An old friend after reading a recent article of mine asked me this question, ‘Amit, are you still searching?’. My instant response was, ‘Of course, I am. The day I stop searching, I will be dead’. My friend is a good friend and did not pursue further but the lurking shadow of a supplementary kept staring at me… For what?
Honestly, I don’t know. It is not a problem for me not to know what exactly I am searching for. In fact, I am happy that I do not know. If I knew what I am searching for, how would I enjoy all the different and new things that life offers me to see, experience, feel and find a meaning for its being. I could be hurtling down chasing just one little purpose. I could be missing the opportunity this life has given me to know or just sense the miracle of all that appears irrational to my current scope of thinking and action. I do not wish to end my life so poor. I don’t like to just exhaust the fuel of one life on a race track. I would rather take a station wagon and keep travelling!
I don’t know what I am searching for. Perhaps, it is the need for rationalization of any context or issue or the behaviour of people I come across. Perhaps, it is the need to find out how I fit in the context so that I can steer myself appropriately. Perhaps, it is because I lack any urgent needs that I do not have to pursue in my current stage of life. Perhaps, it is the simple need to understand what more can I do with every moment I am awake. Perhaps, I feel this life is too precious to just consume and acquire. I don’t know!
People always intrigued me. More unfamiliar they were better was the experience. Like many, I too framed some opinions about an unknown person from what I could see as the visage. More than the eyes, the stare; more than the look, the angle of the chin and more than the body, the carriage of the same influenced my mind. But, the visage and the carriage, more often than not was just an appetizer. What made such a person intriguing was when he or she expressed her opinions, her passions, his choices and vulnerabilities. My search unknowingly gets into the trajectory of all that an individual means. How did he come to become such a combination of the habits of thinking and action that he manifests through his opinions, choices, decisions, behaviour and ideas for the future? As this is not possible to know with a cursory interaction, I become very interested with an individual where the trajectory of the past, the visage and the carriage gel together into a potent and cogent force. I find it so interesting to then try to understand what could and would be the trajectory of such an individual in the future.
To understand the possible trajectories, it becomes important to understand the context in which the individual exists and may blossom into or perish. The society around the individual with its cultural and economic vectors will influence and buffet the individual endlessly. These forces would facilitate or annihilate some parts of the habits that the individual has grown up with. It is so intriguing to witness this war of forces between what the Individual is and what the context demands of him. It is like a game of chess with multiple levels of complexity. The possible permutations and combinations of the individual and the contextual forces are myriad.
But the beauty of such a game called life is that the Individual has to play the game and also be the result of this game. And, it goes on till we breathe our last!
Society is nothing but a conclave of Individuals that influences it. It is not like an aquarium where ugly and dainty looking fishes swim tirelessly and finally die. Of course, every individual cannot knowingly influence till he has gathered some means to survive and raise his gaze to look around and choose what to do more or different. That is what the middle class has to straddle as every country or society goes through the stage of middle class maximization. Optimisation probably takes much longer. Middle class for me means a post survival economic existence and a cultural existence of opinions and choices gradually moving into the direction of nurturing values. The Indian urban class is going through this transition quite fast with a sizable number of families able to afford surpluses of money, materials, space and for some even time.
I guess the resource we have the least today is Time as this is not easy to buy with just surplus money or through mortgage. And with time as a scarce commodity, reflection becomes impossible. Without reflection, options cannot be noticed, choices cannot be made and change decisions cannot be undertaken. Action continues as controlled by the socio-economic forces. Each of us remains focused on revving up the engine to its limits and race faster on the track we are. It is quite a gratifying sensation to feel the throbbing engine under us. But, then we end up at tangents after few laps and realise that is not exactly where we would have wanted to be. Some accept this as life and move on and some call it as ordained by almighty. Either way, the Individual loses its potential to spot possible options and lead towards chosen destinations. The context around a race track can only be a blur. Even the sense of listening is drowned by the roar of engines and the applause from the day’s audience. Family, friends and relationships get postponed till the race gets over. But, will it ever?
It could, if we produce Time for ourselves, treat life as a journey with night halts, weekends, some time for listening to friends and family, and some time to listen to the nature around and search. Search for options that could be hiding around the next bend. Search for knowledge not just skills and tools for the day’s event. Search for what matters to people around, empathise and spend some time with them. Search for the Individual that we can become through the choices we make, the decisions we take and the actions we put in. Search for what we have not known, not seen and not experienced.
Yes, I am still searching for myself. I know why and what I have been till now and the many people I have known who influenced me, including my parents and family. But, I do not know what I will be tomorrow. And I do not wish to leave to it to chance or the buffeting waves of the context I live in today. I want to make that one choice I could make to find a newer me and make a difference to those I care for and love.
I do not want to speed up and miss that turn that could lead to something beyond expectations!!!