Among 8,000 global professionals surveyed by LinkedIn, only 30% were found to be doing their dream job. That is a terrible statistic. That’s almost three out of four people not getting to do something they had desired to do. So, what should they do then? Live life in frustration and anger and be complacent about it? Absolutely NOT.
Despite doing whatever they might have chosen to do (perhaps under duress), they can still live their passion.
You all would have heard people saying a number of times, “Guys, you have to follow your passion…” But how do you do that? How do you know what you are passionate about? The first thing about passion is shiddat—intensity.
I’ve borrowed the word shiddat from Minakshi, a friend of mine. I wasn’t finding publishers for my second book, which was not, in fact, a sequel to The Ekkos Clan. I gave up and started writing the sequel, as the publishers wanted one.
Hearing that I’d given up on it, Minakshi smiled. “You’ll never get a publisher,” she said firmly. “That’s quite rude,” I reacted.
“No, it’s not rude,” she asserted. “It’s the reality. Unless you think it will happen, it will never happen. Remember that dialogue from Om Shanti Om? ‘Itni shiddat se maine tumhe paane ki koshish ki hai … ki har zarre ne mujhe tumse milane ki saazish ki hai’.”
That’s the first thing about passion. If you want to do something, believe in it so strongly, so intensely, that you will transfer the energy within you to each and every particle of the universe; and the whole universe will conspire to make it happen for you.
When you have that shiddat, you have a passion.
What’s next? It’s dard, pain. Again, Bollywood teaches us many a thing in unassuming ways. Do you remember that canteen-wala from Rockstar who told a very important thing to Ranbir Kapoor? In very simple words he taught perhaps the most important lesson about passion: “It’s the pang of separation that spreads throughout the world, and gives birth to shapes innumerable in the infinite sky.” What is this pain of separation I’m talking about here? It’s the pain we all face due to the lack of fulfillment of our dreams.
These lines are from Gitanjali, written by Tagore.
Pain is the force behind all creativity, any act of passion.
Newton, towards the end of his life, would sit in front of the sea and lament that he was just like a kid, playing with pebbles, while the vast ocean of truth was lying in front of him, unknown to him. His lack of fulfillment stayed with him till he died.
Tagore, towards the end of his life, would feel insecure that people might not remember him after his death. He would ponder if his tanpura would lay at the corner, collecting dust. A feeling of being unfulfilled would haunt him, always.
Before I talk about something totally different, let me tell you what Ghalib had to say about passion:
fursat-ekar-o-bar-e shauq kise, zauq-e nazzarah-e jamal kahan
dil to dil who dimag bhi na raha, shor-e sauda-e khatt-o-khal kahan
thi who ik shakhs ke tasabbur se, ab woh ranai-e khayal kahan
Leisure for the workings of passion, who has it? An appreciation for the glance of beauty, where is it? Not to speak of the heart, even that mind didn’t last, the tumult of the madness of a mole, where is it? Was in the imagination of someone, but now, that gracefulness of thought, where is it?
If you really have to do things of passion, you’ve to do it leisurely. You’ve to have lot of fursat. You’ve to have all the time to appreciate the small mole on the face of your beloved, be in the imagination of your beloved, and remain engrossed in her thoughts. If you’re passionate about something, you would have all the fursat to be in the fantasies of it, however small or insignificant it may be to others.
The next thing about passion is chingari, the spark. Talking about it, I remember a story. I call it Kutte ki Maut, The Death of the Dog.
One day I was driving on the Outer Ring Road in Bangalore. My friend Pankaj was with me. I was driving easily, rather leisurely, talking to Pankaj, enjoying his humour. Suddenly a speeding car hit a dog and we saw the dog die in front of us. I took the car to the side of the road and stopped. A few cars had to take a little detour to avoid further crushing the dying dog. The lump of flesh stopped writhing. That was the first time I’d seen a dog dying in front of me. I was aghast. I was shocked, despite not having any special love for dogs.
“Paaji,” I reacted, “aaje kutte ki maut dekha, pehli bar…”
Pankaj was silent.
“What?” I asked. “Mere dost,” he said in his characteristic style, with all his intonations, “we all will die one day, like that, like a dog…”
I was perhaps more aghast than I had been just a few moments earlier. “What are you saying?” I’d ignited the engine of the car and pressed the gas pedal.
“Just think about it…Will it be different when we die one day? Like the few cars stopped by for a moment, few people may stop by our dead bodies for some time, but then all will move on, even our families. Like the dog who will leave no sign of its existence, we will also get lost… unless we leave behind a mark…”
This set my mind into motion, and I came back home and finally decided that I would start writing the novel I had been thinking about for such a long time. That was my spark, my chingari, which ignited the fire of passion in me. Finally, you need some discipline to connect the dots. Passion can manifest itself in numerous ways. You may want to do many things. But you need to sit back, do some homework, be methodical, prioritise things, make a solid plan, and implement it in a way so as to channelise your passion in the right direction, towards an outcome.