(Re-)writing our destiny

January 22, 2023

How can we be truly free if our fate lies in the hands of others?

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For a passionate writer there’s no greater agony than not being able to write. (They call it the writer’s block.) Like so many out there who love to write, I, too, have days, nay, months, when I struggle to ink my thoughts. However, more than being an art, writing is a skill — the more you practice it, the easier the words come to you.

So, when I was asked to write something by the Shehr editor, I wasn’t sure. The more I run away from it the more I shall lose the appetite for it, he said. But, what to write? I have been too preoccupied in my life lately to be able to make time for any introspection, let alone writing of any sort.

By nature I am an idealist, like a writer is supposed to be. Problems that have not been solved over the course of centuries must be sorted in the imagination before they are elaborated on a piece of paper — in words.

The reality of our existence has already been shaped for us. But this does not mean we cannot reshape the reality within our existence. This reality must dawn upon every aspiring writer at some point in their lives. And that is the true test of their passion for writing: have their hearts been lit by the fire of love, or is it mere infatuation that dulls when the reality of life hits hard? Life for me was always about procrastinating on the proverbial bed of roses. Then I graduated from university, and the reality dawned upon me, as they say. What next? I thought to myself. Looking for a livelihood, building a career, and settling down were the few challenges I hadn’t yet been posed. There was a sense of bewilderment. What followed was a writer’s block.

But then last week I bumped into a school fellow of mine who’s grown up to be a lawyer and a column writer of note. He told me, “It’s hard to continue writing while working, but don’t quit. You can do great things for the country by writing.” In his words of great encouragement, I saw my chance to write the greatest story yet: the story of destiny.

“Raise yourself to such heights that before making your destiny for you, God will ask you what you want,” wrote the poet-philosopher, Allama Iqbal. This verse has become a kind of our national anthem, but no one truly understands what it means. Our biggest failure is the fact that we spend our lives according to the decisions others have made for us. How can we then be truly free if our destiny lies in the hands of others?

The problem is known to many, but how to fix it? Just what is the antidote? How do we free ourselves from the shackles of slavery and become writers of our own destiny? This is where people like Iqbal come in. Rather, this is where those who write their own destiny and teach others to do so come in.

Pakistan’s ‘dependence’ on others is on account of our collective lack of creativity and imagination. We do not know how to think beyond the horizons; we echo what we are told.

To my mind, the only antidote to this lies with the writers, who can employ their creative faculties to challenge and shape the way we think. After all, the greatest force behind the European Renaissance which pulled the continent out of darkness were its writers. There may have been no John Locke, had there been no Shakespeare. And there may have been no Industrial Revolution had there been no John Locke.

One might say that there is nothing common between a dramatist, a political theorist, and an economic revolution. But the way I see it, a dramatist expanded the horizons of a political thinker who in turn gave birth to an ideology that paved the way for a new world order.

Acquiring the skills of writing may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but the creative force behind it must become our national trait. Not everyone will learn to write on paper, but writers can teach everyone to write their own destinies. Only then can we hope to give birth to fresh ideas and, thus, great entrepreneurs, politicians, lawyers, philosophers, thinkers and academics. For that to happen those that know how to write must start writing about destiny and how to rewrite it.

The writer is an entrepreneur, an LLB student and a freelance writer. He tweets Khan__Bahadur

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