This month's column. It's more or less a reworking of my seasoned tropes. Like DB puts it in this amazing video, "Auteur directors like you and me are making the same film again and again". That analogy fits perfectly to this blog. I handed the column late again. Hopefully will send it much earlier this month. Have an old idea I want to write about. Not sure if it'll be any good though.
Watch the video.
Temptation of the abyss
I have a fairly pessimistic outlook towards life. I’m not very comfortable when good things start happening to me. No, it’s not a question of not “deserving” it. I don’t believe that we live in a fair world or that there’s cosmic justice. I don’t like it because when something good happens, it can be followed by something bad. Not that there’s any reason for me to believe it would but even when I’m very happy about something that’s happening, a part of me is going, “Dude, don’t get overexcited. Something terrible is just around the corner.”
I’d rather not have something than lose it. Yes, admittedly, it’s not the most appealing way to live but I get by. I don’t know if I ‘ve been hardwired that way or been shaped by life incidents but that’s how it is. Life is divided into these alternate phases. So for a period of time, you find help from the dark corners, inspiration strikes you at the right time, small helps come back as huge favours, your loved ones are more accepting of your faults. It feels like the universe conspires into making you happy. But the flipside is that you cede control. Since your fate is not directly dependent on your actions anymore and you’re at the mercy of the Gods, it can be unnerving to think what if the pilot crash lands. The difference between a normal person and a pessimist is that even in moments of pure bliss, a small voice in the pessimist’s head keeps reminding him of the crash landing.
The pessimist, however, starts enjoying life more when things are going awry. Stereotypical examples- the boss screams at you in the meeting, somebody rams into your rightfully parked car, you realize you’ve forgotten your hall ticket for the most important exam of your life, when your friends and family lose their trust in you. Now, the fac tors influencing all these bad ,things might be beyond your control, but again, you have the power to react however the way you want. You don’t have to be thankful to the Gods, nor be insecure about losing it all away. You’ve already started losing more than you ever thought you would. Reason and responsibility are replaced by self-pitying and self-loathing.
People tell me I ought not preempt failures. That I should be living in the now. But when I start doing the same, I’m accused of irresponsibility and frivolousness. But then isn’t the best way to plan is to hope for the worst and then take it from there? Which brings me to learning by experience. I believe all real learning is tangential. It is almost accidental. Everything that helps us navigate through life with astonishing alacrity (trust me we’re so good at doing everything that we do that we don’t appreciate its complexity) is something we picked up while vying for something else. The pull towards the trophy teaches us everything that’s needed to win it. It’s so deeply imbibed that we don’t appreciate the journey that led us there.
If all the experiences in life can be plotted onto a graph, it’d be like a Sine Wave; The crests representing the successful happy times and the troughs denoting the sad times and miserable phases. We learn only when the graph is going down, and reach the bottom at that point when we’re going to stop fighting and are ready to give up. Then the upward rise starts and we get to splurge on all the experience and knowledge we’ve gained. Ad infinitum. There could be amplitude differences but I believe the lives of all people are more or less like this.
The rise can be intoxicating but it comes with a burden. The fall can be relentless but it helps us throw the unnecessary baggage and search for the real self. And it is in that pursuit for the real and concrete that all true learning happens. Learning from life seeps so deeply into us that it’s less something we follow and apply, and more what shapes us and makes us. Leading a lifestyle that avoids the temptation to jump off the edge of the cliff is precautionary living. It is bound to fail.
“Only those who try to resist temptation know how strong it is..” -CS Lewis
Only a man who’s fallen into the abyss, fought with the demons and crawled back is more confident. Now the edge beckoning him is not something to be afraid of. It is a story he tells others, feeling neither proud nor relieved, because failure is not something foreign. It is within him and he knows that one day he will have to face it again. Till then though, So long Charlie.