Letting Go, Getting High

“So, what’re you going to be when you grow up?”

“Oh, well first I’ll be a pilot and fly like a bird. My plane will crash and then I’ll become a doctor so I can make them all well. I’ll also be a police to fight crime!” replied the whimsical 7-year old.

I smiled back at her, patted her back and my mind calculated twenty or so years when all the pretty dreams will be gone.


Growing up and getting heartbroken is a symbiotic process. One cannot be without the other. I spent my childhood imagining to be Superwoman and save the world, and here I am, years later, only trying save a few breaths from this tiresome life so I’ll have some left to save the world. It’s almost I’ve got my teeth clenched, biting onto that mission and repeatedly telling myself I’ve still got a shot.

Sadly, that seems remarkably unlikely. As I spend sleepless nights trying to make a balance between my dreams and harshness of reality, saving the world is a true impossibility. I try counting the number of times I had to let go one of my beloved phantasms about my future only to submit to the more practical demands of it, and they were countless. Like I mentioned, getting heartbroken is a way of life.

I’m sorry. Am I boring you to death with a truckload of immature pondering? Pardon me, I just got my dreams taken away. I’m allowed three days of misery and whining. This won’t take much of your time, I promise. Only three days.

That was one helluva of a night. I came back home after experiencing two of my most favourite things – light headed music and rain. My Dad came up to me, gave me a look that divided between curiousity and disappointment, and told me how I’ll be nothing in life. The conversation and his explanation itself would make quite the story, but I was too busy trying to swallow it down to plan my next book. He told me how I’ve been a stupid ass, making up silly fantasies and been so stubborn about things that won’t make money for me. Added to that were the predictable series of comparisons. My friend’s ex-wife’s younger brother’s girlfriend’s cousin’s daughter did this or that woman’s older daughter’s colleague’s son did that. Again, the connections would have been funny if I wasn’t too busy getting my heart rolled into a tiny sphere and thrown outside the window. He quietly and confidently concluded I’ll fail in my exams, not get into a good college, be miserable and penniless for the rest of life and one day, regret wasting time.

Wow Dad! If you knew so much, why did you bother trying for so many years?

Bitterness aside, unfortunately, he was right. If I didn’t get down seriously into career planning, I should start fearing failure. The problem with me was I knew what I wanted to do in life, and that’s exactly what my parents didn’t want me to do. My plans, or priorities were set as follows:
(a) Like the 7-year old who would get those dreams broken eventually, I wanted to be a pilot. I still do, really. I truly feel passionate about flying planes.
(b) I’d happily get into a Fine Arts undergrads course, graduate a couple of years later and fight insomnia by painting people.

Of course, those were the “untouchables”. Plan A was too expensive, and Plan B doesn’t guarantee anything. Few artists make money and fewer get to a place where everything looks as great as in TV.

My “more real” plan was to opt for a Media & Communications course abroad. If I don’t get an edge into the monstrously wicked financial aid scheme most colleges have come up with for their hundreds of thousands of international applicants, I could do with a Media course here at one of the private universities. My Dad has a problem with that too. It makes the “family look bad” if the kids don’t get sky-humping grades or doesn’t go into a public university. These things make you look good at a dinner party when you’re comparing kids and can boast about how your one made it to the top 20 at the admission examinations and is now a proud worm, kissing asses of the finest faculty that this country can offer.

In quest of the “perfect career”, my dad suggested a career counseling session. Let me remind you here how I feel about counselors of any sort. I find them nagging pieces of crap who make money out of interfering into other people’s lives. Don’t start arguing with me. I’m aware of the fact NOT all counselors are money-making mongooses, rapping “Quack! Quack! Quack!” Some of them were genuinely interesting and interested, respectable human beings. I’ve come across one of them with a blog, but that’s another story. I smirked at my Dad for the suggestion and imagined a 40-year old man telling me how life is easy for me since my parents are doctors.
“Areh beta! You can just follow your parents! Ah ha ha!”
I would roll my eyes and tell him to crack another of his jokes so I can spend the next seven days of my life laughing at it. I agree. My skepticism is too bigoted.

So, there I am. Trying to isolate my love from my career. I don’t want to disappoint or hurt my parents. At the end of the day, they have done an incredible lot for me. Unfortunately, it’s painful for me to let go of my dreams. They’re the ones that pulled me together in the worst of times and reminded me of the light at the end of the tunnel. My parents don’t ever tell me exactly what they want me to be in life. I know it’s something grand, and whenever I ask for specifics, they tell me to choose for myself. The next thing I know, my choice is silly and I need to grow up.

I wish I could get high for the next three days and not worry about all this. I would drown in an eclectic feeling of frustrated ecstasy. I know it’s NOT the answer to my question (and I know the answers), but I feel crushed at having to let go of everything I love.

  1. #1 by zabirhasan on June 21, 2008 - 10:58 pm

    In a certain way i know what’s going on with you. Because i was in that position.. Then i have to say I do not have the ability to feel what you are going through..
    I donno what to say..but every things gonna be just fine..

  2. #2 by Russell on June 23, 2008 - 8:47 pm

    Go fly a kite. Do what you feel like to do. At the end of the day you’ll regret for what you *haven’t* done, not for what you *have* done.

    The problem with our parents is that they expect something back from us at some point of life, and this is what I hate about them. My dad told me that I’m a good for nothing and I do not have a future. Huh, he was so wrong!

  3. #3 by Shankar on July 11, 2008 - 9:53 pm

    I can relate to this rather well – both having been at that stage of my life years ago, and well, having both parents who are doctors (when I read that, I smiled) – I was once studying to be an engineer, one of the epitomes of south asian parents’ view of a career – but in time, I stopped. Merely, stopped. And I am now loving English better as I’ve always loved it and produced in it.

    True, that we owe much to our parents – but you have to remember, when we chose for the sake of another, it is not they who shall bear the consequence of the decision. Decide for yourself.

    As you say, getting heartbroken is the way of life when one grows – and growing, is an ongoing process – with your decision, it not that you’d hurt, it’s merely, that they shall grow.

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