The Errors of the Super-Specific Vertical Goal-Oriented Way of Living

Right before my high school boards, my aunt took my cousins and me to a temple. After the overnight journey, we little ones, of course, just wanted some sleep. But my aunt was having none of it. She wanted us up and ready by an ungodly (pun unintended) hour because the belief went that if you prayed at a certainΒ time, all your prayers would be heard by the great Gods above. So, after a dip in the freezing 4 am waters of the holy lake, we marched (barefoot) to the temple. And when my aunt ordered “Now!”, we prayed for that high score in board exams that would soar through rooftops and put our neighbors to shame (cos it’s always about one-upping the neighbors).

In most Indian families, children aren’t taught to aim very high. Or – let me rephrase – we are taught to aim high, but not far. Aim vertical, not horizontal. We are taught to “pray” for high marks, but aren’t allowed or encouraged to explore our options beyond that. It wasn’t until my first job interview, when the interviewer asked me, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” that I realized, damn, I never thought that far ahead. I’ve been, just, winging it all this while.

Needless to say, I didn’t get the specific score that I had prayed for (and mind you, it was specific – I didn’t want a multiple of 5 and I didn’t like odd numbers, so goddamn, it was specific). Here’s why – God, if he/she exists, is different from a genie. Fundamentally speaking, a genie says “Your wish is my command.” God, on the other hand, says, “Dude, IDGAF.” God isn’t obliged to give you anything you ask for, even if you take all the dips in the holy lake as you like and die of pneumonia. Not his/her problem.

I have struggled with spirituality and belief for a while now. I cannot blindly accept an all-omni-blah being, like most people of faith do. It conflicts with this other thing I have called rational thought. On the other hand, sometimes, it’s comforting to have a parent-like figure to think about. I don’t pray (or make wishes) anymore, even if I’m sometimes forced to go to temples by the family. And the whole charade of lighting lamps and offering flowers is to me just that – a charade, one I refuse to participate in. But there’s always someone telling you certain places of worship just “work” (see, that alone is in contrast to the all-powerful theory – why do some places “work” and others don’t?). On top of that, there are now certain places that work for certain things – like a government office and its departments.

So I rolled my eyes when our tour guide in Kodaikanal said he was taking us to a church where you could ask for anything you wanted, and all your desires would be fulfilled, etc., etc. Not this again. At least, it isn’t 4 am.

So, with half a belief system, I marched, armed with yet another super-specific vertical goal. It wasn’t even half a belief. On a scale of Miracles Happen to Haha Yeah Right, I was at Muffled Laughter, But Filled With Doubt.

I was almost at the altar when I changed my mind. I didn’t care about my super-specific vertical goal (SSVG) anymore. I realized having SSVG fulfilled would mean yet another halt in bigger and better plans that I may someday have. For the first time in almost a decade, I realized the true significance of “Where do you see yourself in five years?” And SSVG would get in the way of that. I was done waiting. I was done pushing aside one big thing for fifty smaller ones. So, as I stood there in front of the altar, SSVG lying discarded somewhere on a bench, I just said this, “Tell me what is the one big thing. It’s about time.”

And that’s the story of the “sort-of-revelation” I mentioned in my previous post. More on this later.


14 thoughts on “The Errors of the Super-Specific Vertical Goal-Oriented Way of Living

  1. Sid Balachandran January 16, 2017 / 10:05 AM

    I see you’re right in the middle of ‘figuring life out’. Welcome to our club πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sreesha Diva January 16, 2017 / 10:28 AM

      Yes, I am! Hope it isn’t too late.


  2. Lata Sunil January 16, 2017 / 10:37 AM

    Sounds like my encounters with God. I find it odd the way some people have blind faith which includes my sister, mother. I am more happy just believing in a super power who lets me do what I want without harming or hurting anyone. Why wait for one big thing, acting on the small things will help with understanding the big thing. Sometimes, it may sound irrational, but God has the big picture.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sreesha Diva January 23, 2017 / 10:09 AM

      Oh yes, my mother too. Her blind faith is scary. I could never connect to it.
      I’m hoping I will see the big picture soon. Do you ever have one of those days when you feel you’ve been waiting for a long time for something to happen, but you’re still unsure of everything…?

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Rajlakshmi January 19, 2017 / 10:02 AM

    That asking for specific marks was so me. But I have long stopped asking for things. I don’t wish anything from God… Except for world peace of course 😊
    But I like the ritual of lighting sticks, diyas and collecting flowers though. Somehow I find it very peaceful.
    This journey of self revelation that you have embarked on, hope it brings out and shows you all the good things πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sreesha Diva January 23, 2017 / 10:10 AM

      I hope so too. Maybe I’m being overly optimistic, but I feel like good things are about to happen. Fingers crossed.


  4. nomadwrites January 22, 2017 / 12:02 AM

    I don’t believe in falling in buckets of firm believer and atheists. I do respect unbelievable unwavering faith of ppl πŸ™‚ it is oddly admiring and the same to other people (as long as they aren’t disrespecting anyone and looking down on them) That said, I have never prayed for marks and etc etc but I love watching colorful peaceful rituals (if I don’t have to do anything and can just watch :p) all that said, with ssvg gone hopefully the self revelation and the bigger meaning of all brings a lot back home. It did, right?


    • Sreesha Diva January 23, 2017 / 10:12 AM

      I’m in neither bucket; I lean towards one or the other depending on the situation.
      Lucky you if you never had to pray for marks; chill parents, I suppose? πŸ˜› πŸ˜›

      The bigger meaning, ahhh, well, I’m still waiting. But hopefully, soon, something will come to light. Just confused if I should take action or leave it all to fate. o.O

      Liked by 1 person

    • nomadwrites January 23, 2017 / 6:40 PM

      haha, kind of..but, also, I would get up late.. too late. barely made it to school and all ever in time πŸ˜› (May be, also because they must have given up on me πŸ˜€ so no prayers) Well, best wishes for what’s to come. (Leave it to fate, I say. kidding. don’t πŸ˜› just do it)

      Liked by 1 person

    • Sreesha Diva January 30, 2017 / 10:12 AM

      Hahaha, oh man, I sorta envy you! I’m partly taking action and partly leaving it to fate. Hopefully something good comes my way πŸ˜€

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Kalpanaa March 16, 2017 / 10:36 AM

    Fabulous blog post. Truly we are taught to aim for what others believe we should have and sometimes we ourselves don’t know what we really want. Best to pray to recognise that first.

    Liked by 1 person

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