Some Motivational Nonsense
Does wanting to learn spring only from a state of discontent? To desire to learn is to desire to change one’s present ‘non-learned’ state into something different, ‘non-learned’ + 1 if you will, a sum which it is hoped will equate to ‘learned’. But in order to want to learn, one must first identify that their present state is lacking in some way; why else would we go out of our way to attend Spanish class, kathak class, summer schools? The desire to learn may come from mundane motivations: for example, plenty of A-level and degree choices are made on vocational criteria, in the expectation that a suitably targeted degree will lead to more money, a better job, or happiness. Nonetheless, the prime mover behind making those choices is the acceptance that as we are, we’re unsuitable in some way. And at that moment, we are discontented because what we possess is not enough to obtain what we want, and what we want is something we don’t have. I suppose that in itself exposes human beings to the charge of being wholly avaricious, not to mention mercenary.
Much to the annoyance of my kathak teachers, I have always been in interested in discovering different ways of doing the same thing. In the beginning, this arose mostly from not understanding how kathak worked, that there is not always just one way to do something and that ‘taa thei’ in one tukra isn’t the same in another. Now that those issues are resolved, I find myself seeking more abstruse matters, and my main source of discontent lies in a lack of variety of a wholesale nature. In other words, it’s not that I do the same things every week in class, but rather that I do entirely different things each week in the same way.
I suspect this is a symptom of thinking too much about dance and simply not dancing enough, but, by the same token, isn’t curiosity one of the great elements of the human condition? The desire to challenge one’s expectation, to experience new things and if we get our fingers burnt, we’ll know not to go there again. Unfortunately the desire to experience something different has led me to some workshops which have been dire but, without naming any names, if you should be invited to an appallingly patronising Jaipur gharana workshop held by an occasional supporting actress in Grey’s Anatomy…well, it’s your life.
Of course, the converse is true, and thankfully more often but each instance only feeds; it never satiates the hunger to learn more. Eight years down the line and I’m finally accepting, that an unsettled state can be profitable and that discontentment is not something, which is easily resolved. Now as disquieting as that may be, this state of mind can bring its own happiness as long as we have the courage to remain discontented, then we might just be able to change things for the better.