Friday, March 03, 2006


I don't know if other people have to deal with this issue on a regular basis: how to bridge, or live with the gap between aspiration and capability.

With every new experience you learn new things and yearn for newer ones. And for a while, they all look achievable and attainable. Slowly but surely though, the shortcomings of ability catch up and you realize that sometimes even the most low hanging fruit may be out of reach.

How does one deal with this disappointment? One grew up thinking that if one tried hard enough and long enough one would eventually get there. If you fall short in one pursuit, try another. There is something that everybody is good at, eventually you will find it. Well, what if you can't ? What if you can only be 300th best in anything that you do ?

The negativity gets amplified when it comes to an area of interest. I like wine, and know the theory of making it. And the more I know, I also understand I can't ever make a good bottle. I like pasta, but I can't tell the difference between al dente and al fresco, leave alone make either reproducibly. I can run a marathon, but it will take me 5 hours to finish it. Try as I might, I will not be able to run one in under 4 hours ever. Ideally, and indeed as was the original intent, one should be happy about even making it to the finish line. But then what happens if the part of my brain that stores aspirations refuses to accept this compromise? In fact, if I take that long shouldn't I be looking for something better to do rather than getting up early on Sunday mornings in pursuit of what will at best end in mediocrity ? Is there a trick to ensuring a happy congruence of skills, aspirations and limitations?

This seems to occur at all levels of life. There are always people who are better, and seem to be able to achieve and deliver more with far lesser effort. Is it really possible to be happy with doing your best all the time ? The day you realise you can't get any further, how do you motivate yourself ? Acceptance is a theory. However, does it not inherently mean conceding that not being good enough, is good enough? And acceptance can't be easy either. Lendl never won Wimbledon, is it possible that he ever let go of it? How the heck do you let go of something you want badly once you eventually realize aren't going to make it?

The Stones, kings of excesses, ironically seem to understand it. They sing, "You can't always get what you want/ But if you try, sometimes, you might find/ You get what you need". Is it just as simple as that ?


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