‘Man is the only creature who refuses to be what he is.’
– Albert Camus (French philosopher and Nobel laureate)
In the legendary classic Mahabharata, a warrior Salya instructs another famous character Karna, through a story of the crow and the swan.
The crow ate and grew fat. He was boastful, and often chided the swan saying, “You are good for nothing, a bland white coloured bird.”
The crow teased the swan and was determined to defeat her in flying. He proclaimed, ‘I have learned hundred unique ways of flying gracefully.’ He provoked the swan to race and when the swan accepted the challenge, they flew off together. The crow demonstrated the upside-down flying technique and he also twirled and showed a special triangular pose. Soon they were gliding across the ocean. Slowly, the crow realized he was no match for the swan. The ocean seemed endless and while the crow felt weak, the swan flew majestically. Tired, the crow slipped down and fell into the water. As he touched the water, the swan flew just close and exclaimed, ‘Oh what an amazing pose, you never told me about this; is this one of your hundred ways of flying?’
The tragedy of Determination
If I am a crow but desire to fly across the ocean, my determination and self-motivational tools are unlikely to help me. That’s because I have inherent strengths and existential limitations of a crow. However, for a swan, both the vision and determination to fly over the sea sound reasonable. The crow needs awareness and acceptance of his inherent strengths and limitations before unleashing determination.
If my efforts in life are an offshoot of awareness and acceptance of being a crow, then my determination is likely to nourish me. Otherwise, my determination could exasperate me- an opposite effect of what I intended.To be continued…