Obedience comes easy to me.
I have been well-trained. I have feared disobedience for as long as I can remember. This has often translated into a rigid stance (more in my head) about all things connected to writing which then goes on to curb my creativity.
I think of what I could have done differently in order to have made much more out of my desire to write from a much younger age. One factor that sticks out is my difficulty with letting go of the need to conform – the need to obey and the need to stick to the tried and trusted.
I was born into a family of very ambitious yet conformist and traditional accountants – Yes I was THAT child of THOSE Indian parents that Russel Peters jests about in his hilarious stand-up piece – in short I got my ass whooped to the point of no more ass left to whoop and talking back or questioning those who made the rules was frowned upon.
Obedience was not optional and while it probably “built character” it did not help build irreverence, the audacity to disobey, stray from the traditional or to think outside the box. I suspect this was reflected in the way I felt about everything that was important to me growing up and that included writing.
(Calvin & Hobbes)
Now I don’t want to spend the rest of my blog dissing my childhood or my parents. I have had a rich, colorful, painful (mostly around the butt area) yet adventurous childhood shuttling between India and the Middle East as my homes. I remember having a jotting pad and writing stories in them ever since the age of 7-8 years. Sometimes these stories were 5 lines with dismal endings (yes I displayed early signs of storychokeritis)
And the great news is that over the years I found the tyranny of obedience to be some thing that could be broken. I have also learnt that disobedience and non-conformity makes a lot of people unhappy. Especially those that I loved and cared about and those who felt they were in charge or in control. Sometimes it meant going against myself and what I believed in.
This may sound cliched but if Indian freedom fighters had not exhibited the audacity to disobey India would still be another British colony stripped of everything it stood for (Yes I’ve somehow managed to squeezed in a history lesson here – DON’T roll your eyes at me now! )
I agree that obedience is something children should be taught early (unless people want to get run over in traffic) . However the ability to disobey, to say no, to non-conform is also equally important. For me, it has served as a pathway to finding my creative spaces and giving myself permission to explore and write about things the old me would have struggled with.