Splendidly decorated by the auditory treat that is jazz music is the world of symphony, the Shaffer Conservatory of Music. Amidst the thousands of students that study there, there is one who truly aspires to be a musician. I say truly, because he would be willing to put in any extent of hard work to reach where he wishes to be. Every time he is brought down, he practices harder. And there is not just sweat involved; there’s blood too; the crimson reminder of the pressure that every piece of coal must go through in order to become a diamond. He is undeterred by the obstacles that come his way and uses them as a means to grow above them. He doesn’t see the use in making ‘friends’, for all his time goes into doing what he loves the most. Unlike most people around him, he’d prefer to die drunk and broke at 34 and have people talk about him, than be rich and sober at 90 and have nobody remember who he was. His desire is not to be good at his job; he wishes to be great.
In a parallel universe, she is learning to survive amongst people who are nothing like her. They’re slim, she is flabby. While they’re barren, she’s a hairy bear. While they treasure relationships more than anything else, she finds them overrated. To them, a mediocre lifestyle is acceptable as long as they have their loved ones beside them; while she finds it unacceptable to settle for mediocrity when one can achieve so much in life. To them, life isn’t complete without someone to love, whereas to her, life is complete as long as one loves oneself. To them, solitude is depressing; to her, it is empowering. In her mind, people around her have the same relationship with her as that of two diverging rays, for even though they have the same point of origin, they seem to move farther with every passing instance of time. But that is not the problem. The problem is the look of pity she gets all the time, like she is an outcast. The price of being weirdly different, probably that is what she is constantly charged with. The fear of being constantly ousted could have either turned her into a rebel or a poltroon. Fortunately, she chose to be the former. Given a choice, she’d gladly not care about ‘them’. But they’re family.
She, is me.
For as long as I can remember, I have always questioned the things I was told to do (or not to do). Probably that is the reason I visit temples even when I’m menstruating (Haww?). For a very long time, I thought there was something wrong with me because I could never digest ideologies the way they were served to me. That was until I saw this movie. Of all the movies I’ve seen, Whiplash is one movie that will stick with me for the rest of my life. Of course, the performance by J.K. Simmons was par excellence, but I found Miles Teller’s character more relatable. The desire to follow our passions without letting the so-called ‘social norms’ meddle with our lives, the fire in our bones that makes us want to prove everyone wrong; everybody has ever dared to doubt our abilities even for a moment, including ourselves, is our driving force.
The movie made me realise that it wasn’t wrong to be different from those around me. It taught me that it didn’t really matter whether I was different or like those around me in the first place, as long as I was ready to put in my blood, sweat and tears into making my dreams come true. I taught me to believe in who I was. It made me realise that there are two ways to exist in this world. One is to fix oneself in the groove that got created as a result of people constantly jostling against each other. The other is to fight the barriers and forces that bind one to the ground and soar as high as one can. Of course, one must take into account the possibility of falling, for as high as we may fly, we can’t build our homes in the sky. But then, falling is possible only for those whose dare to rise. Moreover, the rush of adrenaline every time one crosses one’s own barrier, the strife for excellence, the state of euphoria that one reaches when one does things one truly loves, it makes it worth the effort.
That is how we become the best version of ourselves.
That is how our lives become chapters in history books.
That is how we become ‘great’.