Life is a lot about being patient with what you want

Achieving whatever you set your sights on takes time. The key to achievement, above all else, is patience.  
Sandeep Narayan
Picture Courtesy: The Hindu/Internet
Yesterday we were at a Madras Week event where famed film critic and senior journalist Baradwaj Rangan was in conversation with Carnatic vocalist Sandeep Narayan, a disciple of renowned singer Sanjay Subrahmanyan. Sandeep was born in the US. He lived and grew up in Los Angeles for much of his Life until 1996, when he visited Chennai at the age of 11 to “touch and feel” the “world of Carnatic music at its Mecca”.  Ever since, Sandeep was drawn to Chennai and kept visiting here in summers and winters (for the famous Madras Music season). He completed his undergrad law degree in 2006 in the US and has since made Chennai his home. Evidently, Sandeep’s Life journey has been unique – most people from Chennai move westward after their undergrad programs. But here is someone who was drawn to Chennai, and to Carnatic music, from the West. Obviously, he faced huge cultural barriers and challenges. For one, most sabhas and people who mattered in the Carnatic music circuit treated him as an NRI – although he has been living here from 2006. His strong American accent while speaking English did not help much. Then breaking through the politics that governs the Carnatic music scene has been difficult – and often times depressing, especially because Sandeep chose not to do “his PR” with the sabhas or play “politics”. “I just didn’t fit in doing those things,” he confessed. This really meant that there would be long spells – often months – when he would not get concerts to sing. But he was patient. He kept practising and kept attending every concert possible – to learn as much as he could. Then, slowly, people started offering him concerts. And now, in the last few years, he’s among the more sought after Carnatic musicians.
Someone in the audience, empathizing with the challenges Sandeep had to face, asked him if he had a method to deal with his “lows”: “How did you handle those painful phases when you had no concerts and people were not willing to give you a chance?”
Sandeep replied: “I just kept believing in myself and my music. Thankfully I didn’t go into depression. But there were undoubtedly several lows amidst a lot of pain. But I kept practising and kept listening to music. I had decided that this, Carnatic music, is my Life. And I am not going to make compromises with it. Now, I can surely say that there are highs, some very high highs, and there are not too many lows, and never the deep lows. I guess being patient with what you want helps.”
I thought that was a very simple yet profound answer.
At this point popular television and film actor, Mohan Raman, piped in from the audience to say: “I have been around for 25 years in my industry and I have learnt to deal with the unpredictable nature of securing projects by simply being happy with whatever I get!” Mohan is a wonderful artiste and has done several celebrated roles in Tamil cinema. Even so, his ability to accept whatever comes his way, offers a teachable perspective for us to learn from.
Marrying both points of view – Sandeep’s and Mohan’s – I believe the best way to approach Life – and your business or career goals – is to keep doing your best and never get influenced by the outcomes. Life is a lot about being patient with what you want. I liked Sandeep’s attitude to invest the time he spent waiting for a break to practise being a better musician. And I like Mohan’s point that we must learn to be happy with what we get. Interestingly, when you are patient, you are actually demonstrating how much conviction you have in yourself and in all that you are pursuing. Most people want results instantly and get frustrated when things don’t work out despite their best efforts. This is where depression sets in and suffering takes over. Never let your frustration drive you. Be driven surely – but by your passion and your vision for yourself. When you are sure of the direction you have chosen in your Life and are patient – and happy – on the road, somewhere along the way, you do arrive at the destination that you were always destined to arrive at!