Thursday, 4 January 2018

Not wilful but strong-willed


The first few days of the year are always so surreal. The four numbers seem so foreign, like a distant vision of the future. And yet, it is the present.

A year ago, just before 2016 came to a close, I wrote a letter to myself a year from then. As I read it today, it occured to me just how well I know myself. I knew that in spite of rallying myself again and again to go further and beyond my potential, I would still fall back to my default way of life. That is how my life has been in the past 23 years: oscillating between wanting to prove myself to be better than I really am and being comfortable with the status quo.

As with most people, I looked back at the past year with a tinge of regret, knowing that I could and should have lived it to the fullest but I didn't. Of course, there were significant milestones and achievements that are worth celebrating, rejoicing and recalling with pride. But at this moment in time, despite being placed in an environment of unceasing opportunities, I find myself merely floating. Unlike my logic-driven friends who are able to consistently go to bed at 12a.m. at night and get up at 8a.m. in the morning, I am someone who is driven by my natural impulse. I sleep when my bed calls out to me and I get up when I think I've gotten my due hours of rest (which typically include almost an hour of rolling in bed in the morning). Like every personality trait, there are pros and cons. A feelings-driven person like myself would spread his/her wings and soar when it comes to things that he/she is highly motivated to achieve. But at the same thing, without something that excites him/her, he/she would simply float along and live day by day feeling (almost) completely satisfied and comfortable achieving barely anything.

This is how a typical day at home looks like for (an unmotivated) me, when I'm not at college. I would get up when the sun is hanging high up in the sky. I would take my own sweet time to make breakfast lunch and then do my quiet time. And the rest of the day would be a random blur of coursework and tv series, before hitting the sack when my eyelids start getting heavier than I can bear. (Mind you, being feelings-driven does not mean I'm lazy. I get my coursework done but that's about it.)

To be honest, a typical day for a motivated me looks pretty much the same. In fact, it probably applies to most students. But there is something different. I feel different- ideas blossom in my head at random parts of the day, keeping me awake at night and giving me something to look forward to the next morning. There is this unquenchable fire within me that invariably manifests itself in every area of my life: my relationships with others, my conversations, my writing, my work, and my worship. It is no longer mere satisfaction and comfort. It is passion, zeal, and immense joy that I experience.

While this is fantastic, I've come to see that waiting for that moment of awakening is a tremendously unhealthy way of living my life. Those are times when the best of me is put on display for the world to see but those are also times that rarely come by. Out of ten essays that I write, probably only one would ignite that enthusiasm within me. Out of the multitude of things that I encounter each day, week, or even month, probably only one would inspire me to write. And when I return to work in seven months, I'm pretty sure that not every day would remind me of why I chose the job. I guess that's just how life is. If every day is a special day, there would be no special days at all.

I recently read that,

'the strong-willed one is not the wilful one. A wilful child wants only his own way. His will has never been exercised against himself. The strong-willed person wills against himself, chooses that which he does not naturally choose, refuses that which he would naturally choose.'

I guess that is my answer to how I should seek to live out 2018. I don't have any specific resolutions for the new year but I know that what I want to do this year is to make my dull days meaningful (not necessarily exciting, but meaningful). I don't want to waste these precious opportunities just because I am not in the groove. To do that, I have to exchange my wilfulness for a strong will; a will to make the most of even the dullest of days. To not give in to my natural impulse of seeking comfort and mere satisfaction in doing 'what I feel like doing today.' To stop dancing back and forth in a salsa of excitement and monotony.

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