Marks, and paths Ahead

Result season. Result week. Result day! Doom and Hope, you swing wildly between the two, finally learning what the word amplitude really means. They arrive – and you take it on the chin. Except for the toppers, who had better be whooping with delight, the rest of us tend to be hard on ourselves.

Of course we know that marks are just a means, they are not life itself. We know that good marks can take us places we want to go, and poor marks can take us to different places. So we assume that the known pathways are good and safe, and we celebrate. And the unknown are difficult, and dangerous and awful – they say – so we worry. But are they really?

For some of us, these marks make our lives, for others, life makes up for marks.

So here is how I’m going to flip it today.

Basically, they say, you have two paths, the safe, well known, well lit road that everyone has already traveled. And this will let you zip past the tough terrain on the side of the road and get you to flashy places sooner rather than later.

Right by its side is the open countryside – and the terrain is a bit rocky, often smooth – and along this you have paths, and then you have other possibilities. This too is a way to get on, and along this journey you may encounter some adventures. Meet different types of people. Learn to take your own decisions because you may not have someone always telling you what to do (not such a bad thing, is it?). You will discover your strengths and your advantages – and will learn to pursue them to survive this path. You will have fun, and pain. You will live the full range of your emotions and will become the person you build.

When you look at your friends on the fast road, some might look as if they have zipped ahead. If they are your real friends, it won’t ever – ever – matter as you stop to share a meal or a story. When you look at your lot, it might look different. For some, faster, as you learnt to fly, or found a bird to cling to, for some it would have been slower. Some would have found hidden treasure along the way, some would have built a fort. Some would have continued to trod ahead, looking for more. Some would have learnt to walk better, some would have mastered the milestones. You are still mid journey, so it may not be time to judge yet. You are still building yourself, and your path – and thence your destination and destiny.

Some of you would have zipped along on the well laid path. And done well for yourselves. Reached a destination, made something of yourselves – as the world sees it. Some of you would have had the time to stop and see the stars, but many of you would have missed many chances to be yourself and to be with those you love. It is a part of the fast track, it is hard work. As hard, or harder than the other path. It brings its own securities and insecurities, its own challenges.

And then, you and your friends may find yourself looking across from one path to the other, wondering, whose grass is greener?

Some of us wonder if the fast track was where we were meant to be, and the rest of us wonder whether we missed out on the deep and delicious pathways of discovery.

Some of you will cross over, others will have found their comfort. Both paths can lead to success, both paths have comfortable hidey holes. On either path you will find those who stumbled, and some who crashed. On both paths you will find those who fell, and fell again, and picked themselves up again. And again. Either path can leave you lost and bewildered. Either path can push you forward, and onward.

One day you will realise that the paths are merely the means. They are choices and chances you got, and took. Or left. Ultimately, your journey is your own – the journey through yourself, when you learn what makes you happy, and what makes you cry; what angers you and what makes you reach out from within yourself to share; what makes you feel your own music. And to get there, the fast track or the slow, the well laid path or the one barely marked, the led or the discovered – whichever path you take, you get to yourself through equal parts of pain and joy.

You, who hold ‘results’ today think you are holding keys to paths ahead. Use them well, but know that the paths that you do not choose today, or the paths that did not choose you today still await you. Whatever you do, whatever you become, you will go through heaven and hell on each path, and with the pieces of each success and failure you will build yourself everyday. And you will finally arrive at whatever makes you really happy, because you would have built it for yourself, your way.