Monday Musings 211 – Ehtraam Naseer
I recently read an interview of the legendary Naseeruddin Shah as his autobiography hits the market, where he outlines his definition of destiny/luck. What he broadly says is that while he was still studying acting, he realized that he was not really cut out for the mainstream cinema, however he sensed that occasionally there were some movies being made, which indicated that soon a time will come where such cinema will definitely be made aplenty – and when that day would come, he better be ready. So Naseer, the perfectionist that he is, prepared himself all those years, doing odd roles, however relentlessly working, preparing, and chiseling himself for that day when movies of the kind that he wanted would be made. And when that day did arrive, Naseer dazzled on the celluloid, literally dominating the world of parallel cinema. He prepared himself for his destiny.
I find this tale quite inspiring. I find the idea of ‘preparing for ones destiny’ quite powerful and liberating.
Destiny in common parlance is associated either luck – which is happenstance, the grand arch of time which makes you be at the right place at the right time with the right people. The invisible hand of chance is too strong in this postulation and hence quite limiting to my taste. Playing poker has better chances.
The other definition of luck is a preordained path or destination that has already been drafted by someone else and by implication it means we are only playing the role that has already been scripted for us. We will reach where we ought to, the subtext being, irrespective of what I do or don’t. When one throws in the role played by, for the want of a better word, God, then things become murkier. This model takes all power of self selection, self direction and self formation away from the protagonist and binds his movements and his script in the hands of some puppeteer. That puppeteer despite his alleged divinity is not acceptable to my sensibilities, even though I might acknowledge some undefined power that exists.
Naseer Saabs model is beautiful in its simplicity and by giving the power of decision in the hands of the hero; it also is uplifting and energizing. I also draw lessons in the corporate world from Naseer Saabs theory. Do I know what kind of professional, manager or leader will be required in my chosen field a decade from now? Am I at least studying the winds of change if not decisively understanding them, to know where that future might lie? Am I preparing hard enough, long enough, patiently enough in the wait of that day? If destiny is about being prepared, then the whole idea of success and how it is achieved undergoes a change. It moves from the unknown to the known and from the uncontrollable to controllable. What is the proportion of time spent in the pursuit of that preparation versus the time spent in agonizing in the wait of that glory?
The best are those for whom the future does not matter, for they enjoy the present – the second best are those who prepare for the future for they craft it – the worst obviously are the ones who wait for it.
Ehtaraam Naseer Saab!