I have a tendency to over commit. It’s a recent change in my personality, although many would probably accuse me of doing it for most of my life. I’m often seen as the guy that rarely says no, but my recent spate of over commitment is not a result of wishing to please, or trying to earn brownie points. Instead, it seems to be driven by a realisation that life is short.
I know, that must sound weird, but when I mentioned this to someone recently, they looked visibly moved at the realisation of it, which almost visibly moved me. The realisation was a simple one although it suddenly feels as if the true gravity of it only dawned on me when I said it out loud. When I look back on my life it seems like a million things happened in the blink of an eye, yet when I look ahead, I often delude myself into believing that there’s much time remaining. But that’s the obvious part. Taking that moment to reflect on the million things that I’ve done relative to the million things that I would like to achieve, I suddenly realised that having the skills and resources to contribute towards courses that are infinitely larger than my own life almost demands that I make the contribution.
It’s difficult to articulate, but the truth is, I’ve spent the better part of my life daydreaming about how I will be able to influence change on a global scale, but always feeling meek when I realise that I can barely influence it in my own life. That daydream is not so far fetched any longer. The occasional burst of interest by random strangers in thoughts that I share, and then seeing those thoughts shared with their circles, and even paraphrased in their own writing soon thereafter suddenly kindles that flame of hope that perhaps it is possible to influence that change that I wish to see in the world. For once, I’m not limited to the prejudices of the circles that I grew up in. I can, and do, finally engage in a circle of beings well beyond the bigotry of the society that spawned me.
This must sound awfully clichéd but it’s true. I find when I engage with those around me and I share, without restraint or fear of ridicule, my true sentiments on what makes life worth living, or what makes death inviting, I get a very different response when compared with the times that I speak cautiously from fear of ridicule, or worse, dismissal. I’ve also realised that when I gave up the inclination to seek affirmation about what I think or what I do, I found a sense of empowerment within me that dwarfed any fears I previously had of interacting in a social setting. I went from being shy and introverted, to being bold, controversial, and able to address gatherings or strangers about topics I’m passionate about with barely any preparation or support at all.
My old self always nags me to be cautious, and not to over indulge in the support or affirmation that I may receive at times, but a stronger more convincing voice in me denies the right of such doubt to be heard. I’ve stopped hiding behind diplomacy and political correctness, because the very hint of insincerity nauseates me. I’ve been on the receiving end of too many callous tongues that sought to subdue me rather than inspire me, almost always cloaked with the false pretences of wanting to protect or guide me. But the opinions of others holds no sway these days, because I’ve accepted (for some time now) that they just don’t get me, and never did. But I get them. I get them well, because while they were manipulating and soliciting popularity, I watched them closely, observing the doubts and the fears behind the bravado and the bullshit, and now when their opinions don’t matter any longer, I find it easy to use that knowledge of their weaknesses to cut through their defences and disarm them with the sharpest observations that leave them struggling to find their composure.
It felt amazingly empowering at first, but now it just feels normal. The realisation that most people are actors living out someone else’s fantasies and fads makes it easy to see people for what they are. Unfortunately more often than not, they’re not much to behold at all, except the few with substance that is.