Open Page

The role model and the regular girl

“It was such a good violin,” he said. “It did everything I wanted it to do and it felt amazing. All these years, I always thought I didn’t have good enough technique, but I think I just had a bad violin.”

I listened as my brother talked about his excitement at having tried out an expensive violin that he felt he deserved to buy. This was after about 18 years of learning to play the hallowed instrument, of which eight years involved rigorous, committed and time-consuming practice sessions.

He is now at a special place, past those daunting ten thousand hours that one often hears about, but I doubt that’s how he feels about it. He’s constantly looking forward, at how much better he could get and how much farther there is to go and everything there is that he is yet to do.

Other acomplishments

It’s a very similar story with his basketball and academic accomplishments. Blocks of ten thousand hours stacked unself-consciously next to one another, making way for each other but also for the lighter moments of life. And all of it with no apparent strain at all.

We are now in our twenties, both him and I. Our childhood is now behind us. The days of absurdly important schoolwork and endless lazy summers of siestas and potato chips are now just memories.

So much time

Days filled with books and movies that I already knew inside out, and time, so much of it. I didn’t realise that this time could add up to become something so much bigger — provide transcendental experiences, languages to express in, ways to meet new people.

I don’t really think he did either, and yet his choices from childhood seem so clever, calculated and perfectly dove-tailed. His everyday thoughts and actions seem to fall in line effortlessly with those suggested by self-help books with such embarrassing titles.

Confident progress

I guess the thing about most role models is that they’re not usually looking back all that much and patting themselves for how far they’ve come, and feeling good about just being there, being “good enough”. At least not as much as people like me, who waste so much time looking for reassurance. I don’t think they wikihow every problem of their lives, because they’re far too busy actually living their lives out instead.

Choices to make

I’m still young, though. It’s not as if there’s no hope. I could block wikihow, make my hours count, and make the sort of choices that I would be grateful for aheadin my thirties.

Except, what if I regretted not living in the present enough? Our old, frail, paalkaaran, or milkman, just came home, said a cheery good morning and thanked me for milk that he gave me. I feel like he knows something that I don’t.

ksheeraja.padmanabhan

@gmail.com

Why you should pay for quality journalism - Click to know more

Recommended for you
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Apr 4, 2020 5:50:22 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/open-page/The-role-model-and-the-regular-girl/article14496000.ece

Next Story