In Salmon Fishing in the Yemen there was this line where the protagonist was said to be genetically programmed to dull pedestrian life as he pursues his government job in a passionless marriage. This aroused the same sentiments in me with The Secret Life of Walter Mitty and the parallels that are to be drawn are that of an unwillingness to conform and to recognize that the paths in life are meant to be taken and not followed.

Both protagonists have boring day jobs but it presented them the opportunity of a lifetime. Perhaps the perception of boring or dull is what we make out of it – shaped by social norms and the words of the naysayer who are more often than not the louder voices in a room. It is like how Sheldon (of The Big Bang Theory) took on a “mindless, boring” day job at the cheesecake factory in order to find a solution to his problem by undergoing a repetitive set of tasks. Perhaps boring is a pre-requisite for the not-so-boring stuff; in fact the exciting stuff will not be half as exciting if you haven’t even went through the boring stuff. Its the same principle as how doing something other than studying (like playing games) can be so entertaining and tempting while you are still in the midst of studying but the same level of interest is not there when there is no more of a need to study (like when finals end). Maybe some jobs are decidedly routine to the point of automation but it is more of a minority than a norm. Think young and free.

But can we really? Many live jaded lifes and we can see so often in our lives how that plays out. The talented employee who’s ideas are never heard. The cautious and forward looking ones whose words are brushed aside and choose to accept normalcy and servility. “I just cannot be bothered anymore” or “just follow orders lor”. And hereforth the line is drawn between those who made the problem theirs or left it to its own. It takes a lot of moral courage and a somewhat blind, incoherent and inexplicable will to do the right things. These are the same people that take up positions not considering the time and effort it will cost them but because it felt right and has meaning to them.

Nobody is destined for a dull pedestrian life because pedestrian life is in no manner dull. Its exciting to be alive – just think of it. What you do, no matter how minor or insignificant is uniquely your contribution made to the world, no one can replicate or triumph what you have done because you have done it in your own terms, time and tenacity. The people who have explored the vast lands of what we have today can be rightly so credited – there is no way we can usurp the titles of explorers and voyagers. And what we do today is what it is, our contribution to our generation.

To the Dr Alfreds and Walter Mittys in all of us, I hope we find it within us to find the brighter side of life in whatever we do.


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