Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Thoughts

One has to start out with the assumption that nothing matters. Then one can get down to the task of living.

It’s almost romantic, here on the shore, watching my thoughts swirl and dissolve into the sound of the waves. A whole year has reduced me to my last few bucks. Now that I have nothing to lose, my mind is at its clearest.

I hadn’t tempted fate by climbing up the ladder at a vulgar pace. I was only doing well enough to keep away the questions that can taunt you. I went through all the clich├ęd reactions of disbelief, denial, and despair. Then I could put if off no more. I had to start on the agonising journey towards the centre of the soul. I had never equated self-discovery with survival. Then again, the thoughts of the past year have been unlike any that I’ve had before.

All my ‘whys’ have been swallowed up without the faintest of acknowledgements. The waves merely rise and fall, over and over again till, at last, it will be time to cease. I still ask though. The mind is amusingly stubborn.

But there’s peace now. For nothing matters. It’s a truth hard to find in the chatter of living. Friends and family had looked on indulgently as I wallowed in the pool of self-pity and then moved on. Bereft of attention, there was no use for it. I stopped. Till it was all quiet. And listened. Hundreds of questions raced through my brain, making me reel. I took them up one at a time.

What now? Too mundanely obvious, isn’t it? But that’s what life is about. One thing after the next, one minute after the next. Or more appropriately, one moment after the next. Minutes and seconds and hours, days and nights, and years and lifetimes are man’s constructs. The universe swims in moments and through movement, a seamless continuum, folding back into itself, constantly reinventing, going on and on. Forever. There lies the discord. We don’t go on forever. We stop. But we try, all the same, to continue.

But these weren’t the thoughts that came when I asked that question. The answer I got was nothing. Just that. What now? Nothing. I was taken aback. Surely, there are alternatives. You don’t spend the best years of your life and your parents’ money for school and college to be so ill prepared. So I thought hard and came up alternatives. And the excuses to go with it. Why, I asked myself. Why must there always be excuses. Because, I said, to start all over again means admitting that you have failed. Which I didn’t want to.

Then I started hammering at the core. Why is having to start all over again a failure? Who says so? The people around me. Some who matter; most who don’t. And me. But failure is just another human construct. We weave a net of constructs and throw it over the chaos of existence. To give it order. Meaning. Importance. To keep us sane. Then we convince ourselves of its insoluble sanctity. But what if we didn’t? What if we said, “I don’t believe. I have no more use for them.” Then rebuild new ones that will serve our purpose.

What is my purpose? This one threw me completely off balance. It was territory I wasn’t sure I wanted to venture into. Because to answer that question I had to answer another: Who am I?

But I had to get down to it eventually. I started with the basics. I am man, I said. Then, dismantled that image. That left me with stereotypes, conditioning, genes and primal desires. Not much that I could claim as unique, mine and nothing else’s. A part of the human species. A product of evolution. Here by chance. Walking triumphant over the lands, and seas, and skies. Claiming ownership of the earth. And insight into the divine order. But the earth itself is a tiny speck. Clothed in milky starlight, it falls through the endless void that is the universe, where all things begin. Does it really care? It has spun us out and has then moved on.
So where do all these questions come from? And why?

Then it struck me. The questions are ours. So the answers must also be ours. Not a part of destiny or a grand order. But simply ours. For us to use. To survive. To live. To love. To hate. To take. To give. To create. To destroy. To laugh. To cry. And to believe in soul.

That’s who I am. I am my questions. I am my answers. And my purpose is to choose whatever I will. To be whatever. To move. To keep still. And watch the waves knowing that nothing matters. Everything matters. And to be human and still ask why. Life will rise and fall. As long as it does, we are free to reinvent ourselves. As many times as we want.

The sea is beautiful. Funny, I didn’t realise it when I had money in my pockets.