Climb every mountain, follow every dream, win every debate, prove every point; smarter, faster, bigger, better – sometimes, when sanity prevails over overweening ambition, I stop and wonder if it’s worthwhile, if it’s even possible, to always be the best, to always be right, to always lead the pack, to always win.
I, me, myself, mine – how much of physical energy, mental prowess and material resources do we expend every day in trying to ‘sell’ this self of ours, to ‘maintain’ the mirage, to ‘preserve’ the image!
I remind myself often of an anecdote to help me tide over this kind of obsessive compulsion to ‘Win every War’, simply because it’s impossible to win every time and we need not use every event, episode and encounter as an opportunity to ‘prove’ ourselves.
Now, for the anecdote:
In the mid-twentieth century, in the southern part of the Indian peninsula, there was a musician of great repute, called Bidaram Krishnappa. After a music concert, a critic got into a verbal duel with Krishnappa about the rendering of a particular musical piece. Krishnappa insisted that his rendering was classic. The critic differed and a blistering argument ensued.
As the debate progressed, the critic exposed more and more of his ignorance of the nuances of classical music, much to the amusement of the musicians gathered. Finally, the critic placed an ultimatum before Krishnappa: “Either agree to a public debate to settle the dispute or accept in writing that you don’t know music.” Krishnappa opted for the latter option to protect the critic from becoming an object of ridicule in a public forum.
I don’t know what became of that priceless piece of paper on which Bidaram Krishnappa wrote that he was a musical novice. But I do know that while the name of the critic is lost in the annals of time, Bidaram Krishnappa’s name continues to command respect decades after his death.