Oct 24, 2007

Vethal’s Corner - 1

A Success Story

Your chances of success are directly proportional to the degree of pleasure you derive from what you do." - Michael Korda

Raj and Suraj were best friends.

Both of them were good students. But Raj excelled in extra curricular activities as well, especially at oratory where he was a natural pro. When it came to academics, Raj studied for pleasure, and was good at what he did, while Suraj worked with a motive, that is, to consistently top the class.

Both of them were adored by their classmates, and teachers, with Suraj claiming a slightly higher share of the teachers’ adulation.
Suraj, however admired Raj for his flair in oratory and secretly yearned to be like him. He accompanied Raj to all his competitions, and was the best under-study that one could hope to be.

So deep was his desire for emulating Raj, that Suraj once told Raj “Your speech today was mind-blowing! Not a single day goes by, without me wishing to be you!”

Raj was taken aback by this statement. “How can one wish to be someone else??? You are your own absolute. Don’t ever compare yourself to others”.

But, Suraj’s longing was insatiable. He continued to follow Raj’s moves like a puppy. This sometimes irked Raj, for he was used to having his space. Suraj obviously was blind to his friend’s discomfort. He stuck to Raj during the day like a leech, and burned the midnight oil, trying to repeat the day’s speech in front of the mirror.

It was the Annual inter-school oratorical competition. The school, as usual, had nominated Raj to represent them. Suraj however had enrolled as an independent contestant.

After a fiercely fought contest, the judges declared “It was a close call. Both had very good ideas and counter points. But the subtleties of oratory were flawlessly displayed by Suraj, whom we declare the winner”.

Raj was crest-fallen. He refused to speak to Suraj thereafter. Suraj continued to win laurels. But at the corner of his mind, could never figure out why Raj broke their friendship.
He once overheard Raj saying to someone, “He is a phony. Even Charlie Chaplin didn’t win a look-alike contest of himself. Suraj simply aped me. He lacks the gift. One needs the inner spark to go on forever. The hype and hoopla is bound to die down soon.. All that glitters isn’t gold”.
Although these words hurt Suraj, he couldn’t deny or accept their import completely.

Now, Vikrams of the world, was Suraj a pilferer? Was his claim to genius fraudulent? Isn’t Genius 1 % inspiration and 99% perspiration? What about being blessed with talent, then?

Or as Raj said, would Suraj’s trail of glory peter out? His desire to be like Raj drove Suraj towards his claim to fame, what if that motive force disappears?

Suraj did not have the love or passion for oratory that Raj had, but that didn’t stop him from being a great orator, did it? Is passion for work the key to success, or is it passion for anything that is the key to success?

Suraj could have won the medals and prizes in something that he really loved, was he being superficial in choosing oratory?
By observing Raj and copying him, wasn’t Suraj inventing a “formula” for success?” Like following the trends of exam questions of the past 15 years and scoring 90% without knowing the ABC’s of the subject?

Hasn’t Suraj’s way to victory discouraged Raj who genuinely possessed the talent and love for oratory?


This comes on the wake of Saraswathy Pooja. Saw a documentary on a Malayalam channel (guess it was DD) on the value of real ‘education’. Although, I understood the dialogues only in bits and pieces, the concluding line reached deep. It went like this: “Children, you don’t study for your father, you don’t study for your mother, you don’t study for teacher, nor do you study for your country. Then whom do you study for? Yourself.” (A pathetic literal translation. Please excuse.)


musafir said...

"And what is good, Phaedrus, and what is not good"


PS: Suraj can do as he pleases. If he burns out later, that's his problem. Nothing wrong in burning out or being superficial or chasing someone else's dreams. Raj should stop being such a sissy and learn to live with competition.

PPS: There is only one true philosophical question. Everything else is derivative.

~SuCh~ said...

@musafir :
Yes, that is the intention of the post.. :)

PS: Anyone will do anything he pleases.That is beside the point. Let us assume, Raj is not whining. But does that make Suraj worthy of the praise he recieves?
Is he true to himself? To the "learner, the creater, the innovator" in him? "Nothing wrong in burning out or being superficial or chasing someone else's dreams". It is a cumulation of these wrong things, that cause
one to become disillusioned in the long run. You end up with things which you never needed, or wanted at the cost of things you would love to have, and could have had.
even in the story, if Raj has to win in a contest,Raj obviously doesnt shy away from competition.

PPS: yes, there is only one true question that is the mother of the derivatives. And that remains unanswered.

musafir said...

Ok -

1. Why should anyone be deserving of praise? Why should Raj's definition of deserving match with Suraj's? Suraj just thinks "the best man wins". Raj was not a born orator even if he has some gift for it. Even he had to learn oration, however infinitesimal that learning might have been. Whatever Raj might have learnt from a book or a teacher or from the world, Suraj learnt from Raj. If Suraj is a copy cat, then by the same theory, so is Raj. Doesn't make a difference. If Raj thinks Suraj is undeserving because being an orator is not a "natural" dream for Suraj, Suraj just thinks no dream is original and that we are all inspired in one way or the other and that dreams are all one form of maya or the other. Suraj thinks someone who is capable of achieving a dream that is not his deserves more merit than someone who thinks otherwise.

2. Why should Suraj be true to himself? What difference does it make? Besides, truth is "relative". Suraj's truth is not Raj's truth. Suraj thinks anything goes.

3. Why should one have to be a learner or a creater or an inovator? Why is being a learner or a creator or an innovator "good"? What is wrong in wanting to be a copy cat?

4. What is wrong with disillusionment and depression? Why is happiness and optimism good?

5. What is wrong with ending up with something you don't need? Why should you not have what you need? Who decides what you need is right or good? More importantly how do you know what you need?

Like JM Keynes says, "In the long run, we are all dead". How does anything matter? Even the difference between good and bad, right and wrong?

~SuCh~ said...

Like JM Keynes says, "In the long run, we are all dead".

Yes, if one lives in waiting for the apocalypse.

Hari said...

Passion is what matters. Suraj might have won praises by succesfully emulating Raj, but did he acheive satisfaction out of his success? External praises are different, how we feel about our own success is what ultimately matters. You can acheive great success in a field by applying a particular formula but that can never truly mean you are succesful. For in your heart of hearts you will know that it was not a great job. True joy would flow only when you identify what really you are good at, following it with all your heart, struggling at it and finally emerging out succesfully. I doubt, without passion and only a blind motive one can never acheive this. Your motive might be to become a great director with millions of fans but without the true passion for telling stories one can never acheive this. The difference will always be known to us. In our heart of hearts.

Karthik said...

Do these things happen in real life? Ok leaving that aside, its interesting. Why does Raj have to be depressed about it? I mean if he's good enough cant he counter the other guy? In an ideal world everyone would know what they are good at and do it accordingly. But in the world we live in, everyone scrambles for everything - whether u like it or not. So i dont see why the Suraj fellow should stop what he's doing ? Maybe the Raj fellow is insecure - remember howard roark designed stuff for peter keating and never ever felt bad about it..

BenZ said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
always said...

Passion for anything

d said...


ragav said...

Passion for "something" is different for the passion for "victory". The second one leads to disappointment and discourage when we fail. If Raj is having real passion for oration he should not get affected by someone's victory. He would get pleasure just by his oration or listening to others oration including Suraj's oration on the day of the competition.
Your chances of success are directly proportional to the degree of pleasure you derive from what you do." - Michael Korda

~SuCh~ said...

@ ragav:
let us assume Raj's reaction to be neutral..Still how would that judge Suraj's choices?