“So, that is your problem,” the bearded man seemed to be appreciative of Sakthi.
“Yes, I couldn’t reconcile between my parents’ expectations from me and what I believed I liked or disliked. I couldn’t live up to their dreams. I have disappointed them. They didn't really understand and appreciate my likes and dislikes. I am confused because I love them too. I wouldn’t like to displease them. I have never defied them. I had always tried as much as I can. Still, I failed.” Sakthi cried again.
The bearded man patted and comforted Sakthi. He seemed to be fully appreciative of Sakthi’s dilemma and his confusion.
“Was it my fault?” Sakthi still had doubts about himself.
“It is not a question of whose fault it is. It is a question of your attitude to your life. Your attitude is the most important thing in life.”
“You talk like a preacher,” Sakthi cut him short, bluntly, clearly indicating that he didn’t like to be lectured.
“No, I am a teacher. Rather, I teach history at a college. But, not anymore, right now.”
“You don’t teach anymore?”
“No, I was just fired from the college yesterday.”
“Fired? Why? What happened? Aren’t you angry? You seem quite cool.”
“I don’t wish to deal with it in detail. But I can confess that I couldn’t get along with the management of the college…I didn’t agree to toe their line on a few important issues…They couldn’t bear with me my independence and free thinking…They didn’t want the contagion of free thinking to spread in the college. So, they fired me. ”
“I am sorry to hear that. Didn’t you protest?” Sakthi sincerely appreciated the honest answers from the bearded man.
“No, what is the purpose? As I said, it is all a question of one’s attitude to one’s life and how you look at it.”
Sakthi was slowly getting interested in his conversation with the bearded man and didn’t mind pursuing it with him.
“Why do you say that?” Sakthi asked him.
“I told you I teach History. I love history. It teaches us a lot. In olden days, the societies were fairly simple. People’s social contacts were confined mostly to the immediate neighborhood, close relations, and meetings in common places like temples or churches. Their conduct was largely regulated by their age-old customs, traditions, and practices. As the societies became more and more complex, the need for one’s ability to interact with others became critical to their relationship outside their small world. People’s personality became an important factor.”
“Personality?” Sakthi intervened.
“Yes, Personality. In commerce too, as the traditional, individual enterprises had their slow demise and the corporate establishments came into being, the personality factor assumed a pivotal role in the people’s growth in the corporate ladder. Today, not only one needs to be intelligent and hardworking, but also be socially adjustable and acceptable. One’s personality is a critical factor to succeed these days.”
“It baffles me to know that personality is a critical factor nowadays. Can you tell me about personality?” Sakthi’s interest in the topic grew further.
“Do you understand the term ‘Personality’?” questioned the bearded man.
“Of course, yes. One’s dress, the manner of speaking, physical appearance, wealth, manners, idiosyncrasies etc...like my hero, Sachin Tendulkar…what a personality he is!”
“You are quite smart, brother. But, let me tell you. What you mentioned are all mere symbols only…take for example, you like Sachin for the way he dresses or appears before the camera or the way he speaks on a mike or you like Sachin for the way he plays cricket…?”
“Of course, I like him for his play and the world records he created in the game.” Sakthi was quick to answer.
“Absolutely! You like his personality for what he is made of…right…Personality is all about one’s core self – the central idea about oneself - and the surrounding traits – the response tendencies. There is an ABCD lesson for Personality Development and Success in Life. Your Sachin will fit in perfectly into the ABCD definition of Personality.”
“That is interesting! What does that ABCD stand for?” Sakthi seemed to have let go of his earlier obsession about his own guilt.
“A stands for one’s Attitude to life, B stands for the Beliefs one hold, C for the Choices one makes and D for Determination with which one pursues his or her goals. If you pass in the ABCD test, your success is virtually assured.”
Sakthi’s silence indicated that he was slowly digesting the ideas. A little later, he said, “It is quite revealing to me. I can correlate ABCD of Personality with my Sachin. He looked to every match he played as though he was on a test. He put his heart into the game. He believed in his success. He chose to continue to play even when he was out of form briefly. He was determined to make a success of every match he played. Vow…”
“You are a brilliant student. You have a great grasp and understanding.”
“Can you tell me more about the ABCD of personality?”
The train continued to speed through the darkness of the night. Sakthi didn’t get his sleep and didn’t mind pursuing his conversation with Paramanand, the bearded man.
“Let me start with a story that I had read on the internet long ago.” Thus began Paramanand.
“There was a highly skilled carpenter in Europe. He had worked for a master for many years. One day, he decided that he had worked enough and wanted to retire. He conveyed his intention to retire from work to his master. His master was quite sad that one of his highly skilled and capable workers would be leaving him. He tried to persuade the carpenter to change his mind, but the carpenter was unrelenting.
Finally, the master requested the carpenter to build one last house, as a personal favor. Reluctantly, the carpenter agreed and started his work, but soon lost interest. When the house got finished, it was a shoddy work.
The carpenter went to his master and handed over the keys to the house he had built. He was taken aback, when the master returned the keys back to him, saying “Thank you so much. I intended this house as my personal parting gift to you. So, take these keys.”
The carpenter was terribly sorry to know that the shoddy house he built was meant as a gift from his master to him. He regretted, saying to himself, “Had I known that this house was meant for me, how beautifully I would have built it! What a terrible mistake I made in my life!”
Sakthi was impacted by the story of the carpenter and he asked, “how does this relate to my situation?’
“Most of us treat our life the same way, like the carpenter in the story. Without realizing that our life is a “Do-it-yourself” project meant for “ourselves” alone, we freely gift it – our life, time, money, energy, and our other resources – away to a host of things and people, hoping that it would make us happy. In your situation, it is your life, your future and you must decide what you wish to pursue. Your parents love you so much and do everything for you with the belief that it would make you happy. They mean only good things to you. Yet, it is your life you are leading, not someone else’s. Your life is a gift to you. Only you have to live it. Do not fritter it away.”
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