Never Give In was our motto at school, goading us to strive for what we aimed at till the very last vestige of strength and belief in ourselves. And while in school, we interpreted this largely in reference to our gruelling physical exercises, as we struggled to go just one measure farther than our tired limbs were capable of carrying us.
Life, however, has proven over the last many years that the adage is equally true for other domains too. Studies, career, relationships-no matter what the issue at hand, the one thing that will see you through is you yourself. And once this conviction is ingrained into you, it becomes evident that the true joy of life is to be used for a purpose recognised by yourself as a mighty one; to be thoroughly worn out before you are thrown on the scrap heap; to be a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances, complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.
And such firm conviction stems from belief. Belief in ourselves, the purity of our intentions and the magnificence of our goals. All too often, people find themselves in doubt and, like the deer who goes mad looking for the musk, turn to the world to seek answers, not knowing that the answers they so desperately seek are within their own selves. The result is self-doubt, gradually descending into self-pity and finally a complete resignation to the uncaring flow of life.
But this is not how it should be. A ship in harbour may be safe, but that is not what ships are built for. The true joy is in being able to take the bull by its horns and striving to make for ourselves just the future that we want. Sure, it will be susceptible to failure but atleast the journey will be a memorable one. And should we succeed, paradise would need no definition.
An anecdote I remember in this regard is of Lord Curzon visiting the Lucknow Residency to see the spot where his hero, Sir Henry Lawrence, had laid down his life in the Mutiny of 1857. The Viceroy was led to a room where a plaque marked the exact spot where Lawrence was said to have breathed his last. Curzon, however, far from being pleased, left the room with a frown. He then summoned the custodian and asked for the layout plans of the Residency. After studying them for a while, he announced that the plaque had been placed in the wrong room for Lawrence, as best as Curzon’s memory served him, had lost his life in an altogether different wing of the building. Not wanting to bandy words with the Viceroy, the entourage meekly agreed with him. This lack of resistance further annoyed Curzon for he perceived it as an insult to his intelligence and a servile acknowledgement of his office. The matter was dropped right there but years later, when his Viceroyalty had ended and he was back in Britain, Curzon dug into the archives of the Mutiny, went through tomes of reference material and single-handedly prepared a detailed dossier detailing the exact spot of Henry Lawrence’s death. The dossier was scrutinized by the India Office, who concluded that Curzon was, as always, correct. Shortly thereafter, the plaque at Lucknow was relocated to the location Curzon had identified, where it remains to this day!
“But a man’s reach should exceed his grasp,
Or what’s a Heaven for?”