Monday, November 28, 2011

Reality Bites

These days television reality shows are popular. Apparently we cannot have enough of our realities that we must have television shows involving real people showing their emotions and behaviour in real time or time when the shows are being filmed. How real are these so called reality shows? And what it is that makes these shows appealing to the masses? The participants appear to be cool individuals who carry on with their acts and conversations as they are captured on these cameras. The heated arguments and the tension between people who are competing in a race or a game show are thus  captured and displayed publicly. Do we need to watch couples or friends or family members quarrel so that we know it is part and parcel of a relationship? These shows can make or break a relationship . It is a battle of wits and wills; most participants are not on their best behaviour when they are confronted with challenges which will ultimately determine the winner. Maybe the audience want to be reminded about how similar our needs are and we are not alone in our emotions and conflicts as it is all part of our human nature and how the world is  really about survival for the fittest.

A month ago, I watched the movie “ Tree of Life”, a meditative film where the story unfolds against the beautiful cinematography and the underlying themes about aging, life and humanity. The protagonist, Jack O’Brien finds himself a lost soul in the modern world and contemplates about the meaning of life as he thinks about his childhood and his parents. He thinks about his strict and authoritarian dad who is irritable and lives in regrets about not following his passion of becoming a musician and instead become an engineer. Jack’s dad tried to prepare his sons for a world he sees as corrupt and exploitative and he hoped to become rich by selling some of the inventions but unsuccessful. While Jack’s dad laments the course his life has taken, Jack’s mother is a symbol of grace who takes life in its stride as she grieves for the loss of one of her teenage sons. In between telling the ordinary story of a middle class family, there are stunning cosmic imagery that represents the beauty of the universe. I enjoyed the cinematography thoroughly.

As a young adult, I lacked the sense of urgency which was deemed a character flaw in our modern life. When I started working, I developed a sense of urgency as it was necessary in the legal profession to observe time line.  In order to avoid any undesirable consequences, whether it was to do with submitting and filing in court documents or preparation and completion of documentation for various legal purposes, observing time line was an absolute must. Although procrastinating a task is much frowned upon in terms of professionalism and efficacy thus best avoided, sometimes a delay could turn out to be a blessing in disguise. Due to a delay, a client can sometimes find a better approach to his or her problems or reach an alternative solution or  by default there are  changes  to the circumstances of the matter. There may also be some occasions where the laws had changed whether by the legislature or through interpretation by the courts as a result , a postponement might work towards one’s benefit.

Reality sets in when it dawns on you that you have been caught in a race against biological clock, goals and contingency at every stage of your life,  day in day out you soldier on and discharge your duties and responsibilities whether they are related to work or your home.  You wish you could be in a time warp  which allows time to stand still for you to figure out what you are doing and  really want to do in your lifetime. Over the years, multiple tasks, some mundane while others more challenging and  mostly repetitious become an integral part of your daily routine and that is  when  you are  officially grown up.  There may come a time it is imperative that we feel we must get to do what we  really want to be involved in. By then we may have become so entrenched with what we are accustomed to doing and we are too afraid to leave our familiar grounds. I recently read John Grisham’s latest novel “the Litigators” where the protagonist decides to quit the top solicitors firm he was working with  and join the street lawyers. Maybe that only happens in fictions where all things will turn out well. Nonetheless you hear of success stories where people end up pursuing their dreams. All it takes is determination and conviction and self indulgence.

 As a rule we prefer to stay in our comfort zone rather than venture out in unfamiliar terrain. We prefer the tried and tested routes so did our parents and their parents. Being unorthodox is not safe and most of us are too afraid not to conform  for fear that we may make mistakes or decisions which we will regret. Perhaps the majority of us acknowledge that we are no visionaries so we stay in line with convention and try to lead a life worth living . Is  our lack of imagination attributable to the education system or our upbringing or social conditioning? Maybe. Most of us have been ingrained with the fear that if we do not have a  job, we shall have no money and may be shunned as pariahs so since young, we are expected to study hard and pursue a degree or qualification which will get us gainful employment regardless of whether some of us may be academically challenged. We tell the young ones  that if they do not pursue a qualification or some skills which are in demand , their future will be bleak. If only we could be brave and cast aside our fear for the uncharted and be benevolent and not beat ourselves about for not achieving material success , we may just have a faint idea about what we like to pursue. If only we could catch a breather amidst our daily grinds, we may have an inkling about what we like to take a chance upon. Hopefully with some conviction, we too may  follow our hearts if we choose to .

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