This is longer and more serious than other things I write about and this took me a while to put down coherently.
Whenever I come across a poem which appeals to me, I commit it to memory. And then, when I’m in one of my spells of staring into nothingness with the teacup in my hand, I like to think about the lines of poems I’ve memorized. It’s something of a relaxation ritual for me.
On his Blindness by John Milton has been with me ever since I read it in 10th grade but lately, I’ve found myself thinking about this particular poem very often.
Back in 10th grade, Milton was the subject. Milton, anguished at his blindness, couldn’t fathom a life without light. How could he do God’s work when God had struck him blind?
But Patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies: “God doth not need
Either man’s work or his own gifts: who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best. His state
Is kingly; thousands at his bidding speed
And post o’er land and ocean without rest:
They also serve who only stand and wait
He reasoned with himself and went on to produce his magnum opus.
Instead of Milton, now I think of myself and everyone I see around me.
Maybe that’s because I’ve been reading about the death of a young banker, one of several, actually. These people who are younger than Milton, even younger than me ,were so overwhelmed with work, that they decided to stop living.
Had they even started yet?
I think about the scores of people in their late twenties and early thirties , who’ve encountered the Quarter-Life Crisis. It is no news that depression, anxiety among youth is on the rise. The disillusionment that cause this comes from Blindness. Blind to possibilities, opportunities and inspiration, we plough on with our lives, losing ‘That One Talent‘ somewhere down the road.
At least Milton seemed to know what his purpose in life was. Even in his darkness, he was seeking a way to fulfil it. Did he also perhaps see death as a welcome relief?
This blindness that’s crippling so many of us today, what is it , if not a product of years of social conditioning , and the burden of a million expectations? People are inherently different, and hence the parameters of success cannot and should not be the same for everyone. As the poem goes, there can be more than one path to self-actualization , and that is perhaps more relevant today than in any other day and age.
Let me start with Home. Even though they have our best interests at heart, sometimes our families push us into doing things which we’re not made for – Blindness. This continues into the workplace where we put in hours and hours for things we don’t feel motivated to do – Blindness. We’re afraid to make a commitment to ourselves, to explore things we like, because by now we can no longer see ourselves clearly – Blindness. And then some of us give up, because they really couldn’t see another way..
I am rambling now, but that’s only because this is something I feel very strongly about. If your child wants to be a painter, let him try to be one! If she wants to write, or help animals, or work with the homeless, let her, not because it’s going to improve her chances of getting into a prestigious college and landing that 6 figure salary and making you look good in your circles, but simply because it might be her chance at fulfilment and happiness. Educate and enlighten them as best as you can. But PLEASE , do not burden them with your hopes and dreams and expectations! Teach them introspection. Teach them to take responsibility for their own choices. Let them make their own mistakes. Let them be human.
We as a society, cannot afford to keep losing precious young people because they couldn’t see past their next obstacle.
[ Header image source: http://advindicate.com/articles/1316 ]