Super Cool Shirt

Soraya Waller - India


October 3, 2017

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Today I was under the weather, so I stayed in. By the end of the day, I was bursting with stir-craziness. I’ve been having a sort of psychological dilemma these past few days, and with nothing else to do, I simply stewed in it. That could have been good or bad, but luckily, I think it allowed me to work through my issues and if not find solutions, at least come to terms with it and plan steps for exploring progression through it. This blog post will chronicle a brief glimpse into the way my mind works, without immense effort to make it accessible to others. So if it doesn’t make any sense, don’t worry about it.

The spark was lit several weeks ago during my first week here, when a panel of cool people was brought in to speak to us about what they do. Actually, I don’t think that’s what they were brought in to talk about. I didn’t agree with them on their worldviews, or at least not entirely. I didn’t want to do with my life what they were doing with theirs. But they represented a thing I had always thought might be mere fantasy. They represented success in a way I had never quite seen, yet so frequently imagined. They were the type of people I would write stories about. They were distinct characters, doing unique things with their lives. They were flawed, glaringly so, but they were living their dreams. And I could be wrong, but I think they knew it.

It sparked a certain fire in me. Maybe it was them, or more likely it was where I was, in a state perfectly attuned to be receptive to that sort of inspiration. I’ve always said ambition is the combination of vision and drive, and while I have vision, I lack drive. In that moment, a desire to be driven filled me, as well as a glimpse of what looked to me to be the key to unlocking it. For the first time in my life, I felt genuinely ambitious.

I spent the next few weeks settling in, more than anything. Getting comfortable, or in some moments, getting comfortable with being uncomfortable. All the while, I clung onto that glimpse I had gotten, that spark, and every time I experienced something inspiring, the spark grew. Without specific direction, it grew into a roiling flame, sealed within me and destroying me from inside.

The breaking point was on a day I saw a real flame, although that wasn’t what did it. On the last day of Navaratri, a few hours before I would watch an enormous effigy of Ravan be turned into the largest fire I have ever witnessed, I was sitting in Hindi class and our wonderful teacher began to tell us a few pieces of mythology surrounding the festival. You may or may not know this, but I like mythology lot. And in that moment, I fell into a state of deepest despair. Even before she spoke the very words on my mind, I knew to be true that no matter how much study I dedicate to the subject of Hindu mythology, I will probably only ever barely scratch the surface.

That should excite me. I love the unknown. It’s what makes science so exciting. But in that moment, my uncontrolled ambition was lit with too much inspiration, and with nowhere to go, imploded within me. For a moment, I felt defeated.

I spent the next few days doing very little, in part due to, as I mentioned, getting sick. But as I slowly recovered from the shock of that defeat, a restlessness consumed me. I had learned how to foster drive within me, but I have yet to learn how to apply it into direction. Perhaps I became too ambitious.

I don’t know what is next for me. I feel that the next steps are to begin exploring with more vigor, to put more outward focus into finding the things I want to study and immerse myself into. I have a feeling those things are so close, I am virtually amidst them, but by focusing too much on grand visions of some glorified future trajectory, I am blinding myself to them. By claiming defeat and retreated inwards, I am lowering my head and refusing to look at what is right in front of me.

Oh yeah, the picture. It’s a shirt one of the students at my school was wearing. I’ll let you decipher it, although I don’t expect it to inspire in you the same explosion of passion and curiosity in you that it did in me. I dedicated about two hours of my life into the rabbit hole that was attempting to understand that shirt, and although I never received a total answer, I have since put plenty more time into reveling in the beauty of the mystery, or more importantly, just of the shirt itself. Isn’t just super cool? I think it’s super cool.


PS: Nandini if you're reading this, I hope you don't mind being in the background of a photo on my blog, and sorry again I couldn't make it in to school today.

Soraya Waller