“In whatever you are doing, failure is an option but fear is not.”
I came across this TED talk by James Cameron purely by chance. The timing however, could not have been better.
In this deeply personal lecture, the noted filmmaker reveals details about his childhood and his fascination for science-fiction and the deep-sea world that in the later years of his life resulted in undertaking many underwater expeditions and manifested itself in the creation of Titanic and Avatar.
While this aspect of the talk was extremely fascinating, for me that was not what hit home.
What really struck was the greater message that he was advocating and spreading via this platform. The message of not imposing limits upon yourself, of being curious, of nurturing your imagination, of not being scared of failing, of taking risks and of lessons learnt in ones journey of self-discovery.
To a lot of people this might be nothing new. To a lot of people this might be the natural course of their life that they are pursuing anyway.
I am not one of those people. At least, I wasn’t until recently.
Last week I came back home from my first solo trip. At age thirty-three, I believe it was ten years later than it should have been. Also, I wasn’t alone. My four-year old daughter was with me.
Up until three years ago, I had undertaken an extremely conventional path to my life. I grew up in a reasonably sheltered environment back home in India. In saying so, however, the choice of not exploring beyond the obvious was entirely mine.
In hindsight, I don’t even think it was a choice at all. I doubt if I ever even thought about it much. It was a close-minded, one-sided approach towards life and I never really bothered exploring anything else. Personal growth and evolvement were never high on the agenda.
Until, I was abruptly rattled out of my comfort zone.
I can very safely say that life happened to me thirty. Personal circumstances and results of certain life choices that I had made landed me in a situation where I was forced to question a lot of things- the course of my life, my actions, the purpose of my being and where I was headed.
The time that followed was the most personally rewarding and enriching time of my life. It shaped me into the person I am today and I would not change that for anything in the world. Through the trying times, I realized who I was and what I wanted to be.
That to me is priceless.
Which brings me back to this talk and the context of it with regards to my present situation.
Hold on tight
Before I left for my trip, there were a lot of questions – was this going to work? We knew nobody in the city. A fist time solo trip is scary enough on it’s own but with a young child the stakes are of another level. What if something goes wrong? Who will I turn to? Is this crazy?
The answer to all that was just one- I was willing to take my chances, simply because, I hadn’t for so long in my life. I wasn’t going to let fear deter me from taking this opportunity. Yes, there was the off chance that something might go wrong but I wouldn’t know until I do it.
I had been stuck with being the stereotype for too long. This was my chance to prove otherwise, more to myself than anyone else.
I landed in New York with two backpacks, one stroller and a four year old. We couch-surfed, we rode the subway all along, we got lost in the city, walked a lot and even got stared at. Almost everything happened but nothing went wrong.
I lived through my trip to write this piece.
In embracing failure as a possible option, I let go of my fear. The rewards of that will stay with me for all times to come.
Though Mr. Cameron has expressed the lessons that he learnt in the form of advice that he gives to young filmmakers, I believe it validates itself as something that applies to anybody and everybody in the course of their lives.
Be curious, take risks and let go of fear.
I am trying to break the shackles, one step at a time. In doing so, I am getting closer and closer to living the life that I want to.
If that isn’t gratification enough for courting possible failure, then what is?