to know you more and more. Understand how your brilliant mind works and how your loving heart beats.
    So it is not that I should but it is a must that I meet you soon !!!
    Accept my sincere gratitude for such a fine piece of writing !!
    Take a bow and keep writing.

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