I used to devour books with great relish when I was younger. The number of books and the authors one read was a “coolness” symbol (Yeah, that’s how geeky I was. And hey, no jokes on the use of ‘was’). So, more often than not, I would come across phrases that seemed to be common-sense but people still thought it smart to be repeating it across books and all the time!
These, I found out, were called cliches. So, in every other Amar Chitra Katha, I would come across ‘Time and Tide wait for none’ or ‘Experience is the best teacher’. Or, the more cryptic, ‘Live in the moment’. Or, Champak (a book supposedly for kids but some of the drawings would qualify for Quentin Tarantino movies) would have a rabbit, sagely proclaim that, ‘Life is too short to be wasted thinking’. Later still, in the ‘Femina’ magazines that I used to sneak upon would have some Agony Aunt advising a love-struck teen – ‘Let your lover free. If she/he comes back, it’s meant to be’ . And, of course, ‘if it’s meant to be……’ was the standard counselling line I’d employ to all my friends brooding in love.
The humour notwithstanding, I began to loathe them. I thought them to be extremely prosaic to even be mentioned. So, I secretly began to conspire against them. If someone told me experience was the best teacher, I would rattle out names of lecturers in my college (I would rattle them here as well, except I don’t remember the good men now) as proof against that adage. If someone suggested I live in the moment, I would stare back. Blankly. Because what the hell does that mean? What is a moment? What does ‘living’ in it mean? Is not standing just by yourself in a corner at a party, sulking that no girl’s talking to you, living too? Well, such was the life I led till a few years back.
Till I grew up. Till I fell in love. Till I encountered failures. Till I had to figure out what job I wanted to work in. Till I was in a mature relationship.
All these things launched a conspiracy against mine and began to show that, after all, the cliches are true.
So, is experience the best teacher? You bet. Once I went through a break-up, I understood all those scenarios in novels and movies. It’s not something that just depresses you; it kills a part of your spirit. It’s that gut-wrenching.
So, do time and tide wait for none? Or do some manage to hoodwink them? Well, the jury’s still out on the tide part of it, but boy does time fly. When I was 21, the possibilities were endless. When I turned 26, the responsibilities seemed endless. I realized I held on to the wrong things when I was younger – marks, percentages, attendance and classes.
And, I also managed to crack the ever-cryptic ‘Live in the moment’. Ever since I turned older last birthday, I understood the distinction between live and live. The kind of life I led could generously be termed as surviving the moment, not living it. So, if I was with the pleasant company of a graceful lady, I would most often be thinking how bored she might be, instead of just enjoying the moment. You see the kind of person I was? Well, realization finally dawned (ah! another C phrase) and I began to worry less about the boredom of graceful ladies. I am not sure about the moment part yet, but well, I do feel I am living life a bit more than just survive through it.
So, if you find yourself laughing down on cliches, just like I did, I am going to warn you – more often than not, they are going to bite back at you and prove to you that they in fact are true!