Why does the idea of flight excite us humans so much? We are well aware that our physical bodies are incapable of flying like birds. Yet flying is a recurrent event in our dreams; we feel like we are “flying” when we are giddy with elation. The beauty of the human mind is in its ability to dream despite its logical reasoning of what is possible. Perhaps this attitude of the human mind (to not take no for an answer) is what has led to the almost magical reality we live in today, filled with phenomenal technological advancements.
The mental image that gets conjured at the thought of flying is often associated with freedom — breaking free of the shackles that keep us bound to the unpleasant aspects of our life. We do try to find ways to achieve this sense of lightness by involving in activities that are aligned with our passion. But most of the time we fall prey to the pressing requirements of familial and professional commitments and forget to recharge our metaphorical batteries.
One of the strongest birds, and one that can scale heights up to 10,000 feet, is the eagle. The eagle has one of the longest life spans among birds — it can live up to 70 years. However, it goes through a certain mid-life crisis (quite similar to its human counterparts) when it is around 40. Its sharp beak tends to bend, and its thick feathers weigh it down, making it hard to hunt and fly.
At this phase, the eagle has two choices. One is to die. And the other is to go into reclusion, usually to a mountainous region, and painfully break its beak.
When a new beak has grown, it has to further peck its thick feathers out, so that new ones can grow. It is now that it flies higher than ever, and lives on for 30 more years!
When the pandemic resulted in a huge loss of opportunities for those involved in the arts such as freelancers and independent professionals, many created their own YouTube channels, to make the best out of the situation. This has even inspired some homemakers to share their cooking recipes, cosmetic tips, and even bedtime stories for children! An aunt of mine who was a music teacher at a school now has a fledgling channel that not only serves as a showcase of her prowess in music but also a compendium of her students’ talents.
A yoga teacher by profession, my mother too faced a slump in business due to the lockdown. By leveraging the power of social media, blogging, and video conferencing platforms, she now boasts of an online presence and has launched a series of online classes. This transition from purely offline to online mode of business deserves special mention because she was initially very wary of using technology. She would always want others to operate the computer for her and get worked up whenever she had to use a new app. She now plays around with LAN and HDMI cables every day, and handles a laptop without her usual hesitation! Having seen her fumble with devices for the past 2 decades, it is heartening to realize that anyone can learn anything if they truly put their mind to it.
On the other hand, I learnt the basics of video editing and poster designing to promote her videos, and also dabbled in cooking new cuisines and different forms of workouts such as pilates and Zumba. After all, when life gives you lemons, you can always make a refreshing glass of lemonade, add some into your face mask, and save the rest for an aromatic bowl of Paneer Makhanwala!
What I would like to highlight, is the power of reinvention — of pushing ourselves to go beyond our comfort zone. This is how we can truly free ourselves from the cages we build around ourselves through our biased notions, perceptions, and reservations. This is especially much needed in today’s world, which is undergoing sea changes.
There has been a lot of buzz around inclusion & diversity this year, fueled by the social unrest due to the unfair treatment of minorities in some parts of the world. Even the word “unfair” is a biased one. Referring to “unattractiveness”, it equates “not being fair” to “not being attractive”. Some technical terms that we take for granted, such as blacklisting/whitelisting and master/slave also unconsciously reinforce biases. The time has come to recognize and weed out even the slightest prejudices we have.
A rocket can take off and reach the sky only when it ejects out a huge mass of gases that will eventually propel it upward. In our lives, we are engrossed in the numerous things that grapple for our attention, that we fail to focus on what’s really essential to us.
Let us take a step back to identify what is truly important, eject from our minds the unnecessary mass of thoughts that plague us, pluck out the feathers that burden us, and soar high!
“The only person between who you are, and who you want to be, is you.”
This article first appeared in the Qonverse Newsletter.