The giants of our youth will always be bigger than us.
For most of us, the idols that we create in our age of naivety are, and will always, be bigger than us. As we gain consciousness of our surroundings from the earliest days of childhood we try to learn. To know more about what we see. And to know more about what we do not see. To learn the name of the flying object on the window sill; and to learn how that object flies. In short, that is the life story of man. To spend a lifetime in learning and finding out new things. Modern societies provide people with the ability to channel this energy in such fields as research and education. All others also have the same urges. We all want to know what was exactly said during the most recent fight in the house or apartment next to ours. We all want to know how the politicians of our respective geographic sphere are philandering money and abusing power. We all want to know the opinions that others have of us. We always want to know more. Of course, the fields that we choose are diverse and cause for much judgment and eye rolling.
During our early youth we also develop a sense of judging people. We can sense how we relate to these people, and we can make deep rooted feelings about these people. These feelings cover the complete range of human relationships that we will experience for the rest of our lives. As we grow old we learn to abstract; we learn that sparrow is a type of bird which in turn is a type of animal which in turn is a type of living thing. And we learn that there are people and they can be divided into different kinds and subsets. We always have desires and aspirations, sometimes to fly, sometimes to swim like a fish, sometimes to become a robotic car capable of destructive feats of prowess. Over a period of time, and this is not a short period of time, our aspirations become known to us; we understand and acknowledge our aspirations. In the initial period of youth, and its linked exuberance, we still have the same aspirations, but they start getting a more real face. We start dreaming of traveling the world in hot air balloons, if not of flying. And finally, with the dying embers of youth our aspirations become completely practical and devoid of excitement and dreams. Not all that unfortunate an occurrence, just one that has to take place.
Somewhere during this period of time from when we have psychologically covert aspirations to the point where we recognize and shape our aspirations; we learn to associate people with them. We learn to realize that there are people who have actually achieved our aspirations. To us, these aspirations seem completely unattainable at the time. Though we try. But, we see people, we hear of people, we know of people, who have actually achieved what we so dearly aspire to do so. And we start building idols in our minds. There are the real idols, initially parents, then other people in our circles of society who are older and hence more accomplished, and then even our peers who excel in the presence of all others. We start making idols. And we should, because, in retrospect, they are people who stand out. They are not individual idols, they are collective idols to a lot of people. Some are idolized for their dancing. Some are idolized because they have a PhD in Evolutionary Biology. Some are idolized because they are incredibly rich.
But, being human, our construction of giants is anything but realistic. We over do it. Our giants are larger than expected. They have traveled much further on the paths that we place them on. Our parents are eventually great people who have gone through amazing feats to be the man and woman that they are. Our teachers know everything to the extent that there is not any possible thing that they do not know. Our saints are completely cleaned of all evil and all wrongdoing and they can not possible do anything wrong. Our captains of industry are able to manipulate and organize any situation in a manner that would maximize the profits of the company. Our political leaders are able to use their power and authority in the most transparent yet proper manner to ensure all ills are removed from society, and power is not abused.
And it is not that we do not see the idols fall. Our parents, and teachers, and saints, and captains of industry and political leaders all fail from time to time. And we are shown this on many occasions. On some occasions we refuse to accept the failure. Our development of the idols over a period of years upon years and thoughts upon thoughts and the immense investment will not allow us to see the glaring truth that a failure has occurred. And in that day or minute the idol will get larger, as it fails to do anything wrong, even at that time. On some occasions we generate an excuse or come up with some reason why the failure occurred. On some occasions we accept the failure but contrast it with the absence of a graver failure, the idol does not grow larger during this time, but it does maintain its size. And finally, on some occasions, the idol crashes and falls to the ground and is ground to dust, and we take away even the legitimate greatness. Again, the only reason for our blindness is that we are not ready to let the idol fail. It represents our aspirations as much as its own reality.
How can we let something we cherish so much fail? Can we allow our minds to go down that road? No.
That there are giants, I will not deny. That there should be giants, I will not deny. What I do ask is that should we develop our giants into larger versions to such an extent that they become otherworldly. That they become larger than life. That they become unattainable? My answer is no, but everyone will and should have their own answer. Should we use our giants to live and embody our aspirations? No, we should not. We should keep our giants real. We should accept that someone who has great skill in chess is a great chess master, but only human after all, and not so unattainable after all. Having said that, that we should try to keep the giants real and within reach, can we? So the question posed earlier was not that important, since most will eventually agree that we should free our psyche from our giants but will we ever be able to put that into effect? Will we be able to outgrow our giants. Very very very difficult; and not possible in most cases present in our lives.
Looking at history we see that even the greatest of kings aspired to be their fathers or grandfathers who in retrospect were not greater rulers. Poets and writers and other artists, despite the arrogance that goes with the job, will always quote earlier greats and giants whose dirt they are not worthy of treading on. And every generation of people will decry the greater virtue and social personalities of their parents and the earlier generations from the golden ages. The giants refuse to go away. We are forever doomed to live in the shadow of giants.
Would that we were able to stand on the shoulders of true giants rather than cower in the shadows of false ones.
To dream. To expect. To desire and to want. To aspire to be free from the shadows of previous aspirations. To break free from the shackles of ancient aspirations and develop new ones. To grow and develop to the maximum of our ability.
To live. And to be human.