“The freedom to choose; the opportunity to become a better person every day is a blessing. Our continuous aversion to the responsibility attached with choice and our vain attempts to prove that we already are better is a curse.”-Shuntoo
I don’t really remember it, but I’ve heard there was a time when gold was the standard currency of the world. Now it’s the dollar. The dollar which is just paper that pretends to be of value……and how well does it pretend!
I don’t really remember it, but I’ve heard there was a time when warriors, men of courage, men of dignity were known, revered and admired by the people. Now it’s the actors. The actors who just pretend to be warriors, men of courage, men of dignity……and their respect depends on how well they pretend.
I don’t really remember it, but I’ve heard there was a time when people listened to, believed in and followed the teachings of prophets, sages, walis. Now they listen to, believe in and emulate rock stars. Rock stars who just pretend to be singing lyrics that are prophetic, wise and truthful…..and the admiration they get depends on how well they pretend.
I’m not really sure but I’ve heard that people today complain that they don’t see any purity in the world. I’m not surprised at this. I’m just surprised at anyone expecting any different.
I got a weird feeling when I heard that Shuntoo was ill. When I reached the hospital, this is what I found written on the sheet. The words within brackets are my own.
Dear Friend, Relative, Colleague or Whoever you are
If you have not come to visit me and have been handed this sheet by mistake, please return it and go ahead with your own business. (Not falling in this category, I read on).
If you have come to ask me what happened, I came down with a serious stomach virus, the result of something I ate from a roadside stall. I kept vomiting and shitting for three days after which I was brought to this hospital suffering from severe dehydration.
If you are interested in my present condition and my future, I feel much better now and the doctors say I will be discharged in the next couple of days.
If you intend to give me some crappy advice, I already know that roadside stalls are a risk and I am not interested in any frigging medicine or desi totka or a better doctor or hospital or Hakim that you know.
If you have come to cheer me up, you can do that best by returning. I am in a pretty cheerful mood and seeing you will probably ruin it.
If you have brought fruit or flowers or something of the sort take it back and give it to someone who gives a shit. Or leave it at the reception and I will make sure it gets to such a person.
If you have just come to fulfill your obligation as a good human being, relax. Your greatness has been noted and will be duly forgotten and ignored as most such actions are.
If you have come for any other purpose, please note that I don’t care and will highly appreciate if you leave me alone.
And finally, if you have some extremely urgent business (which I seriously doubt) you can call me on my cell. In case you don’t have my number, it shows that you are not very close to me and hence should mind your own frigging business. And please remember, if you call me and your business does not turn out to be extremely urgent, I might lose my temper and will not be responsible for the consequences.
It is not normal, I tell you, not one bit. You step out of your house, and all you see around you are starecases. No, I did not spell that wrong, that’s what you see, STAREcases. Whether you are on foot or in your car, you notice so many people staring at you that it is enough to give you the creeps. At first I thought that it was just me, and I learned to live with it. I thought that a six and a half foot beauty on a wheelchair must be worth a stare or two, so why not enjoy it. But this is the pseudo-philosophical comment I got when I mentioned it to Shuntoo.
“Ha! You wish bachhay. It is not your beauty or attraction; we are a nation of starers. We love to stare. We stare at everyone, man or woman, pretty or ugly, interesting or boring, everyone. We stare with the most moronic expressions on our faces and a look in our eyes that shows that we have absolutely no purpose, in the staring, or in our lives. We just have too much time, nothing to do. When we are in public we stare, when we are in private we complain. But no matter where we are, we just cannot do anything that means anything. No thinking, no action, no innovation, no nothing. We just stare in the hope of seeing something unusual that we can concoct into an interesting story to gain some cheap popularity and silly leverage among our peers who are just as farigh as we are. We just cannot mind our own business, because we appear to lack both, a mind and a business.”
Pseudo-philosophical, but…….I wonder.
Like almost all other concepts, we don’t seem to understand optimism at all. Optimism does not mean that you completely ignore the negative side of things; such an attitude would be denial. You’ll be much better off understanding both the positives and the negatives of a situation and then analyzing it to find the best way forward. People who try to convince themselves there is nothing evil or wrong with the world are likely to keep trying or go crazy. Let me tell you a story bacchay! There was a man who always looked at the bright side of things, even though this habit gave him frequent headaches, he did not give up. He believed that such an approach somehow made him a better person. Gradually, he went a step further and started choosing the brightest side out of the many bright sides. Eventually……..he went blind. But he looked at the bright side of that too. At least he did not have to look at bright sides anymore.
Here’s a small part of a conversation I had with Shuntoo the other day. I don’t feel I have the energy to write the full conversation, but I just have to share a part of it.
Me: If you are hungry, I have a delicious cake in my fridge.
Shuntoo: And what if I am not hungry?
M: Well, then don’t eat it.
S: But would you still have the cake in your fridge?
