31 years ago, a young man fresh out of high school, he took some time off and traveled to Australia. While there, he came across a book written by someone from his land. The book changed his life and he grew up to be one of the most courageous, versatile, experimental, actor the world had ever known. The book is called The Greatest Salesman in the World. And the actor is Mathew Macconaughey.
But this post is not about the 47 year old actor. No.
Nassim Taleb often repeats, as do a lot of other observers of life – only a few Black Swan events … only few moments in life are life altering, it is only these few moments which you absolutely cannot predict, which decide the patterns of your following daily lives. Think about the time you took a trip, fell in love, met someone really bizarre, found your purpose … or if you are a trader ( and for some odd reason you are reading my blog ) it is only around some events when you make a lot of money or you lose a money.
But this post is not about economics or patterns or probabilities. No.
This post is about a little boy. A little boy who grew up in 9 different lands. Every year or the next, his family would move from one place to another. They were a small family – him, his Mami and his Papi. Papi worked really hard and spend a lot time away from home. Mami was always around him – taking care of him and answering his questions, his never ending curiosities.
Our little boy, the hero, had a favourite question. Every time he met someone new, he would ask them – are you my magical spur? Are you going to make me fly?
And every time he asked that question he was met with a blank stare. His heart broke a little when the new people did not answer his question, when they could not understand his question. He would wear a sad smile on his face and go back to his toys and his books and wonder – when will I find my magical spur? When will I fly? Because if there was one thing our little boy, the hero, wanted, it was to find his magical spur and fly. He wanted to fly so high, higher than anyone had ever flown before.
Seasons came and changed with time, he grew up across cities nine. He ran along rivers and he climbed many mountains. He read varied books and painted many sunsets. He learned to cook like his Mami and he learned to be as sincere as his Papi. Papi and Mami took him out a lot, they made him meet a lot of new people. Every time he met someone new, he would ask them – are you my magical spur? Are you going to make me fly?
No, they said, we cannot make you fly, but if you go away to a distant land, maybe you will be able to fly, maybe you will find your magical spur.
So he heeded the words of strangers and the little boy, our hero, he decided he would away to a distant land. His Papi told me he could fly right where they were and his Mami cried – don’t go away little boy, you will not find your wings there. The little boy did not care, he wanted to fly.
So he went to a distant land, far away from all he knew. He saw many wonders and he met even more people. He did not ask them his favourite question though, that always drove people away. So he kept his mouth shut and spend his half his days looking after the sheep of the people in the village and spend half his nights staring at the countless bright stars in the sky.
He would take the sheep beyond the big mountain into the vast green lands. While the sheep grazed he would spread his imaginary wings and run and run and pretend to fly. He would sing and he would fly. The sheep loved it when he sang and they loved to see him fly and there was something in his eyes that made him seem trustworthy. So they told him their only secret, the secret the whole of mankind had been searching for but they made him promise not to share this with anyone else.
Mankind came to know that the little boy, our hero, knew the sheep secret of calmness. They asked him to share it with the rest of his kind. He refused. They showered him with gifts, they gave him good food. He still refused. He had made a promise and he could not go back on his word. The sheep had trusted him and he could not break their trust. But if they could find him his magical spur, perhaps he would consider. He did not ask mankind though, it did not seem to want him to fly.
On his way back from the grasslands one fine sunny day, he heard a soft yelp for help. He followed the sound and found a dog caught in a snare. He freed the little dog and from that day the little dog followed the little boy everywhere. The little boy, our hero, fed him, played with him, he even slept with him. Was this his magical spur, was the little dog going to make him fly?
Word about the little boy’s kind heart, his beautiful voice, his sincerity and his ability to keep a secret spread far and wide. Soon many men came to him, to work with him, to listen to his songs and they told him all their secrets. He met so many people, he heard too many secrets and though he helped so many he could still not find his magical spur. He also began to miss his Mami and his Papi.
One day a big man in a yellow kaftan and a blue turban visited the little boy.
What makes you so kind, he asked.
My mami has a kind heart, he replied.
How can you keep a secret, he asked.
My papi has taught me to honor my word, the little boy replied.
Do you know where I come from, he asked.
No, I don’t, where from do you come o’ stranger with a lot of questions, the little boy enquired.
I come from the opposite side of the world, the word about you has flown so far, many more will come after me.
The little boy stared at this stranger. The little boy realised then that he already flown too far. His magical spur had always been by his side, they were the ones who made him fly – his Mami and his Papi. He laughed and he laughed and then he ran back home.
Are you my magical spur, he asked his Mami.
Yes, yes I am, his Mami replied and hugged him.
So the little boy, our hero, took the long way home and a longer time to realise that the people who had inspired him to become who he was had always been around him. Next time before looking for inspiration he looked within rather than outside. They had given him all that he would ever need to fly. It was all within him – hope, desire and his wings.
By: Preeti Bhonsle