Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Looking back from the middle...

After the thirty some years of life on earth, and without an expectation (or even desire) to live beyond seventyish, I think, I am about at the mid-point. Felt like pausing for a moment to reflect upon how far along I've traveled from when this journey started. Even though I've never been explicitly coerced into taking any particular decision, everything so far seems only partly choice, and more an inevitable progression of circumstances. I don't know if I really like that thought. Intellectually, I always champion free will. Or, maybe, only lately in life, I've really begun to appreciate that there is a choice to make. And our actions commit us to some choices whether or not they were conscious. And we live with the consequences.

For example, I studied engineering. It seemed to be the thing to do at the time. Not because I was tremendously inspired by the thought of being an engineer, but more because everybody tried it and I got that specific opportunity, and therefore, culturally, I was programmed to feel like it behooved me to embrace it and make it work.

Make it work, I did. It has not made me unhappy. But there were many things I could have pursued. And they could have made me equally or perhaps more happy. My potential for those other things was not even given a chance. And today, most in my shoes would either not allow themselves to admit that a significant choice such as that decision disappointed them. Because that would question their current sense of happiness. Or, they would just not dare change course, or try anything new, seeing it as too late already. I've seen this theme in many aspects of our lives; the notable other being in relationships.

For me though, the grey in my hair, the hopeless inequality and unfairness of most things in life, makes me want to re-evaluate my stances about a variety of things that I've blindly embraced and bravely battled for so long. I haven't too much longer. And in another couple decades, it will matter to no one whether I quit or I stuck around and for what petty personal cause! Only in my life, I would have another chance to ask myself, was I true to my convictions and answer that I really gave my free will a chance to stretch its legs. Its an important discussion to have with oneself, this time of life, I reckoned.

It occurs to me that we strive for constancy, absolutes, for some odd reason, in everything we do. Society is obsessed with stability. Perhaps in that stance, we betray our very nature. I think this basic imposition is the root cause of a lot of human unhappiness. Nothing lasts forever. We change and our perspectives change. I think playfulness is very central to the human spirit. A lot of different things make up the full spectrum of our personalities and they can sure as heck be contradictory sometimes. I think its important to embrace this dichotomy in oneself, perhaps even cherish it, nurture it and try to leverage it somehow in our lives.

You know, its OK, even this late in life, to get up on a bike and fall. I did. And when I ride today, it is almost as if a pair of wings were granted to me. And its OK to be attracted to other human beings, ones that don't look like you or talk like you and probably treat you like an outsider. Its not some stupid inverted form of racism. Its OK because the diversity of that interaction enriches me as a human. It arouses emotions and curiosities we stopped feeling sometime in our childhoods because we have most folks from our own cultures so figured out in our heads (or so we think). Its OK to let go of God if you cant believe in him any longer. Its OK to laugh at rituals that you once practiced that now feel foolish. Its OK to get your hands burned with whatever foolishness strikes your heart. Its OK to be ridiculed and rejected. Its OK to be wrong and move on. Its OK to feel you're worth way way more than some other odd Tom, Dick or Harry. Self-awareness is key. And sensitivity, the ability to appreciate fine things is not everyone's cup of tea. This set of rules I seem to have made myself aren't easy to live by, you know. Its hard because its a personal set of rules that nobody else can validate for you.. so you're opening yourself up to feeling isolated, estranged, and sometimes insecure.

To wrap up, I feel like my story is in parts inspiring and in parts a depressing account. Its a disillusionment and an enlightenment at the same time. I often wonder why I feel the need to write these things down! Why I need capture what is essentially private? When often words wont do them justice at all. At least not my words. And yet, I desperately want to pour out my heart for you. Without an audience, do we exist? Without a witness, is life worth living? Sometimes I don't care at all.. and sometimes the loneliness of it becomes stifling, unbearable. As the world gets more connected, more accessible, I am getting lonelier, more in tune with the inner me and absolutely at odds with most conventional wisdom. Is this madness setting in? Who knows!