Albert Einstien said, “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”
Growing up as a child my mother parted much wisdom to me, always an outcast, I was never the popular one, I would often tell her that I have not many friends and that I thought it was so because I was different. I looked different, I talked different, and most importantly I thought very differently.
She told me don’t try to be like everyone else, try to be better than everyone else, in your thoughts and words. Better to be friendless than have the wrong kind of friends. Fairweather friends she told me did more damage than having no friends at all.
My mum was talking from experience, she herself had no friends, she spent her time praying, watching documentaries and trying to hypnotize us kids to study better! My father too was a quirky one, for company he hung around with the odd ones, he always brought home the strangest of people from all walks of life, the banker turned taxi driver, the farmer turned butler.
I grew up reading his collection of books, Napolean Hill, Dale Carnegie, Edward De Bono, and all sorts of dabblers in the metaphysical. Ours was a unique family, mum was Indian, Catholic and Dad was Burmese who grew up in the company of Buddhist monks as well as Catholic brothers. Ours was a modern family, we went to church religiously, prayed fervently, we meditated and believed in the power of the mind.
At dinner time dad talked about Burmese history, legends of Burmese generals, the Japanese invasion, and stories of Buddhist monks. Television was limited to news and only one programme was deemed watchable, Mcguyver. Radio time had to be earned. While all my friends at school enjoyed, cable, movies and unrestricted access to entertainment, I had to contend with hearing them retell the episodes.
That is perhaps when I fell in love with stories and discovered a love for storytelling. Not impressed with the average stories, I imagined my own world, filled with dragons and wizards, and that one unstoppable malefic. The hero’s journey is what I craved, the poor hopeless protagonist who despite her better judgment decides to save mankind but realizes that she isn’t capable so enlists the Mentor.
My desire for friends stumbled into my stories and the protagonist was never alone. Strong, brave and courageous allies who were like family always filled the pages of my books. What started out as my desire to entertain soon began to absorb the shades of the real world. I began to realize that life isn’t always about fighting the bad guy and then happily ever after.
Sometimes the ‘Bad Guy’ is your own beliefs, your own limiting ideas of right and wrong. Often the blueprints we carry are so flawed that everything we create in our lives is unstable and waiting to cave in with the first storm.
That’s when we need to throw out everything we have ever learned and start fresh. We need to throw away the shades of cultural suppositions, family traditions and look at everything with an honest gaze. It’s a hard process, it gets lonely when you’re on a path that isn’t wide and well-trodden, that’s when you often seek a mentor. Someone who teaches you that you cannot do the same things and expect different results.
You can do without friends but you cannot do without someone who inspires you. You need one to continue your journey and you need to be one for someone starting out where you have been. A case of starting a new path that in time with enough followers will be the ‘New Path’. With each new member passing on their shades to the next person in line, all we do is exchange our old beliefs for new ones. Hopefully, they are better and an improvement. Hope is a strong word and it can move mountains but it doesn’t mean it is so.
This concept that mentors are the enlightened masters who have achieved every milestone is a myth. If you follow another’s footstep then all you do is follow someone else’s path. When you turn around and help the one struggling where you had been all you do is help someone walk your own path.
The Yoda- Luke Skywalker mentorship model is obsolete because of the multifaceted existence we embody. Growth can be in so many areas like the spiritual level, the physical level, the emotional level, behavioral level, and the mental (mind) level. We can be advanced in one and below average in another area. All we can hope for is to find people who can inspire us to advance on our own and find our unique perspective.
We need to break out of this industrial model of a production line, where everything is fashioned according to a working prototype. We are all unique and we all have a voice to contribute, like the planet Earth we are to come together the hot and the cold, the soft and the hard, the high and the low, the deep and the shallow, and create a masterpiece that is ever changing, ever evolving, ephemeral yet persistent.
So it helps when you are used to being different and alone, muscles for the workout life has in store for you later.