When I grow up

I liked to draw as a kid, as all kids do. And somehow people seemed to like my drawings better, and everyone would aww and coo when I told them I’d like to become an artist when I grew up.

Then school and TV formed a large part of my life, and along with the cartoons, I’d also watch Discovery Science, Nat Geo and Animal Planet. That was an age when Edison et al were introduced along with the concepts of simple machines (Tom & Jerry, Wile E Coyote and Acme Corporation helped a lot), and I wanted to become an inventor or a scientist when I grew up.

One time during the third grade, I registered for a drawing competition. The topic was pre-decided, and it was “What do you want to become when you grow up”. The night before (or the morning of the competition, I forget), I was discussing with my family what I could do — doctor was pretty easy, so was police. Teacher was easy to portray, but more work with the students. But none of these are what I really wanted to be. Then my sister suggested a really long kind of complicated word starting with A. I had to learn the spelling too — A-R-C-H-I-T-E-C-T-U-R-E. I loved this. Designing how buildings look — art and utility! This is what I went with, and this word was buried in my head for a long time.

Then science slowly started making itself more and more at home in my head, reality too was setting in. Around a year before hitting my teens — I wanted to be a scientist, a deep sea researcher to be more specific. The Dream: Being lost in the deep sea, discovering.

It was around this age that I also started watching Animal Planet almost exclusively, and becoming a vet was also looking enticing. With mountaineering on the side. The Dream: Going places rescuing animals, sometimes going on expeditions in the wild and scaling heights all over the world.

Then I got back to watching a lot of cartoons and anime, and wanted to be an animator, with art and cartooning on the side (I had not known about “design” at that point of time). The Dream: Traveling all over for inspiration, a world class artist.

All along the way, books came and went. Young adult fiction, fantasy, comics, anything and everything. Most of them about going on an adventure and finding treasure. The treasure was anything — actual treasure, rags-to-riches stories, a special someone, a sense of belonging, interesting stories and people from all around the world, or finding the core of your own self. The wanting to be an explorer was very strong, I’d base my fantasies and playtime on this — take my cycle and set out on roads I have never taken before. I did have a great sense of direction. Unfortunately, I was never truly lost to the point of asking for directions or finding myself in a pickle.

Nearing the end of my school, I also watched a lot of Travel And Living. The desire always burned night and day. I wanted to be inside that television set and explore all the places, eat all the interesting food, do all the things I never knew even existed until that moment. But that’s all it was, a burning desire. It could never strike that I could make it happen and be an explorer. I did not know who I could turn to, and believed it’s not practical and did not really mention it. I settled for making enough money working a job and going on a world tour. That was The Dream when I started college.

A few years later, here I am, more lost than before, not knowing which way to take. I can see a few feet away on every fork ahead of me, but nothing spectacular stands out. I collect the tools that will help me to some extent in some of the forks, not knowing which one I will actually use. I have always wanted to be lost, now that I have “grown up” I permanently am.

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