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(Originally published on my Medium page)
We all love stories. We are stories. Some tales, we tell. Most others, we just live through, not a word being said.
Is a story just a sequence of events? At least, that’s what it looks like on the surface. But there are perspectives that we miss because we are also the actors in our stories.
Its the spectators and the audience that make an actor, at the end of the day. True, the bedroom mirror might have instilled that spark of inspiration to begin with. It could very well have been that patient spectator to the countless hours of practice that went behind the one five minute grand entree on stage. But a mirror doth not an audience make. Or does it?
I’ve often tried to imagine an exceptionally talented artist who keeps her paintings hidden in the attic all her life. She paints because of an overwhelming force of expression from within her that compels her to. Is her life and work worth naught if her paintings remain hidden forever? What if she was Picasso?
How does she even sustain herself in the first place if her work does not fulfill her basic human needs? Will she be doing her creativity due justice if she spends her days toiling at some trade that feeds and clothes her but leaves very little time for her to spend on what she is prodigious at?
I know there are a lot of people who believe they are not special. What if it’s just that they never had an opportunity to discover themselves?
Is it a rule of thumb that most mortals must remain stuck forever in the lower rungs of Maslow’s need pyramid? That only the ambitious few and the lucky few can ever reach the upper echelons? Will this equation change over time? Is this what progress is meant to deliver, someday?
If we were completely self contained and infinitely self sustaining beings, things might have been different. But the truth is that we are not. We actually live off each other. We need each other. I guess that’s why incarceration and isolation are the most common punishments the world over.
Commerce is a codification of that need. In its most pristine form, the need was to merely barter. People evolved. Communities grew. Needs evolved. Methods evolved to scale with the needs. At some point in this story, profit came into being.
And then, profit became the sole driver. Things moved on from fulfilling something that was needed, to amassing something which was wanted. Sure, there still are communities that frown upon profit in ‘cash’, but then they too end up with other gains which may not be codified in cash, but as some other phenomenon. Most stories today therefore tend to be designed for profit.
What do all these do to our stories? The new world coda requires you to tell your stories in the way it wants to hear it, not the way you want to say it. You need to know your audience before you pen your lyrics and give it a tune and a rhythm. You need to fine tune your pitch for the investor. Ensure you’re a part of a mega-trend. For all you know, you could be making the best pizza the world has ever known, but sorry mate, it’s pasta season and everything else is passe. Because, that’s the only way to profit from it. Scratch that. Many a times that’s the key to survival.
All stories take time and effort. Both of which are extremely limited resources at our disposal. Most choices that we are offered are therefore biased decisions to be taken under such a duress.
Fulfillment is the rare phenomenon that happens when the story you want to tell is the one they want to listen to.
So, as far as I can read, life gives these options- You make your story, but then spend time to find an audience that loves it. Or you keep penning your stories till there’s one that strikes the right chord. Or you simply tailor your tales to suit them in the first place.
The attempt here was not to judge the way of the world but to reflect on and acknowledge one of the perspectives on it.
But then, what happens to our stories, if the tales we tell are always the ones they want to hear and not the ones we’d been yearning to tell? Will that still be your story? Or is it their story, merely being scripted and delivered through you? Will this lead at some point, in all tales sounding pretty much like each other? Like many a *wood movie lame? Or is it that a story always has you the story teller and me the audience and that makes it our story? And that every listener imbibes within her, atleast a small part of every story she hears, that resonates within her?
I don’t know for sure, but I’d like to think so.
Meanwhile, what’s the kinda story that you’d like to tell? I’d love to hear! I hope you’ve found something, by being a part of my story by reading thus far.