M: Of course, what kind of a silly question is that?
S: Well, you said that IF I am hungry, you have a delicious cake in your fridge. I think that logically means that if I am not hungry, you don’t have it.
I felt like throwing the cake at his face. But he went on to explain why I, and not he, was being silly. And as I said earlier, I don’t feel I have the energy to write the whole conversation.
“Shuntoo have you never felt depressed, dejected, down?”
“Maybe, but I don’t remember it.”
“How can you be so insensitive?”
“Yes. Don’t you see the wars, crimes, poverty, and disease everywhere?”
“No, I don’t see it everywhere. I also see the peace, smiles, health and prosperity.”
“But don’t you ever feel that there are so many things you cannot do anything about, things that could be so much better?”
“I am the master of my own universe, bachhay! Whenever I want, I can smile, laugh, hum a favorite tune, swing to a music, go for a walk, scream at the top of my voice.”
“And that’s all the freedom you require?”
“For now, it is enough. I will think about what I don’t have, once I am bored of doing all this.”
“Try it. Trust me.”
Have you ever felt that your life does not have any purpose? You have? So have I. And then I realized that the fault does not lie with life. It lies with me. It is my responsibility to give my life meaning; and if I have not been able to do that satisfactorily, I thank God that I still have some life left. I can still make it meaningful. So, you have four choices. Keep looking for a meaning, keep waiting for the meaning to reveal itself, keep trying to give meaning to life, or do all three; that is, keep trying to make your existence meaningful while keeping an eye out for the truth to reveal itself. Take your pick.
Have you ever noticed how some teenagers have the exact same expression and exact same posture in every single one of their photographs? Even their heads are tilted at the same angle, the number of teeth visible in their smiles is also exactly the same, in short, one will be really worried if asked to find five differences between their faces in any two photographs.
I noticed this just a couple of days ago and I was impressed. I believe these kids must have spent hours making faces and trying various expressions in front of the mirror before they finally decided which one made them look the best. And then they must have practiced really hard to make sure they could give that look in front of the camera, that exact same look. What dedication!
With young boys and girls who can exhibit such clarity of purpose, hard work, determination and finally, excellent execution, I feel so relaxed and hopeful about the future of this country.
A few days after my accident, I suddenly woke up in the middle of the night. I guess any other person would have woken up with a jerk, but with all my body paralyzed and my head, the only part I could move, pinned with huge weights drilled into my skull, I was in no position to do anything with a jerk.
Anyway I woke up to a pitch dark room. I could not see anything. I could not move a muscle or feel a thing. I could not hear a sound. I was not allowed to eat or drink anything. And my throat was so dry that I could not speak a word or produce a sound either. As for breathing, in hindsight, I guess I must have been breathing, but at that time, I was not sure. So, I simply lay there and wondered if I was alive. Because what does it mean to be alive anyway? Doesn’t it mean being able to see, hear, speak, feel, move, and eat? Plants are alive too but then, at least they are growing, getting nutrition, reproducing and according to some scientists, even feeling. I was not doing any of these things, or at least I wasn’t conscious of any of them.
But I was alive. Without doing any of these things, I was alive. And now I know the answer to the question I asked earlier. What does it mean to be alive anyway? Doesn’t it mean being able to see, hear, speak, feel, move, and eat? The answer is NO. It does not mean this. A person who is not doing any of these can still be alive. And someone who is performing all these acts is not necessarily alive, in the real human sense of the word, though he may biologically be included in the biota.
I was alive in that dark quiet hospital room. I was alive without being able to move, feel, eat, drink or move. I was alive because I could think. I was alive because I was wondering whether I was alive or not. I was alive because I was trying to figure out what the hell to do. I was alive because I was trying to gain some perspective. I was alive because I was trying not to get scared. I was alive because I was trying not to cry. I was alive because I was trying to think.
I WAS ALIVE BECAUSE I WAS TRYING.
And that’s what I have learnt. Life means trying. To do something is God’s job. We can only try. Even for those of you, who do not believe in God, let me explain that every single act of yours is governed by so many different variables that are completely beyond your control that believe me……all you can do is try. To try is to live.
Anyone who realizes and is thankful for all the resources he has and plans to use them in the best possible manner is trying. Conversely everyone who keeps whining about the resources he does not have and blaming his fate or luck or the society or the man in the moon for that, is merely crying.
Now for those who are in the habit of crying, I have no sympathy, or any words of advice. I am only concerned about those who are trying, or trying to try, or trying to try to try. For you, I have my whole life, all my experiences, all that I have learnt. Because its these kind of people who teach me a new lesson everyday and I owe them. So, my first advice to you is, learn to distinguish between the triers and the criers. Learn from the former and avoid the latter. In my opinion, life is a cycle. You try, if you fail, you try harder, if you succeed, you try for something better and so on. Make sure that when you die, you are trying for the next step not waiting for the next miracle.