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22 February 2020

When tomatos want to be melons

A writer at heart and an avid reader , Anila Ishaque is a medical student, based in Lahore.

I came across this article ”the unholy trinity” by Zaighum  Abbas. The writer aptly describes the psychic  behavior of our society which has become more of a social norm. Anyone opting out of the so-called standard professions is considered unsuccessful.  For this sole reason the northern part of the country has failed to produce  arty-crafty people , intellectuals or for that matter any nationally acclaimed poets, musicians or singers. Considering  the perks of being born in a nature studded regions -- whose  scenic beauty is more or less preserved in its natural form-- the failure to produce any mind-blowing  poetry or prose is alarming.  

I want to present here an entirely different aspect of  the issue,more of a literary one, in the hope that it might help change the prevailing trends of how we look at success.  Please allow me a moment to present here a crux of one of my favorite theories, put forward by the spiritual writer Paulo Coelho:

“Personal legend is your mission on the earth bestowed on you by God, your reason of living, your duty on the face of earth . The way by which you feed the soul of the earth ,maintain the fragile web that is there surrounding people of the world  in it, construct. Everyone has got his own role,his own duty to maintain it and  to make it beautiful and worth it. If you  are following your personal legend you are truly living ,you are alive because you  enjoy your work . You know that you are delivering your best , as a result you are never tired or frustrated because your task will never fail you.”

It’s an irony that people fail to understand their personal legend . You know it is there and as child you know it very well.  With the passage of time, however, you start losing track of it. Your ambition and passion gets lost in the materialistic world out there -- primarily under the chants of doctor or an engineer. The struggle to pursue your personal legend fades into the struggle of following the wishes of your parents or grandparents.

Very few people have the courage and the valor to follow their personal legends.

A candy maker smiling at you at the start of the day as you buy muffins and cupcakes looks so calm because that’s what his personal legend is.

A worker bearing heavy load at the construction site , bows before  his creator five times a day ,never forgets to thank Him because he knows he is living his dream , a dream only few have the courage to follow.

Paulo Coelho in his book “ like the flowing river” narrates a story : a pianist was standing at the center of the mall in a far off country. The mall was full of people but he knew they have not come to listen to him or appreciate him. He was playing this instrument with all the love and care , his eyes fixed on same far off place from where the music was coming. He was not there , he was talking to God through his work and   that was all that mattered. He had an audience of two people but that doesn’t matter either because he plays the  piano because he has to and that’s the end of it.

The tragedy of human race is our reluctance to accept what we are and what our personal legends are. We are more than willing to jump into others shoes. The whole population going gaga over doctor and engineer deprives us of some excellent writers, skilled craftsmen, sweet makers -- thus disturbing the delicate chain around us and resulting in a frustrated and chaotic society .

In the words of Mistuo Aida, a renowned poet and a calligrapher:

“Because it has lived its life intensely

the parched grass still attracts the gaze of passers-by.

The flowers merely flower,

and they do this as well as they can.

The white lily, blooming unseen in the valley,

Does not need to explain itself to anyone;

It lives merely for beauty.

Man, however, cannot accept that 'merely'.
If tomatoes wanted to be melons,

they would look completely ridiculous.

I am always amazed that so many people are concerned

with wanting to be what they are not;

what's the point of making yourself look ridiculous? ”