04 November 2009

The Photo Gallery Test

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There is a vivid memory in my mind, of an incident that happened during the summer vacations of 2004. I was a 7th Grader enjoying his two months of bliss in India, along with a few of my cousins. After a particularly vigourous game of football, the three of us returned home, slightly mudied and thoroughly excited.

The first thing my Aunt said to her son was, "Look at you, all dirty like that! Dont you know it's not the time for you to be playing outside like this? Take a bath and start studying soon. Dont waste your time playing around like this..."

My cousin was in 6th Grade.

What really triggered this post, though, was a comment a friend of mine passed a few days ago. He was watching a few of his classmates enjoy themselves, with just about 15 minutes left for School to begin. With a thoroughly patronising look, he remarked, "What's the use of having so much fun now? If they would just stop enjoying now, and start studying instead..."

I could understand what he meant. After all, instead of enjoying a little bit of spare time, wouldnt it be better if we all made the best use of it?

That's where I stopped to think. What exactly is the best use of time?

And so I thought of the Photo Gallery Test. It's a simple process with a rather fancy name. And it goes something like this.

Imagine you fell asleep one night, and had a crystal clear dream. Remember that dreams are reflections of your thoughts and desires. In this particular dream, you're standing at the beginning of a corridor. From the looks of it, you're in a Museum. And on either side of you, the walls are covered with large, framed images from your life.

These picture frames are snapshots of your life. Snapshots that capture the best, most important, most memorable moments you've ever experienced. So here's the question. If you were to walk down the corridor, what do you think you'd see?

Perhaps you'd see a large frame to your right, showing a bunch of students standing outside a large classroom, with wide, mischievious grins on their faces. One of those students, is you. Remember that day in 8th Grade, when you spent a whole period outside class. You and your friends laughed about it until your stomach ached.

Keep walking and you'll come across another, sepia coloured picture. It was taken last year, just after your Board Exams got over. A couple of your friends managed to dump an entire bottle of water onto your head. Remember how you felt as your clothes got drenched in water?

The corridor will keep extending, and there will be countless other pictures looking out at you. Snapshots of days when you laughed until your eyes filled with tears. Snapshots of days when you yelled with joy.

Here's a proposition that might seem silly, or outright senseless to many of you. Every time you make choices in life, think about the Photo Gallery. Think about what kind of snapshots will hang from the walls, reminding you of what your life has been all about.

Of course, I know it's not a fool proof way of choosing a career, or even deciding how to perform academically in school. If your parents, teachers, tuition sirs, and neighbours havent reminded you already, life is a rat race. Competition is cut throat. We all need to score 90%. And if there are actually people who score 90%, well, they need to score even higher, just to make life more miserable for the rest.

But remember how it all started? It started as a simple system, designed to ensure we all found a way to grow up, take up a job, contribute to society, support a family....and here comes the part that's been practically forgotten...enjoy the pleasures of life.

That doesnt seem to make sense anymore nowadays, does it? No, instead the logic we follow is this: Toil day and night so that you'll top your class. And then you'll top your school. After that, you'll enter college and be a gold medalist. You'll be hired by the best company out there, so that you can work from morning till night, breaking your back to shore up your bank account. You'll climb the ladder, or atleast die trying. You'll leave behind wealth, land, a wonderful house, a sparkling Resume. And you'll have nothing to remember your life by.

Again, I do understand that we cant chase behind butterflies or dance in the rain the whole day.

But sometimes, I get the feeling that life is like a road trip. And many of us, perhaps all of us, get too busy polishing our car and collecting enough toll money....to actually look out the window and enjoy...

After all, that's what a road trip should be all about, right?

[Please do leave your comments, either agreeing or disagreeing with my viewpoint. Discussions can greatly help in such cases....]

P.S.: To Anonymous - I'll need a little more time to write that post on "The Purpose of Life". Until then, hope this will do...

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