Don’t decrease the goal, increase the effort!!

May, 2019

“If you hear a voice within you say you cannot paint, then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced” said the maverick painter Vincent Van Gogh. As we grow older, the negative voice within us seems to grow louder, constantly telling us “Don’t do this. You cannot do this. You will fail. You think you can ? why do you want to take the trouble ? why risk it ? What if………..etc.etc.” As a child, thankfully we don’t hear any inner voice. We are filled with curious questions, amazing ideas, beautiful dreams, inexplicable enthusiasm and a carefree attitude that helps us discover the world around us. More often than not, Education and Experience kill all of this, transforming us into so-called ‘informed responsible adults’ ! Unfortunate I would say, that we grow up losing such precious attributes.

Recently during a vacation to Nainital, a picturesque hill-station in North India, I experienced this ‘adult-attitude’ from most tourists. Most of the grown ups were reluctant to risk exploring the dark Eco-caves where one had to climb up and down rugged rocks and crawl like animals through narrow, dimly lit passages. It was adventurous and fun but only if one dared to enter. Surprisingly there were 3 categories of people eager to get in – children, youth and senior citizens. The middle-aged, able-bodied aunties and uncles were most reluctant. It was fun to watch children hop-skipping on the boulders and pleading with their parents to explore further, while the parents were visibly tired and cautioning the children not to hurt themselves. Most of them were content clicking away pictures and posting it to the world to see that Nainital is ticked as done, in their bucket list. While the carefree youth enjoyed the most, trying to wriggle in and out of every single cave, interestingly senior citizens who were strong enough did the same. Their attitude was ‘Ab nahi tho, kab’ (if not now, then when?) I saw the child in them – curious and carefree without a damn to the world, as if there was no tomorrow.

Similar attitude of most tourists baffled me as I completed the trek to the excellently designed and well-maintained, G B Pant High Altitude Zoo at Nainital, which houses several rare, endangered animals and birds at a height of 2100 mtrs. The climb is steep but worth it. Sadly I found most people sitting at the entrance, staring at the winding roads, asking each of us “Upar kya hai (What is up there?) Is it worth climbing ? Are there enough animals or just a few ? Is the Tiger awake ? Is the Peacock dancing ?” As if the Tiger exists only to pose for their photographs ! As if the Peacock displays its plumage only to entertain them ! I wondered how will they know what is in, without going up ? Seeing so many of them not even attempting to start the journey or giving up half-way, we had to motivate them saying ‘Just Go Up & See. It is worth it’. Here too, the same story played out – children excitedly spotting animals and most of the adults convincing them to turn back instead of reaching the top of the zoo. It was intriguing to watch this spectacle and reflect on the human mind which wants more and more comfort as we grow older. Less and less efforts. The lack of enthusiasm to find, to discover, to see. The fear of falling, the fear of failing. The lack of motivation to appreciate.

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