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If You Want To Shine Like a Sun, First Burn Like a Sun

If You Want To Shine Like a Sun, First Burn Like a Sun

If You Want To Shine Like a Sun, First Burn Like a Sun

A. P. J. Abdul Kalam

“If You Want To Shine Like a Sun, First Burn Like a Sun”

— A. P. J. Abdul Kalam

When Robert Frost said in his poem ‘The Road Not Taken’ that the road he took made all the difference in his life, he wasn’t incorrect. Often we fail to understand the value of the journey while focusing on the destination. But doing that takes your focus away from the means you use to achieve your end. You only think of what you want to achieve, what you want to become in the long run, but you stop thinking about the process itself. And ultimately, as the poet C P Cavafy said in his famous poem ‘Ithaka’, it is the journey that will enrich you rather than what riches you think the destination offers. It is therefore necessary to burn like the sun to shine like the sun. No brilliance comes without constant and continuous effort.

The great psychologist Jean Piaget pointed out this very flaw in babies. This is that they look at motion in terms of successive states rather than as transformations. This means that when a pencil falls, babies note only its initial position and final position. They don’t understand that the pencil had to exist and various points on the locus or trajectory of motion before it reached its final position. But we, as humans understand it. And so we need to apply it to other areas of life. We need to understand that we cannot go from dull to brilliant in one go. Indeed, it is not a lightbulb switch. Instead you have to allow yourself to transform in slow and steady increments, till one day you realize you have reached your goal.

If You Want To Shine Like a Sun, First Burn Like a Sun
If You Want To Shine Like a Sun, First Burn Like a Sun

This applies to all areas of life. As a student, you cannot expect to be the shining star of your class without working hard. Nothing in life is easy, spoonfed or given on a platter. It has to be earned with persistence, consistency, effort and will. It doesn’t help to have an external locus of control. If you do, you blame your failures on such abstract things as ‘fate’, ‘luck’ or external circumstances. You need to take control of your life, believe that you can do it, and work towards it. As a great Marathi poetess has said, the world is like the stove on which you make rotis – you burn your hands first and get the roti later.

The most prime example of this is the person who wrote the quote ‘if you want to shine like a sun, first burn like a sun’ himself. This is APJ Abdul kalam. A great intellectual coming from a humble background, an erstwhile President and a tremendous visionary in his own right, Kalam definitely mastered his quote. He worked hard all his life, not just for a particular goal, but by finding joy in his work. An aerospace engineer who worked hard at the Defense Research and Development Organization, for the development of military missiles. He played a tremendous role in the Pokhran II nuclear tests.

Apart from being a scientist, he also served as the President of India for a single term. During this, people loved him enough to call him a ‘People’s President’. Post this, he continued work in the education, writing and public service sector. He is also the honorable recipient of the Bharat Ratna award, the highest civilian award in India.

Kalam did not lead such an immensely productive life by simply being vegetative. He worked on himself, on his environment and on his circumstances. Plus, he was relentless in his pursuit of excellence and charted a way where there was none. He exemplified his teaching – he burnt like the sun to shine like it, and his light still reaches us today through barriers of space and time.

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