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Birthday retrospect : potential energy versus Kinetic energy

A few weeks back I tried to enrol my name for a Leadership program which was looking for ‘people with potential leadership qualities’, when my application was rejected.
Turns out I was too old for being a leader; they had a cut off age of 31.
But on further retrospection, I realised , they weren’t saying I was too old to become a leader, but were saying that If I had the ‘potential’, then at my ripe old age of 33 I should be well on my way of becoming a leader.
And on that note begins my this year’s birthday retrospect.
I would like to call it my ‘pre mid life crisis ‘ birthday retrospect.
It was triggered by the word ‘potential’.
It took me back to my high school physics; potential energy and Kinetic energy. Potential energy is the energy that is stored within, it can be  a ball held at a height above the ground, or an object being pulled on an elastic string like an arrow, or a stone in a sling. The more taut the string on the bow is, the further the arrow will travel that is the theoretical potential energy of the arrow.
All that we gain during the first few years of our life, is all about building potential. Study in school, get good marks, come first in class… and see the beeming faces of our parents when they are told “your child has potential”.
With every skill that you learn, or every degree that you add, the string is pulled taut, until one day ‘TWANG’ and you are off , all that pent up potential energy has you soaring through the stratosphere of success.
High school physics would explain how potential energy gets converted into Kinetic energy. Where all that fuel in the tank, is finally used to give you the mileage, where the bowler who runs up to the crease at x speed, lets go off the ball, which then travels at y speed.
That leadership program had not rejected me because I did not have potential, but because it was time now to gain kinesis rather than potential.
The thirties are the time for kinesis. The time to become, rather than wait for approval or encouragement from people to BE. The thirties are the time to look back on life and think of every teacher, mentor , and coach who said you have ‘the potential ‘ to prove to them that you really do, and it is also the time to disprove all those who said you didn’t.
Which made me think of all the leadership stories we hear about, how the teachers of Einstein and Bill Gates, felt they would amount to nothing. It made me wonder Does failure at a young age , set you up for success in the future, or the more plausible does success in early years of life make you fearful of failure in later years.
As a gold medallist, and ‘best student ‘ awardee during my training years, when I set out to start medical practice, a very successful surgeon told me in no uncertain terms ,” theory is different from practice doctor, good medical students do not make good doctors.”  He then went on to share how he was a back bencher, and barely passed his exams, did a diploma, and even went to a private medical college, all the signs of a ‘non meritorious’ student, he said it with a matter of pride, like a typical rags to riches story.
Till that time I had always been told I had potential, and this was the first time I was being told, that I did not have the potential to succeed. Honestly , that urged me even more to try and prove him wrong. I read (on another blog , presumably) that patients choose doctors on criterias of ‘availability’, ‘amicability’, ‘affordability’ and last of all ‘academics’. Apart from the part about affordable, I think I have all the other areas covered J
The thirtieshave  also made me look back , more than look forward, in life. Instead of hoping for what will happen in the future, I keep looking back at the girl of 15 or even 20 and wondering what she would say about me . Just today as I was walking on the tread mill at the gym, I distinctly had a feeling of seeing my younger walking past me and thinking ‘ I thought I would be thinner, maybe taller, more successful , richer even… ‘ it made me walk faster on the treadmill. But it also had me explaining to her my life choices. Had I in any way let my younger self down? Did I still have time to make it up to her?
As a mother I have hopes for my son, not ambitions, not concrete goals, but a certain hope, of the way his life should turn out. And now I wonder if my parents look at me, and think back at the school girl full of ‘potential’ they sent out everyday, and if they feel the kinetics of my life didn’t match the potential energy.
I am not complaining , if anything I am ; retrospecting.
As I said this is my ‘pre mid life ‘ post
 A pre mid life post asks ‘ what am I doing with my life?’
A mid life post asks ‘ was what I did with my life , worth it?’
Many of my friends who are not doctors are already at that stage. With doctors we study and are in school/college till very late and thus begin ‘life’ so to speak, much later. I began at 29 years, so it took me roughly 5 years to get to this stage .
Many of my friends in other fields, have gone ahead and lived and achieved and now have the “ I earn a lot, but honestly Kuheli, money is not everything. Fame is transient too. The real meaning of life is what I want to pursue now.”
I tell them I am not there yet.
Let me achieve the fame and money, before I decide that it isn’t all that it was meant to be.
This is my time to take flight, aim for the stratosphere. Maybe in my birthday blog three years from now, the big 2020 is when you can hope for the “ I went to stratosphere, checked out the scenery, clicked a few insta pics , but the view from up here isn’t all it was supposed to be.”
I leave all of you with the story of the peacock. When all the birds were in training, everyone though the peacock had such ‘potential’ , with a tail made for navigation, and strong wings for flight, the God’s proclaimed it to be the ‘vahan’ or the chariot of the God’s . many of the paintings will still have depictions of a peacock chariot. But when it came to the final test of flight, the peacock was too proud to fly, it feared that the flight, if imperfect, he would be ridiculed by all. He chose instead to make fun of the other birds, from the ground itself. And thus, could never reach the heights of the eagle.
To convert any potential energy into kinetic energy, we need to get over our inertia. We need to believe and let go of the arrow, for it to take flight, if you keep pulling the string, with the hope that the arrow will fly further, then at one point the string will break and there will be no flight at all.

Yes, this post is for all the would be writers, singers, painters, doctors, entrepreneurs, it is now no time to ‘would be’ , it is now time to ‘become’. 

every year since 2009 , I have been writing a birthday retrospect, some of them are made public. read last years self congratulatory post HERE and further links can be found on that post itself. 


Jonasjoys said…
Very well written, & SO true.I think one must have dreams, & work to make them come true.Being judgemental, opinionated, critical, are normal traits, rising above them, i ssuccess. You've made your choice, now, the sky is no longer the limit.
@jonasjoys my post is a lot like your FB status a few days back about inertia and rising to the occasion. We cannot wait for life to happen , it is happening as we speak. We must live it NOW.
Ekalavya said…

The beauty about energy transformation though is that kinetic energy gets converted too and therein lie terms like burnout, emptiness etc. The trick of course is being able to harness just enough (PE) and also being able to reconvert some of it (KE) back to potential. That's where I guess experience, maturity, learning etc come in and also the reason and inclination to pursue newer dreams.
Aloka Hedau said…
Well it's a great retrospect.its funny that I found myself writing similarly a week back and I wrote down concrete TO DO rather than plans and goals. Go get it gal...i m reminded here of a movie PS I LOVE YOU where the wife fights and wonders what will happen.. .when will our life start and the husband says"darling this is it!! Life has already started! Start living it!"let's enjoy the process of our kinesis as much as we enjoyed building potential!

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