There is hardly anyone who has not heard this story before since it is told almost invariably whenever there is a discussion on optimism and pessimism. It is about two guys who looked out of the same window, one saw the filth on the ground while the other saw stars in the sky. I have always found it unconvincing. The major reason is that I think this story is incomplete. I mean what the hell does it even mean that the two saw different things. What matters is what happened afterwards. So, I have tried to complete the story here.
The guy who saw stars dreamt of somehow getting to them and seeing the fascinating worlds hidden in them. The other one, however, simply thought “My God! What a load of crap!” So the next day, the so-called pessimist went down and cleaned up the whole place, turning it into a pretty garden, and just as he was admiring the new beauty of the place, the so-called optimist tried to get to the stars by flying and fell from the high window from where the two had looked out the previous night. The so-called pessimist looked at his shattered bones, spilled blood and guts, and cracked skull and thought “My God! What a load of crap!”
“The world does not understand me.” I have heard this complaint so many times, I just might throw up the next time someone utters this vulgarity. Why should the world or anyone in the world understand me? Conversely, why should I, since I am a part of this world, be obligated to understand anyone? It is unfair. Such an exercise is a direct challenge to the fundamental human right of not having to get off my butt if I don’t want to.
Isn’t it infinitely more important for me to understand myself? And I don’t even try to do that. Firstly, because it is a very difficult and secondly because of the fundamental right I just mentioned. Why do we even need to understand anyone, even ourselves? Aren’t we comfortable with our false egos, our misconceptions, our baseless assumptions, our whimsical ideas and our false beliefs? Anyone who tries to change this beautiful structure of reputations, impressions and characters that stands in the air without any foundation; anyone who tries to replace it with a perception based on truth; anyone who challenges the comfort zone of people even though it might be a recipe for eternal damnation; anyone who attempts any of these is risking loss of every illusory asset he has.
I do not want to be a part of the problem. Any interest in any truth will cause huge non-existent problems for the whole false edifice where we thrive in imaginary comforts. Why cause such illusive hardships for everyone? Why not just live our lives in the falsity we like, since such a life contains the delusion of eternal bliss. We have always preferred false hope to real threats, why change now?
Depression was a small word for what he felt. In a matter of months, he had lost everything he had. He was distraught, shattered, dead inside. He wanted to end his life but did not have the courage to even do that. He sat still, his head bowed, tears rolling down his cheeks, without any hope, without any strength, just a pile of bones and flesh, without any life. He did not notice the old man approaching him until he was standing right above him. “Hang on buddy!” the old man said with a smile, “It’s just one night, because somehow, everything is going to be fine tomorrow.”
To this day, he does not know why, but he believed the old man. Suddenly he recovered enough strength to fight for one more day. And as he lay in bed waiting for everything to be fine tomorrow, he suddenly realized the truth. All he had ever needed was just the strength to survive today. He had only to understand that today was all that mattered. And he did not need to believe that somehow tomorrow everything would be fine, but that kind of faith helped. Tomorrow never comes, it is just a beacon of hope and it was always up to him to choose to focus on that beacon or on the darkness surrounding it. Today was all there ever was and all there ever will be. And ever since that fateful evening, that is exactly what he has been doing; living for the todays. And you always have enough strength for that.
Life is short. So we don’t want to waste any time getting too deep into the meaning of things or the logic behind them. Hence, we do certain things without the faintest clue about their reason or utility. For instance, we say Hello when answering the phone, wear neckties, clap when we want to appreciate someone, shout “Hurray” when excited, shake hands with people we meet etc. The list is probably endless, and even if it isn’t, I would not want to check and waste any more space since I think you get the idea.
However, while learning these absurd looking rules of behavior, we mostly get carried away and don’t realize that this blind following of what everyone else around us does should only be limited to such trivial stuff as listed above. Sadly, we proceed to apply the same principle of “Do as they do, don’t think, don’t try to understand, don’t ask” in other more important things as well, things like the religion we follow, the beliefs we have, the kind of people we like, the kind we hate, our concepts of morality, justice, equity and truth. I might be wrong, but I just feel that there should be a way of differentiating between where not to think too much because life is short, and where to think really hard because…….well, life is short.
A few learning’s for writers who want to be authors: If you live in Pakistan and want to get a book published that has nothing to do with Politics, religion, or oppression. If you are unfortunately happy and want to write happy. The chances of becoming an author are very bleak. Here is why:
- Big publishers would not even read you script
- Small publishers act more like printers. Your book, your money their name
- If you do get a publisher you will have to re-write the whole thing. Your creativity does not mean anything.
- If you are desperate enough put in your own money or find an investor to get the damn thing printed.
- Now you enter one of the biggest cartel of distributors @Liberty books will charge you 50% if not more on retail price. If you know someone there they might bring it down a bit, but you will be paid nearly after a month after your book is sold.
- If you go to small encouragers of writing such as @The Last word. You will be luck to receive a reply.
- The solution: make sure you belong to the intellectuals or the influential’s. the later matters more
- Get in the cool crowd. You can write mediocre but should be cool enough to hang with
- Value your work and be happy to see the first dummy of your book before it goes to print. Expensive but worth it
- Keep at it with the hope that people in this field actually start reading or at least begin to understand the value of a product they call a BOOK