If you read that title and come in happily hoping that you will just have to read two lines here, you must be new here. When was the last time I ever said anything in two lines? ('Never', you said? Welcome back, friend!) I hardly can even say, "Good Morning" without also appending a weather report to it.
The two lines that I mention is the puzzle that I was told in my youth, which made such a deep impression on me that it practically became the guiding principle of my life. How do you make a line smaller, without in any manner touching it? The answer was to draw a bigger line by its side - this line automatically becomes the smaller line. (Yeah! Yeah! You are right. I remember it mainly because of the K. Balachander movie 'Iru Kodugal', so what?)
That was the time when I was in school and suffering through what people called 'subjects'. Everything in it was so obscure to me while there was this bunch of guys around me finding it all dead easy. I still struggle with how an unknown quantity of apples and oranges mysteriously turn into the alphabets 'x' and 'y', and these guys flash out the exact number of each. I am looking at my face in the mirror, trying to make out whether it is made of cells, like the biology teacher would have it or whether it is made of protons and electrons, with some neutrons thrown in, as the chemistry teacher says; and these guys even know exactly what reaction would happen if they threw acid in my face.
I was well on my way to developing a serious inferiority complex, when a brilliant idea struck me - based on the above puzzle (Don't jeer! I DO have some ideas, you know!). It was crystal clear that I could never become the bigger line to make them smaller. The point, though, was I could BE bigger without touching myself, just by making THEM smaller - or appear smaller. All I had to do was belittle THEIR abilities, instead of bemoan the lack of my own. So, exactly WHY should I feel envious of these stupid 'bookworms'. THERE - nothing does it better than to label something.
Away from the bookworms, I found myself in the midst of these athletic types. The unique ability with which I missed the ball, gracefully, with my bat; the skill with which I always got the leg umpire out 'leg-before-pavilion'; and my superb reflexes in diving the other way from the speeding ball told me the cricket was not my forte - especially with the hidebound views about good cricket held by all these athletes. As for football, within five minutes, I had this uncanny ability to BECOME the football and, since I had no more spare bones than anyone else, that was ruled out. As for the running, jumping and all that, I found myself out of breath at the starting gate, so there went my chance of being a part of the athletic crowd. But, then, who wants to be considered a 'muscle-bound jock' anyway?
Then there was this lot that was into literature. Half an hour into it, I was lost. I mean, if I had to take recourse to the dictionary 5 times per sentence, it was just not going to work for me. The chappies did tell me that, over time, I would know all these words and that it is not like they all started out with a dictionary installed in their brains but...well, who wants to work at becoming an 'elitist snob' anyway?
And then the Nature-lovers. Stumbling through the woods, getting scratched, bit and stung was one thing but all those things I was expected to learn...I was happy if I could differentiate a branch and a leaf, and a leaf and a flower but that, apparently, was not enough. AND, my god, a distant bird-cry and I was supposed to know which bird it was that called; well, let me tell you, I will not undertake to say whether any two birds are different from each other if they stood before me and posed. Anyway, what is the point in exerting myself only to become an 'Environment freak'.
Over time, I came to the realization that there was hardly any point in learning anything. Why would you slave your ass off only to become a 'nerd' or a 'bean-counter' or a...well, you get the point.
So, I reverted to being what I was, as Nature made me with no artificial shaping of my persona. AND, now, believe me, people call me a 'Couch Potato'.
I wonder WHO in the world envies me and wants to belittle ME!