It was more than a decade back. The Navratri celebrations in our society had Garba competitions. (I’ve talked about Navratri and my love for dancing here. For the new readers, Navratri is a nine-nights long dance festival. Garba is the dance form). It was announced that the dancer who dances continuously the entire night (excluding official breaks) will win.
I was nine, passionate and a fairly good Garba dancer. I held a wish in my heart. I wanted to win. Working up the will, I danced tirelessly. I did not stop when there was barely space enough to dance. I did not stop when the crowd lessened. I did not stop when my body started aching. I danced the entire night.
It was time for the prize ceremony. I was feeling elated. I had danced more than ever before. I had had more fun dancing than ever before even though I was tired. I was proud of myself. I had achieved something that I hadn’t thought myself capable of.
I did not get the prize. It went to the organizer’s daughter. At the risk of sounding, well, childish, I should mention that she did not dance for even one complete hour. I don’t have an accurate or objective memory of her dancing skills.
It was the first time I learnt that the world isn’t fair. You may not always sow what you reap. You may not always get the fruits of your hard work. You may not get any acknowledgement or appreciation for giving your whole, undivided devotion to something. I was too idealistic. The realization broke my heart.
Over the years, I’ve mainly had good experiences in this matter; most of my efforts have been rewarded. But then, there have also been a few experiences where I’ve felt wronged, resentful, betrayed. Experiences, where the child in me wants to cry out, Unfair! and fold her arms in indignation, frowning, and going all Calvin.
I identify myself with the work that I do. I gain satisfaction from a job well done. Anything less than perfect eats at me, though I’ve been working on not letting it affect me. The point is, I pride myself on working wholeheartedly. When that work is not appreciated, it hurts me. And there is not a lot that really hurts me. I suppose it is not healthy to depend on rewards for satisfaction. And don’t get me wrong; it is not the materialistic rewards that I seek; merely recognition for my efforts.
It is an age-old adage that one shouldn’t work for the fruits, just the satisfaction. And that Karma takes care of everything. Eventually everything works out for the best. I would be lying if I said that I do not believe in it. There is some part of me that is still idealistic, that still believes that rewards will come, albeit not in the form that I expected. But then, there’s this other part of me, a somewhat pessimistic part. A part that has been asking these questions lately:
Is it enough to get returns in another form?
The balance may turn out to be all right at the end of the balance sheet but is life mathematics, with each wish, each reward having an equal value? Aren’t some dreams and efforts worth more?
And at the end, when we feel satisfied at least with ourselves, is that satisfaction real or merely a consolation that we fool our hearts with?
These are some questions that I’ve been grappling with, especially the last one.
This is my answer to it:
I shall continue to put in my best efforts in whatever I do. I do not know any other way to work. The satisfaction of it, consolation or not, is very real to me. But at the same time, it is important to be worldly wise too. It is important to know where to draw the line between working tirelessly and getting taken advantage of.
I still do not know all answers. I still want to learn.
What has been your experience?