Rajesh Kumar

Optimizing life, one day after the next

Vocative Vocations

16 Jul 2006

When I was in Grade 9, we were introduced to a very beautiful poem, Vocation, written by Rabindranath Tagore, the poet who penned the words for India's national anthem. I didn't think much of the poem back then, but today, in retrospect, every word in that poem is like a bullet in my veins. Such profound words of wisdom, such prowess, such powerful command of the language, such striking precision, such splendid mastery in poetic articulation.

The poem, in a nutshell, outlines a young lad's feelings during his tumultuous childhood. The lad is tired and bored, craves for freedom, and is desperate to put an end to his regimented life. On his way back home from school, he encounters three interesting people: a bangle-seller, a gardener and lastly, a night watchman. He finds their occupations admirable and decides to take their places, one at a time. He envisions a world where he enjoys as much freedom, as much multitude in choice, and as much liberty to act as one pleases as do these three inspirers. The poor boy is so stunned by his discovery that he doesn't know if he wants to be any one of the three, or all of them simultaneously.

Now I don't claim myself to be particularly well-versed with poetry. My general expertise is more in the area of prose and random gibberish. I think I've constantly made three key mistakes, or mis-assumptions rather, when it comes to picking my vocation of choice. It might be worthwhile to go through these.

The conclusion is simple. Pick what you're good at. Not what you think you're good at.

That seems to be a pretty easy way to honor Tagore and his resplendent poetry.

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